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Le Mont, Urbis

Le Mont, Urbis

Le Mont 
Urbis
Cathedral Gardens
Manchester
M4 3BG


Tel: +44 (0) 161 605 8282

Sunday 10th November 2002

Urbis, Manchester’s new landmark architectural icon, and a landmark in its own right, houses Le Mont, a restaurant of Modern French Cuisine on its 5th and 6th floors.

Most places wishing to achieve a degree of selectivity do so by pricing themselves into the stratosphere, or requiring election to membership or whatever. After the Urbis museum has closed, Le Mont achieves the same sort of effect by filtering out those unable to solve the ‘find-the-entry’ conundrum. One imagines that on a warm Summer’s night the Millennium Quarter will resound to the tramp of hungry feet and the irate mutterings of would-be customers circling the building trying to find their way in. On a cold stormy Winters night it is beyond a joke. A clue for those trying this for themselves, the only visible sign clearly saying ‘Entrance’ is in fact a Lorelei luring unsuspecting punters into yet another circuit (or the muddy wastes of Cathedral Gardens). Those successfully passing the test must have the brains of a Carol Vorderman, though after the meal they will probably also have the body of a Richard Whiteley!

Once successfully into the building one ascends to the 5th floor in a happy-chatty lift.

Initial greeting and seating was good, but overall the service was at best patchy. We were left sitting for far too long before being offered a wine list, and momentary confusion over whether we wanted to order food or wine first meant that we waited for both. Impressive memory games with who ordered what were rendered less so when the ceremonial décolletage revealed at least two of the dishes awry.

More worryingly, we were cold. When we mentioned this we were told that the heating could be turned up ‘we only had to ask’, but despite several reminders, we remained unacceptably cold. Not impressive in a brand new £30 million building.

I had looked forward to panoramic vistas over the city, but on a cold stormy night, could only manage views of the glass dome of the Corn Exchange and a corner of the Arndale Centre.

Presentation of the food, on the other hand, was consistently both imaginative and pleasing.

Two of our party are vegetarian, and managed to find interesting options well cooked and presented, and even sorted out the Amuse-Bouche which was originally unconditionally pressed on us, and was duly translated into a single cube of feta cheese, with decoration. Fairly amusing.

There was a set menu priced per course taken – around £21 for 3 courses, and so on, or a choice of items from the a-la-carte menu. Then there was an extensive selection of wines from around the world, priced from £16.95 per bottle upwards (it seemed the sky was the limit!).

The wines were served in absolutely huge goblets, which were actually superb for aiding the aroma and taste of the wine.

Apparently there was a ‘world-famous’ Bollinger bar, but we missed that completely!

Overall then, if you stick a restaurant on the top two floors of a fantastic new building, you presumably factor the building into the total gastronomic experience. If the fantastic new building is cold, and the promised ‘panoramic views of Salford’ extend only to the two nearest buildings, there is a level of disappointment. You are thrown back on the food and service. If the service is less than 100%, you are left with the food. Even if the food is great, the total experience is marred.

Urbis it may be, but urbane it really isn’t – yet?

Peter Westley
Manchester

Eatanddrink Ratings

Le Mont

Total Score: 63%
Quality: Good
Service: Average
Facilities: Average
Ambience: Average
Value: Average

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Fish & Seafood
Meat, Poultry & Game
Wines & Spirits
Beers & Lagers
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Cheese & Dairy
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Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
(Mark Twain)

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