Cheshire Life Luncheon - Obsidian Restaurant and Bar, Manchester
It was 'ladies only' for the latest Cheshire Life lunch at Manchester's Obsidian Restaurant and Bar <br/>WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH <br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Bryn Evans has much to thank his mum Carole for. It is her homecooking that he enjoyed as a child growing up in Abergele that made him want to become a chef.
‘She always used to cook a classic roast dinner every night and sometimes I would get bored,’ he joked. ‘But she would produce this fantastic food for us without fail and cook from scratch every night. I loved that. She’d always have the fridge full and a big part of our lives were those dinners we used to have.’
Since then he’s worked in Michelin starred kitchens including The Arkle at the Chester Grosvenor Hotel and the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey, near Skipton. He was also head chef at Etrop Grange Hotel, near Manchester Airport, and at Chester’s Crabwall Manor.
Now, taking the top spot at Obsidian he enjoys a healthy rivalry with friend and former colleague Stuart Thomson, now at Harvey Nichol’s Second Floor Restaurant. The friends strive to outdo each other, including having the largest cheeseboard selection in the city. Bryn, with 15 to choose from, is in the lead.
Obsidian has gained a coveted Cheshire Life Food and Wine Award, Bryn has had some glorious reviews and the restaurant is hoping to gain two AA rosettes this year.
But, like all good chefs, Bryn cooks for customers and not awards and when he joined Obsidian, he made changes. Customers, he says, were used to enjoying ample portions of basic dishes like steak and chips. But his determination to create good food without fuss in this relaxed setting is luring diners away from the main stretch of the city centre and up to their Princess Street location on the edge of Chinatown.
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Given his reason for becoming a chef, it seemed fitting that his Cheshire Life lunch would be ladies only. The 28-year-old came up with a perfect menu for more than 30 women guests.
After some crisp Lanson Black Label champagne and a taste of the Cheshire Life cocktail - now a staple of Obsidian Bar’s ample drinks menu - guests were treated to a crunchy confit of pressed chicken, bursting with pistachios and sweet Argen prunes, topped with a hand-rolled grissini. A choice of a full bodied Casa de Piedra red wine or the Acacia Tree chenin blanc from South Africa – handpicked by Cape Town born general manager Chris Eigelaar - were the perfect accompaniments.
The main event, a tasty piece of dourade fish that came straight from Fleetwood, offered bite with aubergine, delicately smoked chestnut and a creamy parmesan gnocchi.
And Bryn, knowing his audience, served up a rich dessert certain to please. The decadent Cacoa Barry dark chocolate tart served with a healthy dollop of pineapple sorbet provided the perfect finish to the afternoon. While some of the guests were already aware of Bryn’s culinary skills, no doubt there will be a few more making a return journey to Princess Street. n
Obsidian Bar and Restaurant, 18-24 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 41Y. Tel: 0161 238 4348, www.obsidianmanchester.co.uk. Bryn Evans’ menuStarter: Confit of pressed chicken, pistachio, Argen prunes and hand-rolled grissiniMain: Dourade royale, aubergine, smoked chestnut, parmesan gnocchiDessert: Cocoa Barry dark chocolate tart with pineapple sorbet