MANCHESTER RESTAURANT REVIEWS - Mr Cooper's Manchester Reviews  
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Mr Cooper's Manchester
Mr Cooper's Reviews
78%
AddressMidland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS
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PhoneBOOK ONLINEPhone0161 235 4781

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"Accomplished cooking, with something for all tastes"
 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Review Mr Cooper's Manchester Review
Mr Cooper's Manchester Review
Restaurants Of Manchester (Saturday 12th January 2019)

Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

 

Decor & Ambience 4 stars

Positives

Mr Coopers is located in The Midland Hotel, which clearly scores it nothing but plus points in the décor stakes. You feel like a Queen/King on arrival, especially if you enter through the hotel foyer, up the main door steps via some red carpet which was laid out for a pending wedding arrival…. as we pretentiously did.  The restaurant itself is also lovely, with stunning high ceilings, and a really homely feel to the seating areas.  The  new benches in the 'garden' area are super comfy too!  All in all, one of the smartest and grandest places in town, which still retains a relaxed and laid back feel.

Positives
The 'House and Garden' feel doesn’t really have any synergy with the new branding.  I mean it's lovely, but why does it look like a house and garden anymore, when it’s no longer as such in name?  Also, some heavily worn flooring could do with some TLC.
 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Review Mr Cooper's Manchester Review
Cocktails At Mr Coopers Halloumi Fries (£6)
 

Price Fantastic

Positives

Value for money has improved somewhat since the original guise, at which I still recall paying a hefty £28 for a Cumbrian lamb dish.  The lamb main course is now £19.  There's great value to be had here in the £18 and under main course range though, and the food is ideally priced, especially for the quality on offer, within a high end hotel restaurant.

Positives

High wine mark ups are evident and there's also some pricy sides, as per the Halloumi fries at a GP boosting £6.  Also, a 10% 'discretionary' service charge is added for you in anticipation.  I've done this rant to death for years, but it's a London thing which will never wash without a begrudging grimace here in Mcr, even if you'd have chosen to pay it anyway, as we would on this occasion.  It does go to the staff though, so you can feel comfortable that the people who looked after you are being rewarded whilst you're feeling like a miser.

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Review Mr Cooper's Manchester Review
Soft Poached Hen’s Egg (£8.00) Charred Mackerel (£7.00)
 

Service Fantastic

Positives

Our super friendly server did a great job throughout, especially after only a few months in her role, and the manager was also witty, charming and knew his stuff. We were treated like celebs throughout, especially after that red carpet walk as we landed.  Fortunately, running across St Peters Square to catch our alcohol-enforced bus ride home, somewhat balanced out our pretence a bit.

Positives

We felt a bit neglected on arrival, and despite only half of them being occupied, the first table offered was the worst available, tucked away in that space which many restaurants have; only housing a table simply because one just happened to shoehorn in.  First come first served for the nice seats I say. Unless you are actually important of course.

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Review Mr Cooper's Manchester Review
Braised Beef Cheek (£18.00) Goosnargh Chicken Breast (£18.00)
 

Food & Drink 4 stars

Positives

Drinks wise, Mr Coopers is still one of the very best in the city, with some of our finest bottle-slingers having passed through at some stage.  In the restaurant itself, the drinks offering is strong with a good range of quality across the board, whether it be cocktails, wine or anything else that tickles your fancy.

On the food side of things; a new menu has given a new lease of life to Mr Coopers.  Accomplished cooking, with something for all tastes and solid use of our regional produce.  Starters were a soft poached hen’s egg with sprouting broccoli (£8.00), nuanced with the mustardy notes of nasturtium, topped with onion crumb.  The just-cooked broccoli was diced via some novel prep, giving good texture.  Charred mackerel with pickled kohlrabi and sesame seeds (£7.00) was another fresh and light dish, which felt more Summery than mid-January, but was blowtorched to perfection, with the root veg giving a lovely fresh bite. 

Mains started with a bang in the form of braised beef cheek, salt baked beetroot, mash, and bone marrow crumb (£18.00).  Slow cooked cuts are the best thing about Winter cooking, and this nailed it.  Falling apart, on some comforting mashed spud, with the richness of that bone marrow crumb.  You wanted to be sat in your PJs in front of a log fire.  Really good.  Not far behind was Goosnargh chicken breast, with confit root vegetables, Pommes Anna, Pecorino and truffle (£18.00). The chicken was as good as you'd expect from Goosnargh and was cooked well, along with the well put-together potato stack.  The truffle notes and some slick saucing rounded off the plate. 

Puddings were Mr Cooper’s caramel tart with mascarpone ice cream (£6.00), which was a simple yet well executed affair, with nice yet perhaps slightly thick pastry and a lovely, delicately brulee'd caramel filling.  Dark chocolate delice, amaretti, tonka bean ice cream (£6.50) was the best of the two, and looked great to boot, topped with an edible viola flower, giving a massive chocolate hit to end the meal on. Some people say that chocolate is too heavy to end on.  I disagree.

Positives

A bit of carelessness on the chicken garnish, via some watery and soggy baby turnip.  I left it on the plate to give Chef a clue to check his turnips.  No, not those ones!  There was some samey presentation on the puddings too, and a bit more crockery colour/style variety would be nice too.

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Review Mr Cooper's Manchester Review
Dark Chocolate Delice (£6.50) Mr Cooper’s Caramel Tart (£6.00)
 

Overall Very Good

Positives

Back to somewhere along the lines of its former self; one of the best casual high end dining rooms in the city.  Welcome back.  We've missed you!

Positives

Some high wine mark ups, and those Halloumi fries…

 
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Mr Cooper's Manchester
Mr Cooper's Restaurant Reviews

The term fine dining doesn’t really have a set meaning these days.  Back when I was new to the game, it usually meant a level of formality, slightly stiff service, and intrinsically food prepared with care, technique and fine ingredients.  'Fine' food was more niche and mainstream than it is now is, and dare I say it, a touch Elitist really.  In 2017 though everybody is a foodie, everybody is a food critic, and places selling fine food come in all shapes to cater for a broader audience. 

You can now be a fine dining tapas bar, a fine dining steak  house, a fine dining whatever you want to be, as long as the food is 'fine' in the context of excellence.  People in our great city generally run a mile from anything which actively promotes itself as being fine dining though, and to be blunt, places in Manchester which actively use that term generally fall short of being anything more than 'fine' as in the OK sense.  Fine dining curry houses, Thai places, etc usually just means that you'll pay £3 more for your noodles, due to nice lighting and fancy plates. 

One thing which has remained constant though over the years when it comes to fine dining, regardless of the packaging, is the quality of food. That’s what it's all about, ultimately.  What Manchester lacked for years was a place which served genuine quality food, fine dining as it would, without any of the formality and stiffness.  Without being stereotypically 'fine', based in a serious room or any of that. 

When Mr Cooper's popped up, that calling seemed to have been answered.  Launched hot on the heels of the slightly more formal, grander and 'finer' dining experience over the lobby; Mr Coopers was labelled as an international restaurant, to suit all tastes, in a funky, fun, totally informal dining space.  The truffled beef served at the launch party is still fresh in my stored food memory banks.  The cocktails have always been some of the finest in the city too, ideal in a city which loves drink-led, vibrantly ambianced dining more than any other in the UK. 

The food stood up to the test too, delivering informal quality, guided at the time by Simon Rogan, whose Cumbrian sourced produce is some of the best in the country which is a big part of why he's based up there.  Now Simon Rogan has left, and we were curious to see what had changed at Mr Coopers so nipped down to have a look first hand. 

Mr Cooper's Manchester

Looking over the menu with a cocktail or two, which are still indeed some of the best in the city, it was good to see the same heavy use of Cumbrian produce.  Why break links with trusted suppliers who deliver consistently good produce which you know well, regardless of whose name is over the door?   

Coming back to that drinks list; wine mark-ups were a tad high in places. The lovely Vidal NZ Sauvignon Blanc at £33 was a hefty tag for a bottle which I picked up at the wine merchants the other day for just £8.25.  City centre, 4 star hotel mark-ups forgotten though, you can't argue with the quality and better value throughout the wine list though, with something for most tastes and budgets, with choices around the £20.  It's generally one of the best drinks offerings in the city on balance, and without question is one of our go-to cocktail venues. 

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester

The dining room is still lovely and age has been kind to the theme.  We sat in our favoured spot; The Garden, under the tree.  An actual tree too. 

The Library area is also lovely but can feel a bit snug when well occupied, so we were happy with this spot.   Looking around, mainly the floors, are already showing signs of ageing and heavy wear. 

A little bit of TLC could be needed before it gets out of hand and those little things which you see every day eventually become normal and hence unnoticed.  Still, it’s a cracking space all in all, and you'd be hard pressed to find somewhere similar looking in an age of overly used Edison bulbs and generic styling. 

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Mr Cooper's Manchester

Plates started to land, and the start was a good one; nice bread served with seasoned butter, on a plank too.  We tucked in and got the tastebuds online. 

The Charred Mackeral with Horseradish Veloute starter (£8.00) was generally solid.  Perfectly cooked, probably blowtorched fish, garnished with some leek ash and beetroot oil. The veloute was massively salty though, especially on top of an already salty fish, but still textbook like made, ultra-light, and my seasoning addicted sidekick disagreed about the Maldon levels, so each to their own on that one really. 

Next was Pressed Ham Hock with crispy pig's cheek (£8.50), which was a porky triumph of taste and texture.  The rich egg yolk and brown sauce lifted the dish massively, and the pair of plates were a very good start. 

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Mr Cooper's Manchester

We splurged a bit on the Cumbrian Beef Sirloin, with smoked beetroot puree, parsley root and marrow fat jus (£26.50), which was cooked pink as requested and clearly very high quality beef. Anything smoked is good in food terms, and the beetroot was immense, adding to an already bold dish with big flavours. 

Cumbrian Lamb Rump (£20.50), which you'd assume was Herdwick based on its quality and those Cumbrian sources, came with scorched turnips and cracked wheat with a superb lamb jus.  Probably just edged out the beef as an all-round plate too, feeling more complete somehow. 

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Mr Cooper's Manchester

Neither plate needed sides really, but we dived in anyway.  Chips were a sad failure though, and we've said this on every visit to Mr Coopers, yet we still keep giving them another shot.  £4.50 for a vessel of standard fries, plus you could see the bottom of said vessel prior to even diving in, so it was hardly a free-flowing portion.  No truffle-oiled, parmesan-doused, skin-on, hand-chipped, artisan fries, served in an enamel dish either, which you could warrant spending almost an hours post tax minimum wage on.  They were OK, but just fries, with salt to be fair.  The kitchen can do much better though.  Easy profits I guess, but still, inexcusable in Manchester especially.  We invented eating chips with everything after all.

Our other side dish of Cauliflower and Leek Gratin (also £4.50) was however, splendid.  A vegetarian's main course masquerading as a side dish, in fact.  Perfectly cooked al dente cauli, with supremely rich and decadent white sauce, then good acidity from the leeks to keep it all in harmony, served in a huge portion to boot.  I don’t mind admitting that this was in the top 3 of all 9 things which we ordered. Order this twice and skip the chips

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester Mr Cooper's Manchester

Caramel Popcorn Tart (£8) left us agreeing that you'd be hard pressed to find tart pastry work any better than this.  As thin as paper, still with great shortness, texture and bite, filled with super rich caramel filling.  The popcorn added a bit of fun to the dish too. 

We'd noticed at the stage of the meal though, that nearly every dish had been served on something rare these days ; a plain white circular plate. No slate, stone-effect, black-mottled item.  It was refreshing to be honest, and only emphasised the Mr Cooper's ethos of refined yet informal. 

Kendal Mint Cake Brownie (£8) was a taste explosion of chocolate and superbly refreshing mint, garnished with a mint coated, dehydrated mint leaf.  That didn’t stop the dish looking a bit sloppy though, especially next to the delicate tart.  The portion size was monsterous too, and as tasty as it was, we struggled to finish it.  But we did, clearly.  Not as refined as you'd expect, but still super tasty.

 
Mr Cooper's Manchester

So, Mr Coopers hasn’t suffered from QHotels losing their Simon Rogan link, not at all. The cocktails are still out of this world, and the dining experience has kept its quality too, barring the chips but then they've never changed so clearly most punters are content with them.  Broadly, its business as usual in one of the city's best dining rooms, and without question one of the best bars in the region, and arguably the best 'informal fine dining' venue which we have.  Whatever that term means. ~ Sandra Handley, Restaurants Of Manchester Trusted Reviewer (Friday 17th March 2017)

 
Food
Price
Service
Smartness
Overall
3 stars
3 stars
3 stars
3 stars
3 stars 78%


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