If small, offbeat and elegant are on your dining tick list, The Rose Garden will be a love match. Ambitious modern British food and English wines are served with a hearty dose of homeliness in an out-there interior where Zaha Hadid-style minimalism meets the Google rainbow.
White cocoon-style seats and formica tables vibe with internet blue and orange. There’s lashings of white, with a strange, Japanese pod hotel thing going on in the contoured seating and the transformation of what appears to be a cramped high street shop space from the outside into something far greater than the sum of its parts.
It’s a family affair after all, with chef-proprietor William Mills a local lad who has teamed up with his architect dad and various other family members to create a white-clad setting for his adventurous bistro food. Dishes like wild Cheshire squirrel, port and redcurrant suet pudding with chicken liver parfait, sea trout with smoked potato cake, smoked haddock chowder and elderflower and gooseberry meringue pie are dishes to remember – and to celebrate – but work equally for a week-night supper.
As at Manchester’s other neighbourhood restaurants (Heaton Moor’s Damson, Prestwich’s Aumbry), the wine list is a draw. Award-winning bottles from Kent’s Gusbourne and Biddenden estates and the Stopham Vineyard in Sussex stand out, as do top-draw Riojas. Beer lovers are well catered for too, with options including bottles from Macclesfield Red Willow brewery. The drinks side of things has come into its own since the opening of the upstairs bar and seating area in 2013.
National newspaper critics have not been particularly kind to The Rose Garden. There is (or was – it’s less apparent now) a tendency to over-load the palate, as if more things, (and particularly more fried things) were somehow better. But like its floral namesake, The Rose Garden is a perfectly romantic choice when handled with care.