In the 90s I was a Manchester student and never reached The Midland. With a budget that was barely enough to cover my expenses, I couldn’t afford this historic and grand hotel.

Although I passed the Edwardian Grade II listed landmark Peter Street property quite often, it was only 100 yards away that I came across the Discotheque Royale, which is now closed. There, pints of Lager cost 50p. From the outside, The Midland looked amazing.

It’s amazing from the inside. 26 years later, after graduation, I finally crossed it. And the venue for one of the finest restaurants in the land – The French, run by former Great British Menu winner Adam Reid. We’ll tell you more.

The Grade II-listed Midland hotel in Manchester was built for £1million by the Midland Railway Company in 1903

The Grade II-listed Midland hotel in Manchester was built for £1million by the Midland Railway Company in 1903

The 'showstopping' split-level lobby bar, pictured, was constructed recently during a £14million refurbishment

The ‘showstopping’ split-level lobby bar, pictured, was constructed recently during a £14million refurbishment


The name of the 312-room hotel can be traced back to the company that built it for £1million in 1903 – the Midland Railway Company.

The hotel was originally used to provide premium accommodations for passengers arriving from London St Pancras.

It garnered renown that quickly ballooned into legendary status, thanks in no small part to a meeting that it’s said took place there on May 4, 1904, between Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce that led to the formation of Rolls-Royce – as a plaque at the front of the building explains.

It would be home to a host of celebrities, dignitaries and royalty for the next century.

Although many famous people made an attempt to get a table at the hotel’s restaurant, not everyone was successful.

After attending the Royal Variety Performance in 1959, the Queen Mother dined at the Hotel’s former Trafford restaurant. However, The Beatles were notoriously denied entry to the ‘The French’ restaurant for their inappropriate attire in 1974.

A meeting took place at The Midland on May 4, 1904, between Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce that led to the formation of Rolls-Royce. Pictured is the new lounge area featuring a real olive tree and (not real) orchids

On May 4, 1904 at The Midland, Charles Stewart Rolls met Frederick Henry Royce. This led to the creation of Rolls-Royce. This is the lounge with an olive tree real and some orchids.

Over the decades The Midland has welcomed a dazzling array of dignitaries, celebrities and even royalty, keen to sample the delights of 'the grandest hotel in the North'

The Midland has been home to a wide variety of notable dignitaries, stars, and royalty for decades, who have come to enjoy the many delights offered by ‘the most grand hotel in North America’.

David Beckham didn’t make any mistakes when it came to sartorial style during Victoria’s first date.

In 1974, the French restaurant was amongst the first to be awarded a Michelin star in Britain. Although it has lost this highly coveted accolade, the French still holds four AA rosettes. These indicate a restaurant that exhibits ‘passion for excellence’ as well as’superb technical skill’.

This appraisal is a complete agreement of mine.

It was awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide for its ‘good value’.

What is ‘Good’? It is sensational.

While I respect the Michelin Guide, it is something that I cannot help but feel a deep connection with.

Its Saturday night tasting menu has made me declare that it is a Michelin star restaurant.

The Queen Mother dined in the former Trafford Restaurant at The Midland in 1959 after attending a Royal Variety Performance. Pictured is the new lobby bar

The former Trafford Dining Room at The Midland was where the Queen Mother dined after her attendance to a Royal Variety Performance. The new lobby bar is shown in the picture

Ted and his partner enjoyed Pommery and Bollinger Champagne at the lobby bar, pictured, before dining at The French

Ted and his partner enjoyed Bollinger Champagne and Pommery at The Lobby Bar, as pictured before they went to The French.

Our pre-The French experience was a brace of Champagnes (one glass of Pommery, one Bollinger) perched on stools at the exotic new showstopping split-level lobby bar, constructed as part of a recent £14million refurbishment.

Beautiful (real) olive trees can be found in this area, as well as orchids, stylish banquette seating at the top and bottom levels, and guests who are dressed up to the nines.


Service at The French, pictured, comes courtesy of the chefs themselves, who bring the dishes to the table and chirpily reveal how they've been made

The French’s service is provided by the chef, who brings the food to your table and then explains how it was made.


Enjoy a performance at the Royal Exchange.

The trendy Ancoats area is the place to eat and drink. Flawd is a tapas-y restaurant that serves natural wines. We enjoyed lunch there.

The Lowry arts center offers performances and paintings.

Tour Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium to see Manchester United’s home.

Explore the Northern Quarter for amazing street art, Victorian pubs and a variety of art galleries.

The Science and Industry Museum is home to “250 years worth of innovation and ideas that began life in Manchester”. 

While both The French’s lobby and The French have a grand feel to them, they are different in that the former is light and bright while the latter is dark and cozy. There are two magnificent globe-shaped chandeliers from glass balls suspended above each table, as well as a striking lobby.

Eleanor the amazing restaurant manager welcomed us and we were shown to our seats. The chefs bring their dishes directly to your table and will chirpily explain how each one was prepared. This we found both fascinating and delightful.

Our choice was for matching wines, and our sommelier also did an excellent job of explaining the quaffing experience.

After a first glass of sparkling Nyetimber perky wine, he introduced us all to the next chef.

We were presented with “A Warm Northern Welcome”, a cup of warm onion broth and malted sourdough by Pollen, the local star canalside bakery Pollen, and beef and onion butter that is so delicious it almost constitutes dessert.

It was then on to “Little Bits of Something Fancy”, a series of ‘biters that Adam said would’showcase the chefs’ skills, quality of ingredient and preferred flavour combination’.

An ingenious ‘fish pie” was created. It consisted of a delicate crispy croustadeshell with trout, potato mousse and pickled shallot (we were told to eat it all at once); Kirkham’s cheese jelly on a cheese cracker, with sugar crispy of hazelnut, and fried shallot; then, little’sausage roll’ from crisp pastry tubes filled raw beef and smoked tongue. They were topped off with fresh horseradish and some fresh.

Then, it was Yesterday’s Dinner’ which ‘celebrates British leftovers’.

The platter included honey roast ham and hot smoked salmon. Doddington cheese and Doddington crackers were also available. There was also a small portion of celery, radish and cauliflower.

For a refreshing drink, the sommelier offered ‘Biere de Coupage,’ an aged sour ale that has been fermented in French oak barrels at RedWillow Brewery (Macclesfield). 


Ted's meal at the French began with a perky glass of Nyetimber sparkling wine

The French's ingenious 'fish pie', made with trout roe and served as one of the starters

Ted started his meal at The French with a glass Nyetimber sparkling white wine (left). As a starter, Ted enjoyed a Nyetimber sparkling wine (left).

Then it was on to ‘Today’s Tea’ – Scottish scallops seasoned in coriander salt and a powder of dried roes with Cheshire baby plum tomatoes (some dried and others pickled in gherkin juices), followed by a layered dish of broccoli puree, giblet gravy (duck offal in a duck sauce), Tunworth cheese and potato mousse, crispy potato, mushroom and cured egg yolk.

At different times, we were asked which was our most favorite meal so far. I struggled to answer each time. Each step was a feast for my eyes, and I couldn’t stop staring at each course.

Then Mr Reid himself brought out one of the moreish, masterfully assembled main courses – monkfish tail roasted in butter and served with wilted spinach, battered mussel and a brown butter sauce.

To ensure that it is freshest possible, the chef-patron said the fish course consists of whatever the chef has received from Cornwall’s fish suppliers.

We then ate fallow deer loin, rolled with black pepper and chopped juniper. The loin was then steamed and then cooked in bacon fat. It was served with Cinderwood Market Garden beetroot in Cheshire. The dish is also served with crispy black cabbage, and gravy of bones flavoured in black garlic.

For afters, the chefs brought over wafer-thin crispy plum ‘leaves’ served with custard, garden plums and a wild damson sorbet – and a leavened cake soaked in a syrup of muscovado sugar and creole shrub served with whipped cream and a cold tea infusion.

Little 'sausage rolls' made from crispy pastry tubes filled with raw beef and smoked tongue

One of the desserts, wafer-thin crispy plum 'leaves' served with custard, garden plums and a wild damson sorbet

On the left, little ‘sausage rolls’ made from crispy pastry tubes filled with raw beef and smoked tongue, topped with whipped cods roe. On the right is one of the desserts, wafer-thin crispy plum ‘leaves’ served with custard, garden plums and a wild damson sorbet

We were all asked at different points what was our favorite dish. I struggled to answer each time. Every step, I found myself in food heaven. The textures, the flavour combinations… every dish surprised and delighted in equal measure.

They were also expertly matched with the wines, which included a Pinot Noir wine from Adelsheim, an Alsace Domaine Bott Geyl Riesling, and a Granbazan Albarino aroma from Spain. Decanted post-Nyetimber strategically.


The Midland's Mount Street Dining Room offers superb lunches with zippy service

Midland’s Mount Street Dining Room has great lunches, with fast service

The Midland doesn’t have to be the only place where you can find top-notch cuisine.

The Mount Street Dining Room & Bar was our lunch spot. It is a beautiful setting, with sharp service (one waiter gave my 4-year-old daughter an instant colouring pen) and delicious food.

My smoked salmon with crème fraiche, avocado and lime starter was fresh and zingy, the lemon sole with baby potato main cooked to perfection and nicely comforting and the desserts – honey pudding made with white chocolate, and a caramel mousse – superb.

Ted's room was very similar to the one pictured. He liked the oversized lampshade, elegant headboard and luxurious feel to it, but felt it lacked character

Ted had a room very much like the one shown. Although he liked its large lampshade and elegant headboard, he felt that it was lacking character.

This was also where breakfast was served – a far more boisterous affair, with huge queues for the (satisfying) self-service buffet.

I would like to give a tip for the woman who served my daughter porridge, and continuously checked on us (she was aware of our post-The French glassesy-eyed stupor).

After having a restful night, we had fallen asleep and were now ready for breakfast.

The spa at The Midland is well worth a visit. Pictured is the 'relaxation room'

The Midland spa is well-worth a visit. The’relaxation area’ is shown in the picture.

Ted says that the subterranean spa has a suitably 'otherworldly' feel to it

Ted states that the spa’s subterranean location has an “otherworldly” feel.

Although the rooms were part the refurbishment, it wasn’t apparent that the work was done. There were several watermarks on the bathroom ceiling and while generally lavish with lovely beds, soothing muted décor, elegant headboard, armchairs and an eye-catching oversized ceiling lampshade, it wasn’t terribly distinctive, as if it had been picked out of an ACME ‘luxury hotel bedroom catalogue’.

Before we left, we took a look at the gorgeous subterranean spa and noticed that it was still in an ‘otherworldly’ state.

While we were making our way out to my Discotheque Royale route of old, I noticed another plaque on the front of this hotel. It said ‘Adam Reid at The French. With room enough for a Michelin star (or two)…


The Midland Manchester offers rooms from £189. Visit For Adam Reid at The French visit 

Hotel rating:


French rating 


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