Flavours of summer holidays and English garden parties
There’s nowhere quite like Manchester Hall. The former Freemasons’ Masonic hall is like a (very good looking) sleeping giant that has been woken up and given a facelift. The neo classical building has recently been lovingly restored into a multi-use, boutique space for all manner of hospitality events. But you don’t have to be a member and you don’t have to have been specially invited, because Manchester Hall has its very own restaurant – Mason’s.
Since it opened last year Mason’s has collected a host of accolades such as ‘Manchester’s best hidden gem’ and ‘one of the most instagrammable places in the UK.’ The designers have managed to create a fresh, contemporary interior which nods to its history as a gentlemen’s club. With polished wooden floors, whitewashed walls and plush green velvet chairs and booths, it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or evening.
Mason’s restaurant and bar is open all day for breakfast meetings, through to lunchtime catch-ups, romantic dinners or more relaxing evening meals. The menu is classically British, which again links to the building’s heritage, but with a world ‘influence’ which alludes to the British Empire and our nation’s age-old wonderlust. You’ll also discover some traditional dishes, often overlooked but much loved – especially when it comes to puddings.
Everything has been lovingly made using only the best quality ingredients, sourced from some of the most renowned producers across the UK, including Goosnargh chicken from Norfolk and Dukesmoor fillet of beef from Northumbria. As you’d expect, the seasonally changing menu pays respect to the best ingredients available, so Mason’s latest a la carte features tastes that invoke the flavours of summer holidays and garden parties with vibrant salads, fresh vegetables and ripe soft fruit.
The Masons kitchen team have thought carefully about each and every dish, considering texture, taste, seasonality and presentation. Take their new starter of Masons’ fish and chips – it’s not quite what you’d expect from one of Britain’s favourite dishes. Instead of the carb-heavy treat, this is a much lighter version including whitebait, a huge juicy prawn and a tender seared scallop on pea puree with straw courgette fries.
Scallop ceviche was another one of our favourite new starters, taking on the flavours of a marinade made from lime, a hint of fresh red chilli, red onion and coriander. Thinly sliced radish and fresh cucumber gave the dish a lovely crunch. We also enjoyed another popular fish starter of ‘roll mop’ pickled herring stuffed with lightly pickled onion and fennel, served on a delicate mustard and pea crème fraiche.
Vegetarians are well catered for with a range of particularly imaginative dishes including a starter of lightly battered and fried courgette flowers stuffed with piquant Welsh goat’s cheese and an unusual homemade spiced strawberry chutney. This would be perfect to whet the appetite before a stunning vegan main course of chargrilled baby gem, on top of a comforting ‘British Raj-Spiced’ lentil dahl and crunchy cauliflower bhajis. Chargrilling lettuce might seem unusual, but it brings out its seldom-recognised sweetness, and there’s something quite satisfying about cutting into a generous wedge of lettuce heart.
Another main course dish of simply grilled sardines with churrasco marinade, homemade sweet potato crisps and a warm heritage tomato salad actually tastes of coastal holidays by the Mediterranean Sea. We also enjoyed an equally European-inspired dish of herb rolled rump of Cheshire lamb on mashed white bean rosemary mash, roast cherry tomatoes and a tangle of crispy Parmesan matchstick potato ribbons
Puddings are one of Masons real strengths. They might have just introduced their new a la carte menu, but there would be complaints if desserts didn’t include chocolate marquise, which has become somewhat of a signature dessert in a relatively short time. This rich, indulgent solid chocolate mousse, topped with a rich double chocolate ice cream offers chocolate lovers the perfect cocoa hit. For something lighter and fresher, try a citrus spiked grapefruit panna cotta with a gin and tonic jelly – made using Manchester gin of course.
The star of the new desserts has to be Masons take on the classic Eton Mess. Their meringue, cream and strawberry concoction also comes with a little theatre and requires some interaction. Whack the impressive meringue sphere with the back of your spoon to reveal a centre full of ripe strawberries and whipped cream.
Those are just a few of the highlights from Masons new a la carte menu. The kitchen team have really come into their own, balancing exceptional high quality with fantastic value for money, in comfortable yet plush surroundings. Front of house service is friendly and attentive, while the drinks menu is worth another feature on its own – especially when it comes to their dedicated martini trolley. A visit to Masons restaurant and bar is both a treat and a home from home.