Simon Rogan, of two Michelin-starred Lake District restaurant L’Enclume, has taken over The Midland Hotel’s French restaurant and brought a big breath of fresh life into food and decor. Instead of baroque, ruddy tones, diners now dine under contemporary chandeliers on hand-carved tables, swaddled in soft beige and mossy greens. The whole place feels like a Habitat fantasy: all simple colours and, crucially, space. Since Rogan moved away from foie gras and heavy French fare, he’s seen his reputation soar – and Mancunians now have the chance to tuck into his fresh, often foraged creations, which nod to both the technical expertise of Heston Blumenthal and the wild, found flavours that typify menus at ‘the best restaurant in the world’, Noma. Eating at the French is not cheap at £55 for six courses of an evening, but lunch is rumoured to be more reasonable at around £30 a head. Dishes that wowed on the opening night included local blood sausage mousse and a seaside dish comprised of razor clam sashimi and scrambled eggs served on beach-foraged stones with sea herbs and little wisps of salty sea weed. It could only have been bettered if it had been delivered by a seagull. For this new venture, Rogan is said to have researched historical local recipes and techniques – so expect the menu to evolve over the coming months to reflect his dynamic relationship with Manchester and its produce. There’s a new TV documentary series following the opening weeks coming soon too.

The French at The Midland Hotel, Peter Street, M60 2DS. Tel: 0161 236 3333,

Ruth Allan
Published on:
Wed 13 Mar 2013