REVIEW: The Laureate, Manchester

Hotel restaurants can feel a little perfunctory – a necessary add on to having people in the building who need to eat – but our recent experience of The Laureate (housed underneath The Lume and Staybridge Suites) was quite the opposite. A calm and stylish setting but so much warmth and care from the staff. We met the Sous Chef Chris (pictured) who told us he visits every table to meet the diners – his passion for food was so clear and it’s obvious that the young kitchen team are strong in ambition and committed to making sure everyone enjoys their meal. Ours kicked off with an amuse bouche of smoked haddock arancini with a tartar sauce which Chris brought us himself, and didn’t disappoint. He said it tasted just like fish and chips – and it did!

The menu is a mix of classics and Asian-inspired dishes, with a range of price points to suit everyone, from the full three course a la Carte, to the very affordable pizza flatbread options. The kids menu is nicely put together too and immediately caught my approval for it’s inclusion of a prawn cocktail starter. We rarely ate out as a family when I was a kid (Pizza Hut for birthdays and a local Beefeater for other family events!) but the treat of a starter was huge for me, and as a child of the 80s the options were always the same – fruit juice, melon, or a prawn cocktail – and I’ve loved a good prawn cocktail ever since!

Our deliberations were much harder this time as we sifted through mouth-watering options from smoked burrata, heirloom tomatoes, crouton and basil oil, to devilled whitebait with wasabi mayo and pickled ginger. Eventually we decided on crab sushi rolls, and a chicken, duck and pistachio terrine with a pear & white wine chutney and toasted brioche, while the kids tucked happily into their prawn cocktail and garlic bread – kept amused by thoughtful colouring packs which enabled us to attack the wine list!

I’m a big believer that if the restaurant is good, the house wine will be too – what decent establishment puts something terrible on their menu being the theory. Always keen to put this to the test(!) we went for the house rose which was light, refreshing, and deliciously drinkable! There are plenty of options if you have particular wine preferences, all of which I’m sure would be lovely, as this place more than passed the house wine test.

Starters demolished, we moved on to mains of 10oz English beef ribeye (him) and I went for a vegetarian option which was the prettiest bowl of pasta I’ve ever seen – sun blushed tomato & goats cheese tortellini, tomato consomme, basil, parmesan & walnuts, which was delicious. Chris told me later that the produce is always as local as it can be – with the beautiful tomatoes hailing from nearby Yorkshire. He also let me try the absolutely melt-in-the-mouth aubergine caponata that comes with the Lamb rump – his favourite dish on the current menu and with very good reason. If I’m ever there again that’s what I’ll be having!

Meanwhile the kids were treated to enormous portions of burger & chips and spaghetti bolognese – the latter which my 3 year old was very determined must not be taken away when she went to the loo. I’ll take that as a big thumbs up! Some smaller kids might find the portions a little overwhelming, the spaghetti bolognese was huge – but that also means they’re perfect for a couple of little ones to share.

We’d travelled up from London that day so by this point the kids were tired and starting to get restless, and as we were staying just upstairs in Staybridge Suites (see our review here) we elected to have dessert in our room – an enormous platter of cheese and biscuits, and the most beautifully plated panna cotta ever – which perhaps could have had a bit more wobble, but when it tastes amazing and is brought to your room so you can eat it overlooking Manchester at sunset when the kids are asleep, I didn’t much care!

We were kindly gifted our meal for review purposes, but all words and opinions are our own. You can book a table at The Laureate via The Lume hotel website.

Christina Pickworth, This Mama Does