Did you know there are over 650 restaurants, the most there has ever been, in Manchester today?* This large number is a blessing for the diner (options are always good), and a challenge for the restaurateur. How does one stand out from an ever-increasing pool that can sometimes be crowded?
You won’t have a problem is your name is Dakota. Nothing to do with the Fanning siblings, who coincidentally, wouldn’t look out of place in the boutique hotel and restaurant that is The Dakota Hotel Manchester.
I had a lunch date with the family, who are northern natives, and who were looking forward to checking out the new place in the city.
The Dakota Hotel Manchester opened earlier this year, and has already garnered an online buzz (hat-tip to the PR for making this so).
Situated a short walk from Piccadilly station, locating The Dakota Hotel Manchester is easy, as the building stands tall and proud proclaiming its regal existence.
Finding the entrance is a little more fun, as the first one that we pass seems as if it’s a side-door entrance leading onto a side-room. After circling back, we eventually find our way inside. It is more than some place nice, and oxymoronically luxurious yet accessible.
We check our coats in at reception and walk past a giant woolly dog, which momentarily startles me. If you don’t know me, large dogs (truth be told, dogs of any size) usually make me jumpy. I decide I quite like this life-like dog, and think about patting its head, but I don’t think The Dakota Hotel Manchester’s staff would appreciate their artwork being messed.
We walk into the restaurant section, are greeted by warm smiles and are shown a spacious booth, into which we scooch.
We dine off the à la carte menu, which is diverse to suit varying palates.
I like bread and cheese so I am particularly enamoured when we are presented with a pre-starter of bread roll and Venetian dip. The goats cheese dip is gloriously gooey burnished with swirls of baked passata, and I can already tell, that Dakota and I are going to be friends.
My starter of King Scallops (Oriental ribs, pork crackling) is almost too pretty to eat, but I dispel that blasphemous thought and dive into the scallops. Boasting a translucent middle and given a meaty blast with the Oriental ribs, this dish is one of my favourites on the day.
Other diners from the party enjoy their roasted carrot and feta dish, with the spritz of orange and chunks of walnut giving a citrus tinged nutty depth.
Caprese salad with the accompanying burrata is also very good; the creamy middle marrying well with the tomato and aged balsamic.
My main of lemon sole (brown shrimp, samphire) is substantial and tastes of the sea. Brown shrimp with a slight chew, and salty samphire make for a heady combination, ensuring the plate is licked clean.
Other diners enjoy venison, roasted butternut gnocchi (chestnut mushroom, goats cheese) and halibut (bacon, mussels, samphire). The latter is another winner of a fish dish which layers flavours of the sea through the meaty morsels of mussels and emerald green samphire.
Other strong mains include tangy monkfish curry, whose accompanying rice is fragrant, whilst the raita and kachumba deliver piquant punches of fire.
My dessert of strawberry mille-feuille (vanilla crème, strawberry sorbet) is a stunner of a dish. I find myself surprised by the lightness of the vanilla cream, which melts within moments in my mouth as I hungry replace it with another spoonful from this glorious plate of goodness.
Other diners enjoy their vanilla soufflés. Watching the pouring of chocolate sauce atop the souffle is pure theatre and a lot of fun, whilst the quenelle of pistachio ice-cream (my favourite flavour, just so you know) adds another layer of creaminess to the dish.
Dining at The Dakota Grill Manchester feels like a treat, because the sumptuous surroundings, memorable food and stellar service will make you feel like a VIP. And this is why you should visit The Dakota Grill Manchester – because you are a VIP, and you deserve it. Other diners in my party too, felt the ‘wow factor’ throughout the meal, and felt spoiled by the attention of the front of house team. Team Dakota, see you soon, you are officially my first port of call when I’m next in Manchester.
*Office of National Statistics UK
*Photos in this piece are obtained from The Dakota Grill Manchester – my camera decided not to play nice and shut down churlishly.
Booking is open for The Dakota Grill Manchester’s festive menu. Their Sunday Lunch menu is available too (2 courses £25), and all menus are available on The Dakota Grill Manchester’s website to peruse at your leisure.
Restaurant name: The Dakota Grill Manchester
Address: 29 Ducie St, Manchester M1 2JL
Monday – Saturday 12:30pm-2:30pm | 6:30pm-10:00pm
How to make reservation: Online
Telephone: 0161 674 9180
Open since: May 2019
Head chef: Sam Karle
Sous Chef: Alexandros Theodosiou
GM: Matt Townley
Caters for dietary requirements: Yes
Wheelchair friendly: Yes
Quietest table: The expansive space allows for robust conversation without it being noisy. We were sitting at Table 38, which was very comfortable.
How to get there: A five minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly Train Station
Whilst in the area: Selfridges is a 7-minute ride away from Dakota. I look forward to the Christmas window displays every year, which I recommend you take a detour for.