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.

Disaronno Amaretto Tasting Notes

Disaronno

1525 was a long time ago. Santa Marta, the first city in Colombia, was founded and the Bubonic Plague spreaddi in southern France. Also, during the Italian Renaissance, the artist Bernardino Luini, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, was commissioned to paint a fresco of the Madonna of the Miracles in Saronno. To portray the Madonna, he chose a beautiful local innkeeper. As a mark of her gratitude, she prepared for the artist a special gift of a flask full of an amber liqueur. The legend that is Disaronno had begun.

In 1600, many families would distill their own liqueurs and digestives, with the Reina family doing just that after rediscovering the innkeeper’s old recipe. Passing it down over generations, the popularity of the closely guarded recipe grew as during the first years of the twentieth century, Domenico Reina decided to open a store and workshop near the terminus of the tram line from Milan, situated in the heart of Saronno. It was here that the Disaronno Originale was produced and sold commercially.

1942 saw the iconic ‘square bottle’ come into force and during the 1960’s, the rest of Europe and the USA grew to enjoy the brand. In the seventies, a master glass maker from Murano, Venice, hand-crafted the unique ‘square bottle’ made from softly sparkling glass, and formed the now familiar design.

So with over 448 years of history, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Disaronno Amaretto – 28%

Instant hit of sweetness on the nose with a strong dominating almond aroma. Softer on the palate however with a rather short, sweet flavour of almond and marzipan.

Although primarily offered as a digestif, lately many a Disaronno cocktail has popped up –

Disaronno Julia
Disaronno Julia

Disaronno Julia

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients – 

40 ml Disaronno
15 ml White rum
25 ml Liquid cream
15 ml Grenadine
4 Fresh strawberries

Method – 

Mix all ingredients in a blender with ice and pour into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry.

or

Godfather

Glass –

Rocks

Ingredients –

20 ml Disaronno
30 ml Scotch whiskey

Method –

Pour ingredients over ice.

Great versatility for a classic Amaretto. Always a staple of many a bar too, and quite possibly in your drinks cabinet at home.

Check out more photos via my Facebook page and purchase a bottle here.

© 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.