Being based within the 235 casino accessing the restaurant is always going to be a chore having to submit ID; at least it keeps the kids out and there is free parking for casino members. Situated on a mezzanine floor at the far end of the upper floor the first thing you notice are the stairs leading to the restaurant and the bright James Martin signs. Ascending up the stairs a grand piano and the glass fronted meat cold room come into view with all of the different cuts of meat available from the meat market menu hanging in all its glory.
It’s a shame that the casino itself appears so lifeless and characterless with mismatched carpets and a dark moody atmosphere. The dining room appeared silent as we were led to our table with six or seven other tables occupied. Thank heavens the atmosphere picked up through the meal as the tables were quite close together.
I used to religiously watch Saturday Morning Kitchen and have always been a fan of James Martin, but had my doubts whether this would be a Marco Pierre White type of experience where it would rely on the name only. The menu offers some fresh ideas to the North West dining scene. For starters we opted for whisky and vanilla salmon with chargrilled cucumber, ketchup and pickled ginger, and smoked beef fillet and beetroot salad with bone marrow fritters and grain mustard dressing.
The salmon was slightly sweet with a hint of whisky which did not overpower the fish; a light starter that worked well with the ketchup and pickled ginger. Mrs Nom had the smoked beef fillet which was lightly smoked with a beetroot salad. Normally Mrs Nom stays away from salads but the delicately sliced beef against the different textures of the soft red beets and the crunchy yellow beets was delicious.
For the main course I chose the braised short rib of beef with pearl barley and parsley risotto and roasted onions. The beef rib bone that acted as a garnish was huge and made the portion of beef look small at first, but this was deceptive as the serving was actually quite generous as I found out when ploughing my way through it. The braised beef shredded with ease and was wonderfully tender and moist with a satisfying meaty essence. The accompanying risotto and onions were pleasant as the carbs and veg element of the dish but it was all about the beef for me.
Mrs Nom chose steamed brill with smoked mussels, white bean broth and candied fennel. In contrast to my beef dish with the risotto, the fish was accompanied by very little garnishes. Mrs Nom kept picking at my risotto as a result which I guarded at first. The brill was served with a wonderful and moreish sauce and the candied fennel was new and interesting.
Since seeing the pictures from the opening week I had already decided on the signature dessert of white chocolate and whisky croissant butter pudding with single malt ice cream. As well as looking enticing it delivered in the taste test as well. The warm croissant with the whisky coupled with the ice cream was simply mouth-watering. Shame it only lasted a short while, I had devoured it before Mrs Nom had even broke into her vanilla panna cotta with warm doughnuts, apple and blackberries, although she was quick enough to get a taste of mine before it all disappeared.
From observation a lot of diners were opting for a steak from the meat market menu, at £48 for the top priced Wagyu fillet we gave it a miss, we rarely order steaks when eating out and don’t see the attraction of steak with chips, onions rings etc. However with 25% off on the next visit for signing up to the reward card then we just maybe tempted to try.