Manchester’s first seafood restaurant and bar, Randall and Aubin, opened at the end of May. One of only two – the other being in Soho – R&A serves cocktails, sustainable seafood and grill house classics, including burgers, rotisserie chicken and rib eye steak in a seductive conversion on Bridge Street. Mirrored tiles and marble tables create an off-duty vibe; my feeling is that it could work as well for glass of wine after work, or a noon-to-night blow out. At any rate, cash has been spent, and drinks are a thrill. There’s an airy Sicilian Viognier (£29) and a sumptuous white Italian Pigato (£55). Despite there being something of an Italian bias to the winelist, I like the sound of the Australian Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Chardonnay (£60), an interesting choice, perhaps, with native huitres (oysters, 6 for £22). Even the twisted cocktails are good: the golden Ne’er Do Well Negroni (£9) beats the original – and that’s saying something during Negroni Week. In terms of food, seafood assiette (£25), piled with sweet Dorset crab meat, oysters, green-lipped mussels, whelks, prawns and scallops, is an obvious place to start. Served on an ice-lined tray in the centre of the table, it melts, imperceptibly, as time flies by. Real fiends may appreciate the larger platter, Plats de Fruits de Mer (£42 per person, min 2), while lobster comes three ways: po-boy (£15.50) roasted in garlic and butter with excellent fries, or sweet and steamed with a potato salad (both £21 for half). I love the lemon sole (£17.50) in a crisp crumb, which surfs in on tiny discs of fried potato and mustardy green beans. There’s a fabulous salted caramel ice cream for dessert with baked cheese cake, as well as a simple vanilla crème brulee and house chocolate cake – all £8. There’s no denying that R&A has the kind of slick finish associated with big chains like Living Ventures, or Cafe Rouge. Yet my gut tells me that it’s going to thrive, if only for focusing on a couple of things – seafood and drinks – and doing them really well.
Now open: Randall & Aubin, 64 Bridge Street, Manchester M3. Tel: 0161 711 1007, www.randallandaubin.com
Published on: Fri 9 Jun 2017