Sample the best of modern British – and Manchester’s finest lamb dish.
Manchester’s leading British restaurant, Grafene, has a new summer menu – and it’s even better value than before. The King Street restaurant has already made a name for itself with an extraordinary fine dining menu. But the experience just got even better with a host of new dishes specially created for the summer months.
Highlights include a new lamb dish with rump, kidneys and a rich, slow-cooked pie on the side, broccoli veloute with blue cheese custard and a range of indulgent desserts, local cheeses and signature cocktails.
The restaurant took on new head chef, Stephen Moore, in February and, since then, he’s painstakingly built on the restaurant’s already impressive reputation. Presentation has always been a strength and Moore has all the hallmarks of a perfectionist with every aspect of each dish enjoying as much TLC as the next.
The new lamb dish will have you returning to experience the salty stew, the rare slivers of meat and the bitter-sweet intensity of the kidneys time and again.
The new tasting platter served at the bar is a lesson in his exacting style. It also showcases the kitchen’s impressive scope, with homemade ale bread (all the breads at Grafene are made in house), a tomato jam, mini Scotch quails egg served alongside regional cheeses and charcuterie. A sensually smooth chicken liver pate, dusted with chicken skin ‘granola’ completes the experience. It’s one of the most sublime yet savoury things we’ve ever tasted.
In fact, theatrical elements such as the ‘granola’, mentioned above, are worked into every dish at Grafene. The cheesecake, for example, is served with a bowl of mint enswathed in dry ice, which unfurls its fragrant mist across the centre of the table. Edible extras, and delicious secrets come as standard at Grafene. The Blacksticks blue cheese custard in the broccoli soup is a wonderful example, as is the citrusy ponzu sauce with the Asian-style cod loin.
Cocktails are excellent too. Don’t miss the swirling, purple bestselling house blend, Grafene 55.5 (£9). This bubbling eye catcher includes two types of gin (Tanqueray and William Chase sloe gin) mixed with pear and grape juice. Or opt foran Old Fashioned (£8, served with orange oil at Grafene), or the ‘Mancohattan’ (£9), with bourbon and handmade ManCoco coffee liqueur.
Then there’s the price: the menu is now among the most competitively priced in Manchester. The reason is that the management have reduced the range of options slightly in order to focus on the seasonal menu. The result is better value for money for diners, yet the same extraordinary quality that we’ve come to expect from Grafene. We’ve pulled out just a few highlights below.
Spring lamb hotpot
New starters include a richly savoury, slow-cooked Spring lamb hotpot with peas, a dusting of dill and crispy, spring onions (£9). This is a small meal in itself and available to order at the bar, in pie form too, for under £6.
The finest soup in Manchester is a broccoli veloute (a remarkable £4.50), with English asparagus, Blacksticks custard and a dusting of pistachio. This dish is an absolute belter – and even better with hunks of oven-fresh home made bread and salty butter on the side.
Octopus with rhubarb and fennel
A real highlight is the meaty, Galician-inspired, char grilled octopus (£9), served perfectly tender on a bed of crushed potato with lettuce, rhubarb and fennel.
Gnocchi with butternut squash, truffle and pumpkin seeds
Moving onto mains, a new gnocchi (£13) dish - all too rare in Manchester - brings to mind the elegant, worldly cooking of Buenos Aires. The handcrafted potato dumplings are served with crispy hunks of butternut squash, truffle and crispy pumpkin seeds.
Guinea fowl with spring vegetables and broth
There’s a new game dish on the menu at Grafene, in the shape of guinea fowl (breast and leg, £16) with spring vegetables and broth. It’s a light, simple way to enjoy this seasons’ most fashionable poultry dish.
Cod with daikon, seaweed and ponzu
This remarkable cod creation (£18) is a lesson in textural contrast: the cod skin, the crisp disk of sweet ponzu (a kind of Japanese citrus dipping sauce, infused with yuzu juice) and the finely minced daikon, again, infused with ponzu.
Lamb rump, and lamb three ways
This three-tiered lamb dish (£23), composed of a lamb pie, lamb rump and kidneys, served on spring vegetables is Stephen Moore’s pièce de résistance; the kind of dish you’ll be returning for time and again, bringing anyone you can, simply to experience the salty stew, the rare slivers of meat and the bitter-sweet intensity of the kidneys before the menu changes again.
Cheesecake with rum soaked pineapple, coconut sorbet
Dessert sees playful fruit and tropical elements bring a wave of summer into Grafene’s elegant interior. This is the surprisingly light cheesecake (£7) with rum-soaked pineapple and coconut sorbet, served with a dry ice and mint fountain in the centre of the table.
Chocolate ganache, meringue, cocoa nib, mandarin sorbet
This cocoa composition (£8) is a real treat for chocolate lovers with an almost toffee-ish ganache, combined with meringue and cocoa nibs. Mandarin sorbet cuts through the intensity with flair.
It doesn’t stop there. After pudding, take a voyage through the very best in British cheese, with options that include lesser-known options such as Derbyshire’s crumbly, salty Peakland White and an ewes milk Yorkshire Fettle as well as modern classics like Blacksticks Blue. Or try another cocktail. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed at Grafene. In fact, we can guarantee that once you’ve tried the new menu, you’ll find it hard not to make it a habit.
Grafene, 55 King Street, Manchester, Tel: 0161 696 9700