The Spring Sampler offers three small plates and a glass of house wine for £20 from 5pm
REGULAR visitors to the Second Floor Brasserie will be aware that the turn of the season usually brings with it a range of new delicious dishes. Head Chef Matthew Horsfield and his team like to celebrate the arrival of the new season’s ingredients by refreshing the menu several times a year.
Harvey Nichols has gained a reputation for being one of the best places in Manchester to enjoy raw oysters
The new À la Carte menu features a selection of small plates, main courses and chargrills cooked to perfection on the indoor Josper grill. From 5pm on Monday to Saturday evenings, a significant number of these dishes are available to try as part of the Spring Sampler menu. We were invited to try a few, which have been inspired by the warmer weather and fresh springtime flavours.
Harvey Nichols has gained a reputation for being one of the best places in Manchester to enjoy raw oysters, so we started with a couple of sparklingly fresh ones on ice. These came with tiny cubes of slightly sharp Granny Smith apple, as well as fresh cucumber with a little heat coming through from wasabi.
Although the Second Floor Brasserie can essentially be described as serving Modern British cuisine, many dishes have a global influence in the form of star ingredients such as burrata from Italy or mellow, aromatic spices from further afield. Here, the creamy buffalo milk mozzarella cheese is served whole, accompanied by smoky charred aubergine, vibrant kale pesto and a slightly sweet tomato confit with crispy wonton shells to add a contrasting texture.
Another European classic dish on the new menu is Ardennes pâté which uses the more ‘wholesome’ parts of the pig to create this traditional course. Harvey Nichols has pressed it into a triangular shape, encased in a layer of streaky bacon. It comes garnished with pickled cornichons, fresh watercress and slow-cooked shallots in butter.
One of our favourite new dishes was classic smoked haddock kedgeree, with soft poached egg. The rice, which had been infused with coconut milk and the smoky flavours of the poaching liquor, had taken on an almost creamy texture and a comforting yellow hue thanks to mild curry spices. Sprigs of micro-coriander garnish added a bit of fresh texture and spring green colour.
It proved a bit of a challenge choosing only two main courses to try, but in the end, as they’d got us in the springtime mood, it had to be lamb rump with Middle Eastern influences. Spring lamb at Harvey Nichols is a gorgeously colourful dish layered across a neat pile of crushed garden peas and a carrot puree spiced with ras el hanout – ‘the king of the store’. Black garlic, cooked into a purée with shallots and thyme, added touches of drama and the feta cheese croquette was a lovely surprise.
Roast chicken was a fantastic dish, full of maximum taste and texture – and almost unrecognisable from what you’d expect on your average Sunday roast. Buttery chicken breast was served with a tender slab of golden roasted cauliflower, creamy yet spicy masala sauce, roasted peanuts and creamy mint labneh.
Obviously by this point we were full to bursting, but you can’t really pay a visit to Harvey Nichols without ordering a dessert or two. The pastry section produces near legendary puddings, bread, bakes and cakes and we were keen to see how spring had inspired them.
Apple Eve’s Pudding was a traditional delight brought up to date in Harvey Nichol’s signature style. Served in a ramekin, our spoons dug into the warm cake to discover a layer of smooth apple at the bottom. Rhubarb and vanilla cheesecake was sweetly sour and very light with pumpkin seed granola adding crunchy texture. Chocolate lovers will absolutely love the rich Manjari chocolate ganache with hazelnut brittle and praline ice cream – well Spring does encompass Easter.
Obviously Harvey Nichol’s Second Floor Brasserie caters for a wide range of customers, both regular and new. There are diners popping in post-shopping or pre-theatre, or guests wanting to indulge in a longer treat. The flexibility of the Spring menu allows for either. Those preferring to order starters, mains and desserts are welcome to choose from the new À la carte menu, but a Spring Sampler of small plates will allow for a taste of a wider selection of dishes, with three dishes, homemade bread and a glass of wine for £20.
The Spring Sampler – Three small plates and a glass of Harvey Nichols house wine for £20. Includes artisan breads, olive oil and balsamic.
Available Monday – Saturday from 5pm until 26th May 2017
The Second Floor Brasserie, 21 New Cathedral Street, Manchester, M1 1AD