This Wednesday I had an eye-opening experience – I entered my first ever casino and wow, have I been fooled into thinking every casino looks like a James Bond or Oceans Eleven film!
Always one to try out new places, I ventured along to Manchester 235, located close to Deansgate, to sample some of their cocktail delights in the setting of their Fusion Bar, with a sumptuous surrounding of velvet arm chairs scattered around a fantastic looking eight metre glass bar that catches your eye straight away. Open to the public from noon till 6am (so no need to be a member, and no obligation to gamble), with the cocktail menu open from 5pm, they offer delights such as Margarita, Daiquiri and Martini mixed in with their own signature cocktails that had Passionfruit Caiproska, Vanilla Pudding and Jack’s Passion (all £7.50) catching my eye. Peroni, Corona and Tsingtao are available for your bottled lager, with Fosters, Kronenbourg 1664 and John Smiths all on draught, with Bulmers your cider option.
Spain and Italy dominate the wine list by the glass, with £17 the highest for a bottle (a more extensive wine list is also available), where you can also purchase select bottles of spirit for the price of £100 – £190. Scanning their back bar, they have offerings of Grey Goose, Belvedere, Tanqueray 10, Patron, Gentleman Jack, Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s and both the Havana and Bacardi range, all within a decent price. I also spied some interesting choices including U’Luvka vodka, Macallan 18yr and Remy Martin XO.
As for my night, I started out with a Toffee Apple cocktail (Zubrowka, Manzana Verde, apple juice, Angostura Bitters and a dash of vanilla) while taking in the surroundings of Manchester 235. Fusion bar is a rather spacious place, with tall ceilings that give it an ‘open’ feel. Housed within The Great Northern Warehouse, Manchester 235 has retained the use of exposed brick and iron work, and complimented it with soft lighting and canvas paintings. With the casino itself feeling almost separate to the bar, you do get that feeling that you’re not actually in a casino, which for a non-gambler, can be a comfort. Back to the cocktails, and with the Toffee Apple enjoyed, I went for a classic Old Fashioned (Woodford Reserve, bitters and sugar) which is always worth the 7 minute wait. Whilst enjoying this bourbon based drink, I glanced at the bar food menu (open 2pm till 4:30am) which has your basic burger and chips, steak, onion and mushroom baguette and a traditional chicken curry amongst others. You can even order ‘bits and bobs’ – small portions of fries, onion rings etc. or a choice of 5 pizza’s, unless you would like to make your own! All the bar food comes to under £10, which is reasonable considering the portions I saw flying past me. To end my night of cocktails, I opted for a fruitier option – Diamond (Bacardi Oakheart, Chambord, lime, sugar and raspberries topped with Ginger Beer), with a Hendrick’s and Tonic sipped to while away the early morning hours.
Manchester 235 has squashed any sort of stereotypical casino image in my head, with some great cocktails, a fantastic setting and what looks like great food to be tried. They do have their own British cuisine restaurant named Linen, housed on the balcony behind the Fusion bar which I intend to try out in the near future, as well as function rooms with a stage area and a private members area and bar which overlooks the main casino. Catering for all types of clientele, at all times of the day, Manchester 235 seems to have hit the nail here and I for one, will be back again.
I’ve just been sent this rather interesting press release regarding the new Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish. Take a look, and make sure to check out the cocktail ideas at the end as well as my review and tasting notes here.
Rémy Martin, has announced a new expression of its iconic VSOP exclusively for the European market – Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish. Made using the same high quality blend of eaux-de-vie and the same period of aging as Rémy Martin VSOP, the mature cask finishing process has been developed to produce a well-rounded, smooth Cognac with enhanced fruity notes. Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish is also presented in new packaging.
The new finishing period, in which the eaux-de-vie spends one year in Limousin mature oak casks that are over 20 years old, enhances the peach and apricot notes due to the small size of the casks amplifying the exchange between the Cognac and the air of the cellar. Developed by Rémy Martin Cellar Master Pierrette Trichet and Deputy Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau, the new expression is being introduced to cater for changing European palates and to renew the range whilst preserving the high standard and heritage behind the brand.
Recent research conducted by Rémy Martin, which sampled both existing Rémy Martin VSOP drinkers and non-Cognac purchasers, identified that the overall aroma, taste and smoothness of the fruit-forward Mature Cask Finish was well received across both groups. In addition, Rémy Martin is confident that the Mature Cask Finish will introduce new drinkers to the Cognac category whilst retaining its loyal consumer base.
To showcase Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish, the liquid is presented in a contemporary and elegant transparent bottle and marked with the emblem of the House of Rémy Martin – the centaur. The clear bottle highlights the bright coppery gold appearance of the Cognac and the label bears the traditional red and black colours of Rémy Martin VSOP. In the off-trade, the bottle will continue to be sold in a gift box to help retailers capitalise on year-round gifting opportunities and will replace the existing Rémy Martin VSOP in the UK from February 2012.
Victoria Olivier, Senior Brand Manager of Rémy Martin, comments: “We are excited about launching the new expression of Rémy Martin VSOP in the UK. The brand continues to perform exceptionally well and we are confident that the Mature Cask Finish will really suit the taste profile of UK consumers, help us to recruit new drinkers and drive dynamism of the Cognac category.
“We have committed heavyweight investment to support the launch of the product to the trade and encourage trial across all trading channels. A significant increase in expenditure will ensure that the brand has its biggest support package in recent years. The marketing campaign will include PR, advertising, an educational and engaging CRM programme, on-pack neck collars and sampling activity will kick start in the off-trade in January.
Meanwhile, in the on-trade, our brand ambassador, Alexandre Quintin, will be hosting a series of tasting and educational events to ensure consumers and the trade alike, understand and appreciate Mature Cask Finish.”
As well as being an exceptional Cognac neat or on the rocks, Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish has a roundness which makes it ideal in cocktails such as the French Mojito and Sidecar.
Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish will be replacing existing stock in the UK from February 2012 and is available in 1 litre, 70cl, 35cl and 5cl formats. Its RRP will remain the same – priced £32.99.
Rémy Martin Mature Cask Finish Serves
50ml Remy Martin Mature Cask Finish VSOP cognac
1 lime cut in wedges
2 spoons of brown sugar
8 mint leaves
In a tall glass lightly muddle the lime with sugar and the mint. Add the cognac, crushed ice and stir with a long spoon. Top with soda water. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Hayman’s. A name etched into the history of gin, but perhaps not your normal ‘go-to’ gin brand when hunting on the shelves of your local supermarket. Hayman’s is seen more as the silent assassin. They don’t shout, but ask any bartender and they will love at least one of the expressions that Hayman’s create, and be happy to pour you a glass.
But why should you deviate away from your past brands of choice?
Well Hayman’s has a rather simple history, and can have its name etched amongst one of the worlds most well-know gin brands – Beefeater. The original company of Hayman Distillers was founded in 1863 by a gentleman named James Burrough, the great Grandfather of the current Chairman, Christopher Hayman. It was Mr Burrough who created the world-renowned Beefeater gin, as well as a range of other gin and cordials such as Ye Olde Chelsey gin, after purchasing the gin rectifying company John Taylor and Sons.
After expanding their name into the US in the early 1900’s, World War 2 hit and Hayman’s gin, like everyone else, were hit hard. Step forward Neville Hayman, an accountant by profession, who joined the board to represent his wife Marjorie, James Burrough’s granddaughter. He helped re-structure the business to ensure it can survive the aftermath of World War 2, and saw the reduction in some of the styles that were making Hayman’s gin famous, including Old Tom Gin and Sloe Gin. 1969 saw James Burrough’s great-grandson Christopher Hayman join the company, who is still at the help today, and appointed Operations Director and responsible for the Distillation and Production of Beefeater gin in 1977.
James Burrough PLC was to Whitbread in 1987, but Christopher Hayman retained the archive of recipes which were used as a spring board to create the new Hayman’s products and continue to distill and blend traditionally both gin and other white spirits. Between 1988 and 1999, Christopher Hayman purchased back James Burrough FAD (Fine Alcohols Division) and renamed it Hayman Distillers, who then became part of a consortium who bought Thames Distillers in Clapham – 1 of 2 Gin distilleries in London at the time.
Entering the new century, James Hayman, Christopher’s son, joined the team in 2004, with Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur also making an appearance on the shelves. A year later, Miranda Hayman, Christopher’s daughter, also joins the team. The Old Tom made a comeback after nearly 60 years of absence, and the brand became exported to over 40 countries, and in 2013, came complete with new packaging and housed spirit from their new dedicated still ‘Marjorie’
So with a rather historical background, what do Hayman’s gin offer to their customers? Well below, I give to you some background information on each, as well as my tasting notes.
Hayman’s London Dry – 40%
A combination of 10 botanicals, including angelica roots from France and liquorice, create Hayman’s London Dry Gin, with the traditional London Dry style being carefully balanced with juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel, orris root, cinnamon, cassia bark and nutmeg. After 24 hours of being steeped, it is then distilled in the traditional pot still ‘Marjorie’.
Fresh citrus lemon on the nose with a delicate mix of juniper flowing through. A clean flavour on the palate, with a slight tang on entry, however it smooths itself out into a slight dryness.
Hayman’s Old Tom – 40%
A botanically intensive gin from a recipe in the 1870’s, that delivers a more rounded experience than other styles of gin, this was the ‘Gin of Choice’ back in the 19th Century, with its popularity stretching back to the 18th Century.
On the nose, a subtle lavender aroma mixes well with a sweetened fruity nose. A clean smell of ginger, juniper and coriander follow through onto the palate with orange joining the mix. Very drinkable with a slight dryness on the aftertaste.
Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur – 40%
The worlds first gin liqueur distilled to a specific gin recipe in a traditional pot still and then blended into a liqueur.
A smooth, clean and refreshing citrus aroma on the nose with a small hint of herbal essence. The sweetness on the palate brings out flavours of orange.
Hayman’s Sloe – 26%
A traditional English Liqueur made to a long-standing family recipe previously only available for private use. Wild English grown sloe berries are gently steeped for several months with Hayman’s Gin before being blended with natural sugar.
Very fresh and light on the nose with a good dose of sloe berry aroma. Rather light and refreshing on the palate with a bold beginning. Mellows out rather quickly, with cinnamon and citrus the noticeable flavours.
Hayman’s 1850 Reserve – 40%
Distilled to a recipe from the 1850’s, which is then cask rested for 3 to 4 weeks following the tradition of Gin Palace style Gin.
Lots of dry pepper on the nose but becomes smooth with a hint of spice. The smoothness continues onto the palate with a slight creamy offering that comes alive with spice. Very long after-taste.
Hayman’s Royal Dock – 57%
Represents the style of gin supplied by the Hayman family and previous generations under the mark “Senior Service Gin” to both the Royal Navy and the trade from 1863.
Very sharp nose with a slight citrus aroma leaving its mark. Smooth beginning on the palate, with a slight kick but mellow soon after. Rather long and clean that comes with a slight burn at the end, but still mouth-watering.
Hayman’s Family Reserve – 41.3%
Limited edition with each batch only producing 5000 bottles. The Family Reserve reflects the style sold in the ornate ‘Gin Palaces’ in London and other English cities in the 1800’s. It is rested in Scotch whisky barrels for three weeks in keeping with the tradition that gin was sold from the cask rather than the bottle, which was commonplace in England until the 1860’s.
Clean on the nose with delicate and subtle cracked pepper, oak and coriander aromas. Plenty of soft oak on the palate, with the sharp kicks of spice, coriander, fresh pepper and juniper combining well on the long, lively finish.
A fantastic range from England’s longest-serving gin distilling family, but what if you wanted to ask your bartender for a good cocktail?
Hayman’s Gin and Tonic
Highball / Rocks
50 ml Hayman’s London Dry
Slice of lime
Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.
50 ml Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
25 ml Fresh lemon juice
Top with soda
Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.
50 ml Hayman’s Sloe Gin
5 ml Sweet Italian Vermouth
Dash Orange Bitters
Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass over cubed ice until chilled. Strain and serve into a pre-chilled martini or wine goblet and garnish with orange zest or a twist.
25 ml Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin
25 ml Campari
25 ml Rosso Vermouth
Build in a tumbler glass over ice. Garnish with a curl of orange peel or slice.
Last night was the return of the monthly whisky tastings held at Manchester’s Kro Bar. This time Morrison Bowmore Distilleries were the guests, bringing with them Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch.
Again for those of you who don’t know what Kro Bar is, they’re a Danish family business who specialise in Danish food and beer. A popular idea in the Manchester area, they’ve expanded from 1 outlet to 5 in the space of 10 years.
Our host for the evening was Paul, with help from Tim who represented their UK distributor Cellar Trends.
Now many regulars who follow me might well recognise the word Auchentoshan, having visited their distillery back in January. However, the great thing about these whisky tastings is that you get the chance to try the rest of the range, which in my case, was to add the Auchentoshan Classic to my repertoire. I have sold the Bowmore range from my work at Casa Tapas Bar & Grill, and Glen Garioch is a whisky that I’ve never come across in my travels. So armed with Paul’s exciting enthusiasm, myself and Dalia of The Circle 360 got stuck into our first offering – Auchentoshan Classic.
Auchentoshan Classic – 40%
Matured in first filled American bourbon barrels, it gave off a light, delicate vanilla scent on the nose, with white fruit coming through near the end. The palate enjoys a sweet vanilla, with a fresh citrus flavour that creates a lingering aftertaste.
Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43%
Matured in three different cask types, American bourbon to Spanish Oloroso sherry and finishing in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, a nose of sweet orange and raisin with blackcurrant. The palate has some dry fruitness with fresh lemon and butterscotch resulting in a long oak finish.
Bowmore 12yr – 40%
A pre dinner whisky from the oldest Isle distillery in Scotland, a heavy nose of burnt peat blended with chocolate follows on the palate with a deep, smokyness balanced out with flavours of lemon and honey.
Bowmore 15yr – 43%
Finished for three years in a Oloroso sherry butt, it creates a light, fruity nose with raisin aromas and a slight smoke note. Treacle flavours on the palate, again with a slight smokyness with a short finish.
Glen Garioch OB Founder’s Reserve – 48%
A light, corn led aroma on the nose, with sweet vanilla, fresh green fruit and citrus on the palate that creates a fresh finish.
Glen Garioch 12yr – 48%
A mix of fudge and pear blend well on the nose to create a sweet offering. The palate is rather sharp to begin with but mellows quickly. Ripe banana moves to a slight smoke and salt flavour with the pear notes coming through at the end.
To compliment the whisky selection, the Head Chef at Kro Bar created us all a traditional beef burger with chips. Simple, but effective!
So another thoroughly enjoyable event in which we were able to sample a good range of Scotland, visiting the Lowlands, Highlands and Isla. Personal highlights were the Auchentoshan Three Wood and Glen Garioch OB Founder’s Reserve.
Hopefully I’ll be at next months whisky tasting, where 6 more whiskies will be on offer to a crowd that is steadily rising as the months go by. Care to join me?
Last Thursday one of the most anticipated nights of my busy working year so far finally arrived – Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wine Tasting. Organised by Corks Out, the award-winning wine and spirit specialists chose the swanky 4* Park Royal Hotel near Warrington to host the next leg of Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow.
“With over 9 million Daily Mail readers a week, Matthew has the most keenly followed wine column in the UK. He also writes a weekly piece for MoneyWeek and occasional articles for The Week and Decanter.
Matthew was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK in 2012 by the Australia Day Foundation. He was also voted the most influential wine writer in the UK by OLN in 2011.
He has won the highly prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Wine Communicator of the Year. He is the wine buyer for Bibendum Restaurant, the Masala World group of Indian Restaurants (Chutney Mary, Amaya & Veeraswamy), all in London, and the private wine club Quintessentially Wine.
He is the author of thirteen wine books and the Founder and Patron of Touch Wine & Wine Rules – raising money for homeless charities in Australia.”
So he knows a thing or two about wine, so with nearly two months in the making, and even the first to buy a ticket, I turned up with an open mind and eagerness to try all 32 offerings (including sparkling wines, dessert wines and of course red, white and rose), laid out over two long tables. A Dartington crystal red wine glass was to be our snifter for the evening, and I headed straight for number 1 in the list.
The wines were laid out in numerical order in the way that Matthew Jukes recommended them to be tried, so below I give you my tasting notes on each with its RRP.
NV Jansz, Tasmania – £15.99
Noted as a ‘party glugger’, it has citrus and sweet strawberry notes on the nose, with a balance of crisp ripe fruit and tangy acidity on the palate to create a light ending.
A distinct biscuit like nose with a fresh green fruit flavour blending well. Lots of lemon on the palate, with a good dose of digestive biscuits with a moreish effect.
2011 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills SA – £19.99
The nose encounters fresh grass aromas with hints of apple and lime following soon after. Bold crisp acidity, yet smooth on the palate, with a slight dryness at the end.
2010 Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Margaret River WA – £14.99
A great burst of green fruits on the nose including apple, lime and lemon which propels over to the palate, with the added addition of lemon grass. Theres a little sweetness as it lingers on.
2010 Hart & Hunter Oakey Creek Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW – £22.95
A clean, refreshing nose, with hits of lemon zest and lime. A sweet taste on the palate with a tang of the citrus creating a short offering.
2010 Tower Estate Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW – £18.95
A clean nose with a subtle lemongrass and apple aroma, whilst the palate enjoyed a fresh, crisp with lots of fruit flavours dancing around and a small hint of spice.
2005 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW – £10
A bold acidic nose with slight notes of passionfruit slowly making an appearance. The palate has flavours of strong citrus, but softens with a waxy texture on the tongue that leads to a dry aftertaste.
2010 Yalumba Y Series Viognier, SA – £10.50
Chosen out of 4 possible Viognier candidates, it has a slight sweetness on the nose with the combination of fresh ginger and honey. The sweetness carries over to the palate, with a slight boldness of pineapple that leads to a smooth finish.
2010 Fox Gordon Princess Fiano, Adelaide Hills SA – £15.99
A ripe, bold offering of pineapple and grapefruit on the nose, with tropical fruits and peach combining well to create a sweet, smooth aftertaste with a slow dryness.
2010 Pewsey Vale Riesling, Eden Valley SA – £12.75
A slight oily scent on the nose, mixing with rich fruit. Very ripe on the palate that also has noticeable favours of lemon and lime.
2010 Skillogalee Riesling, Clare Valley SA – £18.50
Hints of garden orange on the nose that develops into more citrus flavours than orange on the palate, with a hint of blackberry. A great lingering finish.
2005 Peter Lehmann Reserve Wigan Riesling, Eden Valley SA – £18.50
Stong on the nose with lots of flavours of lime and citrus. Subtle lime on the palate however, with honey flavours combining well for an easy drinker.
2010 Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay, McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills SA – £13.99
Clean citrus, with subtle flavours of fresh grass on the nose, with a slight tangy acidic flavour on the palate.
2010 Innocent Bystander Chardonnay, Yarra Valley VIC – £13.50
A fresh note of dried grass with a slight blend of hazelnut coming through. A bold palate venture of strong lemon with a slow hint of lime freshness on the aftertaste.
Lots of delicate notes of fresh nuts, with light cloves mixing well on the nose. A very fresh enjoyment for the palate, with lots of grapefruit and lime flavours creating a slight dryness on the aftertaste. Very drinkable.
2008 Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay, Yarra Valley VIC – £25.99
Notes of oak and a small hint of vanilla on the nose, with a silky, dry mix of pear and hazelnut on the palate.
2009 Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills SA – £29.99
Butter flavours on the nose with a dominant lemon note on the palate that has a subtle oakness on the finish that follows with a slight dryness.
2011 Turkey Flat Rose, Barossa Valley SA – £12.99
On the nose there are flavours of watermelon, cherry and raspberry that combine to create a sweetness that carries over onto the palate. The cherries and raspberry dominate, with a crisp and slightly dry aftertaste.
2010 Riposte by Tim Knappstein The Dagger Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills SA – £18.50
Red meat aromas come along strong, yet smooth out over the palate with plum and dark cherry flavours combining well to create a silky offering.
2009 Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania – £12.99
Lots of black cherry and violet aromas on the nose. Soft cherry flavours on the palate that results in a smooth yet dry finish.
An intense sweetness of treacle and toffee on the nose with a fantastic combination of toffee and oak on the palate. Creates a long-lasting aftertaste.
There were some absolute stunners available, with the Ocean Eight Chardonnay, Yalumba Y Series Viognier, Peter Lehmann Riesling, Jim Barry Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon and Campbells Topaque being personal favourites.
Seeing and tasting only a snippet of Matthews Top 100 list, I could see why he is one of the most respected in the business. He had fantastic charisma as he twice stood at the top of the room to explain the offerings we had in our glasses, with some fascinating facts, reasonings behind particular wines, and how to enjoy others. Two hours flew by, and i just managed to try the two dessert wines before the Corks Out staff were packing away, ready for Matthew to make his way to his next roadshow destination in Scotland.
This was an amazing insight into Australian wines, and if you ever have the chance to sample or purchase any of the above bottles, I can highly recommend with confidence that you will not be disappointed.
Go on, give Australia a go.
To see more photos from the wine tasting, as well as bottle images, click here.
This week I conducted a whisk(e)y training session at Canvas Lounge, Knutsford as part of their spirit training programme, and invited along Chelsea Shoesmith. A local photographer with over 4 years experience, she specialises in weddings and portraits, however she kindly donated some of her time to create some fantastic images of brands including Glenfiddich, Dalmore and Jack Daniels.
With the backdrop of Canvas Lounge, itself a place that also specialises in weddings, shes utilised just about everything she could get her hands on to compliment her shots!
Click here to be taken to Chelsea Shoesmith’s website, where you can view these stunning photos. Enjoy
By all accounts it was a great success, with couples enjoying the peculiarity of the day, and the odd choice of venue with the back drop of Big Ben. But then again, what did you expect from Hendrick’s?!
Click here for more pictures from the proposal throne!
Make a Leap of Faith next Wednesday 29th, on Hendrick’s Preposterous Proposal Throne…
On the 29th of February each leap year, the normal rules of courtship are reversed, and women may freely pursue and propose to gentlemen of their choice.
The number one piece of advice for ladies looking to obtain their desired gent’s hand in marriage is to conduct their proposal in public – no self-respecting ROTTER would tarnish their reputation by leaving a lady so helplessly adrift.
HENDRICK’S PREPOSTEROUS PROPOSAL THRONE will be popping up in London, inviting ladies across the city to get down on one knee and perform the duly deed of proposal at the following locations throughout London:
1245 – 1415: Potters Fields Park (off Tooley St / Potters Field) London Bridge SE1 2
We invite you to share this momentous day and be captured in a most unusual cucumber & rose picture at London’s iconic locations.
Whether you’re a lady who wishes to woo your man to the alter, or a gentleman wishing to retain your liberty, Hendrick’s Gin has also created a series of tips to prepare you for this topsy-turvy time of year – see them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/theunusualtimes
Do remember to follow the adventures & most unusual proposals @hendricksginuk #ProposalThrone
Last night, myself and two friends decided to take advantage of a rare night off together and head into Manchester’s Deansgate Locks for a bite to eat at Pitcher and Piano. Located along a strip of railway arches that carries the Metrolink line above, it incorporates two floors, both with outdoor seating overlooking the canal. On a rainy night though, inside is a lot more inviting, with comfy leather boothed seating dotted around between the two large rooms.
After browsing their menu of homemade burgers, mains and salads, I went for their ultimate burger – The New Yorker (£13.45). Two 4oz beef burgers, one chicken breast, two rashers of dry-cured bacon, Butler’s Secret Mature Cheddar and beef chilli. A BBQ burger (8oz beef burger, dry-cured bacon and Butler’s Secret Mature Cheddar topped with jalapeños and BBQ sauce – £9.95) and Halloumi Salad (Pan-fried halloumi cheese, roasted butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, radicchio, sunflower seeds and lemon & caper dressing – £8.95) were also ordered along with a round of drinks involving Brookyln Lager (5.2%) for myself. I’ve tried Brooklyn lager before when I was last at Odder bar, it’s a light malt, soft with a slight dryness. There was a lovely roast malt aroma being released on the aftertaste and was a very easy drinker!
Our burgers arrived, presented stacked high with a small bowl of skinny fries on the side. Toppings of beef chilli dripping over the sides of the burger made this an impossible one to eat without the use of a knife and fork, but the size of the burger would deter the most able person. Piping hot through out, with the fries never once becoming stone cold. For an ultimate burger, it was finished rather quickly, yet it was the right amount to decline a dessert and also to not feel like your craving more. A good sign!
We finished our visit chatting in the surroundings of this rather cosy environment, with some ambient music and the company of a few couples dotted around. It felt relaxed, which after a day in Manchester, is sometimes what you need before the commute home. And if your me, you’d have in your hand a Patron Coffee over ice. Heaven. We didn’t stick around to sample their drink delights this time, but I’ll be back – I noticed a Raspberry Sherbert (Bacardi Superior Rum, Chambord and Disaronno Amaretto shaken with lime and cranberry juice) that has my name all over it!
To check out more from Pitcher and Piano in Manchester, including venue hire and bookings, click here.
Recently, I ventured along the Metrolink line to Altrincham, a reviving town which has added a new addition to its ranks – Coco’s Italian restaurant. Located on Regent Street close to the main high street and the back streets of Belgian and European bars, it houses a small bar and long restaurant that s split into two. I met with my family and were quickly greeted and seated in the front part of the restaurant, close to what looked like a rather fantastic window seat looking out into the bustling back streets of Altrincham.
After browsing the rather extensive food and wine menu, I plumped for a pint of the Italian Birra Moretti and chose the ‘Gamberoni Aurora’ as my starter – king prawns baked in garlic, fresh herbs, cream and Napoli sauce topped with mozzarella and then baked in an oven. The Birra Moretti had an instant dryness to it, but had very little malt flavour which resulted in a rather light offering. Once my starter arrived, a nicely presented fanned casserole dish with 5 large king prawns sat in the middle of the garlic and herb cream sauce, with the lightly baked mozzarella layered on top. A unique idea that I’ve never come across before, I thought it made a change to the usual prawn cocktail. Perfectly cooked, the king prawns were piping hot, with the sauce a great compliment that didn’t look greasy or burnt around the edges.
Once the starters were finished, my Calzone was on its way – a folded pizza with ham, mushroom, garlic, salsiccia and mozzarella served with a bolognese sauce. Brought out with simplicity being the aim, the calzone was presented in the middle of the plate, with the bolognese drizzled in the middle that let the sauce slowly branch out. Once again piping hot, there were good portions of the fillings, with only a small hint of garlic which didn’t overpower the meal. The mozzarella was light and didn’t ‘clog’ the mouth as I took each bite, which you can sometimes get with regular home-made pizzas.
All dishes were made to order, so there was a little waiting time between courses, however the ambience and feel of the place made it enjoyable. Conversation didn’t have to be on shouting level, the music had authentic Italian artists singing songs you would tend to find in a cafe square and the light colours of the walls mixed well with canvases of night skylines and drawn flowers – all which are available to buy.
Too full for dessert, a good choice on my part as the counter that held the fresh desserts seemed way too appealing, we finished off with another round of drinks and enjoyed the company of the friendly Italian waiters as the restaurant slowly went from full to empty. And this was on a Monday.
This is a fine Italian restaurant which has only recently been opened. They pride themselves in using fresh ingredients, with the meat and cheese sourced directly from Italy, and fish from the local market. Excellent service, fantastic food and a great experience was had, and will hopefully have again when I’m next in the area. Would highly recommend!
For more information on Coco’s, including opening hours and private function availability, click here.