Michael Caines at Abode
We wandered down from the train station in search of a late-ish lunch for the three of us. Well, two of us, since one had already had a disappointing salad. (A spinach garnish is not a spinach salad.) Our first attempt was only serving snacks. Our second came recommended, by me, as well as the guidebook, on the basis of a lunch I once had at another Michael Caines at Abode outlet, in Canterbury. The tranquil underground restaurant, dark woods and illuminating spots, let us loiter over a modestly-portioned three-dish meal, ideal for catching up. The pork belly was sublimely tender, with fat with just the right amount of tender crunch; the lemongrass bisque the highlight of salmon and ginger tortellone; the desserts offered a delight of variety, from crunch, sweetened slivers of orange peel topping a honey-and-orange financiet, to the fun of rice pudding in the form of an oven-fresh coconut macaroon, sided with lime foam like fluffy marshmallows. The restaurant offers more courses - four or five. Given what happened at dinner, it's just as well we erred on the side of lightness.
Red Chilli on Manchester Road
Red Chilli is increasingly a Manchester institution, having expanded to a good seven-some sites these days. We went to one which was in the building which used to be one of sioneva and targaff's favorite restaurants. Generously-scaled booths and fantastic pickled radishes welcomed us in more readily than the often-chaotic service. Nevertheless, that service managed to get us through a meal of epic proportions. Three of the four of us shared a "First Date", the shortest of several set menus on offer. For that, the food was copious and solid, from a nicely-balanced hot-and-sour soup, through a large platter of largely deep-fried appetizers, to classic Peking duck. Around then, we were full, and our main courses were just arriving. I took a bite of each - my favorite was the chicken served on a chunk of baked or deep-fried rice clusters. As the only person going home to a refrigerator, we sent the rest of our First Date home with austengirl.
The Modern Restaurant
The Modern Restaurant at Urbis, over what is going to be the National Football Museum, but isn't yet, featured spectacular views over a moodily-clouded website. Service was lovely, accommodating and attentive. I loved the refreshing non-alcoholic mint-and-elderflower cocktail I had. The atmosphere was pleasant. The food was well-presented and nicely-textured. But the food was also missing something important: any depth of flavor. It was as if we were eating from a kitchen which had not yet discovered herbs and spices. Flavor-wise, it was generally dull; but in all other respects, a very appealing restaurant.