The French. Manchester’s first Michelin star restaurant – again?

The French by Simon Rogan

The French by Simon Rogan

Back in 1974, The French – pride of the Midland Hotel – was awarded not only Manchester’s first Michelin star but also one of the first in the UK. With two-star chef Simon Rogan now leading the legendary restaurant’s revival, critics are watching closely to see whether The French can win the city’s first 21st century Michelin star.

The signs are good. Respected as one of the UK’s leading chefs, Simon Rogan is a pioneer of British cuisine. His L’Enclume restaurant in Cartmel in Cumbria holds two Michelin stars, and not only did he win the 2012 Great British Menu contest, he made history by having all four of his dishes go through to the final three.  

Simon continues to work on bold and imaginative flavour combinations and cutting-edge culinary technique from his experimental research kitchens. Obsessive about food quality, he uses luxury ingredients, market produce and food from his own farm together with delicate flowers, herbs and other foraged foodstuffs. In a bid to bring the freshest possible produce to customers, staff at the Midland have started growing their own fresh fruit and vegetables in poly tunnels on the hotel roof.

Simon’s determined efforts at The French are paying off, with reviewers consistently showering praise on both the standard and ingenuity of the cooking. Offering only tasting menus of three (£29), six (£55) or ten (£79) dishes, the menu is straightforward. The dishes themselves are rather less so. You’ll find different choices on offer every day, with the team taking what’s best and freshest and transforming it into astonishingly original creations with deep and intense natural flavours. 

Some of the dishes presented recently include artichoke broth with truffle dumplings, bacon, radish, and hazelnut; fresh crab and caramelised cabbage, horseradish, and chicken skin with crow garlic; and lamb belly and sweetbreads, with wild garlic and sheep’s milk. To end the meal, you might find sweet cheese with rhubarb, toasted oats, and mulled cider, or pear, meadowsweet and rye with buttermilk and linseeds.

It’s not only the food at The French that has been revolutionised. The opulent surroundings have been brought into the twenty-first century, with new simple green wall panels and blond wood furniture balancing the gilded ceilings, original plasterwork, and dramatic lighting. The result is an elegant but relaxed environment that’s a fitting yet unintimidating backdrop for the hedonistic delights of the menu.

With Simon Rogan on board, it seems The French has been restored to its former glory. Hopes for a Michelin starred future may well be realised soon – and in the meantime, you’ll find an unforgettable dining experience awaiting you.  

The French by Simon Rogan

The Midland, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS

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About Beverley Moore

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