As we walked into the high, vibrant entrance of the Lowry Theatre I felt a little uneasy. It was my first visit to the Pier 8 restaurant, and I had forgotten how bright and colourful the Theatre was. Thankfully, the colours in the restaurant and bar area are toned down a bit, and it appears classy, inviting and very organised. The first member of staff we met was security, polite and welcoming and this carried on as we travelled through the bar to the restaurant. We were pretty early, so a nice cold San Miguel on the terrace overlooking the imperial war museum across the quays, was particularly welcome.
Especially in the warm Mancunian sunshine.
When it was time to take our seats, the staff were friendly and smiling and seated us next to a window, again with a great view of the quays. But every table, and booth, seemed spacious and relaxed.
We ordered drinks and we’re left to peruse the menu by Claire, our server for the evening. The price of drinks was particularly welcome, no more than we would pay in Bolton town centre and less than most of Manchester City centre.
There was a varied menu, with different meat and fish dishes and an easy layout so we could identify the vegetarian options. As we took our time making a decision we noticed just how clean and sparkling the glassware and silverware was, and actually spotted the staff polishing the tableware as they were setting the tables.
Our primary server was genuinely interested in our experience, and it has to be noted the attention to detail as the staff set the other tables.
The first course came relatively quickly considering how long we had taken to choose. I enjoyed the tasty and contrasting textures of the chicken confit terrine with lovely complimentary tastes and textures from the sweet saffron gel and crunchy pistachios. Charlotte went with the Mushroom veloute where the whole, soft poached hen’s egg added an element of richness.
The way the yolk popped was extremely satisfying. The truffle, was in just the right quantity. and the Parmesan straw was soft and light and brought a beautiful texture to the dish.
For my main course I opted for the Chicken and chorizo – tender chicken with a sticky sauce and cubes of tasty, but not too smoky, chorizo. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and the vegetables were fresh and crunchy. It was plated beautifully.
Charlotte went for Lamb and found it cooked expertly noting that time had been taken to rest the rare piece of meat before serving resulting in a delicious dish.
For dessert there was only one choice for me, Eton mess. It came with fresh strawberries and hard meringues, drizzled with rich strawberry sauce and soft runny meringue and layered on a bed of thick strawberry jelly. As Charlotte is allergic to strawberry, it was important to us that the kitchen prepared the dishes separately, and Claire was sensitive and conscientious with our request.
Charlotte chose Rhubarb Creme brûlée for dessert. It passed the universal test of a creme brûlée, with a crack of the top and soft tasty depths. Garnished with an exquisite slice of dried, pressed rhubarb to really make the dessert pop.
All in all the experience at pier 8 was delightful. It wasn’t over priced, indeed the cost was comparable to the “chain” restaurants over the square in the outlet mall, but the food was fresh, original and imaginative. The highlight for me was definitely how the chefs managed to create dishes with contrasting flavours and textures but which somehow worked as a whole. Charlottes highlight was definitely the realisation that there was a whole, soft poached hen’s egg in her soup and that it would create a great taste experience as it mixed.
For more information on Pier Eight and to book a table Click HERE
Kieran Anders for www.BoltonLive.org