It’s rare in Manchester that you get the opportunity to have a five-course dinner served by a Michelin starred chef. So when I heard about Don Giovanni’s ‘Secret Supper’ evening with Jean-Christophe Novelli, I bought two tickets straight away! It also happened to fall on the weekend following Valentine’s day, so was the perfect opportunity for a loved-up, food filled evening.
Jean-Christophe Novelli is a French chef, who has built a career from a string of restaurants and TV appearances. Over his career he’s accumulated four Michelin stars and 5 AA Rosettes, mainly from his UK restaurants.
No sooner had we arrived, than we met the man himself. Jean-Christophe was really friendly and more than happy to pose for pictures and chat to guests.
The restaurant was bustling, with not one empty seat and a violinist set a beautiful, elegant ambiance in the restaurant.
Of course, the main reason we were there was to experience the food, but with the whole restaurant (I estimate 100 – 110 people) eating the same menu at the same time, there were some delays in service. We were seated at 6.45 with the evening due to start at 7pm. The first course was served at 7.45, a little slow, but it gave us time to enjoy the Three Rivers gin welcome drink and enjoy the live violinist. The gin was fantastic – Three Rivers gin is distilled in central Manchester in small batches, and the welcome drink was flavoured with apricot and rosemary and served with fever tree tonic – right up my street.
Jean-Christophe gave a run down of each course before it was served, explaining the course elements and the accompanying wine.
The courses were:
Gin cured red mullet
Rose veal fillet, celeriac puree, chanterelle mushrooms and garlic shoots
Home made ricotta, quince jelly, charred tenderstem broccoli, pear & toasted pine nut brittle
Mascarpone, blood orange and chocolate gelato (honestly, this was cheesecake).
See below for pictures of the evening, including a fantastic main course.
It’s fair to say the evening didn’t go completely as planned in the kitchen. A fact noted by the chef himself which impacted the speed that the food was served. The only grumble of the night was that the final course hit our table at 10.30! However, the venison course in particular was a real stand-out dish and totally worth waiting for. The smoky and rich flavour of the venison, with celeriac puree and mushrooms was a match made in heaven. The garlic shoots were possibly the most garlicky thing I’ve ever tasted and really cut through the rest of the dish. I was a little let down by dessert if I’m honest, which lacked imagination and mine wasn’t greatly presented.
Meeting Jean-Christophe Novelli was the icing on the cake though. He was a great guy who had time for everyone, even offering to stick around afterwards to discuss the evening with guests. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to chat after dessert – our car park was about to close – but we had an evening to remember. I’ll be keeping my eye out for similar events on my doorstep.