I was greatly looking forward to Mr Cooper’s Home & Garden restaurant, being a long-time fan boy of Simon Rogan. In the unlikely event, my bank balance reaches even just three figures, I will visit one of his Michelin starred establishments In the meantime, thankfully Mr Cooper’s provided an affordable approach to fine dining.
Mr Cooper’s is housed on the ground floor of the imposing Midland Hotel, a grand Edwardian building, with distinctive Baroque architecture. The restaurant has a quirky heritage, with the eccentric interior design being both impressive and unpretentious. As a side note, the eponymous Mr Cooper was a something of a Manchester local legend back in the day, owning a house & garden back on the site in 1819. He was a passionate horticulturist and intrigued by the science and art of cultivating flowers, fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants.
The starters were reasonably priced for food of this quality, ranging from £4 to £8.50. Unusual touches on classic flavour combinations were the pleasing hallmark of the menu. The deep-fried prawns, mango and chorizo marmalade, were succulent and delicious. The corned bread, chicken livers with mango chutney and watercress, were simple but scrumptious.
Mr Cooper’s is an excellent choice for pescatarians, with lovely fish and vegetation options. The mussel, monkfish and potato romesco let the quality of the ingredients shine through, as did the halibut baked in a cabbage leaf, with broad beans and Vin Blanc. Both were presented beautifully, pairing perfectly with the not outrageously priced Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. The side order of deep fried pickles was staggeringly moreish – so good they can’t have been legal.
Desserts at Mr Cooper’s restaurant sounded interesting but were not the highlight. White chocolate cake with pineapple cardamom compote had all my favourite flavours together in one place. It should have been memorable, but was a little dry. The peanut parfait with marinated strawberries and sweet cucumber syrup didn’t inspire, but credit for providing such quirky options. I doubt even Nigella Lawson won’t be bothered to whip up cucumber and peanut deserts after work.
All the staff were conversational, smart and down-to-earth. Service at Mr Coopers’s was perfectly pleasant although sluggish in delivery. A final and important point should be given to the bar. As they correctly proclaim: “Manchester needed a proper, grown-up bar” – and this is it. Mr Cooper’s cocktail list is as fine as anywhere, with a sophisticated and exciting broader drinks menu. Unique options such as the East Amber Dram Sour, consisting of sesame seed infused scotch whisky, pear, lemon, lemongrass, egg white, served with lemongrass and pear slices, will make the synapses sparkle of any proper drinker.
Mr Cooper’s Review Summary
Atmosphere 10 Cost 8 Quality 8 Service 9