New restaurant Octagon, at Manchester's landmark Midland Hotel, has received a lukewarm review from the editor of one of the city's most influential publications.
Jonathan Schofield, editor-in-chief of news and lifestyle website Manchester Confidential, was disappointed to find that the quality of dishes served at the Peter Street venue didn't measure up to its grand setting, noting that "the lack of refinement in this classiest of rooms was brutally displayed" by a heavy-handed approach to both preparation and presentation.
Renowned for its magnificent Victorian design, the Midland Hotel is steeped in local history. Built in 1903 for the Midland Railway Company, it was the meeting place of motoring company founders Charles Rolls and Frederick Royce. Its anchor eatery, French, is among the most extravagant Manchester restaurants and was reportedly the venue for David and Victoria Beckham's first date.
Expectations are therefore high for any new restaurant which opens within – and Manchester news and lifestyle website Manchester Confidential makes it clear that Octagon needs to shape up.
Schofield, a keen historian, dined with his family and found that only one of the main courses, an "ok" beefburger eaten by his son, was of an acceptable standard. A plate of smoked salmon parcels was dismissed as excessively sized and "bleakly imagined", filled with "mush [whose] flavours were hard to distinguish".
A sirloin steak came in for most criticism, however, described as "the wrong side of medium" despite a request for medium rare and having "almost split like stewing steak" upon cutting. The chips, too, received a bad report, being "brittle on the outside and dusty on the inside".
Despite a saving grace in the form of a "moist and lush" carrot cake dessert, Schofield concluded that the overall experience was "not good" and "a shame", based on the potential of the venue, which gives it an advantage over many other Manchester restaurants. He awarded a glowing 5/5 for ambience and an average 3/5 for service, with food receiving only 6/10.
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