Jonathan Schofield has a delightful time in the only restaurant big enough in which to take a corner

Podium restaurant is still the only restaurant in Manchester in which you can take a corner. Stand on the Deansgate side place the ball down and then launch it towards the far end of the restaurant and a Rashford/Haaland could leap like a salmon (football cliché warning) and nod it into the onion bag/kitchen without fear of banging their noggin or harming their valuable pegs. 

​The menu is the sort that makes the hungry chimp in every human

The restaurant sits in the Hilton Manchester Deansgate on the ground floor of Beetham Tower. The décor has a certain 1960s Modernist grandeur even though it surfaced in 2006. It was designed by Manchester’s very own ‘tower’ practice, SimpsonHaugh.It’s an impressive space but cold. The food is also impressive and the temperature needs to be considered here too but Podium is very much worth a trip.

I’d not eaten here for years but what the chef David Ashton is delivering now makes me wonder why. Ashton’s food is considered and careful but with a colour and flamboyance that is a delight to the eye. His back story is good too starting at KP and then working his way through the ranks in various places. 

Ashton’s menu is the sort that makes the hungry chimp in every human 

I started with the hand-dived scallop with strawberry nahm jim, sorrel and cucumber (£11.50) which seemed an unlikely combination. I had no idea what nahm jim was so I checked and disappointingly it wasn’t a Vietnam War veteran from Texas but a sauce made of garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chillis, and here’ combined with strawberries.

The flavours weren’t disappointing though. They were extraordinarily good. In fact this was a proper 9/10 dish with fine, fine scallops to boot. I would go back every day for a week to grab this if I were passing.

Scallops and strawberry nahm jim Image: Confidentials

A main course of cod seemed over-priced at £21 on first look but it turned out to be perfectly cooked (lightly cooked is better pehaps), and flakingly just right. The thing of beauty here though was a smoked eel and pea tart which was tremendous and when mushed up with the fish danced a proper seadog’s jig and rill. Good stuff again.

Podium Restaurant Review 3
Good cod, flakingly right Image: Confidentials

I was clearly getting carried away so I forgot to take a picture of the lemon drizzle with goat’s curd and fennel (£8) which was exceptional again. A proper pudding, rich, sweet and gloriously fattening at 861 calories.

I know that because the menu helpfully told me. All the dishes warn you of how many calories you are snaffling. The Billy Bunter award here goes to the rib-eye steak with chips which comes in at 1502 calories.

Who cares.

Sporting these calory scores is a ridiculous notion. 

If you’re paying these prices you’ve not come to calorie count, you’ve come to indulge and you can’t indulge pretending to be an ascetic monk. Indeed, if you counting calories bugger off back home and eat some air. 

Podium Restaurant Review 2
The massive, ginormous, huge restaurant Image: Confidentials
Podium Restaurant Review 1
The bar area Image: Confidentials

Podium is a two AA rosette restaurant and that's mad. It should be four rosettes at least. There is one caveat. The walk from kitchen to dining area seems to put a chill on the food. I had to send one course back because it was cold. That element of the experience needs addressing.

Other than that, Podium should be put on a pedestal by Manchester diners.

Podium Restaurant, Hilton Deansgate Manchester, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ

The scoring

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their type, so tea rooms are measured against other tea rooms, casual dining against other casual dining, fine dining against other fine dining.

1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.

  • Food 8.5/10

    Scallop 9, cod 8, lemon drizzle 8

  • Service 4/5

  • Ambience 2.5/5