Restaurant review - Mr Cooper's House & Garden, Midland Hotel, Manchester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 November 2013 | UPDATED: 20:03 07 June 2016

'Garden' area of Mr Cooper's

'Garden' area of Mr Cooper's

© Paul Adams 2013 Moral Rights Asserted Tel 01254 6903307 or 07808930147

Having transformed the French restaurant at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, Simon Rogan now gives the hotel a new informal eaterie

Mr Cooper's House and Garden at The Midland, Manchester. Photograph by Paul AdamsMr Cooper's House and Garden at The Midland, Manchester. Photograph by Paul Adams

Whatever we expected of the Midland Hotel’s new restaurant, we did not expect to be enjoying it while sitting in a wooden garden gazebo.

But it’s a very pleasant gazebo, forming a cosy alcove which, one suspects, will be a sought-after table in Mr Cooper’s House & Garden, the Midland Hotel’s new, more casual restaurant - a replacement for The Colony and, like the revamped French, a venture involving Simon Rogan, right now Britain’s most-garlanded chef.

So, we are in the ‘garden’ section of the new restaurant. Elsewhere, there is a ‘study’ area, with button-backed leather upholstery, a ‘kitchen’ section, wherein various of Rogan’s intriguing concotions are displayed in big jars, and a ‘library’, a part of the bar where the wallpaper bears a book spine design. It’s so obvious it’s funny, which is surely the intention.

The room’s impressionistic evocation of a house and garden celebrates one Thomas Cooper, a coachmaker whose home stood on the spot the Midland now occupies in the early 19th century, and who grew gooseberries, apples and flowers in a garden so beloved by Mancunians that they would come to picnic in it on days when Mr Cooper invited them.

As Rogan’s L’Enclume at Cartmel has sent his reputation soaring, his recipes have tended away from the fussiness of fine dining towards allowing fine ingredients to do their own talking. The dishes at Mr Cooper’s are in that vein. A starter of grilled figs, ham and rocket (£7) was all about deep, musty, ripe flavours, with spicy popcorn adding a little sparkle and zest. My companion’s deep fried prawns came with mango and chorizo marmalade (£8.50) and was a fruity, spicy, fishy collision.

My main of Cumbrian rib steak (£19) was a simple case of a superbly tender cut of meat counterpointed with the earthiness of truffle pudding and the crispiness of tiny purple potato latkes. And how difficult it must be to do ‘simple’ this well.

My companion’s lamb rumps with minted chargrilled courgettes and spiced lentils (£16) was another exercise in elegant economy. We chose side dishes of chips (£4, disappointingly unchunky) and deep fried pickles (£4 for a delicious bowlful of battered gherkins we could still taste hours later).

A chocolate hazelnut pavlova (£7) was melt-in-the-mouth heaven, while my Turkish delight syllabub with honey flapjacks (£6) looked and tasted like the ultimate children’s party dessert.

Elsewhere on the menu were a brace of vegetarian mains - a lasagne with lemon salad, and a roasted terriyaki tofu steak - and a couple of starters which demonstrate Rogan’s love of herbs: smoked eel torte with lovage and pork belly and Nick’s meatballs with hyssop, baked apricots and tzatziki.

More than enough, then, to merit a second visit. Not that an excuse is ever needed to darken the door of the Midland, a hotel which wears its fascinating history with timeless style.

Superb cocktails and three courses with a bottle of a wine came in at a little over £100, and there are plenty of places in Manchester where, for the same money, you could eat not quite so well and in far less atmospheric surroundings.

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden, Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester M60 2DS

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