By Jo Cooksey
Manchester’s best brasserie, (in our opinion), Randall and Aubin, have made some seasonal flourishes to their already gorgeous menu, so we bobbed along to check them out. We love this addition to the local dining scene, it’s a little bit of Soho on Bridge Street and every time we go it is excellent, from the food to the service to the playlist. So what new treats were in store?
Randall & Aubin are known for their seafood and in terms of freshness and innovation, it is the best around but their menu isn’t just gleaned from the sea. They also gather the best dishes the land has to offer too. Prime steaks, rotisserie free-range chicken and roast Suffolk lamb steak to name but a few. Vegetarians and those trying to eat a more plant-based diet are also well catered for as we found out.
The man in charge of Manchester, James, bought me a delightful glass of fizz with the rather wonderful name of Astoria Fashion Victim. An Italian rosé Prosecco-style wine with hints of strawberry and raspberry. This I loved. My companion chose a cocktail with a Manchester theme, The Bee’s Knees, made with local Three Rivers gin, honey and lemon. James also filled us in on what R&A had been up to since we were last in. He said that one thing they had noticed was that customers were bobbing in just for a drink on the way home from work but were then finding that their appetites were piqued and were ordering starters and sides to keep them going until dinner. So, the restaurant has added a new bar menu with small plates. Randall & Aubin are very good at taking notice of what their customers want.
We had free range to order what we liked and one thing that had caught my eye was a throwback to the 70’s. Devilled eggs. Visions of Fanny Craddock and poor beleaguered Johnny swam before my eyes. This simple but much-loved dish is enjoying a bit of a renaissance at the moment and thankfully R&A have moved it on from the garish morsel of the past to a more sophisticated hors d’oeuvre. The filling was herby with a nice hit of spicy heat and the eggs were garnished with crispy pancetta and delicate chervil. Alongside the eggs we had ordered a bowl of luscious, cheesy fries. Let’s face it, you can never go wrong with a chunky, cheesy chip.
For our mains we ordered two new dishes off the main menu. The daughter, who is trying to eat more of a plant-based diet, chose the Marseille Salad which came with grilled halloumi, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes served on a homemade, sumac flat bread with a zingy garlic & oregano dressing. All in all, a lovely, light dish that will ensure you can manage three courses and not feel guilty.
Seafood is my culinary heaven so I had to order the new Tagliolini with crab and prawns. A finer version of spaghetti with the best Devon crab and prawn cream sauce. Can we just take a moment to let that sink in and admire the photograph? Is there anything more beautiful than a plate of perfectly cooked pasta, coated in a glossy, rich seafood sauce, studded with plump, pink prawns and sprinkled with herbs? I think not. This will go down in my Top Ten Most Memorable Dishes. I think I need to book a table very soon.
As we had eaten light, we found we still had room for a dessert. Who am I kidding? 99.9% of the time we still have room for dessert. I love Randall & Aubin’s pudding menu because the non-chocolate sweets far outweigh the choccy ones. But then that gives me the difficulty of choosing just one from Tarte au Citron, Crème Brûlée, Sticky Date Pudding and Baked Vanilla Cheesecake. Decisions, decisions. In the end I went for the Tarte au Citron, a good balance of creamy and sharp with a rich, buttery pastry case. It was served with a beautiful palate cleansing blood orange sorbet and spiced, thin ribbons of mango. Glorious. Of course, my table mate chose the Randall & Aubin Chocolate Cake with Milk Ice Cream. I have to say it did look very impressive and very rich. It reminded me of a Viennese Sachertorte, with its mirror glaze and moist looking interior. Frankie was in cocoa heaven.
We love seafood and we love Randall & Aubin, we love the staff and we love their ethos. We shall return very soon.
We attended the course as guests of Randall & Aubin but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.