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Masons Restaurant
Wood Reviews
AddressJack Rosenthal Street, First Street, Manchester M15 4RA
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PhoneBOOK ONLINE Phone0161 236 5211

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"The dining room was rammed with customers who were all clearly happy"
 
Wood Manchester Review Wood Manchester Review
Wood Manchester Review
Restaurants Of Manchester (Friday 22nd February 2019)

Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

 

Decor & Ambience Fantastic

Positives

A great looking place as you pass, with sky high inviting windows and eye catching signage.  Once inside there’s a clear decorative emphasis on the kitchen and pass areas, which add a great bit of theatre for any wannabe Chef or budding cook.  Tall ceilings add drama and create a nice airy space, making it broadly a handsome place to be!

Positives

It just feels a touch sterile and lacking in finish to be honest.  Some artwork or other personality-adding touches would work wonders to the warmth of the dining space.

 
Wood Manchester Review Wood Manchester Review
Mushroom Raviolo (£9.50) The Cheshire Short Rib (£11.50)
 

Price Fantastic

Positives

There’s great value to be had via the 3 course/£27.50 pre-theatre menu and Tomahawk Tuesday promotions.  There’s also some value in the upper echelons of the wine list, and a clear use of high quality produce means that price points will reflect that expense to the kitchen.  Good produce isn’t cheap, and there’s no escaping that.

Positives
There’s no two ways about it; unless you take advantage of the aforementioned menus/offers, it's very expensive.  3 courses for 2 people, along with 6 discreet glasses of wine, came in at around £175, so about £90 per person including that ever increasingly added 'discretionary' 10% service charge.  Many wine mark ups hover around the 3x markup level, starting at £25 a bottle.  The 10 course tasting menu is a Manchester heavy £99, so up there with many 1 Michelin star price tags.
 
Wood Manchester Review Wood Manchester Review
Venison with Blackberry, Parsnip & Haggis (£32) Goosnargh Duck, Pak Choi, Plum & Cashews (£26)
 

Service Fantastic

Positives

The lady who looked after us for most of service was a delight, hitting the right notes when it came to that balance of being friendly and informal, yet on the ball.  We felt in safe hands throughout, were constantly topped up with wine, everything came served with the correct info.  We gladly paid that 10% service charge, despite still having a minor stab at the theory behind it in the above section.

Positives

We were sat in a ropey seat at first. With a single bum cheek perched on either side of a dual cushion bench, anticipating that the night would be fidgety and uncomfortable, we asked to be moved.  We were gratefully positioned on a table with comfortable seating right next to the pass, to pacify the aforementioned food geekism.

 
Wood Manchester Review Wood Manchester Review
Black Cherry Soufflé (£8) Chocolate, Espresso Ice Cream & Salted Caramel (£10)
 

Food & Drink Fantastic

Positives

Simon Wood is the name over the door, and the one which undoubtedly brings customers in via that Masterchef/TV link, but Chef Mike Jennings has played a massive part in the Wood story.  Mike was banging out quality food at the now closed-down Grenache Manchester long before Simon appeared on Masterchef.  So, we are only too aware of what he’s capable of putting on the plate, and much of what is on the plate at Wood is his doing.

We went down the a la carte route on this visit.  Pre-dinner snacks came in the guise of a cheese donut, so an Adam Handling/Frog feeling affair in terms of concept.

To start on the menu properly, it was the trademark mushroom raviolo (£9.50).  A single, amply sized piece of plumply filled pasta, topped with a fried sage leaf, Italian breadcrumb and chestnut, in a mushroom sauce.  The raviolo itself was spot on, with thin pasta carrying the rich mushroom filling like a dream, with a flavourful sauce and good texture from the accoutrements.  Flavour wise though, it was a clear hit. 

The Cheshire short rib (£11.50), stout, with truffle was an uber-simply presented plate.  The beef was perfectly rendered, braised and shredded, next to some air-light potato espuma. The beef was sumptuous, rich and comforting. 

Mains were quick to follow and whilst expensive at £32, the Venison with blackberry, parsnip, haggis, was another seasonally appropriate hit.  Perfectly pink game meat, with piped mash, parsnip, and winter fruits, finished with some strong saucing and squeezy-bottled puree garnish.  The haggis bonbon lacked the typically spicy punch, but as an all-round plate it was a winner.

Goosnargh duck, pak choi, plum, cashews (£26), was a similar story.  Solid cooking and clear flavour distinctions, with cracking produce in play.  The candied sesame cashews were superb and tied the plate together well. 

Black cherry soufflé (£8) to end up came with some splendid tonka ice cream, which was the highlight element of both puddings. 

Chocolate (£10), espresso ice cream, salted caramel was another way to end, and satisfied my preference to end a meal with some cocoa.  A chocolate glazed dome was some nice pastry work, and Simon’s play on the classic Tiramisu.
Positives

Whilst produce and cooking were both generally solid, you ultimately judge food standards by how much money you're paying. Based on price point driven expectation, standards felt good but were a bit of a let-down in little areas.  The snack donuts were heavy and lacked cheesy punch.  The Raviolo didn’t eat too well though, and the cleared plate looked a bit of a mess, coated with remnants of soggy crumb and excess sauce.

Plating across the mains was very similar so the dishes lacked personal identity. The potato foam was lacking in seasoning so missed the potatoey tasting highlights that you’d hope for.  You can’t be shy on the seasoning when an element is literally half made of air.

The soufflé was risen well but was leaning like the Tower of Pisa, and the biscotti slice on the Chocolate dish was a little bitter/on the verge of being overdone.
 
Wood Manchester Review Wood Manchester Review
Bread & Salted Butter Open Kitchen at Wood Manchester
 

Overall Very Good

Positives

Wood is without question producing some of the best food in the city, and customers will love the Masterchef/tele connection, which is undoubtedly one of the main selling points here. The dining room was rammed with customers who were all clearly happy. Wood ticks all the right boxes for most customers, as was highlighted by the lack of empty seats. It's important to remember that despite not being around for long in reality, Wood as a group is expanding, and are still growing as a seasoned setup. We have no doubts that they will be a feature on the Manchester dining scene for a very long time indeed.

Positives

Prices are sky high, being around the very top end of Manchester city centre market.  The problem is, when you're paying Michelin star level prices, you start to perhaps unfairly judge with Michelin star level criticism, as is only natural.

 
PhoneBOOK ONLINE Phone0161 236 5211
 



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