Jonathan Schofield has a new favourite restaurant in the city centre
This is my new favourite city centre restaurant. Its website boasts in big, bold homepage letters that it's the best Polish restaurant in Manchester. That statement is the only bit of bombast about Platzki, an actual visit is all about modesty and quality. This place provides one of the more enjoyable restaurant experiences of any cuisine-type, category or sub-category of food.
The food is not only delicious but has heft and substance
Ambience is defined as 'the character and atmosphere of a place' and this has a very rare ambience for the city centre. It bears more relation to a house you've been invited to for a meal by some third party friends. You might not know the hosts very well, but the way they welcome you and fuss over you makes you feel immediately comfortable. This comes not only from the staff but also the dining space that feels like a living room converted to a dining room for a special occasion complete with its books, flowers and a sideboard laden with desserts and fruit, that may have been shoved to one corner to make extra room.
The food's just great, feeling home-cooked in a good way. In other words homely but with a clever restaurant kitchen's control and care. Despite not being the best looking dish, the herring (Sledz - £6.50) I could eat everyday. I probably could do one in for a breakfast as well. This Baltic dish (the family owners are from Gdansk on the Baltic Sea coast) delivers a beautifully prepared oily fish with a rough yet refined whole grain mustard and creme fraiche. Another starter of Polish ham carpaccio (Karkowka - £8) looked fabulous and had a sturdiness in the matured ham and a sweet adornment of berries and a subtle but very present red wine dressing.
The mains were just as good. The sausage stew for lunch on another visit (Lezco - £10) was a real hero. There's smoked sausage, onions, red peppers and courgette all in a tomato sauce with a kick that is so red it looks like a massacre in an abattoir - in a good way of course, if that were to be possible. The stew comes, of course, with sourdough bread, many of the dishes do. The risotto (Kasza - £16) comes with a fave grain of mine, pearl barley, but also roasted pumpkin, blue cheese, walnuts and even a poached pear. It's a satisfying and creative vegetarian dish.
Other mains did the job as well and none need any of the sides unless you are totally ravenous. My 19-year-old son will be back for the lamb shank (Jagniecina - £20) with root vegetable and minted gravy which was as rich as it sounds. When the flesh fell from the bone my son sighed and said with gluttonous eyes, "Now, that's just exactly what you want, isn't it?" The fish special was a seabass and swordfish combo (Ryba - £19) with a beautifully subtle citrus sauce plus cauliflower, asparagus and broccoli. The swordfish lent character to the bland seabass and was clearly intended for just that purpose.
It was cheesecake and vodka for dessert. The fudge cheesecake (£6) was the best cheesecake I've had in two years, in fact since I can remember. It was homemade and devoid of that polyfilla-like smoothness that can become cloying, instead it was chunky and propped up by big fudge flavours.
I ate the cheesecake on the first visit. On the second we had the lovely-looking vodka three shot surprise (£3) with cherry, quince and apricot flavourings. The apricot was king, the quince was queen and the cherry was not to our taste, medicinal.
I was completely charmed by Platzki. The food is not only delicious but has heft and substance. If you want setting up for the day or night then the food here might be the start you require.
The location isn't easy to find, up stairs from Deansgate, up stairs from Great Bridgewater Street, or out of the side door of the Odeon cinema. Nor is the exterior particularly enticing, being a classic 'unit' that was intended for retail. The toilets are a challenge as well, you have to take a key, leave the restaurant and the loos are in a separate area several metres away.
But, pah, who cares about that when the welcome here is so warm and the food is so good.
Platzki, Deansgate Mews, 255 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
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All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 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.
Herring 7.5, carpaccio 7.5, lamb 8, fish 7.5, risotto 6.5, sausage stew 8, cheesecake 8
Like being part of a family
As with the above statement, it's like being in a big family dining room, actually not that big