Liverpool’s bustling commercial district is set to welcome its newest arrival Castle St Townhouse this summer.
The Grade II listed building, formerly occupied by GT Law, will be transformed into a multi-level eatery and bar courtesy of Warrington based interior design and architecture firm, DV8 Designs.
Set to showcase a grand opulent bar and raised seating areas, the new venue owned by Circo director Jason McNeill, will pay homage to its historic surrounding while ‘adding character and urban charm’.
Jason said: “Over the past decade the city’s landscape has changed dramatically, whereby areas such as the business district have evolved to become more than just a corporate workplace, which is why we decided to open in the heart of Castle Street.
“We hope that the new venue will receive a great response from Liverpool locals and those traveling from further afield due to our novel brunch and lunch offerings, extensive drinks list and chic design.”
Managing Director of DV8 Designs Lee Birchall added: “In order to preserve the rich heritage and history of the Castle Street building, it is important that the venue remains true to its roots. With this in mind we will keep many of the building’s original columns, while rearranging the entrance area to create a central focal point that showcases the full length of the space.
“By combining a series of modern decors and a playful design throughout the building, the overall object is to carry out a restoration that suits the originality of the building and its setting, in addition to incorporating a grandeur feel.”
Castle St Townhouse is set to open to the public summer 2016.
Manchester has a new venue to impress its ever expanding customer base, and a dose of Yorkshire is hitting the pitch.
Reolcating from Ripponden, West Yorkshire after 9 years to the heart of King Street, Manchester, the award-winning El Gato Negro shows off three floors of Spanish delights in the form of two bars and an open kitchen restaurant.
Upon arrival, expect to be greeted by friendly faces as they welcome you to the bar for a quick drink before the feast. With a drinks list devised by Garry Foy, he’s embraced the Spanish flavours with a delight of tonics, serves and creations, including the Pineapple & Sage Sour (£9) which sees Pisco, Dark Rum, pineapple, sage and sherry vinegar that comes together for a sharp hit on the sherry, before balancing out to the pineapple and Pisco flavours. Catching your eye as you take in the menu include the likes of their House Tonics (all £8.50), seeing Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum & Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup & Soda, orange bitters, lime, apple slices and cinnamon sugar being brought to the table, or perhaps Bloom Gin and Thomas Harvey Tonic, mint, lime, vanilla sugar and strawberry for a fresher start to your visit. It’s not all about tonics though as the Agua De Valencia (£8.50)
is Spain within a glass as it combines the elements of gin, the Spanish Solerno blood orange liqueur, orange juice, lemon and Cava.
Once finishing your welcome, expect to be whisked upstairs to the 1st floor, where the sight of a long, thin room invites you to sit on the quaint tables and booths, or if you’re lucky, the Chef’s Table in view of the busy open kitchen. With a food menu ladened with delights, the team recommend 5-6 dishes between two people to really experience the flavour of El Gato Negro. Indeed, the likes of Pork chicharrón with crackling, apple purée, olive oil and toasted sourdough (£6), or the Fillet of line-caught hake, parsley sauce and buttered new potatoes (£11), which incidentally offers some of the finest cooked fish in Manchester, are highlights to rival the stunning Confit of belly pork with rosemary-flavoured arrocina beans (£9.50). Keeping the sherry element going, try the Sourdough bread with olive oil and Pedro Ximénez balsamic (£2.50), or perhaps the classic meatballs with tomato fritarda sauce (£7.50) that’s fresh with a light, creamy sauce, perfect to accompany a bottle of Celler del Roure Setze Gallets 2012, Valencia (£29), picked by Master of Wine Miles Corish.
The surrounds of exposed brick, soft lighting, toned red booths and authentic Spanish artwork are a perfect transport to bringing Spain to Manchester, but The Black Cat could top off your El Gato Negro experience. Especially if the weather is kind. Just head to the 2nd floor to finish.
The Vísperas (£10) offers you a combination of Belvedere, Sipsmith gin, dry vermouth, olive brine, Lagavulin spray and Balsamic Caviar as you sit in the lounge area, adorned with table service from the knowledgeable barkeepers. Perhaps the Boulevardier (£10) which offers to you Eagle Rare Bourbon, Antica and Campari, could be a winner, especially when served within a glass pipe. And if it’s sunny in Manchester? Expect the magic of El Gato Negro as the roof of The Black Cat will retract and offer you the rays that adorns King Street every once-in-a-while.
Spain, as expected, is well served across all three floors, with Moritz, Estrella Damm and El Gaitero cider available to enjoy, plus the best Sherry menu Manchester has to offer, mixing the well-known Emilio Lustau range with examples of Rodriguez La-Cave Manzanilla ‘Barbiana’ and Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Anada 2013, Montilla Moriles.
I suppose what I’m trying to get across is, if you love Spain, appreciate its culture, its food and its drinks, El Gato Negro is the place to top the list. The hype is heard and rewarded, the service is as expected for an award-winning venue, the drinks fit the style of both the decor and reasoning behind El Gato Negro, essentially offering you a Manchester gem, and the food is beyond exceptional.
Asian food is a cuisine that is rarely called upon in my world. I’ve nothing against it, I just prefer other types ahead, but like I am with my drink, on the odd occasion I will branch out, experience, learn and hopefully enjoy. With an invite to Sakana, the fairly new opening on Peter Street in Manchester, it would test my food based horizons.
What used to be a site occupied by Chicago Rocks, Sakana transformed the interior with clean, white decor that leaves no trace of the former tenants. The open kitchen at the back of the restaurant is a touch I always love, and the bar that greets you is a divide from the drinks to restaurant crowd. This is, of course, the first port-of-call for the Drinks Enthusiast, ordering a Sano Grog (£7) that blended Jack Daniels with Gosling Black Seal and Cointreau, topped with apple juice. Strong, with the whiskey and rum hitting the mark well, and the orange of the Cointreau dicing through on the odd occasion made it an interesting mix. Browsing the drinks menu whilst waiting for my plus one, I notice that the menu is actually split when it comes to the cocktails. My Sano Grog is classed as ‘Dai’, seen as classic cocktails that have lasted throughout the ages with a Sakana twist. I could have easily have gone for Blueberry Margarita with Olmeca Plata, or Strawberry and Coconut Caipirinha with Sagatiba, or indeed chosen from the Shakabuku or Kusuguri-Zeme lists which gave out recipes such as Lotus Blossom which includes Grey Goose La Poire, Kwai Feh lychee liqueur, Sake, lime, sugar and pear.
Upon the arrival, my guest for the evening opted for the One Inch Punch (£8.50), mixing Bacardi Oro, Cariel Vanilla vodka, lime juice, gingerbread syrup, blueberry puree, and ginger beer, this came under the Shakabuku portion of the menu that offered cocktails that gave a swift kick to the head that causes spiritual enlightenment.
Our helpful and polite host offered us our seats for the evening, a booth along the back of the bar that gave a great view of the kitchen and the master chefs at work. As it was before 7pm, the ‘Taste of Sakana’ menu looked the tempting option for two novices, with the chance to experience 4 dishes each for the price of £18.50 (you can of course go for less if required). So, as you would, 8 dishes were ordered including Pork Ramen which involved Loin pork, noodles and miso broth, also Donburi Pork Tonkatsu with deep fried pork in panko, Japanese rice and teriyaki sauce as well as Yuzu and Sesame Beef with grilled steak with a yuzu and sesame glaze plus fresh green salad.
Artistic measures are a must at Sakana, as all the dishes came to the table with thought, care and attention to detail, with each dish explained to accompany. All served at the right temperature, and we had a nice balance of fish and meat, with some dishes, for example the Pork Ramen, offering a lighter side as the pork soaked up the miso broth. The eight dishes seemed a lot to begin-with, but the bites were the right size for an informal dinner chat, with chopsticks and cutlery clashing as my lack of skills hampered the ‘right way’. Other dishes that just missed the cut were the likes of Spicy Fish Ramen with noodle soup with spicy thai fish cake and spicy broth, as well as Yakimiso Pork Steamed Bun which involved slow miso pork belly, served with two soft and fluffy steamed buns.
Value for money? £18.50 is for sure a brilliant way to spend on a wide variety. No room for dessert perhaps, but always space for a night-cap. Of course, Asian cuisine much be finished with some Asian spirit styles, with my friend opting for the highly acclaimed Yamazaki 12 year whisky (£6 for 25 ml), with myself heading towards the Sake expressions, in particular the Kishinamien Umeshu plum Infused Sake (£6.90 for 75 ml). Warm, well-balanced and to be honest a great and fitting ending to a surprisingly good meal. I didn’t know what to expect for a cuisine that I’m not overly familiar with, but I’ll be back again for sure.
“There always seems to be something new popping up in the Manchester restaurant scene. New concepts, new ideas, re-vamping tired menus or giving a new lease of life into forgotten venues. These are what seem to define many a city’s food culture. To be fair, nothing against that. It’s what keeps us on our toes – the buzz through social media, word of mouth or a quick e-mail and text after you see the erection of a ‘coming soon’ sign. In Manchester, there is one company that seems to get the most buzz no matter what the concept or idea, and to count their venues to the mid-twenties is an astounding achievement. Living Ventures have proven once again that they can transform even the most quirky of locations into a masterpiece in the form of Artisan.”
You could possibly recognise the above statement. For avid readers of my website, this is taken from my previous visit to Artisan last September, and it’s a statement I still stand by. Why? Artisan is evolving, Living Ventures is evolving. Manchester is evolving.
Bold words perhaps? A visit to Artisan this week could very well prove my point in the coming weeks as the venue opens a second bar within its establishment, following on from the success of opening its original floor plan to accommodate the tipple crowd. That’s not all though. One word could be the buzz of Manchester very soon – Cinema. I will say no more, yet.
My reason for coming back this time around was a simple one though. I enjoyed the food on my first visit, and it is still spoken about today between me and my partner, and anyone who will listen to me, but my only criticism was to be the cocktails. Good, but not what I would call great. I took on board a recommendation I gave previously, ordering the aptly named The Artisan (£6.95) which involves Green Mark vodka, Aperol, pomegranate, mint and apple juice.
No tin cup in sight, instead a hurricane glass to show off the mint and apple pieces. The Aperol dominates, creating a drink that had a slight sweetness to it, but fresh, red fruit flavours burst, resulting in a slightly dry finish. Perfect for what was a humid evening. My partner (once again, to be called Miss J from here onwards) chose The Broken Rose (£6.50), bringing together Beefeater, rose liqueur, almond syrup, pineapple and lemon juice smashed with rose petals. It looked stunning, yet simple, with the dry nose of the rose petals being a great invitation to sip. The almond and rose create a rich flavour blend, although it was to be a rather short offering. Slightly sweet, but ultimately a good choice.
The food menu seemed a little sparse compared to our last visit, but by no means did that mean a lack of choice. If you know me well, I do love a menu that offers you more than one dish to salivate over. Artisan gave me several, and it has me itching to come back to try the one’s that I had to cut from my chosen order, the St Louis cut salt and pepper pork ribs with kimchee and coleslaw (£14.95). To back up a little though, Miss J opted for a starter the Braised meatballs in tomato sauce (£5.95), a dish that, she proclaimed in a simple phrase, came with “awesome meat”. She was right too, being enjoyed with a light sauce, steaming hot, fresh and plenty of heavy meat. No light and airy meatballs here.
I went for a simple dish too, the Prawn salad with guacamole (£7.50). Good presentation, but the prawns didn’t taste fresh, and the pairing with guacamole seemed a little pointless, it just didn’t seem to compliment. For the price, I’m afraid it just wasn’t worth it.
To the mains now, and as mentioned, the St Louis cut with pork ribs was to be my chosen champion from within the multiple choices I could have enjoyed, whilst Miss J went for the Skillet of smoked salmon, poached eggs, green vegetables, hollandaise and crushed potatoes (£10.95). Again, both came with some good presentation, with the smoked salmon looking alive with colour, dripping soft poached eggs and creamy hollandaise, giving off rich, warm flavours. The kimchee and home-made coleslaw complimented my St Louis cut in both look and flavour, with the meat being well-seasoned and cooked, giving a dry pepper and herb edge to it all.
With us both leaving a little room for dessert, the stand-out Hot chocolate fondant with coconut ice-cream (£5.95) came for us each, one with gingerbread ice-cream and the other with salted caramel. Hot, rich and incredibly moorish. A great way to finish the evening.
The food was brilliant, although I do wish I chose another starter. Trial and error though Is what I’ll be putting that down to. The drinks? Well, now I have something to talk about for both sides of the menu. Refreshing, well presented, and above all, tasty. Much better than our last visit, and even though I missed out on the likes of the TwoTone Daiquiri and Cinnaberry, plus classics such as the Negroni and Quick Old Fashioned, I can only imagine that I’ll be impressed upon my next visit, which incidentally will focus on these delights.
Give a place another chance, and you may surprise yourself. I look forward to crawling through the delights within their open planned bar area. Well the chairs and sofas do look like a comfy place to while away an evening. Won’t you join me?
A look at the new Turtle Bay opening in Manchester, by guest writer Carmen Chapell Elkin.
On Thursday 29th of June, Turtle Bay Manchester opened its doors for a Caribbean night to remember. The restaurant chain, which has branches all across the country, specialises in providing an exotic setting with delicious, spicy Caribbean flavours. The party was certainly in full swing when we arrived: guests were dancing, lights were low and, most importantly, a fabulous live band was playing from the balcony. While blasting out some of the most loved Caribbean songs, the band was great at keeping the atmosphere incredibly upbeat and getting the crowd totally involved. Turtle Bay had invited approximately 1000 guests to preview the restaurant before it officially opened to the public the following evening. When the restaurant is running normally, it sits 150 guests at any one time.
The restaurant’s unusual and well thought out décor – across two floors – really does emulate a Caribbean laid-back vibe; plenty of dark wood surfaces, metal boxes incasing old glass bottles, a neon sign with ‘flying fish and sky juice’… their promise of ‘transporting you to the Caribbean without a plane ticket’ is not all that unfounded. The authenticity is further confirmed through their drinks list: Ting, Red Stripe, Wray & Nephews Overproof white rum and Mount Gay dark rum. Often as a guest it is important to feel you can devour not only the best jerk chicken in the city but also the best Caribbean liquor.
Onto the prime reason for visiting… the food. I should first mention that, as we were enjoying the VIP party, we ate many nibbles but didn’t sit down to a proper meal there. Therefore, I cannot comment on the presentation, the portion sizes or the assembly of the dishes. I can, however, discuss the tit bits that conveniently came our way every thirty seconds, just in time for our next mouthful. The Jerk Pit Ribs were incredibly succulent, meaty and spicy. The mini Pulled Jerk Pork buns were also bursting with different flavours: tender jerk pork, rocket, fresh butternut squash, mango and even coconut. Another definite favourite were heaped spoonfuls of browned slow braised chicken on the bone with rice and peas. We were less impressed with the Jerk Pit Prawns in herb, chilli and garlic butter, and the curried goat was also forgettable. Notice that, apart from sweet potato and plantain, we came across no vegetarian options. After scouring the website’s menu, this seems to be quite representative of the limited non-meat or -fish options. No desserts were offered apart from slices of refreshing watermelon.
In any chain restaurant, there is the risk of having impersonal staff. Not true of Turtle Bay. Young, enthusiastic staff dressed in an easily identifiable red uniform – not identical, just all in red – greet you with a grin and really seem happy to chat to you. The gorgeous hosts at the door received us with larger-than-life smiles and an informal handshake, directing us towards the bar and the food dotted around.
Despite weaving enormous trays through the throng of guests, all the staff appeared upbeat and fully embraced the party mood – most, in fact, were dancing the trays through the crowd. Another feature – if this was the initiative of the couple of people I spoke to great, or if it was a suggestion of the management, even better – all staff introduce themselves as soon as they approach. Such was the case with a friendly, knowledgeable Dan who immediately acquainted himself with us, and informed us in a very friendly way that Turtle Bay was “the same price as Nando’s” and of their great cocktail offers. It is undoubtedly a skill to balance selling your product and making your audience feel entirely at ease with you, something Dan did effortlessly. He made me feel like he was a friend recommending a new place, rather than the employee of said establishment. Throughout the evening, I felt without exception the staff – chefs, hosts, waiters, bar staff – had perfected their approach to the public.
It would be hard to pinpoint the best part of our evening at Turtle Bay. It is a close call between the staff’s expert manner, deliciously flavoursome food, original décor and sincere, upbeat party atmosphere. As mentioned already, vegetarians would struggle at this restaurant. It would definitely be worth returning on a normal night to experience a regular meal with the restaurant. I am intrigued to see how the ambience would change: what a full meal looks and tastes like, whether the live band would still perform and, of course… sample dessert.
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.
As with any big city, there’s aways something new and exciting to check out. Round every corner there’s scaffolding popping up, huge signs with the words ‘coming soon!’ and a buzz on social media of the venue working its magic. With no exception would be Neighbourhood. An American styled bar and restaurant located on Avenue North, behind Oasthouse, by the same guys who brought you Southern Eleven. Apparently taking its inspiration from iconic New York restaurants and housing around 200 covers, it produced a media frenzy (well social media) on its opening night last Thursday, but a Manchester Confidential invite on the Friday meant I had to wait to see what all the fuss was about.
Down what I can only describe as a posh looking back alley you will find multi coloured metal framed tables and chairs. Intriguing more than anything but I can imagine them being taken full advantage of when summer hits for a week in 2013. Friendly door staff showed me the way to my ticket where I could choose my drink for the evening. As a Drinks Enthusiast, I opted for the cocktail offering – Basil Grande.
A good dose of Absolut, raspberry puree, cranberry and lemon juice served in a Martini glass and fresh strawberry garnish went down a treat with me. Unbelievably smooth with a velvet texture hit the spot, and despite not being the first cocktail of the night to be created by the bartender, nothing was too much trouble. I have to point out that for a night like this, customer service could not be faulted, and there were plenty of them to serve you.
Although busy, the atmosphere was rather relaxed. No stressful vibes were being omitted from the invitees as they scattered between the long bar and tall tables. Separating us from the main restaurant though was a magnificent looking lit up organ pipe work connecting itself to see-through cabinets full of weird and wonderful items. A large circular booth dominated the room, which looks perfect for holding large parties, being overlooked by an open-hatched kitchen and mezzanine level which you can apparently hire out. The layout also extends down the back of the venue and to the side, so there’s ample space to enjoy and areas to also have a quiet, relaxed meal away from the hustle and bustle of the bar.
The music also had a good selection. Although maybe a little too loud, the beat heavy tracks of Blondie, Police and Soft Cell do make you realise that it’s not your average restaurant with an iPod on shuffle. When was the last time you heard these artists in the same night at 6pm??
The night wasn’t just for Manchester Confidential though, it was open to the public too with orders flying around for Manhattan’s, Old Fashioned’s, Pornstar Martini’s and Tom Collins galore, mixed with calls for wine and Champagne. There offering on the bar isn’t too bad, with Samuel Adams and Asahi on draught and bottles of Heineken, Cusquena, Moretti and Saint completing the range. Spirit selection is rather varied too, with Beefeater 24, Zubrowka, Olmeca, Hendrick’s, Woodford Reserve, Tanqueray 10, Chase Marmalade and the Plymouth range some of the highlights. The back bar comes complete with a back wall. A noughts and crosses style shelving housing delights such as Dom Perignon, Veuve Cliquot and Belle Epoque – a rather impressive sight.
You may have noticed that I’m yet to mention anything about the food. Truth is, I missed out. Not that they ran out or anything, I unfortunately had to leave earlier than intended however I will say this – some of the smells and aromas coming from that kitchen were absolutely fantastic. No word of a lie.
So Neighbourhood is a rather interesting addition to the Manchester scene, and to Spinningfields which breaks up the Living Ventures monopoly so-to-speak, and I will be back to see what it’s like in a few weeks, see if it can carry on its impressive start, and to try out the food. Oh and the cocktails – they don’t seem to be too much trouble to create.
Check out the rest of the photos from the evening via my Facebook page.
Last week I accepted an invite to try out Restaurant Bar & Grill in Manchester, and as a person who can never refuse such an invite in a venue which I’ve always admired, I gave it my full attention when myself and my friend turned up for a Tuesday lunch.
Seated by the window of their rather stylish decor restaurant, we were able to browse their full menu and wine list with many pieces standing out in all areas. I’ve always become excited when I see numerous options in a menu to choose from – it means I just have to come back and try something else! Choosing a bottle of Tabali Reserva Viognier 2012 from Chile to accompany our chosen starter of Severn and Wye Smoked Salmon that came with drizzled English organic honey, mustard and dill dressing. Honey dominated the aromas and flavours of the salmon, but the fantastic portion of the fish itself made the dish rather light. The dressings soaked through near the end which gave a lovely long finish with each mouthful. The honey notes from the Chilean wine complimented superbly with hints of citrus cutting through slightly to break up the flavours. Grilled toast was also a nice touch as it helped soak up the garnish.
For mains I chose the Rack of English Lamb whilst my friend went for the well presented Colston Bassett Stilton, Pear and Walnut. The chilli glazed lamb released subtle flavours that mixed well, especially with the added yoghurt and garlic that accompanied. A dome of yellow rice was a nice touch and soaked up the rest of the juices that the lamb produced. A long-lasting flavour stayed for a while which set me straight up for dessert – Dark Chocolate Fondant.
Accompanied with green tea ice cream, served warm and became incredibly moorish. Surprisingly light too and not overly rich like some chocolate desserts can be. Served with a glass of Moscato Passito dessert wine which helped the sweet tooth come alive, it rounded off a rather splendid lunch. My friend felt the same as she tucked into Macaroons of pistachio, raspberry and lemon whilst chatting inside a rather full restaurant.
Although busy, the service was still spot on, with nothing too much trouble and even the manager making the rounds which I always feel is a nice touch in any restaurant. We stayed for a good few hours as the atmosphere became rather relaxing and the food brought out at an even pace.
Oh, did I say rounded off before? I meant I had a dram of Glenfiddich 12yr to finish. Well, you have to when you’ve had such a fantastic meal.
Check out the rest of the photos during my visit via my Facebook page.
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.