It’s a rare thing indeed when you’re leaving a restaurant and feel as if you’re bidding a close friend goodbye. That’s how I felt upon visiting The Albert Square Chop House in The Memorial Hall, Manchester after dining there a few weeks ago courtesy of Manchester Confidential. The whole experience was brilliant, from start to finish. Housed in the impressive Grade II listed building, you know as soon as you set foot in the place that it’s going to be something special.
From the friendly Front of House who whisked us to the downstairs seating area, to the polite and efficient waiters, I spent the evening in something of a dreamy haze along with Gal Pal S. Each course was paired with the perfect wine, courtesy of Marcin Oziebly, sommelier extraordinaire. Marcin is a walking talking encyclopaedia and THE perfect sommelier, who really knows his stuff. As a self-confessed lover of fine dining, I’ve met my fair share of sommeliers. Marcin tops the list, because he has that rare quality, that Yoda-like instinct which enables him to know what you like and pair a delectably appropriate wine with your dish. And when I asked him for the names of wines that we had imbibed (I was expecting a hand scrawled list), he came back within five minutes with a printed list. Now, that is customer service.
The menu is classic British with a twist – my favourite kind of food. I started with a Curd and Beetroot Salad, which was deliciously bittersweet and zingy with the pretty drizzle of apple and cider dressing. Gal Pal S opted for Scallops and Slow-cooked Belly Pork served on a minted puree.
The scallops were cooked to perfection, whilst the pork was charmingly unctuous. We shared the Vina Esmerelda, a striking and full bodied Muscat that complemented both the beetroot and scallops. (I loved this wine so much, it is now my first choice when dining out.)
For the main, Gal Pal S chose Roast Salmon Loin (which she said was cooked and seasoned perfectly), whilst I plumped for Poached Goosnargh Chicken, served with a smattering of broad beans, baby leeks and a creamy tarragon jus. The chicken was tender, each mouthful practically melting away into my mouth as the buttery tarragon beautifully intensified the salty jus. The wine pairing edged the meal from being great to ‘off the Richter-scale’ excellent. For the main, I had the light La Croix Chardonnay, whilst Gal Pal S had the Flagstone Chenin Blanc, both wines working incredibly well with the meat and fish that quickly disappeared of our plates as we indulged in scrumptious food.
Now, I don’t mean to, but I always judge a restaurant by its dessert menu. And The Albert Square Chop House didn’t disappoint. I had Treacle Tart (oven warm) that came with delicate droplets of camomile, lemon and vanilla cream, whilst Gal Pal S had an Orange Marmalade Sponge with Vanilla Custard. As soon as we tucked into our desserts, the table descended into silence. And remained quiet till we had finished. The desserts are definite showstoppers, and flawlessly paired with the perfect wine was the icing on the cake. I had Campbells Rutherglen Muscat with my Treacle Sponge, whilst Gal Pal S had Royal Tokaji.
We left full, happy and bid a fond farewell to Marcin, because the meal would have been incomplete without his understated fantastic input. See below a list of wines that we enjoyed throughout the meal. The Albert Square Chop House is one of Manchester’s finest, perfect for a girly catch up, a cosy date, or business meet. Get yourselves down there, because to miss it, would be to miss out.
Wine List courtesy of Marcin Oziebly (a true rockstar):
Vina Esmeralda, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Penedes, Spain 2011 (Scallops / Beetroot Salad)
Flagstone, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, South Africa, 2011 (Salmon)
La Croix, Chardonnay, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 2012 (Chicken)
Royal Tokaji, Hungary, 2007 (Sponge)
Campbells, Rutherglen, Muscat, Victoria, Australia, NV (Treacle Tart).