Despite there being a plethora of bars and restaurants in Manchester, I have found myself spending more and more time in the hotel bars and restaurants of the city. King Street Townhouse has the most perfect view of the city from its terrace and Store Street in the Doubletree by Hilton is my favourite ‘last stop’ bar on the way to the train station. The latest for me to try is the River Restaurant in the Lowry Hotel.
I have dined at the River Restaurant before, back when I was an elite member of the Yelp team in Manchester. It was a set meal but I remember it being delicious, so I was looking forward to seeing what the new Summer a la carte menu had to offer.
We kicked things off with some freshly made breads and butter whilst we pondered over the menu. The selection was amazing and I am pretty sure, with some olives, I would have happily snacked on these instead of a starter.
The menu is vast with an incredible selection, from warming dishes that take the edge off the colder summer nights, to summery fish options when you need a lighter bite. To say I struggled to choose is an understatement, I would have happily eaten most things on the menu and that isn’t really like me.
After much umming and aahing, my friend chose the Potted Shrimps, whilst I went for the Twice Baked Lancashire Bomb Souffle. The shrimps really hit the spot with a generous serving of delicious shrimps, topped with a shrimp butter that wasn’t too thick and a side of toasted rye bread. The dish was quite shallow too which meant it was easy to get an even amount of shrimp and shrimp butter. I find so often the butter is really thick meaning the taste of the shrimps is somewhat redundant, that wasn’t the case here.
The soufflé was equally as good. Being twice baked, it was slightly denser than a standard souffle, but the strong cheese taste was prevalent throughout and was not lost at all in the baking process. The balsamic pearls added texture and a sourness to each mouthful, whilst the pickled apples added an element of sweetness to help cut through the strong cheese. I love that River Restaurant are using locally sourced ingredients too and this is one of my favourite cheeses from the region. In this dish, it shines.
Something unique to the River Restaurant, to my knowledge, is their sharing mains. Despite wanting to try half of the menu, I could not tear my eyes away from the Rosemary Roast Leg of Lamb sharing dish, so that is what we had. It arrived to the table as a whole dish, before being carved for us and left with the sides. I love this idea so much! The lamb was served pink, keeping it light and soft in the mouth. It was served with a Lancashire hot pot and pickled red cabbage which worked well with the meat. I’ve never had hot pot as a side to meat before but I most definitely will in the future. It was lighter than other versions I have tried with a generous potato topping. The pickled red cabbage had a sour bite which really helped to balance out the richness of the other elements on the plate.
Finally dessert, and my eyes had to be dragged away from a sharing dessert because it didn’t seem right when we had shared a main. I chose the Lemongrass and Lime Creme Brûlée, with my friend going for the Caramelised Apple Crumble. The creme brûlée is not a traditional style of serving and was almost like a pannacotta, without being as ‘set’. The aromatic and slightly perfumed lemongrass flavours are light so as not to overpower the creaminess of the dish and the strawberry sorbet adds a sharpness that matched the lime well. And can we just take a minute to appreciate those teeny cubes of strawberry? That is serious dedication to presentation right there, and added texture to what would ordinarily be a very smooth dish.
The apple crumble had a generous layer of chunky fruit, topped with a slightly sweet yet slightly bitter crumble. The caramelisation adds to the flavour to give it something a little different and the creamy vanilla ice cream topped it off, quite literally.
Our experience at the River Restaurant was perfect, with exceptional service throughout. The Lowry Hotel is well known for its beautiful rooms and service, I am happy to report that the restaurant matches that and more. The terrace is also open with views across the river and I can see myself spending a lot of time out there this summer, gin in hand. Maybe I’ll see you there and you can share that dessert I missed out on.
I was invited to dine as a guest of River Restaurant and was not asked to pay.