Harvey Nichols 2nd Floor Restaurant was for many years a favourite of ours for a special night out in Manchester. The food was flawless and the staff wonderful.
However, with so many new openings in Manchester, it fell off our radar and so we hadn’t been for at least two years.
We rectified that back on June (oops, sorry about the tardy write-up) when we decided to have a romantic ‘date night’ and revisit HN 2nd Floor. We knew there had been a couple of head chef changes since our last visit so were excited to see what was on offer.
It was a Friday night and the start of the hot spell. I’m not sure if this had anything to do with it, or if it had something to do with the ridiculously good value menu in the bistro which was heaving, but we were the only ones in the restaurant.
Much hilarity ensued. Hubby tried to tell me that he’d arranged this ‘private dining experience’ for us. Err, he seemed to forget that I had made the booking! I was apprehensive about being the only ones in there but actually it had its advantages:
1. We got the best table (you know, the one in the corner overlooking the Shambles Square bars and Corn Exchange)
2. We got the best service. We worried that being the only ones in we’d be in and out in a flash but the service wasn’t overbearing and they weren’t hovering around constantly filling up our glasses. Everything was timed to perfection, just as we remembered it
3. The hub-bub from the bistro meant that there was still a lovely atmosphere in there so we didn’t feel self conscious- result!
So on to the food.
My starter was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was tuna two ways. There were two seared pieces of fish which were butter-soft when I put my knife to them. In the middle was a tangle of tartare with lime which was the best tuna ever. Fresh and tangy. There were some gingery carrots and finely sliced lotus leaves (I had to Google the latter to find out what it was as I forgot to ask). All these weeks on and I can still taste this dish.
The bread came out. We had to be strong and not eat it all. The bread is so darn good there, they don’t do themselves any favours because I would have happily eaten it all night! Luckily I didn’t because the mains were tip top too.
I don’t know why but I have always been drawn to the dishes at HN which have wild mushrooms in them, and this night was no exception. A wild mushroom risotto with sole (lemon I think). I’m a carb monster and love risotto but was worried it might be a bit much for such a delicate piece of fish, especially on such a warm night. What was I thinking picking autumnal risotto? But somehow the rice was light, not at all heavy and the deep mushroomy flavour was a great contrast to the just-cooked (in a good way) sole.
Hubby went for Goosnargh duck. The duck was delicious- served two ways- but the smoked egg yolk served with it was the most memorable part of the dish. Who smokes yolks? A ruddy genius that’s who! It. Just. Worked.
I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea what we had for dessert, so it’s a darn good meal of the savoury elements stay with me longer than the sweet!
We were told that the head chef was on paternity leave, so that his team is cooking up food this good in his absence is a testament to the whole kitchen.
As an aside, we went to the bar in Kaleido for cocktails afterwards. I wasn’t surprised to hear last week that it has closed. The drinks were lovely, but my husband hit the nail on the head when he said it felt like we were in an airport waiting room. Such a weird, bland space. Shame though; I hate to see Manchester loosing another eating establishment. I think I’ve been up there in all its guises and it’s a tough space.
But HN 2nd Floor was a wonderful experience and it won’t be anywhere near as long until we make another visit.
Harvey Nichols 2nd Floor Restaurant
Tel: 0161 828 8898