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Masons Restaurant
Masons Reviews
AddressGround Floor, 36 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BT
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Masons Restaurant Manchester Review Masons Restaurant Manchester Review
The Masons Restaurant The Masons Restaurant
   
Masons Restaurant Review
Sandra ~ Restaurants Of Manchester (Tuesday 27th November 2018)

On a wet, cold, dreary night we approached the imposing looking Manchester Hall; home to Masons Restaurant Bar.  Another resident; a London based Indian/Irani joint was graced with a queue, running literally around the corner into Spinningfields.  A colleague pointed out that it had 50% off for a soft launch period, which may explain things somewhat, even if it was chucking it down.  We were far more eager to eat without getting drenched, so headed into the welcoming entrance to Masons.

Manchester Hall is a quite sumptuous looking building from the roadside, and was clearly put together back in the days when little expense was spared on such properties.  It’s the kind of building that people almost willingly died to assemble, long before the current pre-fab plasterboard and MDF laden new builds which fly up in weeks, and are all about profits aided by minimal outlay.  You very often get what you pay for though.  The lobby area is stunning, although I did feel for the building reception staff; gathered around their greeting point with only a portable heater to keep them defrosted whilst the main doors were pegged open.  We were pleased to see that there wasn’t such a scrummage to get into our own destination and we were guided to our cozy window-adjoined booth in a modern yet characterful dining room.  It’s a lovely space, really intimate, and set the scene nicely.
 
Masons Restaurant Manchester Review Masons Restaurant Manchester Review
Hand Dived Scottish Scallops (£12) Ham Hock Terrine (£9)
   

Hand Dived Scottish Scallops (£12) embellished with a grout spreader's swoosh of pea crème fraiche, some radish, with mint and lime salad, were a massively overcooked affair.  They also had their coral attached too.  There's some debate over the inclusion of coral, but ultimately, there's a reason why you don’t see it used in truly top end places ; because it's just pointless to actually eat, plus it looks rubbish.  Flavours across the plate were classic, fresh and simple, though, but there was no escaping those headlining scallops being well overdone.

Ham Hock Terrine (£9) was chunky and meaty, with the chutney's sweetness and spice working well with its porky wingman, backed up with good texture from the crackers, even if they weren't charcoal ones as listed on the menu.  The terrine itself could perhaps have been taken out of the fridge a little sooner to unlock the flavours a bit more, but this was a pleasing plate overall.

Whilst probably not something that you fancy reading amidst food ramblings; we, or rather I, paid a visit to the bathroom at this stage.  They are located in the communal area of Manchester Hall rather than within Masons itself, so probably irrelevant to this critique, but they are stunning, as is the impressive foyer and staircase which leads down to them.  The walls are adorned with ancient photos of the Freemasons who once occupied the Hall, in days where the establishment was a little more prominent than it is today.  It's fair to say that they wouldn’t have queued outside their own building for 50% off a curry in those days.  I returned to my seat to find my napkin folded and put back into place.  Nice touch.
 
Masons Restaurant Manchester Review Masons Restaurant Manchester Review
Dukesmoor Beef Fillet (£28) Woodland Chicken (£17.50)
   

Dukesmoor Beef Fillet (£28) was served blue, not pink as billed, with no real caramelisation on the exterior aside from some very faint grill bar marks.  I personally don’t mind blue beef fillet, as much as I prefer it to be a bit beyond the stage where an accomplished vet could resuscitate it, plus the sauce was a bit gloopy and lacked finesse as well.  The quality of beef itself was undeniable though, and the well-cooked asparagus and tasty brisket hash did semi-compensate for the blue-ness.  The advertised truffle fries however lacked any truffle scent too, and the wider dish was ultimately quite flat, with great produce and classic flavours marred by basic cooking errors.    Our excellent Finca La Colonia Malbec (£9) paired well, which is pretty much a formality with beef really.

Woodland Chicken (£17.50) was a grateful improvement, being well cooked, displaying more classic notes from some lovely Dauphinoise potatoes and wild mushrooms.  Served with the bone in, for extra flavour and visual impact, this was probably the dish of the night.  People seldom offer chicken on menus in decent level dining rooms, because many see it as something that you eat at home all the time, hence it's not really an event when eating out.  That's a crying shame, as a good chicken for me can hold its own against any expensive protein.  This dish made us happy.  The fresh and lively Parlez-Vous Picpoul (£9) was another wine match winner.

We digested and pondered the history of the building, recalling the relatively recent days when the area which is now the kitchen, was once a meeting room.  It was ironically used for Weight Watchers meetings amongst other things.  Which relevantly led us onto puddings.

 
Masons Restaurant Manchester Review Masons Restaurant Manchester Review
Sticky Toffee Pudding (£7.50) Warm Black Cherry Brownie (£7)
   

Sticky Toffee Pudding (£7.50) was a touch bouncy and heavy in texture, yet with a lovely toffee sauce, served on the side, with some ice cream and also whipped and piped cream, garnished with an edible flower.   It was pleasant enough.  Warm Black Cherry Brownie (£7) was a touch dry albeit chocolaty and rich as it should be, and the black cherry sorbet was perfection.  Smooth, well balanced, and a great combo with the brownie.  A well needed scoop of vanilla ice cream and some biscuit crumb to support it completed the plate.  It was without question the prettiest plate of the evening, in true keeping with the surroundings, and being the last thing you eat, is usually the memory of a meal which you take away the most.  It was a good note to end on.

So with no secret handshakes on the way out, we paid our bill, grabbed our coats and brollies, and hit the road at about 9pm to find that the queues next door had dispersed.  Maybe people had seen sense and realised that standing in the rain for half an hour isn’t really worth saving a tenner per head over?

There's some clear quality on offer at Masons, despite a few frustrating cooking niggles on this occasion.  I can't think of too many more intimate and better looking dining spaces in the city though, plus service was lovely and came with some really high end details. It was just let down by the kitchen sadly, which at any restaurant pitching itself at such a standard and price point, is the most important factor of the experience for anybody who's really interested.
 
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Masons Restaurant Manchester Review
 
Masons Restaurant Manchester Reviews


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