I’ve got to say, I did love Albatross & Arnold’s approach to fine dining last year, but when I caught wind that they were going back to their roots by bringing back their menu of British inspired small plates, I was pretty damn excited.
Alongside this selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, is a stellar collection of cocktails which have Manchester at the very centre of their heart and soul.
I aim to start every meal with a cocktail aperitif, and so we sampled the humorously named ‘From Rusholme with Love’ which was an uncanny combination of booze, curry and egg which sounds disgusting but tastes incredible. Thick creamy, slightly spiced and unapologetically boozy, this drink quickly became my new favourite.
Moving swiftly on to the food, we ordered a few of the small plates and went with their recommendations. The Beetroot Three Ways (£6) consisted of various textures of beetroot- one roasted, one raw and one pickled all tucked inside a neat little ring of goat’s cheese. It seems that beetroot and goats cheese is the flavour combination of the year, and I long may it last.
I’ve got to say, it was a rather attractive dish with its various pink hues, and the flavour combinations of the tart pickled beetroot, earthy roasted beets and the tang of strong goats cheese was a delicious combination and lovely and light to boot. Vegetarian or not, you will love this small, but mighty dish.
Next, we sampled the elegant Smoked Salmon Mousse (£6) which was something straight out of 1980’s dinner party cookbook but with an extra element of modern finesse (no aspic here.) Smoked salmon is one of those flavours I cannot get enough of, and this paired with cream cheese, fresh dill and little cubes of cucumber for texture, this dish quickly became rather difficult to share.
This came with bread on the side, which quite frankly, I do not think we needed, but it would be great and filling if you wanted to pop in for a bit of light lunch.
The ribbon of lightly pickled cucumber on top brought this dish up to date, and also provided a welcome tang. The smoked salmon mousse was classic and perfectly executed.
Sticking with fish, the next dish we tried was the Halibut (£8). I like seeing Halibut on a menu as it is one of my favourite white fishes for its strong flavour and flaky-yet-robust texture.
Again, Albatross & Arnold were smashing classic flavour combinations out of the park with this one, pairing the fish with little brown shrimp, salty samphire, tarragon cream and vinegar-spiked scraps for a bit of texture. This dish tasted like a grown-up version of something you would get from a chippy by the seaside, and I couldn’t get enough.
King Scallops (£9) followed which were greatly enjoyed by the table. These impressively-chunky scallops came paired with smoked corn puree, pancetta and some more of those delicious scraps. I loved the puree these lovely scallops sat on and it changed the usually sweet corn flavour profile and made it deeper with the addition of the smoky notes.
Bacon and scallops are a perfect pairing, and I was sure impressed with the plentiful scattering of bacon bits, whilst still managing to be perfectly balanced.
The Chicken with Black Garlic, Jus and Potato Crips (£8) was a revelation. It isn’t often that I would even bother ordering a chicken dish (unless it was fried or roasted whole) for fear of it being dry and disappointing.
This dish was the complete opposite and was instead flavourful and tender with no dryness and perfectly crisp skin. The black garlic and jus managed to pull the entire dish together and the added crunch from the curls of potatoes was a real winner too. Chicken doesn’t get much better than this.
The halibut and the chicken were perfectly sided with some tenderstem broccoli (£4) which was liberally dosed with some lemon and black pepper mayonnaise to just take it to the next level – which it certainly managed to do. Regular broccoli never looked so boring in comparison.
I must say, I am glad that the small plates have made a comeback to the menu at Albatross & Arnold. I like the casual nature of the dishes and the idea that they are designed to be shared among loved ones. That and small plates allow you to have a bit of everything, which if you are a pig like me, is fantastic news.
These dishes are like a little trip around our rainy British shores, which is presented in a way that is laidback, unintimidating but still sophisticated and ultimately beautiful.
I think it is safe to say that Albatross & Arnold is home to some of the finest modern British cuisine in the whole of Manchester, and you should get yourselves down immediately.
Albatross & Arnold (inside The Range), Leftbank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3AN
0161 325 4444