With much of Britain in the midst of a heatwave, I could've been forgiven for thinking a meal in Abode's intimate basement may feel a little out of season. But you can always rely on Manchester to buck the trend, and so after a sprint through Piccadilly Gardens in the pouring rain, a warm welcome in to the rather opulent surroundings of Michael Caines' restaurant and Champagne bar was definitely well received.
I had gotten a similarly festive welcome last time I was down there, to sample the Christmas menu back in December, so when given the chance to taste the a la carte offering I couldn't wait to get stuck in. In fact I was eager to the extent that I accidentally turned up half an hour early and had to console myself with a expertly mixed cocktail from the bar. Might have to start making that mistake more often...
Once seated we began with a little amuse bouche in the form of marinated tuna tartar, it was beautifully fresh and flavoursome, I often find those little pre starters can be a bit of a waste of space but this was on the money and set the bar pretty high. I opted for the roasted scallops starter which came with smoked belly pork, pea and mint. A pair of immaculate hunks of shellfish sitting pretty with those salty, earthy flavours below. Roasted quail impressed as well, served on a flat rectangle of potato gnocchi with a quails egg on the side for good measure.
Maybe it was that route through the centre of Manchester to get there, but pigeon stuck out on the menu so I plumped for the bird, slow roasted. It proved a good choice and was presented quite artistically, with a bit of scattergun approach to the peas I enjoyed. It's always nice to try something a bit different, I've never eaten a bird and found the bullet still in there. But I was warned in fairness, and I suppose it proved they probably hadn't found the thing outside. Roasted beef fillet was a bit more by the book, served pink all the way through and about as classic and British nosh gets, there were definitely no complaints or distractions once that plate of food turned up.
I'd saved a bit of space for dessert and wasn't disappointed by the strawberry mousse that came with palmier biscuit, sweet olive purée, a basil coulis and strawberry sorbet. The fruit can sometimes feel like a bit of a blunt instrument I think, but this dish had so much more to it with those savoury contrasting elements in there. Caramel and cardamom parfait with milk chocolate mousse, nougatine, cardamom foam, presented like of a couple of little sweet chimneys was also equally interesting. We thought best to finish things off with a board of cheese as well, 4 delicious British numbers including a lovely goats cheese went down a treat. A word too for our sommelier who picked out a cracking port to go with, having matched our food with some superlative choices throughout.
The service was slick as ever from start to finish in fairness, this is fine dining and we were made to feel that way. There's some great food to be had too of course, with the emphasis on classic British ingredients, I can't help but wonder why Abode perhaps doesn't enjoy the fanfare that other, less accomplished places do. I'm more than happy to blow their trumpet though, and if you're after something a little bit special, it's definitely up there with the best of what Manchester has to offer.