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It’s been a while since we last ate the Podium restaurant on the ground floor of Hilton Manchester Deansgate. We were lucky enough to be invited to try their For the Love of Seafood menu during Seafood Week. The restaurant serves an excellent menu, which is regularly modified to keep it seasonal and fresh, and this themed offering was a great example of that approach.
Food and drink
First up, I ordered mackerel pate, which is a particular favourite of mine wherever it’s served. Usually light but with a decadent streak, it makes a better and less pungent pate than, say, liver or pork. This was thick, moist and lightly salted. It was very tasty, served with chargrilled bread that offset the creaminess well.
Next up we tried the salt and pepper squid with fabulous curried mayonnaise. I asked for the ingredients on this was assured of coriander, chilli, cinnamon and more. The consistency had an authentic Indian oiliness and texture which made a change from the usual lemon or garlic mayo offerings. The squid itself was more than ample – with chunks of succulent goodness the size of some chicken nuggets.
The main course was a delightful fishy dishy: lemon sole with chilli crab. The chilli crab wasn’t particularly spicy (red chilli might have added more zing than the green ones flecked through the batter), but that’s a minor concern from a spice-lover. The softshell crab was easy to eat but it was the lemon sole that dominated, and rightly so.
The roasted cod with scallion mash, pancetta and butterbeans was a better all-rounder, and a hunkier portion to boot. Oddly, the pancetta was served shredded, but had a nicely crispy texture which worked well against the moistness of the other ingredients.
For dessert, I opted for a creamy, dreamy coconut panna cotta with a fruity coulis.
My colleague, meanwhile, selected the epic cheeseboard with some huge triangles of cheese and a range of eight varied crackers, chutney and grapes. He was worried there wouldn’t be enough crackers for the whole lot, but he soon realised you don’t need carbs when you have all that lovely cheese to tuck into! Top notch portions and great cheese, too.
Look and vibe
The Hilton Manchester Deansgate takes up 23 storeys of the 27-floor Beetham Tower. Podium Restaurant is behind glass on the ground floor, tucked away to the side of the lobbey. The open-floor layout works wonders in the bar, but the restaurant itself is an unusual blend of open-plan seating with dark wood panelling that closes it off from the rest of the hotel. Unable to look out, your attention is drawn instead to the seating plan or to the football projected onto the wall above the bar – a touch we weren’t keen on, but it was a big game, we were told.
There were plenty of diners in, including a very large table in the middle, but the spaciousness of the restaurant stops it ever feeling too busy and the noise is very minimal. We were offered a choice of where to sit and, out of habit and a childhood spent on the backseat of buses, we opted for a table at the back, which offered a sense of privacy (or intimacy if preferred) without feeling like we were hidden away.
The service was fantastic. We had a few different servers over the course of the meal, but each of them was keen and helpful. We didn’t have to wait for drinks or to place our order, and dishes flew out in a prompt fashion from the kitchen. I couldn’t fault the level of service and would probably return here again (not on a match night) to enjoy a quiet dinner with some unique flourishes on the menu.
The prices at Podium are pretty standard for city centre restaurants, although you’ll be able to take advantage of certain discounts if you’re a resident at the hotel or have one of the various discount schemes that operate (TasteCard, Hi-Life, Key to the City). Residents at the hotel often take advantage of dinner, bed and breakfast rates, which makes eating here an added bonus to your booking.
The bottom line
Come for a quiet night with an innovative menu, stay for the excellent service and decent portions.
Podium is open from 7am to 11pm daily, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For bookings, call +44 (0)161 870 1600 or visit hilton.com.
Podium, Hilton Deansgate Manchester, 303 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ
Images by Drew Wilby Photographics.