On the waterfront
It’s named after the artist synonymous with industrial Salford, but The Lowry Hotel has always been emblematic of the area’s cosmopolitan reinvention Cheshire Li 2e019
The first time we sat in the River restaurant was shortly after The Lowry’s opening in 2001. Having enjoyed a night in a high-style room which featured a smile-inducing orange chaise longue, we breakfasted with a view across a sunny River Irwell watching university rowing boat teams scud by on a training session.
The sense of change and striving in Manchester was then palpable. The arrival of a five-star hotel was then a big deal (and, yes, I know The Lowry is actually a few yards across the border into Salford, but the idea of such a big investment on the ‘wrong’ side of the Irwell made the Manchester reinvention project seem, if anything, even more exciting.)
Since then, The Lowry has become the kind of place where a visiting pop megastar can lay his or her head, or a Premier League footballer may go in search of a cocktail. Jose Mourinho, of course, went one better by making The Lowry his home for the two-and-a-half years he was Manchester United manager.
Returning to the restaurant, it still seems like a place where the rich and famous may gather (sure enough, we spot breakfast telly types Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty chatting in the bar). The view from the table - lit-up apartment buildings towering over the river - continues to be evocative of new Manchester.
It’s a stylish dining room: quirky artworks, big floral arrangements, traditional white linen tablecloths but lots of glass and hard surfaces reminding you of its 21st century pedigree.
The philosophy is very much modern British, with an emphasis on premium ingredients. A starter of potted Morecambe Bay shrimps (£12.50) was a departure from the usual fatty ramekin: a squishy puck of crumpet with a sprinkling of the tiniest shrimps and a dollop of smoked trout mousse. Delicious. Our other starter of lobster macaroni cheese (£12.50) was a good portion of the creamiest mac and cheese with big hunks of lobster, all beautifully put together.
A bit of comfort food for a main: Lowry fish pie (£19) with salmon and smoked haddock nestling in a lush sauce beneath the mash canopy, and some lovely tenderstem broccoli on the side. Rump of Cheshire lamb (£26) was our other main, with carrot cooked in lamb fat and a musty roast celeriac - top notch meat and veg.
Puds of, firstly, poached pear with almond crumble and pear and honey purée, and, secondly, sticky coconut rice with mango and passion fruit curd were both £7.50 and both very grown-up desserts to please the discerning palate. The Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Salford, M3 5LH, tel 0161 827 4000, www.thelowryhotel.com