When you look at the menu upon being seated in the elegant interior of Albatross & Arnold, you might be, at first, shocked by its simplicity. It seems nowadays a menu consisting of fifty dishes from every corner of the globe is the norm- which it is safe to say I am utterly sick of.
So I found the set of eight dishes incredibly refreshing. It is a commonplace for, shall I say, proper foodies of the generation before- you know the Jay Rayner’s and Michel Roux of this world- to go into a restaurant and not even look at the menu- instead telling the waiting staff to bring him/her the best dishes they have on offer. The menu at Albatross sort of does that for you, which I really love. It is like a little set of chef’s recommendations which I am told will change regularly. Like I said, a refreshing change in a world of twelve-page menus.
The starters we went for were merely titled Crab, Fennel, Citrus & Cauliflower, Potato, Gherkin, Chive. The former was a king crab salad with fennel and citrus aioli. The dish was beautifully presented inside a king crab leg shell with pastel dots of lemon-curd-like aioli which complemented the sweetness of the crab, and colourful fennel tops. The dish was lovely and sweet with a strong taste of the sea cutting through the entire thing.
The latter is the infamous dish Green presented on MasterChef. It consists of a crispy jacket potato skin filled with a cauliflower custard and topped with a cauliflower crumb. The custard was smooth and dreamy with the distinct flavour of cauliflower. This dish was finished off with a gherkin gel which I wish I could buy in a bottle to top my burgers off with until the end of time. All-in-all a winning dish for sure.
I tried all three options for the main courses. The first of which was the fish choice – Seabass, Tomato, Caviar– of which I was presented an expertly pan-fried fillet of seabass with confit tomatoes, tomato bisque and caviar for a little-added opulence. I really can’t fault it- the three flavours there were just born to be put together.
Vegetarian visitors at Albatross & Arnold can enjoy the Celeriac, Carrot, Chive dish. Please do not let the simplicity of these ingredients put you off- this was an absolute revelation in vegetarian food for me. The central part of the dish is the butter poached celeriac which has such fantastic flavour, and a robust, savoury taste from the cooking. I mean, it is cooked in butter for God’s sake, of course, it is going to taste delicious.
This was paired with scorched carrot, parsnip puree, goat’s curd, a herb salsa and hand-foraged flowers. It is important to point out that foraging and locality are going to be a big part of the menu at Albatross & Arnold since Jon has started- so I look forward to any more foraged goodies they will have on the menu in the future.
Carnivores can tuck into the Lamb dish, which is essentially lamb two ways. Lamb, Parsnip, English Mustard, Jersey Royals- are the ingredients here in the form of an English mustard and parsnip puree, with Jersey Royal crisps surrounding a crispy lamb breast and a lamb shoulder confit. I basically can’t stop thinking about it.
The confit melted in the mouth and the breast was succulent as could be. Its accompaniments complemented the meat perfectly without overpowering the delicate nature of the lamb. My only criticism is I wish there were more.
On to dessert of which there is only one- why over complicate a menu when you have a perfect dessert such as the Espresso Fondant? Melting in the middle as required and served with condensed milk ice cream, the finale to the meal left my taste buds tingling.
Sure, the menu is small, but I’d call it concise. The dishes are simple, but there is still something for everyone. The naming of the plates is elusive, but I’d say it is full of surprises. If you like British food done proper – look no further than Albatross & Arnold.
Albatross & Arnold, Leftbank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3AN