And the beets go on – bloody good root veg at Masons
I’VE been to Masons several times since it opened and I’ve enjoyed it every time for food. The experience starts with a very congenial room that defines ‘snug’ but is never cramped. There is ample space between the tables. Decoration is marble bar, parquet floor, plants, some original details such as the stained glass and the generous green fabric of the booths. Big windows let in light from the Square With No Name.
The beetroot carpaccio with goats curd, pistachios and herbs was such a good-looking dish, I didn’t know whether to eat it or frame it. I ate it and was glad.
Masons is part of the multi-functional old Masonic Hall on Bridge Street, now reinvented as Manchester Hall. The reinvention has created a quite splendid event building with, in the upper areas, some of the most gracious spaces for hire in the region.
The food and service at Masons is excellent, lunch or evening. My visit with Confidentials editor David Blake was great fun, as the video here shows. A bit daft too. But then that’s what happens when you massacre several bottles of wine while contemplating life, the world, nosh and the beauty of the company credit card.
My favourite dish was the sweet potato dahl with chargrilled aubergine, mint and radish salad. As I’ve said elsewhere, this was a weighty and good-looking dish with propeller blades of aubergine, tiger-striped through chargrilling. There was chilli in the lentils, which added heat, as did the radish, just less so. Extra delight came with the mint which gave a rip-roaring lift to the dish and made it feel all healthy and fresh.
The first of a couple of beetroot bonanzas came with the beetroot carpaccio with goats curd, pistachios and herbs. This was such a good-looking dish, I didn’t know whether to eat it or frame it. I ate it and was glad. It was an uplifting number with rewarding conflicts of flavour.
There was more beetroot in a dish which fled the vegetarian nature of the previous two. This was the roasted duck breast. The meat was perfectly timed and the whole enhanced by beautifully creamy dauphinoise potatoes, cavolo nero, artfully roasted beetroots and a suitably rich sauce for duck chocker with port.
Fish plays a strong part at Masons, and on previous and subsequent visits, the plaice cooked in a beautiful butter sauce with shrimps, pine nuts and samphire has been fabulous, as have the scallops with crème fraîche and radish. The fish stew is a star. The changing soup of the day is always rewarding, as are the desserts. Masons also makes great play with the puds, as the pictures here show. These are a balance of sweetness and lightness with zest too.
It’s odd, but even though I’ve been several times, Masons has never let me down. This is rare in a restaurant. Consistency is a real virtue in catering. So with good food, drink, service and repeat performances that maintain a high standard, I’ll be back again in the near future – especially if I can steal that credit card.