Upwardly mobile 20 September 2019 The founders of coffee and brunch chain Caravan are on the move, taking their business model to new Chelsea restaurant Vardo
In this week's issue... Upwardly mobile The founders of coffee and brunch chain Caravan are on the move, taking their business model to new Chelsea restaurant Vardo
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A game plan

01 January 2000
A game plan

Chicken liver parfait, apple and grapechutney, £4.50

Grilled mackerel, creamy champ potatoes, black pudding, £6.20

Warm pappardelle on garlic spinach with creamy goats' cheese sauce, £4.90

Calves' liver & bacon, creamy mashed potatoes and onion gravy, £14

Braised shank of lamb with rosemary, lemon and garlic butter, £10

Iced lemon parfait, lemon & raisin syrup, £4

Warm chocolate and banana bread pudding, chocolate sauce, £4.50

Surprisingly, menu covers at Rhodes & Co in Trafford Park, Manchester, haven't adopted the red and white of near neighbour Manchester United FC. Instead, they are adorned in bright purple and orange - the signature colours of a chain of brasseries to be opened by Gary Rhodes and Gardner Merchant (GM) over the course of the next five years.

The Manchester Rhodes & Co is the first in what Rhodes and GM hope will become a nationwide chain, with the the second set to open in Edinburgh in August. The aim, says Rhodes, is to provide "good food, good service and a lively atmosphere" to those visiting the 100-seat eaterie, which opened in February.

"The brasserie is not going to be competing with City Rhodes, but will bring Michelin-style standards to good, honest cooking [sold at] good, honest prices," says Rhodes.

Tasked with meeting this challenge is head chef Ian Morgan (ex-sous chef at London's Lanesborough hotel) who leads a kitchen brigade of 14.

Rhodes's enthusiasm for fusing traditional British dishes and ingredients with his classical training is well-documented and, with the help of Wayne Tapsfield, executive chef at Rhodes Restaurants, he has drawn up a menu dotted with unmistakable Rhodes dishes.

Among the 10 starters is British fillet of smoked haddock topped with Welsh rarebit, served on a tomato and chive salad (£6.50). Main courses include another Rhodes signature and current best seller - salmon fishcakes with lemon butter sauce (£7.50) - while the six desserts include treacle sponge with custard (£3.25).

A twist on duck à l'orange sees it served next to black pudding (£12.80), while Mediterranean-influenced pasta dishes and risottos take their place alongside resolutely traditional fish and chips. "You won't find a better cod and chips in the whole of England," claims Rhodes, who wants the brasserie to become known for trademark dishes. "I won't be changing the menu every other week. I want it to settle down and I'm hoping to find favourites that customers will come back time and again for," he says.

Those customers currently include Manchester United chairman Sir Martin Edwards, who is especially struck with the Caesar salad (£5) as well as football fans on match days. "We could fill it four times over [on those days]," Rhodes says.

Diners, parting with an average of £16-£18 per head excluding wine, are looked after by a 17-strong front-of-house team headed by restaurant manager Andrew Clarke, and although Ian Morgan is in charge on a daily basis in the kitchen, Rhodes will cook there regularly. In fact, he launched the restaurant himself, spending its first trading fortnight at the stove.

"I don't put my name to anything unless I'm wholly behind it," Rhodes says. n

Rhodes & Co, Waters Reach, Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1WS. Tel: 0161-868 1900

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