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The Rose Garden, West Didsbury – It’s Bloomin’ Lovely…

May 15, 2011
West Didsbury Food & Drink

West Didsbury Food & Drink

If there’s one thing that West Didsbury’s not short of, it’s choice, when it comes to eating out. For an area that’s actually very small, as well as all of our gorgeous and totally independent shops, salons and bars, we’re really lucky that nearly every single eating establishment is an independent. And, we seem to have struck fairly lucky with the chains – they mightn’t be your cup of tea, but Pizza Express and Piccolino are very much a part of our community. And sometimes, they do just tick the boxes.

But, it’s not just that the majority of our restaurants and eating places are independent. You can mostly guarantee that whenever you visit, the owner – whether front of house or cooking – will be there. They’re small, so even if you’re a not regular visitor, you get to know the staff and they get to know you. And that’s what makes these places special.

So, we’ve been really looking forward to the opening of  The Rose Garden, because it’s one the places described above. Owned by William Mills, who’s worked at other South Manchester restaurants, it promises

high quality food, in an environment to match, for an unrivalled dining experience…

It’s also a real family affair. Bill’s partner, Emma, is front of house, his siblings work both behind the scenes and in the restaurant, and friend Alex helps keep things running smoothly on the restaurant floor. The design and decor was masterminded by Bill’s architect father, and all breads are homemade by local neighbours, Silver Apples. So, in keeping with the  friends and family theme, the restaurant had a soft launch on Friday evening and was indeed full of friends and family. It was also just as well we’d read the invite carefully, and not snacked before hand, as we were treated to a ten course sample menu extravaganza.

Lovely to arrive somewhere and be handed a glass of fizz. Even lovelier to know it’s sourced from another West Didsbury independent – Reserve Wines. This was also champagne with a difference – Gusborne 2006 Brut Vintage Reserve from Appledore, Kent. A very recommended tipple, too. The restaurant interior is beautiful – light, airy and spacious with lots of attention to detail. Plus, the most comfortable chairs I think I’ve ever sat on in a restaurant…

But, onto the food. First up was the Spring Vegetable Soup – perfect for an unseasonally cold & wet May Friday night. Asparagus, broad bean and peas with English pesto. A delicious way to begin the evening…

Spring Vegetable Soup at The Rose Garden

Spring Vegetable Soup at The Rose Garden

Next up was The Rose Garden Salt Cured Salmon with a pickled cucumber & fennel salad and horseradish cream on ryebread and the much awaited Pan Fried Cod Cheeks with smoked applewood rarebit, spiced cauliflower puree, pancetta crisp and tomato salsa. The cod cheeks had been the subject of much speculation since we’d seen the menu. Do cod actually have cheeks, on the face or otherwise? We’re still not entirely sure of the answer to this question, but it matters not a jot because they were delicious! In fact, so delicious, that one of our dining companions (an esteemed & notable person in West Didsbury, but who shall remain nameless…) declared the cod cheeks to be “orgasmic”! Get that in your menu description, Bill!

Salt Cured Salmon & Pan Fried Cod Cheeks

Salt Cured Salmon & Pan Fried Cod Cheeks

The service was absolutely spot on – fresh cutlery for each course, plates & glasses cleared away quickly. And glasses filled quite regularly, we all seem to remember!

Next course was the Two Way Spring Lamb – slow roasted lamb shoulder and herb crusted pan fried rack of lamb with mint pea puree and red wine sauce. This was judged to be a triumph by the 100% carnivores at the table – I was a bit more tentative having only recently seen the lambs at Artisan Meat Company, but still thoroughly enjoyed this course.

Two Way Spring Lamb, The Rose Garden

Two Way Spring Lamb, The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

The sample menu size dishes were perfectly sized – and we looked forward to tucking into the next dish. Pan Fried Sea Trout Fillet with warm new potato, beetroot and fennel salad and horseradish creme fraiche.  Another seriously tasty offering which, our table all agreed, was done to perfection –

Pan Fried Sea Trout Fillet

Pan Fried Sea Trout Fillet

The timing of the courses was also well – judged and so at just the right time out came the next offering from Bill’s kitchen – Chicory Marmalade Tart, with breaded blue cheese, pickled walnuts and poached conference pears. This course had a really sweet, tangy taste to it complementing perfectly the savouriness of the previous dish.

Chicory Marmalade Tart

Chicory Marmalade Tart

No Stopping at The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

No Stopping at The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

Final savoury dish of the evening was the Fillet Steak with caramelised onion mash, roast bone marrow, watercress and red wine sauce. You can only declare something delicious so many times. But this was – again.

Not wishing to bring down the tone of the blog, the toilets are definitely worth a mention. If you followed our renovation of The Green Tea Restaurant last summer, with our property developer friend, Sian, you’ll remember we like a nice washroom. And The Rose Garden has nailed this too. Fresh zingy lime green walls, unusual shaped sinks, fresh flowers , ambient lighting – wished I’d taken the camera now 🙂

So, onto desserts. At Didsbury Life, we’re more savoury lovers – but we had an inkling we weren’t going to be disappointed with The Rose Garden sweet side of things. We were treated to three – yes, you read it right – three desserts. Mille Fuille, Cherry Chocolate Fondant and Lemon Tart. Sublime…


So, ten courses and much jollity later, Bill finally emerged from the kitchen – and, as was only fitting, was soundly applauded. An amazing evening with fabulous friends and seriously stunning food. The restaurant officially opens on Monday 16th May – do yourself a favour and book a table…

Bill & Alex, The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

Bill & Alex, The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

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