Jonathan Schofield adores a perfect parfait in mostly elegant surroundings
This is how one restaurateur who didn't want to be named described the present situation to me. “We have staff in the building but not with experience and no one to supervise or train them. And don’t start me on the chef situation. It’s brutal out there.”
It's worth going to Rendition for this dainty morsel alone
On another occasion I was up in the Lake District recently and I tried to book a table for a Sunday evening. After I thought I'd secured a spec the owner rang back to say he couldn’t honour the booking. He said: “A thousand apologies but blame bloody Brexit and bloody Covid, which means we have no bloody staff.”
I was thinking about this in Rendition. The young staff serving our table were lovely but you could tell they weren’t very experienced. They were learning on the job, which is no bad thing of course, but again, it emphasised the problems facing the hospitality industry.
Rendition occupies the former Tapeo site on Deansgate, a decent Spanish restaurant that closed in March 2020 and didn’t make it through the pandemic. The decor’s been smartened up in the replacement restaurant which has aspirations to provide high class mainly British-inspired food.
There's certainly a moody charm to the place with new curtains freshly adorning the windows. This means, if visiting on a Saturday night, you don’t have to look at the mayhem at the Peter Street and Deansgate junction. The curtains weren't in place when we visited and we wondered whether there should be a byelaw concerning the amount of inflatable male genitalia hen parties should be allowed to bring within the city limits. I’m thinking on any given night ten is more than enough, or maybe five really big ones, you know the ones as big as the young woman embracing it.
The only other crude element with our experience was the revealed brickwork behind the plaster which needed sanding down at its edges.
The menu is splendidly straightforward, three starters, three mains, three desserts. It comes with two courses for £20 or three for £28.
The starters revealed the skill in the kitchen in both cooking and presentation. Cured salmon, goats curd and dressed peas was pretty as a picture and rammed with flavour with all the elements gently partying together. It was nice the peas had dressed for the occasion.
The chicken parfait was even better. This exquisite dish was really delicate, really moist and packed with supple distinction. The fig jam enhanced the whole. It's worth going to Rendition for this dainty morsel alone. A toasted brioche that came with the starters was too claggy for my liking.
The main of chicken breast, bbq aubergine, broad beans and crispy potato dumpling was another success. The potato dumplings were the revelation here, you could fill a bag with these and happily munch away while watching a footy match. Rendition should market these as a warm takeaway snack akin to a bag of chestnuts.
The chicken was timed "to a T", succulent and juicy, and all the better for the crispy skin. The chicken apparently comes from Goosnargh, which always makes me wonder how big that fowl farm in the Ribble valley is. Miles across presumably.
Desserts kept up the standard. The Lancashire cheeses helped along a lovely full Sicilian glass or two of Nerello Mascalese, the goats cheese being the standout. It was the trifle that was the winner though. A thing of sweet beauty featuring lemon and raspberry. Again, a dish worth seeking out in its own right.
The good news was that at no point did the CIA run in and take me away to interrogate me in illegal and cruel ways. Rendition is an odd name for a restaurant, presumably not referring to controversial anti-terrorism methods but a performance or better an interpretation of, in this case, food and drink. The word is normally used with regard to music, in which case, the limited menu here hit all the right notes, with the food perfectly presented and full of nuance. The only caveat may be portion size. A big man might want more bolstering. But that's only a tiny niggle in what was otherwise a very pleasurable experience.
Rendition 209 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3NW
Follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @jonathschofield
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.
Cured salmon 7, chicken parfait 9, chicken main 7.5, trifle 7, cheese 7
Enthusiastic but early days, needs to be a little more confident
Calm and easy-going