Two of our Manchester’s Finest foodies, Lee Isherwood and Tim Alderson, have got together to review restaurants in a more conversational way, how we all do, naturally reviewing as we sit down and tuck in.
For the first in the series they were lucky enough to try Higher Ground before the lockdown – a restaurant located within the new KAMPUS development who are now offering a home delivery service…
When you think of hidden gems the mind conjures images of back streets, secret doorways or unassuming restaurants facades – what doesn’t spring to mind is a dark cube elevated above the street in adjacent to an extremely busy canal side thoroughfare. Welcome everybody to Higher Ground.
As you approach you can see the space inside punching through the black box, walking under the restaurant and up the imposing concrete steps you’re immediately hit with that juxtaposition in the form of a warm, welcoming and calm space.
I had no idea what to expect form the menu, service, attitude or etiquette at Higher Ground but I could tell immediately Tim and I were in for a great dining experience. Think casual dinner at a friends house, if your friend happened to be a very accomplished chef and had a couple of other equally talented mates to help them out.
It’s casual and informal but the level of detail and sophistication to the dishes right from off set a bar so high you just knew you were in for a great evening.
We opted for the Chef’s Sharer Menu as it just seemed to make sense to let the guys do their thing and at £35 a head for what we got I cannot recommend that route enough. The first dishes that came out were exceptional.
A riff on ceviche with tender slivers of Celeriac, the sweet citrus of Blood Orange and splashes of an earthy, green Bay Leaf Oil, followed closely by Smoked Cod Roe and Young Leaks accompanied by our choice of a fresh young MIRO Primitivo, served slightly chilled, which was just fantastic.
A couple of dishes that came out next for me really did impress, the Carrots with Sea Buckthorn Hot Sauce looked so simple but packed a perfect combination of texture variation and flavour, I could have double down on that one, and then the Nduja Rye Bit as a complete departure almost from where we were was just brilliant.
Service was steady but nicely casual, no fussing around the table which can often be annoying when there are so many dishes to get through. Next up a lettuce dish with sliced raw mushroom looked at first a little like fridge leftovers but was a lovely light salad, dressed in a creamy vinaigrette, and more than worth its place on the table, despite a humble appearance.
The trio of dishes that arrived next showed what can be achieved with a powerful central dish and two great supporting sides, the Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Fennel Seed absolutely nailed it for me.
The pork was ridiculously tender, that dairy marinade had broken the meat down in to something quite wonderful, similar perhaps to magic worked by yoghurt of tikka meat. A memorable mouth-feel, and perhaps the most comforting dish we ate, although it would have to battle with what came next for that title.
Now for a brief interlude in the for of a Chicken Madrasty – that’s correct folks, a Chicken Madras Pasty. Not strictly on the chef’s sharing menu we ordered off piste for this one because I’d heard very good things and its safe to say if I had to pick a Higher Ground signature dish, it would have to be this.
They had me at curry pasty, but this thing is much greater than the some of its parts. Simply put it’s worth booking a table for this one alone, I only wish we’d got three each…
Now for me the part of the evening that always fills me with joy, dessert time. Given the time of year I was really pleased to hear we had a Rhubarb dish on the way.
Being from Wakefield (the home of the rhubarb triangle) I always have to order it. Ours was a lovely little ramekin of custard, sponge and my favourite pink tart stuff. Beautiful presentation on that one too, like a creamy little moon, smarter than your average pud.
It’s worth noting from the off that Higher Ground is temporary, not only is it (at time of writing) a genuine hidden gem, it is also hugely time sensitive.
It’s part of the whole KAMPUS development, located in ‘The Bungalow’, a regularly changing events and restaurant space created by a joint venture between Capital & Centric and HBD to act as a ‘community hub’ there.
Our overall thoughts on Higher Ground are probably plain to see, it’s not often I warm to everything in a place but HG has it all.
During lockdown they are offering a DELIVERY SERVICE. Head over to their Facebook page for more information…