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Higher Ground Manchester
AddressFaulkner House, New York Street, Manchester, M1 4DY
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Higher Ground Bistro Reviews
Restaurants Of Manchester (Friday 3rd March 2023)
Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

Higher Ground Review Higher Ground Review
Higher Ground ~ Menu Higher Ground ~ Bench Seating
Decor & Ambience World Class
A surprisingly big unit with massive open kitchen which occupies a large chunk of said footprint, to the right as you enter.  Window seating lives to the left with tons of kitchen-view bench seating too; a touch which we love. More places need to offer such kitchen views to entertain food geeks like us.  Minimalism is the key here with lots of sustainably sourced and custom-made furniture, in keeping with the whole Higher Ground ethos.
Perhaps a bit sparse in places.  It feels like the minimalism is intended, but once the fledgeling stage passes, perhaps some more accoutrements and personality tweaks will be added to give it a bit more warmth and feel an iota more complete.
Higher Ground Review Higher Ground Review
Higher Ground ~ Oysters with Fermented Chilli Higher Ground ~ Beetroot
Value World Class
2 lunch menus with a couple of added oysters, 4 glasses of wine each, plus service, for £170. It’s never going to be the kind of place where you can pick up a main course and beer for 15 quid though, plus we chose to get quite involved in the wine list perhaps more than most lunch diners would.

Generally, all feels in order, as per what you’d expect to pay.
10% service charge was pre-added.  It was warranted, unquestionably, but as ever, we do prefer the option.
Higher Ground Review Higher Ground Review
Higher Ground ~ Pea Fritters Higher Ground ~ Fosters Mill Bread Rolls
Food & Drink World Class
Food is small/larger plate format, because where isn’t these days?

We’ve somehow eaten oysters 3 times in the last 2 weeks so decided to add one more occasion (£3 each). Sourced from Colchester, these were fresh, had bags of salinity, the right texture, with contrasting punch from a dot of fermented chilli. A wakener for the palate.

Set menu wise, we opted for the chef’s choice menu at £35 per person, which was;

Beetroot with yoghurt started lunch well. Cubes of sweet yet acid balanced beet, with lovely mouth-freshening acidity from the yoghurt. Despite being the first course, this could also have acted well as a transition course between the mains/afters.

Pea Fritters with cheese were bite sized comfort. Gooey on the inside, slightly crisp on the exterior with a dusting of thinly Microplaned Quicke’s Cheddar for some seasoning, sweet-balancing fat, great mouthfeel and a bit of prettiness.

Celeriac with salted blackcurrant and bay reminded me of a veggie based salumi. Cross sections of celeriac, cooked with acid, rounded off with background aromatic notes from the bay. Lovely.

Pork with barley risotto was the main event. Stunning quality pork, which you could quite easily be fooled into thinking was lamb based on its richness. The ‘risotto’ was mushroom driven, carrying bags of umami and earthiness. Comforting, produce driven, and well executed.
Higher Ground Review Higher Ground Review
Higher Ground ~ Celeriac, Salted Breatroot & Bay Leaf Higher Ground ~ Jane's Acorn Reared Pig & Mushroom Porridge
Cinderwood greens dressed with mustard were as on-point as you’d expect. High quality greengrocery delivering a nice little side dish.

Mash with smoked butter was another side-dish triumph. It looked lumpy on arrival, but was deceptively smooth, with the right amount of butter, ie, tons. Most importantly, it was intensely potatoey so more of that stellar produce was on show. Even the GOAT of mash, Joel Robuchon, would have approved

Wine is low intervention driven, and the wine offering generally deserves special note here. The fabulous Daniel Craig-Martin curated a mini wine flight for us to sidekick our lunch courses. Stars of the show were a super tropical Okr from Milan Nestarec (£9 per glass), and the sensational, volcanic driven Tanca Nica Passulata Passito (£12 a glass). Both new additions to my admittedly average natty knowledge portfolio, but both stunning and deeply interesting. Which ultimately is what eating/drinking anything with any considered interest, is all about.

Yorkshire Rhubarb with Custard was a clever play on a classic. The custard was espuma gunned for lightless and air-like consistency, with a pop of contrasting bitterness from the rhubarb, garnished with frosted breadcrumbs. Simple yet quality.

We ended with a wedge of Sea buckthorn (foraged in Pomona of all places?!) Tart, topped with well balance meringue, blowtorched for a bit of flair and colour contrast. Simple and enjoyable .
But; the tart case could have been a bit shorter for some textural variety.  And the still enjoyable bread felt a touch heavy/doughy inside, hence seemed a whisker underbaked, which was a surprise with Pollen experienced staff in the kitchen.
Higher Ground Review Higher Ground Review
Higher Ground ~ Yorkshire Rhubarb & Custard Higher Ground ~ Sea Buckthorn Tart
Service World Class
There isn’t a genuinely nicer guy in Manchester’s hospitality scene than Richard Cossins, so any front of house experience which he’s involved in is bound to be winner. We first met him at The Bull and Bear many moons ago, and he instantly made an impression. Every conversation with him ends with you feeling like a million dollars. It’s an ability that you just can’t train. You either have it or you don’t, end of.

When you write about people’s work for a living, said people tend to be professionally nice to you, often just because they want you to say nice things. But I’m super conscious that as nice as they may be, most of those people don’t actually respect or care for you one bit. I often wish that they didn’t pretend to either and just treated you like any other customer. But over time you develop the ability to read whether somebody is being genuine, or just doing their job of being, well, hospitable.

Here though, every guest is looked after to the same welcoming standard and you won’t find nicer or more genuine service than at Higher Ground. It’s just a super positive place to be.
Nothing notable comes to mind. Every service point was ticked, both in terms of being personable but also professional.

Im not a fan of having to throw my coat over a chair in a mid-priced place, and there’s a lack of other premium dining driven points which have to reflect in our scoring, but then casual yet high end is the vibe here so it’s hard to criticise things if that’s the venue’s intention. .
Higher Ground Review Higher Ground Review
Higher Ground ~ Wine Higher Ground ~ Table
Overall World Class
It feels like an age since Higher Ground first launched over at Kampus, in the stilted unit which dictated their very name. Covid sadly and swiftly put the blockers on that continuing for very long, yet somehow fate seems to have been kind as this only led to the inception of Flawd and Cinderwood Market Garden, not to mention an arguably superior unit for this iteration of Higher Ground. Im a firm believer that more often than not, the Universe works things out as if they were meant to somehow be.

Ahead of visiting, our expectations were perhaps unfairly high. Based on the standard of flavour delivered at Flawd, using merely a panini press let alone full-scale kitchen, along with the esteemed and high-end lineage of the guys who run show here, backed by those high quality Cinderwood goodies. It was hard not to expect very good things on this visit.

The food offering is strong. Great quality produce which would proudly be used by many venues carrying a much higher price point. The service and customer interaction are fantastic, especially at the kitchen bench where we were happily sat. Joe Otway’s measured, sustainable and produce driven cooking, paired with the endless and genuine charm of Richard Cossins’ service are a hard tag team to beat in the city centre. Wine knowledge is expertly handled by Daniel Craig-Martin, who I’m assured is also quite the handyman too.

Talking to both national and international peers; Higher Ground is already on the radar of national food press, along with the bonafide restaurant guides. A notable critic and writer based in New York has already visited, twice in the same weekend. Good words spread fast. We expect it to push on to greater things in the coming months and years, and Higher Ground seems destined to be one of the city centre’s top 2 or 3 venues. And let’s not forget, they’ve only been open for a few weeks.
Natural wine isn’t for everyone’s tastes, so is the uber-natty carte a bit risqué?  We say exciting and different, but it’s often hard to pull off not catering for the Marlborough Savvy B or Provence Rose crowd one bit.

Im struggling to think of much else, and I’ve never been a fan of shoehorning in criticisms just to make myself come across as being more educated. So let’s just leave it there..

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