Recently we published our review of the Scottish Steakhouse at the Macdonald Tickled Trout. The consensus was that the food was varied and strong, with sizeable portions and excellent service. The Scottish Steakhouse at Macdonald Manchester has many of the same staples as the Preston restaurant, but if we had to choose between the two, the Manchester restaurant wins out by a tiny margin. Whether it was the dishes we ordered this time around or the restaurant as a whole, the Manchester restaurant feels a tad more vibrant, more city-like, while the Preston restaurant retains a more laidback country house feel, despite its proximity to the city. I am, however, a self-confessed city kid, so your own preference might differ for exactly the same reasons.
We recognised the furnishings and decor, which riff on the familiar bovine themes we saw at the Tickled Trout. Here, the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the city, which is a sparkly jewel by night and stands in contrast to the Ribble River running beside the Tickled Trout. The layout also puts the tables closer together, breaking up the space with more attention to vertical details such as the chandeliers and pillars. The open kitchen also adds to the energy, allowing you to see your food being cooked in front of you.
The menu was the same as at the Tickled Trout, save for the enticing specials menu which had some neat additions. There was a strong British presence, as before, but with a few dashes of flavour from further afield.
We started off with the tiger prawn skewers with mango, chilli and avocado from the a la carte menu. Crisp and clean, this refreshing starter was great for warming up to something heavier for a main. Definitely a brighter, lighter option than the more decadent and filling Scotch egg.
We also tried a wholesome Thai fishcake with sweet chilli and crispy seaweed from the specials menu. With its blend of fish and potato, this was more filling than the prawns, but a very manageable portion and the Asian-style mayonnaise really tarted the dish up.
For my main, my dining companion selected from the specials a hearty pie with tender venison, rich gravy and crunchy root vegetables served with fluffy mash and buttery French beans. Perfectly complemented by the cab sav, this British dish was a more traditional but no less enjoyable offering.
Meanwhile, I tried a tender but meaty halibut with a decadent, creamy leek, mushroom and prawn sauce. I’d been tempted by this at the Preston restaurant, but was torn between it and the pork – so when they told me they were out of the halibut, it made my choice easier. I was glad to finally try it and it was worth the wait. Served with a leek rosti, it was amazing! Packed to bursting with flavour and with a good serving of greens too, it certainly helps you reach your five-a-day.
Finally we got to try the desserts. We’d been looking forward to these since we overate at the Tickled Trout – and thankfully, they didn’t disappoint.
For the ice cream you can stack scoops of whatever you fancy with your own choice of topping and sauce. We tried a velvety pistachio, an indulgent raspberry ripple, marshmallow topping and a berry compote at the bottom. Getting down to the bottom where it had all mixed together was magnificent.
For something more filling, you could choose the dark chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, marshmallows and morello cherry – which my partner, an absolute chocolate fanatic, loved.
The service was amiable, professional and timely throughout – and, perhaps because of the restaurant’s energy, it seemed a tad quicker than the Preston restaurant, although this may easily have been an illusion. Located behind Piccadilly train station, it’s perfectly located whether you live in the city or are just passing through. The food guarantees it’s a worthy stopping point.
For more information or to book a table, visit macdonaldhotels.co.uk.