Peroni Ambra Brings A Taste Of Italy To Manchester This Summer

peroni-1-4
To celebrate the launch of Peroni Ambra, the Italian brewer has partnered with The Oast House in the heart of Manchester to open ‘The Apertivo Bar, Presented by Peroni Ambra,’ this summer.

Peroni Ambra extends the brand into a new territory, for the first time since its creation in 1963. Inspired by the classic Italian aperitivo, Peroni Ambra combines crisp and refreshing Peroni Nastro Azzurro and the sharpness of Italian Chinotto – a rare Italian citrus fruit, grown and harvested in the region of Liguria, North West Italy.

The new product is inspired by the Italian ritual of the bitter ‘aperitivo’, a pre-dinner drink designed to open the palate and stimulate the appetite. Distinctively, Peroni Ambra is served from its 250ml bottle into a bespoke tumbler glass, over ice, and garnished with orange peel, opening the senses in anticipation of the first sip. It has a bittersweet yet balanced flavour, which leaves the palate cleansed and refreshed. With the attention to detail synonymous with Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Italian designer, Andrea Morgante, was commissioned to design the bespoke glass – each one handmade, crafted by a small artisan Italian glass production house.

Capturing the essence of Italy, guests will be transported to the rural Chinotto grovesof North West Italy during the special four-day residency, from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th June. The Oast House has been beautifully transformed into an immersive Italian setting, where consumers will discover the authentic tastes and rare ingredients of Italy.

‘The Apertivo Bar, Presented by Peroni Ambra,’ will also play host to a contemporary orchestra and DJ collective, allowing guests to enjoy a snapshot of authentic modern Italian culture. The Urban Soul Orchestra, comprising a talented all girl string quartet and DJ from music curators, Euphonica, will be playing laidback Italian grooves between 6pm and 8pm on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th June.

As with all Peroni products, this innovative new drink offering is brewed and bottled in Italy. Reaffirming Peroni’s passion for craftsmanship and authentic Italian heritage, their master brewers have worked closely with the farmers of Besio, where the Chinotto is sourced, to perfect the recipe.

Pronounced Kee-not-toe, the Chinotto fruit is extremely rare, grown in small areas of rural Italy based on the climate. The Chinotto fruit is an ingredient used in aperitivos, as the bittersweet taste stimulates the appetite. Carefully blended with the crisp and refreshing taste of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, it creates the perfect balance, making Peroni Ambra the perfect drink to start the evening.

‘The Aperitivo Bar, Presented by Peroni Ambra’ takes residence at The Oast House:
The Avenue Courtyard, Spinningfields, Crown Square, Manchester M3 3AY
From Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th June

For more information visit: http://www.thehouseofperoni.com

Advertisements

Whisk Yourself Away To The Magic Of Speyside Apple Orchards In The Heart Of Manchester

caorunn-gin-simon-buley-gin-master

On September 30th, Caorunn, the handcrafted Scottish gin, is transforming the Oast House, Spinningfields, into a vibrant urban apple orchard which will offer 500 passers-by a free Caorunn G&T for a truly beautiful crisp, fresh taste of the Highlands.

The urban apple orchard will be brimming with trees for one day during the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. The fragrant fruit is one of the five Scottish botanicals, along with dandelion, heather, bog myrtle and rowan berry, that are infused into the handcrafted Scottish gin. Caorunn is uniquely served with thin red apple slices to create a clean, sweet, full-bodied and aromatic taste with a long-lasting dry and crisp finish.

Caorunn has teamed up with City of Trees to create the beautiful orchard. The charity, is an innovative movement, set to re-invigorate Greater Manchester’s landscape by planting three million trees, one for every man, woman and child that lives in the City Region.

Following its time at the Oast House, Spinningfields, the trees are being donated to Snipe Clough, Oldham, where they will be planted to form part of a new community orchard.

Ibolya Bakos-Tonner, brand manager for Caorunn said: “The Oast House, Spinningfields, is the perfect backdrop to home the urban apple orchard. We hope to brighten up the day of some of the city’s workers, with not just an apple, but a taster of our handcrafted gin during the Manchester Food and Drink Festival.”

“The fact that the trees will remain in Greater Manchester following our event means a lot to us to show our support for the growth of green spaces within urban areas.”

Kevin Wigley, City of Trees, comments: “This is a really exciting project for us to work on and is a chance for gin-lovers to get close to nature in an urban environment.

“We hope this pop-up orchard will show people how trees can really make a space and inspire more urban greening to help transform our cities and towns”

The free Caorunn G&T is only available from the Oast House on the 30th September. The activity is only limited to 500 and can only be redeemed after 13:00.

Scene

tumblr_oau76fi05S1ttt0l6o1_540
Manchester has a new venue to impress its ever-expanding customer base, and a dose of India is hitting the pitch.

Positioned within Spinningfields, Scene shows off a Tardis of Indian delights in the form of its cocktail bar and street kitchen.

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 of signature and classic cocktails, it’s hard to choose which to enjoy first, but a cold lager on the riverside terrace is always a welcome option (especially in the warm weather we’ve experienced lately). Corona, Cobra, Tiger and Estrella are part of the many options available as you wander the eyes over the elaborate street food menu.

tumblr_oau769DExF1ttt0l6o1_540
Tandoori Mixed Grill

Highlights include the King Prawn Tikka (£6.95) to start, which see’s King prawns marinated with yogurt, vinegar, delicate herbs and spices, cooked over charcoal and served with salad and Hydrabadi sauce. Or the Chicken Chapali Kebab (£4.95) that offers you a traditional dish from Pakistan, a very moist kebab that is prepared with minced chicken meat.

For mains? I can highly recommend the Tandoori Mixed Grill (£15.95) which serves up a delicious combination of tandoori specialities; tangdi chicken, chicken tikka,
seekh kebab, lamb chops and king prawn tikka. There’s also chef’s specialities and signature dishes, including the Monkfish Malai (£14.95) that offers fresh morsels of monkfish cooked gently in a mild masala sauce.

But it’s not the food, although excellent and well presented, that I’m concentrating on this piece for, it’s the cocktails and liquor! Once finishing your feast, expect to be offered a nightcap or two within either the bar or at your table (either position works as you are surrounded by an impressive Indian decor with striking, vibrant colours, plus the large windows overlooking the River Irwell.

tumblr_oau76mmp1o1ttt0l6o1_540
Bombay Bonfire

Instantly eye-catching is the Bombay Bonfire that see’s Chivas Regal, lemon juice, honey and ginger syrup, complete with an atomised Laphroaig garnish. Perfect is you’ve had a lightly flavoured meal. But if you’re after something more heavy and rich, the Besharam Lassi provides a blend of Old J Spiced Rum and Old J Tikki Fire, mango pulp, passion fruit, lime juice, yogurt, orange juice and Angostura Bitters.
The Kerala Cafe is a good substitute for perhaps your usual coffee, as Old Spiced Rum, Kahlua, cinnamon syrup and shot of Espresso works wonders to keep your night going. Indeed as does the Assam Negroni, with its combination of Assam Tea infused Beefeater 24, Aperol, Campari and Martini Rosso. All of these are priced at £8.95 each too.

A recommended dram or tot is also in order, as the likes of Plantation Panama and Havana Club 7 year stand out for the rum offerings, as do Lagavulin 16 year, Makers Mark and Chivas Regal 12 year for the whisky counterparts. A great way of finishing off what should be a cracking evening at Scene, and it compliments a variety of the flavours offered within the food too.

For a first-hand look at my visit to Scene, check out the video as seen on RickBVlogs.

Ladies and Gentleman. I give to you Scene. India has come to Manchester.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. 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.

Disaronno Terrace Comes To Manchester

Disaronno Terrace

The month of August has seen the Spinningfield area of Manchester taken over by the brand of Disaronno. The Oast House venue boasts one of the largest outdoor terraces in the city, meaning the perfect place for the Italian liqueur to host its seasonal Disaronno Terrace events. A showcase of all things Disaronno, each residency offers the chance to enjoy classic and crafted serves, alongside live music artist and illustrators. 

Godfather
Godfather

From a drinks perspective, this was a great occasion to experience again the likes of a Disaronno Sour, a classics that is available from the Disaronno Sours cart, main bar, or indeed the chance to create the Disaronno Sour yourself. A rarity for an event to have such interaction on the main drink of the evening, yet it worked as guests are able to release the inner bartender within and shake up a classic.
The main bar itself has the likes of the Godfather, a mix of Disaronno and Monkey Shoulder, as well as two unique recipes for the tour, a Terrace Cooler which mixes Disaronno, cranberry juice, orange juice and strawberry puree, and the Terrace Sour, combining Disaronno, Monkey Shoulder, lemon juice and sugar with egg white. 

With a good atmosphere being created from Teleman and The Cribs, Disaronno have gone for something a little different in the way of re-introducing the brand to its customers. Although it is well-known, and a staple for most bars, the chance to experience within cocktails is sometimes limited, especially at home. The brand have done well in offering a unique environment, and one that they have taken to the likes of New York, Milan, Rome and Los Angeles over the last four years. I’ve been to many events sponsored and supported by brands over the years, but the chance to create a cocktail myself, enjoy music, and not be within a crowded area, all while al fresco style, is a cracking idea. 

Disaronno Terrace
Disaronno Terrace

There’s only one more event to go in Manchester before it hits residencies in Tokyo, Madrid, Amsterdam, Milan and Rome. If you get the chance, it’s definitely worth while to go down, if not, get yourself a bottle today and shake up a sours!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Artisan – Does It Change In A Year?

Artisan

“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.

The Broken Rose
The Broken Rose

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.

Skillet of smoked salmon, poached eggs, green vegetables, hollandaise and crushed potatoes
Skillet of smoked salmon, poached eggs, green vegetables, hollandaise and crushed potatoes

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.

Hot chocolate fondant with coconut ice-cream
Hot chocolate fondant with coconut ice-cream

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?

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Australasia Late Lounge Review

Australasia

Australasia is bang in the middle of Manchester’s Spinningfields, the elite area full of businesses, retailers and residential folk. I’ve worked with them in the past as it is seen as one of the places to, well, be seen, which has been great to attract consumers towards a variety of brands that I work alongside. A concept that has started to enjoy a revival now the nights are drawing longer, is the Australasia Late Lounge, where ‘the lights go down and guest DJ’s set the mood for a sultry, sophisticated evening.’ What more could you ask for? A place to be seen, where you can relax the whole evening with a cocktail or glass of fizz, in the surroundings of one of the more sophisticated venues in the city.

The Late Lounge kicks off Thursday to Saturday every week from 11:30pm, with tables available to hire. But before then, perhaps hit the sister bar and canopied outdoor garden Grand Pacific. Joined in the middle by a staircase, you hardly need to walk far as you can enjoy a glass of sparkling Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut close to the guest DJ who likes to be situated outside, come rain or shine. The enclosed garden does give you the feel of being, quite literally, on the continent of Australasia.

Smoking Bundy Punch
Smoking Bundy Punch

Once the time arrives to head down to Australasia, you can succumb to the sounds, whilst grabbing yourself a comfy booth with an Australasia creation Smoking Bundy Punch in hand. Of course, a Gin Martini has to be the order of the day if you want to go classical. Tanqueray a recommended favourite, alongside a Grey Goose if you wish to feel a little James Bond.

The Late Lounge is also great for groups, with sharer vessels available with the extensive bottle serve list including the likes of Chase, Tanqueray No.10 and Beefeater with mixers of Fever Tree tonic, orange and cranberry juice, and Red Bull and soda water to create your own concoctions as and when you wish.

With a new cocktail menu being launched very soon, you may want to experience now the delights before the summer changes come into force, although I’ve been assured that if you do take the plunge this weekend, you have to be sure to return in June to give your rating on their new concoctions!

Suit up, dress on. Australasia Late Lounge is the place to unwind, mingle and enjoy till the early morning.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. 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.

Design My Night Manchester Award Winners Announced!

The results are in for the Design My Night Awards here in Manchester. So without delay, lets see who made some good vibrations in the city –

Best Bar 2014 – Kosmonaut, Northern Quarter

Exposed brick, leather seats, banging drinks…dentist chairs; the Northern Quarter’s Kosmonaut has everything a great bar should have, and some. Multi-faceted Kosmonaut serves up food, parties and plenty of good times, helping it to scoop the Best Bar gong in this year’s awards!

Best Club 2014 – Joshua Brooks, Oxford Road

A full blown party palace, the award for Best Club in Manchester this year goes to the one and only, Joshua Brooks! A popular choice with party kids all over the city, this relatively small club packs one helluva punch with banging DJs and acts on show week in, week out. Here’s to you, Mr Brooks!

Best Pub 2014 – The Marble Arch, Ancoats

Traditional, historic, and let’s face it, pretty damned lovable; The Marble Arch was our runaway winner scooping the Best Pub award this year. Featuring local ales, gorgeous food and an old-school friendly ambience, The Marble Arch is a Manchester institution.

Best Pop Up 2014 – Long Bar, Spinningfields

If you thought pop ups were just for the summertime, you sir, are wrong. Long Bar was previously only intended to stick around for the summer months but down to public demand, is with us for the winter too. Spacious and sleek, this Spinningfield nugget wins the Best Pop Up accolade.

Dusk til Pawn

 

The ‘Hidden Gem’ Award 2014 – Dusk til Pawn, Northern Quarter

Is there a better place to hide a bar, than in a pawn shop? Doubt it. Dusk til Pawn wins this year’s Hidden Gem award for being the most covert operation in Manchester. Once you actually find the place, you’ll be happy to hear the tunes a’playing, the cocktails a’pouring and the good times rolling.

Best Interior Design 2014 – Terrace, Northern Quarter

Vintage school furniture, low hanging lights and an alpine lodge bar? No wonder Terrace NQ was voted the Best Interior Design. Though gorgeous, with live music, tasty drinks and lively DJ nights as part of their offering too, Terrace NQ is more than just a pretty face.

Best Live Music Venue 2014 – Soup Kitchen, Northern Quarter

Soup, sandwiches and awesome live music? Yes please! The Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter is a bustling cafe by day, but their weekend live music prowess is nothing short of legendary. From big acts to local talent, The Soup Kitchen is a deserved winner of the Best Live Music Venue Award.

Best Beer Garden 2014 – The Oast House, Spinningfields

Come rain or shine, the Oast House is a popular choice in Manchester for a drink or two. Their beer garden is lit with lanterns and enjoys an authentically cool ambience in the face of some of its more stuffier neighbours. Best Beer Garden 2014 goes to the Oast House.

Best Cocktail Bar 2014 – Elixir Tonic & Treats, Deansgate

Deansgate’s wonderfully quirky Elixir Tonics & Treats has won your hearts and minds to take the Best Cocktail Bar award. Retro-tastic, Elixir is a relative newcomer to the scene but its forward thinking hosting and delectable drinks, have paved the way to victory!

#UnderNewManagement

 

Best Cocktail Menu 2014 – Under New Management, Deansgate

Formerly Corridor, Under New Management is a secretive cocktail haunt in the Salford area with a drinks offering that’s helped it to win the Best Cocktail Menu award. Offering both signature and bespoke beauties, if you can find it, Under New Management is the cocktail connoisseurs’ first choice.

Best Late Night Bar 2014 – The Liars Club, Deansgate

Who would have ever guessed a tiki bar would go down so well in Manchester? The Liars Club is a solid party bar that stays open way past our bed times and if the voting is anything to go by, it’s safe to say we all love its wild ways! Grab a Zombie cocktail and dance the night away; you can worry about the hangover when you’re getting up for work. The Liars Club wins the Best Late Night Bar Award!

Best Fun Time Party Bar 2014 – The Deaf Institute, Oxford Road

Raucous, fun-loving and wild, Deaf Institute takes the Best Fun Time Party Bar award. Drink, laugh and dance at this Manchester favourite, which has not 1, not 2, but 3 different bar areas! PARTY ON.

Best Experience 2014 – The Warehouse Project, Trafford Park

Unless you live under a rock, you might have heard of this small little gathering. Warehouse Project is at the forefront of the UK rave scene, and 2013 was another big year. You spoke, and we listened. The Warehouse Project wins The Best Experience this year.

Best New Bar 2014 – Rosylee Tea Rooms, Northern Quarter

The competition in this category was fierce, but after the votes were counted, Rosylee Tea Rooms scooped the Best New Bar Award. A cutesy tea room with the added arsenal of a fully fledged cocktail bar makes this little urban hub one bar not to mess with. Glam, chic and let’s face it, adorable, The Rosylee Tea Rooms is a deserved winner.

Best All-in-One Venue 2014 – Gorilla, Oxford Road

No monkeying around, Gorilla is a venue on a mission. Boasting club nights, tasty hot dogs and slamming cocktails, there’s not much this wonder-bar can’t do. With that in mind, it’s no wonder Gorilla was voted the best All-In-One Venue this year. Make sure you visit for a dance, bite to eat, drink, gig, the list goes on…

Introducing Neukölln In Manchester

BERLIN’S LIVING ROOM BARS COME TO MANCHESTER

Launching this Thursday 14th November, Neukölln is a new pop-up bar to be found within the walls of the new Caffeine and Co shop in Manchester’s Spinningfields (also a pop-up, so you have a pop-up in a pop-up.)

It will take over the site from 6pm – 11pm, Thursday through Sunday between now and the beginning of the new year, opening after the café has closed.

It is named after the suburb of Berlin that houses some of the most unique bar culture in Europe in the form of ‘living room’ bars. These bars are a long way from the shiny drinking palaces often found in Manchester and have much more in common with a speakeasy. Often set up in disused shops they’ll be little more than a fridge for beer, a few sofas and some good music. It’s drinking taken back to basics, just add friends and conversation and you have a great night out.

Neukölln will sell a curated list of beers and craft ale from Germany and around the world, including the hoppy and flavourful Jever Pilsner and Erdinger Weisse in half litre bottles (very true to Neukölln itself), Anchor Breckkies Brown from the USA, Nogne Pale Ale from Norway and Thornbridge Jaipur from the UK, amongst others.

Rather than a wine list it will offer the best red and white (one of each plus fizz) that the team can find for £4.50 a glass or £20 a bottle, kicking off with a very nice NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Spirits likewise, there will be a short list of excellence: Appleton’s estate rum, 2 single malts, Elijah Craig Bourbon, Death’s Door Gin, Finlandia Vodka, etc.
Food will be prepared by Caffeine and Co’s bakery (Longford Park) and kitchen (Manchester Science Park) and the menu will be grouped into three parts:

– bar snacks – inc homemade pork cracklings, bourbon glazed chipolatas, house roasted nuts.
– with homemade bread : cured beef fillet or gravalax both served with celeriac remoulade, potted beef and ham or smoked mackerel and vegetarian/vegan options too.
– finally a pair of daily slow cooks will give guests a hot choice.

Claire Howells from Neukölln and Caffeine & Co comments: “We love a value night out and Neukölln wants to give people great simple food, paired some of the world’s best booze in a well designed space. The price for a meal with drinks will be around £20 per head or less which we hope will appeal both to the people of Spinningfields and the rest of Manchester.”

For more information about Neukölln follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NeukollnMCR.

Artisan Review

Artisan

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.

Choc Orange Crush
Choc Orange Crush

Located on Avenue North off Bridge Street, you immediately enter a lobby selling Artisan clothing and adorned with cast iron lamp shades, plenty a stencilled ‘A’ on the walls and what looks like a giant poster advertising Artisan to the outside world. Wander yourself upstairs to be greeted by the welcome desk and smiles a plenty. It kind of reminds you that you’ve been greeted by an office receptionist, and once entering the main restaurant, it confirms your thoughts. It’s a low-level, stripped back office floor converted in the best way possible. Exposed brick walls, iron castings and wooden features blend well to create a warm atmosphere. Makes no sense does it? It just seems to work! Low level lighting gives it that intimate feel, but big parties would not feel out-of-place at all.

I myself came down with my girlfriend (who we shall name Miss J from now on) so although having a table for two booked on a Tuesday evening, we were treated to a table for six to offer us a bit more room to spread out. I like that. Browsing the drink menu you see your usual array of delights with a good selection of beers of both lager and ale varieties, and some tempting wines which don’t come in at a hefty price. We both opted for an Artisan Signature from their cocktail section. Myself been persuaded by the Choc Orange Crush (£5.95)  which blended Grand Marnier with Illy coffee and Mozart dark chocolate liqueur, milk and cream, served up in a paint can over crushed ice. Another paint can cocktail arrived for Miss J in the form of a Tropical Julep (£5.95) built using Southern Comfort, peach liqueur, pineapple juice lime and fresh mint, again over crushed ice. Not a bad choice of concoctions, although always the way with crushed ice, the drink just seemed to disappear a little quicker than you expect. Never the less, we enjoyed whilst browsing the main menu.

Appropriately named little plates, big plates, salads and pizzas, you’re, or we especially, were a little stumped of what to ask for. I could have easily gone for what could have amassed as a buffet than a single dish, which I think always says something for a new menu. Starters such as Wood Roasted Sardines (£5.95) or Mackerel and Horseradish Pâté (£5.75) jump out at you, but Miss J opted for the Baked Camembert with Spiced Sugar Nuts and a Beetroot and Red Onion Chutney (£6.50) whilst I had the Houmous with Sugar Spiced Nuts and Crispy Flatbread (£5.25). Miss J’s came served hot on a wooden board, with the camembert housed within a pan, and ramekins for the sides. Nicely presented, with everything looking as fresh as possible. Mine came on what looked like a piece of corragated iron (no other way I could describe it), with each dip of the plate housing either salad, houmous or three long strands of flatbread. Warm and fresh, it took a while to get through them both, but did well to leave enough room for our mains.

Mackerel - Artisan
Whole Mackerel Baked on Pine

Miss J went with the Whole Mackerel Baked on Pine (£12.95), which literally came out as a whole mackerel, complete with head and tail. Great presentation! And it was gone before you could even say “how is it”. Surely one of the best compliments to receive? Myself I went for The Greek pizza (£10) which had toppings including feta, olives, tomato, cous cous salad and mint yoghurt. A rather sizeable pizza arrived, piping hot and looking inviting to devour. Tell you a little secret though, I couldn’t finish it. It defeated me. But it did it in a way that I held my hands up to say “eyes bigger than my stomach!”.

We’d been looked after throughout the evening, with a sole waitress for our set of tables doing what floor staff should do best, be attentive but not too over-bearing. Always with a smile, and making sure we had top-ups as and when. And of course, always on hand with a dessert menu.

Champagne Jelly with an Ice Cream Sandwich (£5.95) and Salted Caramel Baked Banana with Gingerbread Ice Cream (£4.50) looked the highlights, but for us both, we went for a liquid ending. Miss J had herself a Cucumber and Elderflower Cooler (£6.50) which mixed Beefeater gin, elderflower liqueur, mint, cucumber and lime juice then lengthened with lemonade, while I went for a caffeine boost in a Cappuccino (£2). I did take a look over the rest of the drinks menu though, and a couple of cocktails stood out for next time including The Artisan (£6.50) which involves Green Mark vodka, Aperol, pomegranate, mint and apple juice, whilst the Smokey Lynchburg (£6.95) has Jack Daniel’s, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and sugar, with hickory smoke flavouring for depth, and a splash of coke. Also there is the Chilli Gin Colada (£6.50) which has fresh red chilli shaken with Beefeater gin, pineapple juice, lime juice and coconut cream.

I was impressed. The atmosphere was good, the layout looks great, the 20ft bar garnered attention meaning it needs a proper visit on its own, and the food was top-notch. I’d go again, especially a big group within one of their private areas. Now THEY look artistic. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better.

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page.

I re-visited Artisan in June 2014. Click here to see if Artisan had become any better over a year later.

© 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.