This week I had the chance to experience Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester. Not a new venture for me as you can see here, but a welcoming return as this is one of my ‘Manchester Gems’. Invited to try Hard Rock’s Legendary Burgers and sample the cocktails on offer, myself and my girlfriend (who we shall name Miss C) settled for a busy Wednesday evening, and browsed the drinks menu whilst waiting for our table.
Their ‘Classics and Favourites’ covers all the basics, Alabama Slammer, Piña Colada , Cosmopolitan and Daiquiri as well as some quirky little numbers like Rum Runner (Bacardi, banana and blackberry liqueurs, grenadine, orange juice and sweet and sour topped with Myers rum), Tropical Rock (Stolichnaya Raspberry, crème de banana, piña colada mix, pineapple juice and Midori) and Mosh Pit (Bombay Sapphire, Absolut Citron, fresh basil, lime and strawberries). All reasonably priced too, with over twenty to choose from between £5-7. I myself started my night with a Southern Rock (£6.75) – a mix of Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Chambord and Smirnoff mixed with sweet and sour mix and topped with lemon and lime soda. Refreshing is all I can say. Not badly balanced either despite some heavy spirits in there. Miss C went for a fresh fruit Mojito (£6.25) with a Bacardi Superior base. Mixed Berry was her choice out of the original and raspberry, muddled with of course mint, sugar and lime. It looked stunning, a dark, rich red colour made it a very inviting drink, although a little awkward to drink with the fresh fruit not the best to suck through a straw.
With our table ready, we headed up to the main restaurant level and glanced over the Legendary Burgers menu (most priced £13.95). With classic 6 oz. burgers, to a mega 10 oz. and the cheese layered The Big Cheese Burger, there are plenty to choose from. We opted for a bit of a range, so heading our way were the Local Legendary (Lamb burger combines minced lamb patty topped with caramelized onions, and a crispy Potato Rosti with a side pot of gravy), Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger (Basted with special Hickory BBQ sauce and smothered with caramelized onions. Topped with crisp seasoned bacon and melted Cheddar cheese), Red, White & Blue Burger (Laced and grilled with spicy Buffalo sauce and Cajun Seasoning, then topped with crumbled blue cheese and a crisp fried onion ring) and California Burger (A toasted bun brushed with Ranch dressing, fresh cucumber slices, lettuce, tomato, and fresh made Hard Rock guacamole and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.). What a feast!
All four burgers came medium-well and still hot, fresh from the grill. All came with fries and dip, with courteous check-back from the attentive waitress. Now to sum up the four, I can say with satisfying greed that they all nearly went. The Hickory BBQ Bacon Burger went down a storm with the caramelized onions blending well with the bacon and melted cheese, as did the Local Legendary which is basically a Lancashire Hotpot burger. Dripping with gravy, its a bold yet brave move, and worked like a charm. These two put the other two in the shadows a bit, although each had there own merit. The California Burger came with a good helping of guacamole and Monterey Jack cheese whilst the Red, White and Blue Burger offered more a layer of flavour, with the hot Buffalo sauce dominating once it comes along.
Listening to a good mix of rock from Fleetwood Mac to Van Halen whilst relaxing and eating gave off the perfect atmosphere, one you kind of expect in a Hard Rock Cafe I suppose. It doesn’t disappoint in what your expectations are for this worldwide chain.
Back to the cocktails and I noticed a section named ‘Classic Rocktails’. Genuinely surprised to see names such as Sazerac, Corpse Reviver, Hemingway Daiquiri and Aviation on the four strong list. A sucker for classics, I just had to order a Sazerac (£6.75), and hand on heart, one of the best I’ve had. Using Jim Beam, Benedictine and brandy alongside blackberry liqueur, bitters and sugar it balanced perfectly. Yes, OK there’s no traditional absinthe there and they’ve used a dash of blackberry liqueur, but for a cocktail that could have easily gone ‘the wrong way’, Hard Rock have created a very good variation. With this, Miss C opted for a Hemingway Daiquiri (£6.75) – Bacardi Oakheart, cherry liqueur, sugar, lime and sweet and sour. Again not a bad variation to the original and it showed off a fantastic colour.
The dessert menu just had to be looked at, and rather glad we did. I do love a menu where you think ‘I could have that, that , that and that’, which is exactly what me and Miss C did. After much analysis, we decided to go for the Hot Fudge Brownie (£6.45) and Strawberry Cheesecake (£4.25). A good sized fudge brownie arrived, nicely warmed, with vanilla ice cream layered on top of the brownie itself. Above that, fresh whipped cream covered in chopped walnuts, chocolate sprinkles and a cherry. Delicious. Well and truly. The cheesecake again was rather put in the shadows, however the presentation surprised me in that it came in a large shot glass. Light texture and not over dominating strawberry made it a good alternative to a heavy dessert, but if you put it next to the brownie, there’s only one winner.
To finish the night, Miss C went for a Blue Devil (£6.75) – Captain Morgan Spiced, blue curacao, fresh margarita mix and raspberry syrup. You could see this coming towards you, it wasn’t hard to work out a name for this one. My last tipple was to be the Aviation (£7.25). A tweak from the original using Hendrick’s, Monin Elderflower syrup, cherry liqueur and sweet and sour mix. It went down way too quickly.
If you ever get the chance to experience Hard Rock I’d give it a thumbs up. Even if your not a fan of rock music itself, it’s still a great place to eat, lots to choose from with both food and drink, the waiters look after you and you really are more inclined to have three courses because these guys do not believe in small portions.
Check out the rest of the photos from my visit via my Facebook page.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.