It has to be said that 20 Stories is one of Manchester’s most sought after restaurants.
In true Spinningfields style, it is elegant, sophisticated and fashionable but there’s one thing that manages to make 20 Stories really stand out from the crowd.
I am, of course, talking about the view. Combining both ends of the restaurant, the loos and the huge roof terrace, we can almost get a full 360-degree look at Manchester’s skyline – one that shines in the daytime and glitters at night.
That is what (literally) puts 20 Stories above the rest, and whether it is for dinner or a quick cocktail – seemingly anyone who is anyone wants to get in there and see it for themselves.
And now there is another opportunity to head on up those 20 flights of stairs as they’ve introduced a reasonable lunch menu which offers two courses for £22 and three for £27.50 Monday – Friday.
But what is the food like? Well, 20 Stories is well-known for its fine-dining approach to their cuisine, and as such will be looking to continue this with the lunch menu.
I am told it changes a few times a week depending on what is seasonally available which is very much in vogue at the moment. It also means they will always surprise you on every visit – unless you have a peek at their social media channels first of course.
Heading on down last week (or is that up?), I was tasked with trying just a selection of what’s available each day in the restaurant. Once seated by the attentive member of staff – I was ready to go.
First up was a twist on a classic – a Smoked Salmon Scotch Egg, which proved itself to be a fantastic little starter which was just what I needed to tantalize my taste buds for things to come.
With a perfectly cooked egg (not too runny, not too overcooked), salty, flavourful fish and a delicately crisp outer shell, this dish was perfectly formed. It came served on a puddle of mustard mayonnaise which was complete with delicious pearls of wholegrain mustard which popped in your mouth with a little burst of more than welcome spice.
My only problem with the dish, and it was a pretty substantial problem to be fair, is that I was only given half of a medium-sized Scotch egg – show me the other half! I was rather disappointed that in essence you only get half – especially when you’re paying high end prices.
The other starter was a Chicken Croquette with caper puree. The dish was crisp and satisfying, but in essence, was a rather nicely done chicken nugget – not that that was is a bad thing in the slightest. I like chicken nuggets, and it seems they make a cracking starter at one of the poshest joints in town.
With our food, we also enjoyed a bottle of white called Castanzu from Sardinia. Perfect for easy drinking on a sunny day, it was lovely and light with notes of apricots, peaches and white flowers like jasmine and rose.
It went perfectly with all the dishes that were available that day and was handpicked for us by their on-site sommelier which was a nice touch for a mid-week lunchtime.
On to mains and we opted for the Pan Fried Salmon with caponata potatoes first. The fish was treated beautifully with a soft middle and a sumptuously crispy skin.
The potatoes on the side were mixed with fresh herbs, garlic, olives and cherry tomatoes to make a sort of ‘hash’ which was light, fresh and flavourful. Granted, it didn’t set the world on fire, but for a light lunch, it did the job nicely.
The Wild Garlic Risotto, on the other hand, was lovely. The rice was cooked delightfully with a decent bite and was full of the flavour of aromatic wild garlic which was very much in season at the time. It was topped off with creamy goat’s cheese and mushrooms for a bit of texture and earthy flavour which complimented the wild garlic notes beautifully.
This risotto was a lesson in how vegetarian options need not be a throwaway or a box to tick. It was seasonally minded, expertly produced and most importantly bloody delicious – so top marks for the risotto.
For dessert, we shared a lovely Pana Cotta with seasonal rhubarb, lemon and crème fraiche ice cream which was also an absolute delight. Sweet, fresh and totally palate cleansing it was just what we needed to end such a decadent lunch.
I have got to say, at £22 for two courses or £27.50 for three, the 20 Stories lunch menu has been a bit of a difficult one to review. Sure you’ve got the view and the opulence of the place, I just felt that the food wasn’t anything too special and was missing ‘something’.
Elements such as half a scotch egg certainly lost them points, whereas the excellent risotto gained them a few more. It was a mixed bag really, but with a few tweaks, it could really be one of the best lunch offerings in the city. Hopefully, the team can continue to improve in the coming weeks and months.
The food itself is nice; palatable, seasonable and changing almost daily which I certainly like. Sure, it isn’t the most memorable meal I have ever had, but there is certainly room for improvement which could make this deal a real contender for lunch in the city.
20 Stories Lunch Menu
SEE A SAMPLE MENU
Venue: 20 Stories
Date: Monday – Friday
Cost: £22 for two courses // £27.50 for three courses
20 Stories, No. 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Manchester, M3 3EB
0161 204 3333