I have been to the Lowry a few times. Usually to visit the outlet but I have also seen a couple of shows there recently. Every time I end up dining at one of the chain restaurants nearby and had never considered dining on site at Pier Eight before, and I’m not really sure why? I think it is because I’ve never really noticed it so the fact they have undergone some serious renovation has made it much more prominent.
The space is open, light and airy with spectacular views over Media City. We visited at night so unfortunately the photos don’t do the view justice but, if you visit, make sure you get a window table. You’ll thank me for it.
The menu is small which I actually love – I always wonder how a kitchen can keep ingredients for some of the huge menus I’ve seen in some restaurants before? The kitchen here is open plan so you can watch your food being cooked and, considering it was so quiet when we visited, we knew which were our dishes. Our dishes were actually really interesting to watch being prepared as my date for the evening has an allergy to onions, one which is difficult to manage at the best of times.
My scallops starter was beautiful. Beautifully seared scallops on a bed of nutty lentils, fatty bacon and a smoky red wine sauce, a dash of cauliflower puree on the side to balance it all out. My only complaint was that I’d have liked more of it!
The fuzzy picture (sorry my camera had broke so I was relying on a crap Samsung S5 phone!) is the brown and white crab meat in a creamy mayonnaise dressing that was just enough to bind it without overpowering the delicate flavours. The accompanying herb salad added a lightness to the stronger brown crab which was welcomed.
For mains I went for the chicken breast which was served on a bed of kale with a sweet potato and chestnut cake, sage stuffing and a roasted parsnip. The chicken was juicy and tender with a rich sauce which worked so well with the kale and the sage stuffing. I’m not a sweet potato fan in general and the sweet potato with chestnut cake needed a little more seasoning although that is purely my taste. My friend loved it.
He chose the lamb but was advised the lyonnaise potatoes and accompanying sauce both contained onions. This was no issue for the chef who offered mashed potato and an alternative sauce. Top marks for working quickly with that awkward request! Said mashed potato was creamy and wonderfully smooth, the sauce did not lose anything in terms of flavour from the lack of onion and the lamb? Where do I start? Soft and buttery, cooked exactly as requested, a delight. The sweetbreads were soft and perfectly seasoned whilst the red cabbage brought it all together with its sweet yet slightly tart flavour. Such a beautiful dish and one that I will order next time.
I’m not entirely sure how we managed it but we both ordered desserts. They were huge! I chose the satsuma trifle which could easily have satisfied us both. Tangy and fresh satsuma segments in a passion fruit jelly with lashings of thick, creamy custard topped with a more than generous layer of cream. I was utterly defeated yet it was so good I just couldn’t stop eating. I wish I had asked if I could take the rest home. My friend chose the warm chocolate brownies and changed the sauce to ice cream, once again this didn’t phase either our waitress or the chef who advised this was no issue at all. The brownies were soft and wonderfully gooey in the middle with a satisfying crust, some of the best I have tried in Manchester.
A truly lovely evening in a pretty setting with great food, welcoming yet unintrusive service and a very impressive chef. Part of me wishes Pier Eight were in the centre of Manchester so I could visit more often, Salford Quays is a bit out of the way when not driving for my liking, but then I think it would lose its edge and identity elsewhere. This just means I’ll have to go and see more theatre, which is never going to be a bad thing.
We were invited to dine as guests of Pier Eight and weren’t asked to pay for our meal.