"SIMON ROGAN will be looking after two restaurants in the Midland for us," says general manager, Michael Magrane, "The French and former Colony. This is not only exciting for us we think, but also for Manchester.
"We know he's pretty excited too. I've been amazed about the research he's already done on the history of the hotel and the traditions with which it's associated."
Simon's already been experimenting with the menus, " says Magrane. "He'll be using his own supplies from his own farm and other regional suppliers. He's looking to create something specifically Mancunian as a signature dish
Simon Rogan, chef-patron of the two-starred Michelin restaurant L'Enclume in Cartmel, is not wrong to be excited about working at the Midland. It has real form, as of course does he. This could be a commercial marriage made in heaven.
The place is the oldest and still the grandest of the major Manchester hotels, dating from 1903. Outside London, its cast of residents, of the great and the good, and the not so great and the not very good, is only equalled by the Adelphi in Liverpool.
Fortunately the Midland is run by QHotels not The Britannia Group as with the poor Adelphi.
Magrane explains how Rogan came to be interested.
"I went up to Cartmel for dinner and we got chatting. The following day he came down to Manchester and fell in love with The French. It was as straightforward as that. Eventually we started talking about The Colony restaurant as well.
The French is a special space, exuding comfort and Old European grandeur. It's got charm stitched into the place as well, and comes packaged as an oval, another point of distinction. It was one of the first establishments in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star when the Michelin guide was launched in 1974. In effect it has represented the best in city fine dining throughout much of its 109 years.
L'EnclumeFor Rogan this breaking news about The Midland rounds off a good year. 2012 has seen L’Enclume achieve a second Michelin star, and a full ‘10 out of 10’ Good Food Guide rating, as well as retaining five AA Restaurant Guide Rosettes.
“Since getting the second Michelin star, we have had numerous UK-wide opportunities for our next restaurant site,” commented Rogan. “I have always loved Manchester – it’s like being in London, but on a smaller scale. It’s trendy and dynamic, but very accessible and friendly. Overall, the Manchester dining scene has been quite casual and bar-driven, but this is a great opportunity to set the trend for luxury dining, and the city is definitely ready for it.”
Let's hope Aiden Byrne can also deliver with the Living Ventures backed Manchester House in Spinningfields. 2013 is looking good.
Rogan will continue to be based in Cumbria of course, but he emphasises that Manchester is close enough to Cartmel for him to have major, on-going input into the new site, but not to be completely distracted from L’Enclume, which is his prime focus. He is assembling a strong chef brigade to work alongside the existing team at The Midland Hotel.
Food at L'Enclume comes as set menus with multiple courses posted currently, on their website, as lunch, £35, and dinner, £95.
"The French will have a similar food set-up as L'Enclume. Simon's already been experimenting with the menus, " says Magrane. "He'll be using his own supplies from his own farm and other regional suppliers. He's looking to create something specifically Mancunian as a signature dish for The French, which will be open from March 2013 for lunch and dinner.
"There are 50 covers in The French. In The Colony (although that's not going to be the name of the new place) he'll be overseeing 150 covers plus 50 in the bar area, 200 in total."
"We want both The French and the new space to retain glamour although the former Colony restaurant will obviously have food at a lower price point, be very broad in its appeal, and be open breakfast, lunch and dinner."
The FrenchMichael Purtill, Managing Director of QHotels said: “Simon is a culinary genius, and we’re really proud to be associated with one of the UK’s finest chefs. This partnership marks a new chapter for the hotel, in particular The French, in modernising our offering within the city. The Midland is already renowned for its fine-dining experience, but this partnership is about offering our guests an experience that cannot be found anywhere else in Manchester.”
Simon Rogan again: “There is huge affection for The Midland Hotel in Manchester, and I want to help bring its restaurants back to their former glory. It’s a wonderful challenge.”
Magrane agrees: "For us to bring in a chef of the quality and calibre of Simon Rogan is great news. It represents the next phase of history for The Midland Hotel."
Of course, for Manchester foodies this all sounds excellent, but there are two key questions.
Can Rogan deliver the same quality in his secondary restaurants as say Blumenthal and Ramsay have done over the years? And will the Manchester public support his efforts?
Manchester Confidential has a suggestion for Rogan's would-be signature dish. Read this article we published earlier in the year about a recipe created in a very young Midland Hotel.
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