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Food review: 20 Stories, Spinningfields, Central Manchester

Sea bass, beurre blanc and broad beans, from the new tasting menu at 20 Stories
Sea bass, beurre blanc and broad beans, from the new tasting menu at 20 Stories

There’s something both decadent and relaxing about a tasting menu. In the first instance, it’s usually several more courses than you would usually dine on, and is associated with only the most high-end of dining establishments, and in the second, all decision stress over menu options is taken away – you place yourself in the hands of a top chef and trust that person to present you with incredible dishes designed to showcase the very best of ingredients and the chef in question’s skills.

20 Stories, the glamorous restaurant and cocktail bar in Spinningfields, and winner of this year’s Best Restaurant in Manchester at the British Restaurant Awards, offers a ridiculously tempting à la carte menu, but has also introduced two five-course tasting menus, one vegan, one all-things edible. We chose the latter, advising of any intolerances or allergies to allow the chefs to make appropriate adjustments.

Great British Life: Tomatoes and strawberries with basilTomatoes and strawberries with basil

Stepping into the lift in No. 1 Spinningfields, we were deposited on the 19th floor, at Manchester’s highest restaurant, with views across the ever-changing city. Our table looked out over an expanse of skyline, into the setting sun, engendering a sense of being somewhere very special.

Our meal starts with heirloom tomatoes, strawberries and basil, utterly delicious and fresh, waking up our tastebuds for everything else to come. As shellfish is a no-no for us both, langoustines with spiced tomato, honey and cauliflower are replaced with a rectangle of aubergine in the lightest of batters. The tomato sauce is lightly, warmly spiced and the cauliflower is in cous cous form. It’s outstanding. The level of artistry involved is incredible, from the choice of ingredients to compliment and contrast to the mix of textures to the presentation.

The wines selected to accompany each course are explained to us, brilliantly, by sommelier Calum. His knowledge and enthusiasm drew us both in, as we listened and tasted and compared notes. From the opening glass of Passing Giants Sauvignon Blanc to the closing dessert wine, Domaine de Grange Neuve Monbazillac, each one was selected to compliment the various dishes and uplift the overall taste experience.

Great British Life: Sake marinated lamb, miso aubergine and shitake mushrooms, from the new tasting menuSake marinated lamb, miso aubergine and shitake mushrooms, from the new tasting menu

Chapter III of our menu was a very autumnal, richly flavoured pigeon breast with beetroot, cherries and morel mushrooms. Mike could have dived in and swum through it, it ticked every box for rich and deep and delicious tastes and textures for the meat lover. For me, it was perhaps a little much, with two of the generous serving of four pigeon breasts being diverted to Mike’s plate.

Next, the first of two pudding courses – strawberries, balsamic and hibiscus. Oh my. A quenelle of strawberry ice cream, drizzled with syrups and gels and served on a fragile tuile biscuit. Light and refreshing and too, too little.

Great British Life: Strawberries, basil and hibiscusStrawberries, basil and hibiscus

Our final course, yoghurt with white peach, honey and vanilla, was yet another example of the artistry of the best chefs. Peach sorbet, ribbons of fruit, frozen yoghurt – delicious.

Having all the decision-making lifted from your hands might feel a risk, but if you make it an adventure, you’re likely to discover new and wonderful flavours, and 20 Stories makes it all very, very easy.

20stories.co.uk



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