I don’t want teeny tiny portions of over-priced ‘signature’ dishes either.
Nor do I want a dizzying menu with too many options. Put simply, I want great ingredients that are balanced and yes, that look appetising and inviting on the plate… the ‘tuck in’ factor without too much fuss.
Getting this right and firmly now on my “fab food radar” is Linen. This elegant and smart restaurant which is both a restaurant in its own right, as well as being located in the very swanky, upmarket Manchester 235 Casino at the Great Northern, off Deansgate, Manchester.Head Chef Jarda Hlavsa (pronounced Yah-da) who took the helm several months ago, has worked his magic on the menu, ensuring all ingredients are sourced from excellent, local producers. This, combined with his own passion and skill, makes Linen a real force to be reckoned with on the North West restaurant scene.
A few years ago, when I first ate at Linen (pre-Jarda Hlavsa) I may not have been so enthusiastic. But the powers that be at Manchester 235 have recognised that it takes a great Head Chef to inject credibility and flair into an establishment that is competing with a host of top eateries in a city like Manchester. In the six months since Jarda has been at Linen a lot of great changes have taken place – he is clearly a name to watch out for in the competitive cullinary world.
I definitely recommend Linen. It’s especially convenient if you are in the mood for some Las Vegas style fun at the casino but also as a dining experience in its own right. Thanks to a new entrance (launched 11 October 2012), it is now possible to enter Linen via the Great Northern building’s interior – so those enjoying an evening at the cinema or bowling alley (TBC) etc, can also enjoy a great meal as well as entertainment. You do not have to be patronising the casino to come in and eat (very well).
The restaurant is smart yet cosy and for the real foodies reading this, you can hire the ‘Chef’s table’ – a glass enclosed private dining experience where you can have a fab nosy through window portals at the very impressive Linen kitchen and the drama of the dishes being cooked before your eyes!
What do I suggest you eat?? Well, diners can now enjoy some serious foodie delights. Among a good selection, starters include the likes of a delicious house-smoked salmon and beetroot salad (fresh and light), sauteed pigeon breast or a squid and radicchio salad.
Mains: if you are a steak lover, you will be very pleased – excellent T-Bone and fillet steaks. Fish lovers like me will particularly savour the very generous sea bream dish which comes with purple potatoes! As the daughter of Irish, spud-loving parents, I wasn’t too sure if I would like these but they are a lovely (and attractive) alternative to standard new potatoes and very tasty. My dining partners particularly rated the Chef’s Three Bird Roast (turkey, guinea owl and duck breast, wrapped in crispy streaky bacon).
Veggie or not, I would also recommend the pumpkin, sage and dolcelatte rissotto – especially if you are in the mood for something creamy and satisfying. I loved the creaminess combined with the crunch of the walnuts in this – really delicous!
Pudding… now we’re talking! Linen has an excellent pastry chef in Charlotte Kerr. Charlotte is self-taught and a natural talent. Her shortbread (which comes with a dreamy toffee apple creme brulee) is melt-in-the-mouth delicious and I personally could eat a pile of that on its own – yummmmm.
For a bit of retro fun and indulgence, definitely tuck into the raspberry ripple baked Alaska. I loved it – jammy and ice-creamy, with loads of fluffy meringue on top. The marbled Baileys and chocolate cheesecake is the stuff diets are pushed aside for. Nice BIG chunk of a slice too (I hate stingy puds).
Okay, so thumbs up for Linen – a real contender now on the Manchester restaurant scene. Enjoy, tuck in… have a flutter!
Head Chef Jarda Hlavsa – pronounced Yah-da
Who is he?
Young, energetic and creative, Jarda arrives at Linen with a host of impressive credentials to his name. Originally from Prague, Jarda trained at a private culinary college in the city for three years before working his way up the ranks at the Radisson Alcron Hotel, which recently became the first hotel in the Czech Republic to receive a Michelin star.
How did he become Head Chef at Linen?
In December 2004, Jarda moved to Manchester and started as Chef de Partie at Malmaison. In 2010, he was made Head Chef and put in charge of the French-style Malmaison Brasserie. In 2011, Jarda also helped to transform the brasserie into the Smoak Bar & Grill.
What’s his style?
Contemporary with strokes of classic, high-end European skill and flavour. A real stickler for using locally sourced ingredients. Jarda is an exciting new name to watch out for – a perfectionist with a passion for quality and bringing out the best in flavours.
Book at table at Linen:
2 Watson Street
T: 0161 820 3093
Find out more here http://www.manchester235.com/restaurant-details/linen-restaurant