Mr Cooper's House & Garden
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The more casual of superstar chef Simon Rogan’s two restaurants at the Midland hotel - featuring the city’s finest cocktail list in the bar.
Mr Cooper’s executive chef Simon Rogan has a lot on his plate (no pun intended). Having been awarded plaudits and two Michelin stars two for his debut restaurant, L’Enclume in Cartmel, he’s secured a Michelin star for Fera in Claridges, and transformed the food and drink offering at Manchester’s Midland Hotel with his flagship fine dining restaurant The French (confusingly serving only the most regional modern British food) and a more casual, bistro affair called Mr Cooper’s House and Garden.
The bistro in question is named after an actual person and property dating back to the 1800s, and the interior vertical gardens and trees pay homage to the not-so-distant past. Three courses, meanwhile, in luscious surrounds will set you back just £20 a head at lunchtime. Showcasing the attention to detail that Rogan is famous for, it’s probably the cheapest place to enjoy Rogan’s food in the UK with many dishes the direct descendants of his tasting menu at L’Enclume.
Snacks and small plates could include crispy oxtail and smoked marrow croquettes with English mustard, Mrs Kirkham’s cheese puffs and pickle or sweet pork belly and smoked eel tart, while mains showcase elements of Asian-fusion. Roasted sweetheart cabbage could be served with teriyaki sauce, truffles or hot wasabi mayonnaise, while flame grilled mackerel comes with lemon horseradish butter and apple pickles. Flavours are simple on paper - Mascarpone, vanilla and butter, for example - but the results exceed the sum of their parts.
Cocktails draw on the natural and European trend evident at the likes of London’s Grain Store or Zetter Townhouse. Typical ingredients include wild strawberry vermouth, dill aquavit and quinoa vodka. Drinks are a match for their southern counterparts - particularly choices like ‘Tiny Grass is Dreaming’ made with elderflower aquavit, hibiscus, lime leaf and sparkling wine or the vodka and borage vermouth Great Bear. Nature and Industry, meanwhile, takes in on-trend South American spirit, pisco, and a house-made ‘Forest Floor ‘liqueur.
The interior is like a walk through mossy woodland after the rain. The only thing that doesn’t quite gel is the wider space. This was formerly a genteel hotel brasserie, and aspects of that remain in the coving and slightly off-pitched garden furniture. Lighting – over and under in parts – is another issue. Nevertheless, eating Rogan’s food at generic chain prices and drinking his fascinating drinks makes Mr Cooper’s almost more of a destination than the flagship French.