Out of the country for a fortnight and three new restaurants open in my absence. So a couple of weeks off drinking mezcal and eating tacos in the Mexican sunshine – I can’t complain – means playing catch up before Christmas. I’ll be checking out new Brazilian barbecue joint Cabana and Lebanese, Comptoir Libanais very soon, but first up was Quill.
A new King Street venture from the owners of Chalk Bar & Grill down in Didsbury, fine dining is the order of the day and, as the pictures below will attest, they’re not mucking about. The new eatery has enlisted head chef Curtis Stewart to create their a la carte and eight course taster menus, and he brings with him the pedigree of restaurants toting multiple AA Rosettes and Michelin stars. They’ve also recruited a confident front of house team including Anthony Daniels, previously sommelier at Abode, who has helped put together a fantastic wine list. We were given the opportunity to try the taster menu with matched wines and it certainly did not disappoint.
There’s barely enough room on this page to show you all the food, but I should also mention we enjoyed a couple of lovely cocktails, mine a fresh mix of tequila, cucumber and wasabi, and a rather more grown up bourbon tumbler number for my companion. After some impressive canapes with our drinks we moved upstairs to begin the meal proper with duck parfait in topped eggs with a redcurrant jelly. Alongside we also enjoyed some fresh bread that came with Marmite butter, I wouldn’t have minded leaving with a tub of the stuff for the fridge. With all the myriad of Marmite products available, that are at best mixed in their quality, it seems strange they haven’t thought of that one yet.
Anyway, up next was the most theatrical of all the courses. Scallops were served with salt cod and chocolate, presented with dry ice billowing from an ornate centrepiece of shell and stone. The food lived up to its visual element, I was a little sceptical about the chocolate, but the bitterness and sweet balanced and enhanced the seafood wonderfully.
A bit of beetroot followed with sheep’s curd and lovage, all offering their sweet earthiness, and matched wonderfully with a crisp Sancerre. Venison tartare with haggis and yeast flakes was a more savoury but delicate dish. Whilst they differed in flavour profiles, each plate seemed to continue where the other had left off with their wonderful crisp textures.
My favourite course was the stone bass with miso and seaweed. The fish was ridiculously tender with the most perfect crisp skin, and the creaminess of the miso only emerged once the ingredients had been slightly submerged with a fragrant broth, it was one that will stick with me for some time.
Our final savoury course had a similarly dainty morsel, hay smoked lamb topped anchovy and was brought out alongside a smoking fern whose aroma added another layer to an already complex presentation.
The desserts came and continued to impress, we had poached apple pieces with a crisp apple disc and an apple consomme. A white chocolate block with dried raspberry was really incredible; creamy, sour and sharp.
The finale was befitting of everything we’d had before it. Chocolate, caramel, buttermilk ice cream and a piece of silver leaf, a crowd pleaser if ever you saw one.
There’s no doubt this place will be turning a few heads. It’s an ambitious venture, but one which also seems determined to go its own way, and perhaps avoid some of the criticism levelled at members of Manchester’s restaurant royalty. It certainly has a more casual feel to it than you might expect from reading the menu, I look forward to seeing the place bathed in sunlight through the attractive glass front next summer. In the meantime I’d advise you treat yourself, it won’t be long until Quill is top of everyone’s hit list.