Nothing ends the week quite like a good old traditional roast dinner
While there’s a place for glistening fresh oysters and teetering towers of shellfish, we can’t help feeling resolute that Sunday afternoons are all about enjoying a traditional British roast dinner.
Whether it’s thanks to crisp, comforting roast potatoes, helping to put right any damage done from drinking too much the night before, or lashings of smooth, rich gravy to take you back to the happiest days of your childhood, you can’t beat a good Sunday lunch.
But good stuff often brings with it a downside and in this case it’s the food shopping, the cooking, the exact timing, setting the table and of course, all that washing up. Every so often it’s better to leave things to the professionals, and there’s a new roast in town.
Randall and Aubin is an independent British establishment with classic French undertones and although they’re renowned for serving seafood and shellfish, they understand exactly how to give the more carnivorous Sunday roast the respect it deserves. After celebrating the 20th birthday of their Soho restaurant, they’ve recently opened a second venue in Manchester, so we went along on a Sunday to try it out and found their roast to be a contender for one of the best in town.
As it’s a set menu (£18 for two courses and £23 for three) there’s only one choice of first course and dessert and we expect them to change week by week to suit the seasons and the best ingredients available. On our visit the hors d’oeuvres was a plate of crab and mango with a brown bread crumb. The Sunday starter is a chance for the kitchen team to show some skills off menu and the paper thin disks of sweet, ripe mango brought out the best of the fresh, shredded crab meat with colour coming from a smooth silky avocado puree and added texture from crunchy bread crumbs and micro leaves of fresh coriander. It did exactly what a first course is supposed to do – to get your juices going but not to fill you up.
There are three choices of meat for the main event; roast chicken, beef and lamb and all come served with both roast potatoes and mash, carrot, broccoli, a side portion of cauliflower cheese and your own personal gravy jug. Portions are generous and his being R&A, provenance of ingredients is as important as the cooking and presentation. Chef/owner Ed Baines is uncompromising on quality and orders meat and poultry from Aubrey Allen, the same highly respected butcher who supplies their flagship establishment – and The Queen, no less.
In a recent interview with Confidential, Ed told us that spit roast chicken and chips and a glass of 1936 Swiss beer will probably be his choice of last supper, so we were glad to see it as part of the Sunday lunch menu. The plates were positively heaving when they arrived at the table – just what we like to see. The half rotisserie classic corn fed free range chicken was juicy with crispy skin, the roast prime beef perfectly pink and tender and the apricot stuffed Suffolk leg of slow spit roasted lamb full of flavour and melt in the mouth.
Randall and Aubin’s wine list is worth deeper exploration but we thought we’d start at the top of the list of red wines with Percheron Old Vine Cinsault from Western Cape, South Africa at £22.00 and work our way through the rest of the bottles on subsequent visits. Rich and fruity, but still light and refreshing, it turned out to be a great choice to accompany each main course.
Our dessert was also suitably light because although we were full to bursting, it’s nice to have a little something sweet to round of the week. On this visit, we shared a delicate white chocolate panna cotta with a scoop of honeycomb ice cream, but expect there’ll be a new sweet surprise each week.
So there you have it, Randall and Aubin have given Manchester a new, top quality city centre Sunday lunch to add to the list.
Randall & Aubin Manchester, 64 Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3BN.