The Bull and Bear restaurant opened up on 15th November in Manchester’s old stock exchange building on Norfolk Street. Chef Tom Kerridge’s latest venture happened to still be in its opening week when my sister (Instagram: @a_gluttony) was visiting me from Norwich. I knew she would appreciate visiting, so off we went.
Stock Exchange building at the Bull and Bear
The Stock Exchange building is now Grade II listed and was designed by architects John Bradshaw Gass and Arthur John Hope. It is built in the Edwardian Baroque style between 1904 – 1906.
Bradshaw, Gass and Hope are no strangers to Greater Manchester’s building scene. They have also designed the Royal Exchange, Stockport Central Library, the buildings of the old UMIST campus and several town halls including Farnworth, Trafford and the extension to Bolton.
It continued to trade until 2000 when all financial trading moved to London again. The building was disused until Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, two former Manchester United football players, bought the building in 2013. Planning permission was given to convert it into a boutique hotel. This is now the Stock Exchange Hotel with the Bull and Bear located on the ground floor.
In the opening week, the restaurant was booked up. We were informed that the bar area is always unreserved and there are spaces available. These are arguably the best seats in the entire restaurant, as you can see the action coming from the kitchen. My sister and I were both more than happy to be seated there for this reason. Chef Tom Kerridge was also present, chopping up various vegetables facing the bar.
The Bull and Bear have a wide variety of drinks from cocktails and wine to mocktails and tea. I couldn’t find the wine menu online, so hopefully, they’ll add this at a later date. Of note, we tried the You Do Something to Me cocktail, which contains Yuzu, Tanqueray, Raspberry, and Prosecco. The cocktail costs £12.50 and was sweet but not too sweet and very easy to drink.
The Mediterranean Spritz is a mocktail costing £9. This contained Seedlip Garden 108, Æcorn Dry, Elderflower Cordial, and Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic. I found this drink too herbal and should have in hindsight tried something containing the Seedlip Grove 42 instead. The Garden 108 is herbal and floral containing peas spearmint and thyme whereas Grove 42 is more citrusy containing bitter orange, ginger, lemongrass, and sansho peppercorns.
Our server informed us that the food is served in small plates, so suggested we order 2-3 dishes per person. With this in mind, we had the tough job of deciding which dishes to go for. Fine dining has typically not been brilliant for vegetarians, but I managed to see at least a few options which I believe to be suitable. Options for vegans seemed nonexistent, unfortunately. On this occasion, I decided to just stick with current no beef and no lamb rule as my baseline. This came with the hope that any meat consumed here would at least be of good quality and hopefully have some sort of sustainable backing, which I would expect from all good restaurants owned by good chefs.
My sister’s first choice was the Pollock Scotch Egg which was served with a Shellfish Bisque. The outside of this was very crisp without being oily. The egg in the middle was cooked perfectly. The pollock, however, we both found too salty. Eating the pollock with the shellfish bisque did help balance out the saltiness, but not enough to overcome it. What a shame.
The Mussels Marinière with Warm Stout and Brown Bread was my first choice. Growing up in a port town, seafood has always been one of my favourite foods. I rarely cook it for myself, particularly shellfish, so I took this opportunity to be treated. I was not disappointed. This was my favourite dish of the ones we ordered. The sauce was so buttery and the bread, light. My sister and I said that in hindsight, we should have ordered one each as we both liked it so much!
Hot “A Bit Bigger” Dishes + 1 Side Dish
I suggested we go for another fish dish and my sister chose the Spiced Cornish Cod with Caramelised Cauliflower and Golden raisins. Honestly, this dish was a bit disappointing for me. The cod was cooked well but I didn’t feel it was spiced enough. The golden raisins along with the cauliflower provided decent texture, but I wanted more of it.
I picked the Buttered Hispi Cabbage as a way of providing much needed vegetables to this meal. The understated cabbage is in season currently and who doesn’t love food when it’s buttered? Funnily enough, it paired perfectly with the Venison Chilli with Toasted Rice Cream, Red Wine and Chocolate we ordered. The chilli was rich and warming with the toasted rice cream providing that cut through the richness of the chilli. There was also toasted rice on top which helped add a bit of crunch, but not quite enough in my opinion. As mentioned, the contrast between the cabbage and the chilli worked so well, we were hopping from one bite of one to a bite of the other. I would recommend you do the same.
Of course, we couldn’t finish the meal without something sweet. We had a hard time deciding which of the desserts to get. After consulting with a waitress, we settled on three desserts. Each one was priced at £8.50.
The B&B Profiteroles with Soured Vanilla Cream came with a jug of chocolate sauce. Initially, I thought this was too thick but found it to be a good consistency when eaten with the actual profiterole. What divided our opinion was the soured vanilla cream. My sister found this too sour, whereas I was quite content with it.
The Banana Custard with Dates, Honeycomb and Pistachios was already something my sister eyed up prior to our consultation. The dessert was super light and flavoursome, definitely the star of the show.
The Hot Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Ice Cream was my own choice. I fell in love with the idea that it’d be served hot and I do love a dark chocolate tart. This tart, however, didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was not served as hot as I had imagined and although the chocolate tart was nice, it did not have that deep, rich, dark chocolate taste I had imagined.
Overall rating and comments
7.5/10, -1 for the Pollock Scotch Egg, -0.5 for the Smoked Cod, I wish it was more spiced, -0.5 for the sourness of the Profiteroles and Chocolate Tart not quite living up to our own expectations. -0.5 for the TV screens dotted around the room, of which there are several. It gives a very odd feeling as you are dining and I can’t imagine many looking at the screens as you are eating. I note there were curtains places around the venue which could be used to cover these when not switched on, although then you would also be hiding the framed pictures on the walls.
The staff at the Bull and Bear were very pleasant throughout the entire evening, from Front of House to various serving staff. We were able to speak to various people about how much we enjoyed some of the dishes. Watching Chef Dan Scott (above) plate and do the final check on each dish that goes out of the kitchen was interesting. Chef Tom Kerridge was also present and very friendly. We found out that part of the reason for choosing Manchester, apart from its exciting food scene was so that he and wife Beth, can be closer to the in-laws. A very good evening overall.
Would visit again?
Yes. I would love to visit again given the right opportunity to.
Address: 4 Norfolk StreetManchesterM2 1DW