Restaurant review - Pier Eight at The Lowry Centre, Salford

Crispy pork belly @ Pier Eight, The Lowry

Crispy pork belly @ Pier Eight, The Lowry - Credit: Archant

Fine dining in elegant surroundings makes Pier Eight at the Lowry a destination dining restaurant you’ll want to visit time and again, says Kate Houghton.

Onion tart with goat's cheese @ Pier Eight, The Lowry

Onion tart with goat's cheese @ Pier Eight, The Lowry - Credit: Archant

I hadn’t really built any expectations of dinner at Pier Eight, the restaurant within the ground floor of the Lowry theatre, anticipating a good meal but no fireworks – but fireworks there were! Fine dining, at Media City – and nobody told me! Rude.

The website doesn’t really give the game away (unless you keep scrolling to the gallery…which I hadn’t!) which is a huge shame, because dinner there is truly an experience you’ll remember. As we sat in the early evening sunshine, watching a family of ducks paddle along the canal, we felt utterly relaxed – and then the menu arrived. Decision stress moment!

Three cheese risotto @ Pier Eight, The Lowry

Three cheese risotto @ Pier Eight, The Lowry - Credit: Archant

Mike opted for crispy pork belly, pickled grapes, pine nut, carrot vinaigrette, fennel and rye, which was a creation of pure genius, cooked over many, many hours to create melt in the mouth pork with the finest layer of crackling you have ever seen. My choice, caramelised onion tart, ashed goats’ cheese, raspberry and thyme on a bed of filo pastry was sweet and salty, crisp pastry and soft onions balancing the earthy goats cheese, with a tangy hit of raspberry defining the flavours.

I can never resist a risotto, and one made with feta, parmesan and ricotta and dressed with lemon, thyme and roast garlic wasn’t to be ignored. Beautiful – piled like snow and dotted with soft, sweet, sticky garlic and baby herbs, grown on the centre’s very own roof garden, it lived up to every expectation – sweet, sticky garlic counterbalancing the tart cheese, firm but not grainy rice – and a perfect portion size too.

Mike chose grilled beef fillet and braised beef cheek with courgette noodles, spiced aubergine and new potatoes. Oh my – heaven! You would think he’d have fought of my fork, as I quested for mouthfuls of soft, melting beef cheek and squidgy spiced aubergine, but no, he was too busy stealing my risotto. Both plates were fabulous and for once neither of us could call winner.

The puddings are mini works of art, both on the plate and on the palette. Mike’s white chocolate parfait was just sweet enough and the hits of toffee apple well balanced. My rhubarb tart with custard and honeycomb was a bit of English summer heaven. I was lucky enough to score a big hit of honeycomb too – none of this messing about with ‘crumb’ or ‘dust’ for our chefs!

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Food this good deserves a great deal more attention than it currently receives. As pre-theatre dining I can’t imagine anything better, but it’s so much more than that. This restaurant should be destination dining in its own right. The menu, developed by Executive Head Chef Oliver Thomas, is creative yet unfussy and pitched just right for the Manchester mindset. New head chef Julian Pizer brings his own genius to the dishes and has been instrumental in the creation of the new roof garden too – his next step, he told us, being bees, if he can, an idea we love! The service is excellent too – staff are knowledgeable and happy to make recommendations, but don’t hover and fuss around the diners.

It’s absolutely fine dining, northern style. Go, soon as you can. | 0161 876 2121

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