If editorial guidelines would allow, I would leave this review there. Just two words that would testify as to why you must visit WOOD Manchester. Nothing else would be needed as this one dish is of such simple brilliance that there isn’t a need for anything else. But of course, there is more and a two word review wouldn’t suffice.
Others have been somewhat underwhelmed by WOOD Manchester and it is rather out of place in its surroundings. Nearby venues offer cheap chicken wings and garish facades, more reminiscent of a tired seaside promenade than a respectable dining destination. The modern frontage may deter the passing diner, but an area and a building’s appearance can of course be deceiving and in this case, it is evident as soon as you step foot inside. It may not be the warmest of environments, but this is more than made up for by the substance rather than the situation.
This particular restaurant in Manchester City Centre has, quite rightly, received local and national acclaim. Since winning Masterchef in 2015, Simon Wood opened the aforementioned site, his first fine dining restaurant, in 2017 and has continued to establish himself yet further. Blind tasting menus are created daily incorporating seasonal produce and Wood’s own tastes. His dream is now being perfectly played out. At the tender age of eight he won a competition to be anything for a day and he chose to be a chef.
The venue is unassuming with an open kitchen and pass that mirrors the calm and classy feel of the restaurant as a whole, although the strange rubbery place mats are somewhat unusual and possibly more suited to the footwell of your car than a dining table. The Chadderton born owner, who used to be a burger flipper, uses local suppliers such as the incredible Ancoats based Pollen Bakery and nearby Seven Brothers Brewery in his dishes to compliment his elegant menu. Any initial lingering superficial doubts were quickly dismissed. The sweetbread was exquisite, the butternut squash panna cotta incredible, dish after dish was superb in its presentation, taste and satiation.
Many of our numerous fellow diners, fantastic to see on a cold Tuesday night, were tucking into the Tomahawk to share yet our dishes were more than impressive enough to diminish any food envy. As the tasting menu changes so often, it seems almost cruel to attribute too much description to a plate you may never get to taste but I’ll go as far as to say, vimto, parma violet and cottage pie. Should you have the opportunity to visit, mutter these words to the ever-attentive staff and you will, I guarantee, not be disappointed. That cottage pie…
A recent discussion with a fellow food ‘critic’ centred upon what you order when you go to a restaurant, the conclusion being drawn that when there is a menu such as this one, you order what you know you could never recreate at home. It may be a default setting on a special night to order steak or a delicate piece of your favourite fish, yet the selection of something unique should surely be rule of thumb. Of this extensive menu, there was nothing I would ever attempt to copy in my own kitchen. Oh…did I mention the cottage pie?
Jack Rosenthal Street