Anyone who came across our review of Mr Cooper’s last time out will already know I’m a big fan of the place. Take a Simon Rogan designed menu and pitch it at an affordable price point and you’ve got an unarguably attractive proposition. I don’t need much of an excuse to recommend the place to people, and now there’s a totally revamped menu for Spring, so we had to go see what’s new.
We began with nibbles and I’ve rarely been so glad to nibble, the oxtail and smoked marrow croquettes are amazing. If the rest of this passes you by just pop in for a beer, I recommend the Tweed Winter craft, and share a portion, or maybe a few…
Anyway I wouldn’t leave it there, and we got things started properly with the waitress-recommended cream of chestnut soup, which is served around a tender steamed wonton housed under roast chicken skin. The soup is rich and velvety smooth, and feels rather more decadent than its description, a definite early favourite. The pork belly and smoked eel tart wasn’t quite what we were expecting, served cold alongside marinated gem lettuce and a lovage sauce. It’s an intriguing combination that works well eaten together, the crunch of the salad adding structure to some unconventional flavours.
Buttermilk fried prawns are reminiscent of the fried oysters on the previous menu, which were also served with kimchee purée, pear and pickled fennel. Using the larger shellfish has beefed up the dish somewhat, and for me improved an already delicious dish.
There was always one main which jumped out at me, and the Cumbrian rib steak was indeed a sight to behold. Topped with a piece of smoked brisket ravioli and crisp beetroot fritters and lay on a bed of mash it was a match for any beef dish I’ve eaten in this city, or elsewhere for that matter.
The mussel and monkfish was a much lighter affair, tender and moist morsels dotted amongst slivers of potato and a romesco sauce.
For dessert we enjoyed a threesome, first trying the caramel tart and mascarpone ice cream. I’ve eaten this dish before but my companion had not, it’s funny that his reaction was the same as mine, the texture is just not what you’re expecting. The caramel is so smooth it slides round your mouth sensationally.
I wanted to try the rhubarb dessert I’m from Wakefield where it’s taken quite seriously. In truth though it didn’t blow me away. A glass of buttermilk, rhubarb and shortbread was nice but no greater than the sum of its parts.
The white chocolate mousse cake, was my winner. It’s got a slightly oozing centre and comes served with chocolate sauce and a pineapple-cardamom compote that all complement each other brilliantly.
There’s an undeniable balance about it all, with each course afforded 10 options, something that didn’t escape my attention when choosing my sweet. I always find it disappointing when there’s little to choose from when reaching the pudding, but that certainly wasn’t the case.
So we left extremely full, I enjoyed everything and some dishes were really outstanding. There has been criticism from some quarters that parts of the previous menu felt a little thrown together, certainly it read that way in places. This time round there are surprises held back from the reader, ingredients go unmentioned, which only helps to pique your interest. If you’re looking for superior cooking at modest prices in Manchester then Mr Cooper’s remains top of the class.