Restaurant and bar reviews
Vicky and I love to go out for something nice to eat and drink. Here are a few great places that we have been to recently and liked a lot!
Arcane Bar (Manchester)
Tricky to find, but well worth it! Great vibe, cool music, great staff, proper drinks.
Massive steaks, cooked to perfection (I asked for “burnt on the outside, raw in the middle”, and that’s exactly what I got!). House cocktails for a fiver, proper chips, and funky sides. Friendly and not for posers.
Hakkasan Hanway Place (London)
A Michelin starred Chinese restaurant, in a quiet tucked away street just off Oxford Street. As you would expect, it’s very posh, with a proper grown up cocktail bar to start things off. Very high staff to customer ratio means that you are never kept waiting for that extra drink, or indeed the bill! Truly gob-smacking food quality, and a well designed, relatively short menu. Don’t expect your usual Chinese favorites (no prawn crackers, sweet and sour pork, beef in black bean etc).Do expect taste sensations such as roast duck with black truffles, Mongolian venison, clay pot Poussin, and the cleanest tasting chicken soup ever. OK, so it’s very expensive, but you’re only going to once (perhaps…?), and the only negative is that your local place isn’t going to be as much of a treat the next time you go.
Indian street and home style food. You choose several small plates each (so it’s a bit like tapas…) Everything we had was good (especially the “Angry Bird”). It’s located in the Corn Exchange, which also houses several other restaurants (Byron, Gino, Wahaca, etc), so if you don’t fancy the menu, you have lots of other options.
I’ve always liked the idea of fine dining, Indian style (in other words Indian food, made from top quality ingredients, and cooked perfectly). We have been to a few restaurants in London offering this kind of thing, but Asha’s has taken it up a notch. If you like tandoori meat and fish dishes, then you will probably rate this place very highly. Unusually for an Indian restaurant (in my experience), service is excellent. Just go and see for yourself! Currently our “best restaurant in Manchester” award winner – it really is that good! We have dined here three times now, and the food and service have always been spot on every time.
This is quite a posh Spanish restaurant and wine bar, with a really excellent wine list. In contrast to most places, many of the wines are available by the glass or half bottle, which makes trying a few different ones easier. If you like cured meats, then try the Iberico hams (£10 gets you enough to go with a couple of glasses of wine.) Tapas are really good, but you have to try the Paella, which is very good value at £10 – £14 per person. We had Iberico ham, Anchovies, Bean stew with Hare (!), Venison meatballs, Duck with beetroot, and Seafood Paella. We washed all this lot down with the Torremayor Reserva. If you like the idea of Tapas, but feel let down by those miserable little terracotta dishes full of oily bits, then get the antidote here!
They say “Modern Australian cuisine combines Pacific Rim flavours, underpinned by European cooking tradition, a blend of Indonesian, Southeast Asian influences and Australia’s strong ties with Japan also help determine the taste and style.” I agree! The staff are very friendly (and most are not exactly unpleasant to look at either!) There is a small cocktail bar in the main basement restaurant, if you have arrived before your table is ready. There is also a much larger bar on the ground floor called Grand Pacific. The food is very high quality, though the portions are not massive. It’s the sort of place to go to for a wide variety of flavours, rather than to stuff yourself with stodge. You must have the lamb cutlets and the seared teriyaki beef!
Mr Coopers House & Garden (Manchester)
Part of the Midland Hotel, this has a smart restaurant, and a “proper” bar, serving great cocktails and wine. The restaurant is perfect for a romantic lunch. The bar is open till 1am most of the week, so if you are still standing, and want something fancy to drink, then go here!
And some we didn’t like so much…
Set in a fabulous building at the top end of King Street, this is one of those places where the quality of the food and service fall short of the promises made by the setting. Having said that, if you want cocktails, the bar area is very good indeed. The food…what can I say? Think Bella Italia, and you will be close.