Having previously appeared in Northern Soul restaurant reviews merely as Robert Hamilton’s dining companion The Brunette, I was honoured to be entrusted with writing as well as eating (as Mr Hamilton was stuck on the tarmac at El Prat).
Our destination was Store Street Exchange at the Doubletree Hotel and my lunch date, The Silver Fox, was already in the hotel lobby when I arrived.
The restaurant, which opened in September 2017, is on the ground floor of the hotel and we were led to our booth by Lois. “Lovely squidgy seats,” commented TSF, and he was right. Although, looking around the room, the overriding brown of the décor doesn’t immediately speak comfort. In fact, in daylight it looks much like a standard hotel restaurant which is a shame as what is on offer is far from standard.
The starters are around the six quid mark. I had the smoked haddock & Gruyère croquettes with lemon aioli and, as I don’t eat meat but wanted an opinion on it, I made TSF go for the Bury black pudding & apple sausage roll with brown sauce. The croquettes perfectly combined the creamy, nuttiness of the cheese with the light smokiness of the haddock complemented by the lemony aioli. The Bury black pudding sausage roll was pronounced “really good” and its pastry was “beautiful and crunchy”.
We were drinking sparkling water but Store Street has an impressive range of beers from Brightside Brewing Company in Radcliffe and J.W. Lees in Middleton which are served in the fashionable two thirds of a pint measure (£4.95). There is a selection of wines from £20 to £30 a bottle and cocktails at £9.
TSF quizzed Lois about what he should opt for as his main course (as I had insisted he had meat). She explained that every time there is a new menu, the staff get to taste everything so that they are properly informed. She recommended the rotisserie chicken (£14.95/19.95) or the Store Street beef burger (£16.50). As a connoisseur of the burger, TSF opted for that with a side of tiger fries (a mixture of sweet potato and potato fries) and I chose the fillet of bream with chive creamed potato and charred onions (£18.50), although I asked for skin on fries in place of the mash. The fish had a beautifully crisp skin with succulent, moist flesh and while the fries were great, I think the chef was correct in choosing to serve it with mash and it was simply my greed that made me go for the switch. TSF liked his burger. “Good. Meaty. How a burger should be.”
After that we had no need for a dessert, but we took two for the Northern Soul team anyway. And I’m glad we did. His melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding with salted caramel ice cream (£6) did exactly that – unleashing a rich, warm 60 per cent cacao torrent. My lemon and mascarpone cheesecake with poppy seed meringue (£6) was light and creamy and had just enough fruits of the forest to convince me that it contributed to my five-a-day.
So yes, Store Street may look like a basic hotel bar but don’t be fooled by the facade. This is well-cooked quality food, served up all day by a knowledgeable, helpful and attentive team in their smart Oliver Harvey (made in Dukinfield) aprons.