Bridge Street’s new Anglo French restaurant offering is a must for Francophiles and foodies alike.
Randall & Aubin are an independent operator headed up by celeb chef, food writer and all round nice guy, Ed Baines. After years of successfully running their Soho site they have made the journey up North, choosing Manchester as the best bet for their classic cuisine.
The Brasserie itself is brand new. They have done a great job of converting the ex-retail space with the kitchen on display up front (you can actually peer in from the street to see & smell what’s cooking) and the bar stretching back toward the restaurant area in the rear. It feels cosy and solid, like it could’ve been there for decades, with tastefully tiled floors and a mixture of dark wood, brass fixtures and fittings and snug leather booths. It is a bustling place and you do seem to feel at the heart of it whether you’re dining or just grabbing a drink. There’s a big shiny mirror ball to jazz up the whole experience and make an occasion of an evening, and that’s before you even get to the menu.
The menu is really broad and definitely offers something for everyone, so don’t be put off if one of your party is fussy or not a card-carrying seafood fan – there’s more to it than that, much more. From soups to salads, rocks to rump steak we were spoilt for choice.
We do expect the menu to be refined as the kitchen find their feet in the Manchester scene, after talking with Chef Director Ed it’s clear that there will be some fine tuning as Mancunians seemingly shun pork & apple sausage and mash favoring oysters. We like to think us locals have upped our game to prove to the London lot we know our oysters from our elbows and on that note we kick things off with half a dozen Irish Rocks (£14.85) – these fresh fellas are shallower than their English counterparts but you can try the lot and choose your favourite with the Mixed Rocks. On our visit the French ones had sadly retreated off the menu due to huge popularity (‘Ed said’ just shy of 1,000 were ordered on the opening weekend).
Another classic Hors D’Oeures of Moules marinieres (£10.85) is next up, we shared this along with the oysters between two and there was more than enough, Randall & Aubin pride themselves on the sustainability and quality of their produce and this is reflected by a healthy portion and the size of the mussels themselves…who doesn’t like big mussels?
Time for the main event and we choose a mixture of Poissons and Rotisserorie. Crispy Lemon Sole (£17.50) was perfect with a surprising mint sauce appearance that works excellently with the fish and sauteed potatoes. To mix things up and sample a bit more variety from the kitchen, meat met our eye, Half rotisserie classic corn fed chicken (£13.65 w/ fries). Having read an interview with Ed Baines ahead of time where he had said somewhat surprisingly that this would be his go to dish, we can see why. It’s a big bit of bird smothered in garlic and rosemary, providing some serious flavours and properly cooked chips helped soak up the juices.
There’s something about the whole experience, the venue itself, it’s all very grown up and feels swanky but not in the pretentious way we may have become accustom to recently when the big boys arrive from London splashing the cash. The layout allows for a more casual experience in the long narrow bar area, you could quite easily make a Saturday shopping trip special with a quick sit down, glass of wine and share a few oysters. Equally if you are looking to impress or celebrate a big occasion there’s a lot of luxury to call upon.
Overall the quality of the produce, and the breadth of the menu will keep us coming back. Any excuse you find to visit Randall & Aubin, do it.
Bookings here: randallandaubin.com/manchester