Who likes a hidden gem? A place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of Manchester? Somewhere where you can relax with a menu that’s eye-catching in a chair that you’ll want to take home with you. Sound good? Welcome to Annies.
The new venture by the couple of Chris Farr of Smith’s of Eccles fame and Coronation Street’s own Fiz Stape, or Jennie McAlpine to quote her real name, have acquired a two-floor plot located on Old Bank Street just off St Anne’s Square. It might not look much from the outside but the explorer within us all will thank you when you step through the doors.
Greeted by arm chairs on either side of the room, and a long curved bar on the back wall, this well-lit area gives off an instant homely feel. With a mix of chandeliers and lamp shades, cream walls and wooden panels, you could easily mistake this for a sitting room – it just has a few square tables dotted around for there Modern English cuisine servings. It’s downstairs though that is the real charm.
Make your way downstairs and you have a choice of directions. One way takes you to an open corner full of alluring chairs, coffee tables and bowler hat lampshades, another takes you to their second bar housing delights of wine, Champagne and spirits. Their third way shows you the main dining area, holding approximately 150 covers (over the two floors but the main bulk located downstairs), with elegant red drapes hanging from the back wall, Marilyn Monroe stills mixing with prints of musical advertisements and the cream coloured walls working well with the dark wooden flooring. If you carry on round though you come to an extra room.
Used as part of the restaurant or as a private function room, you can easily be transformed into a simplistic yet elegant dining room. Complete with a rather spongy carpet, arm chairs and even a glass cabinet in the corner, you’ll be finding any excuse to dine in this part. The best part though is that if you do, you’re in prime position once you’ve finished your meal, to enter the sitting room. A long stretch that finishes back where you started at the main stairs full of arm chairs and low-level tables in an environment perfect for sipping a whisky or finishing your bottle of wine in comfort and style.
Speaking of the drinks, they’ve put together a rather good selection. Highlights noticed whilst browsing their menu include bottles of Pamapas del sur Alto Malbec from Argentina (£19.95), Kate Radburnd Pinot Noir from New Zealand (£34.50) and Waters Edge White Zinfandel from the USA (£19.95). As mentioned, Prosecco and Champagne are also available with the usual suspects listed as well as Pol Roger Brut Reserve (£70) and Ayala Rose (£57). There’s nothing on draught but they compensate by offering Peroni Red and Nastro Azzurro, Timothy Taylor and Rekordelig (all around the £4 mark) as well as a range of soft drinks, coffees and teas.
Spirits wise they’ve a fairly standard variety including Grey Goose, Chase and Belvedere for vodka, Havana 7 and Myers for rum, Tanqueray, Hendrick’s and Bombay Sapphire for gin and Laphroaig 10yr, Woodford Reserve and Glenlivet 21yr for your whisky collection. Your house pours aren’t too bad either – Absolut, Jack Daniels, Beefeater and Bacardi amongst a list of eight ‘standards’.
Annies has also rolled out a cocktail list too (£6.95 each) with well-known names featuring. Tom Collins, Margarita, Bellini, Vodka Martini and Daiquiri follow Annies Fizz (Champagne and Cherry Brandy) in the rather short page, although they do mention that you can ask your bartender to create you something else. Also doesn’t mention what the branded ingredients are. A bold move possibly.
Now although I went primarily to check out the venue and drinks, I did take a look at the food menu and have to mention that any menu where you could choose several dishes at once is a huge plus for me. The pan-fried breast of chicken stuffed with garlic and thyme mousse looked very inviting, as did the slow braised lamb shank and the choice between five pies. The mini bite of sausage roll laced with chopped tomato and seasoning being handed round only confirmed my taste buds for what could be in store if I choose to dine here in the future. And to dine here I will.
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