Friday, 25 October 2013

Jack Spratt - Season 2 Episode 5

Date: Friday 18th October 2013


Woah! What is this? Second review in the same week? Well you know, I like to spoil you guys! Nothing makes me happier than hearing about the Nurbites taking one of my recommendations.

So the past few weeks, I've been entertaining myself with YouTube videos such as The best of Phil Mitchell and Eastenders Pow Remix. This got me thinking that I need to get back to my roots, allow all these American and Asian places, and review a classic British joint. What better than this little gem on John Dalton Street, Jack Spratt.

I've actually been here a few times before. It was the reasonable prices of their set menus and the cool, laid back atmosphere that always drew me back. The environment does make it out that it is fine dining, but at the same time gives that British pub feel. The food has also always been decent, and again they didn't disappoint.

Firstly, I must say, service is always impeccable. They act like its their own restaurant, like they want to be there, which sometimes I don't get the impression at some other establishments. The restaurant always have a specials board which the waiter points out, so always worth taking a look before choosing your dish. The set menu offered is priced two courses for £13 or three for £17. They then have a further monthly specials menu (not the board) where dishes are individually priced.

So we began with the home made bread, which comes with some butters and oils. One of the butter sticks was infused with chili which was pretty great. The main I ordered was the lamb belly, which I haven't tried before, with my wife ordering the steak. The portions were skewed, hers quite big mine not so big, so I had to take some of her food (she wasn't impressed). Firstly, the lamb belly, it is like nothing I have tried before. You could tell it was lamb, but the texture was very different, quite juicy. The steak was a very, very good steak. We also asked for some peppercorn sauce which the chef specially prepared for us, with no extra charge. The steak also came with some incredible chunky chips. The chips for sure gets the 'melts in your mouth' stamp!

When the meal was over we actually hung for a while longer, conversing over the candle light. The restaurant sets the mood for a perfect evening with the atmosphere, but is also complemented with delicious food too. If you asked me where to take a girl on a first date, this place would be high on my list. If you do manage to pull by using my recommendations, think of me whilst doing the dirty.

I know for sure that this little place will be a regular for myself. If not for a steak then perhaps a cheeky burger!

8.5 out of 10 rating.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Australasia - Season 2 Episode 4

Date: 22nd October 2013

Wagwan Nurbites!


Apologies for being away for so long! Been very, very busy. From getting married in Chicago (via an incredible stag in Vegas) to hanging in Miami, and honey-mooning in Jamaica, I have for sure been well fed! The food on my trips has been incredible! But nothing is better than being back home to Mad-chester, the home of the Rolls Royce, the center of the universe. Manchester is the greatest place this earth has seen. Well not quite, but it is home!

Having dined at several great restaurants in Manchester recently, I thought I'd come back with a bang with a place many have heard about in Manchester. Australasia oozes class from their Louvre style stairway entry to the high tech DJ playing with what it seems a 40 inch iPad! We were sat in a booth which was excellent for privacy, giving the place the slight edge if you prefer the more intimate vibe.

The menu had 3-4 sections, sushi, smaller plates and bigger plates. The waiter liked to talk about waves, bringing the meal in 2 or 3 parts but we wanted it all to come together. We treated the restaurant like an Asian tapas bar and so we all ordered 3 dishes each planning to share everything. This was nice as it gave us like ten different small dishes to try. The drinks menu actually came on an iPad which was cool to browse through.

Before the food came, the waiter came over with a fresh piece of wasabi and grated a portion of it on our table. Never seen this from a restaurant so was a nice touch (although seemed like a lot of effort from his part!). When the food came out, just about fitting on our table, the first thing we noticed was presentation. It was impeccable! Everything looking delicious. I would show you pictures but I don't like to give away too much spoilers for you and ruin the experience.

From what I tried, the sushi was great, but for the price not spectacular. The beef skewers stuck out to me as a gem, very flavoursome. The squid tempura, and the prawn and wasabi mix were pretty average. The dish I had heard about most was the expensive black cod. We ordered two of them as it was something everyone wanted to try. It was great, but I'm not sure if it warrants the fame it gets. Sure it is quite different, something you would not have tried elsewhere, but for me it was not the 'melts in your mouth' experience.

Now onto dessert. Fans have probably realised I don't really have a sweet tooth, and due to my lack of passion for the sweet dishes I tend to shy away from talking too much about them. It was due to the also hyped Mango soufflé with coconut ice-cream and mango soup, that I left a little space for this. When the soufflé smothered in the 'mango soup' and the ice cream touched my lips, this was the highlight of my meal...possibly my week. It was just delightful. The explosion of flavours in my mouth, the textures complementing each other ever so perfectly. This was the elite of desserts.

The restaurant decor is very impressive, and is a must if you just want to hang out, or impress someone. I was a tad disappointed with the food, however I did give it incredibly high expectations. The dessert though made me leave the place on a high, and may be the thing that forces me to return again.

8 out of 10 rating.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Almost Famous Burger - Season 2 Episode 3

Date: 20th March 2013



'...a patty of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savour so delightful. This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread, Robin. This is God, speaking to us in food.' - Marshall (How I Met Your Mother) 2008

I don't think Marshall was talking about the supposing 'best burger in New York' in the above quote, he was talking about the Almost Famous Burger.

I want to start to apologise to Almost Famous for writing this blog, because as with photography and ketchup, blogging is also banned from the restaurant. But I have a responsibility, and that responsibility is to share to my Nurbites the best (and worst) that Manchester has to offer. This establishment is the best...

This place is a well kept secret in Manchester. You would only know about it by 'word of mouth'. There is no sign, just a big wooden door. During the day you would not even notice it. However on opening, walking past, it will catch your eye. This is because there is a queue all the way round the corner to get into what is behind this wooden door. On queuing we were all thinking, trying to keep warm, is it worth the wait? One answer. Hell fucking yes it is worth the wait.

On entry you go up these stairs as if you were walking up to an upstairs flat. No signs, nothing. Then at the top was a door with danger splashed across. I opened the door. Atmosphere oozed out. The place was artsy and edgy but still comfortable. I have never experienced this kind of happiness before. Everyone was cheerful, talkative, just loving life. All for one reason. The sexy items in their red plastic baskets.

The menu is simple. Not much to choose from, but you don't need the choice. The front of the menu are the items to choose from and the back explains the items in hilarious detail. I don't want to spoil the fun for you so I will not reveal the funny quotes from the menu.

To be honest Nurbites, I just don't want to ruin the experience for you, I think that is why they 'ban' blogging. They don't want people to read about Almost Famous Burger, but simply experience. So I will just be brief.

Burger - Best I have ever had.

Chicken Wings - Best I have ever had.

Fries - Mixed potato and sweet potato fries - Best I have ever had.

I said in a previous review (Damson) that the place was close to perfect. This place is perfect. I don't love this place, I am in love with this place. I honestly can't stop thinking about that heavenly first bite I took. It sent shivers down my spine.

I cried yesterday. I have never been so happy.

10 out of 10 rating.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Smoak Bar and Grill - Season 2 Episode 2

Date: 8th March 2013
Hello all!
I have actually been eating out pretty frequently recently, but unfortunately nothing really was worth reviewing. Been to a few Indians but for some reason none give me a spectacular experience, then of course I have been to Nandos many times too. With regards to Indian restaurants, although sometimes food can be great, they just can't get it right with the service. What needs to be done is some serious training on dining etiquette for the staff. (Don't mean to broaden the Indian dining, I just have had this experience at 4-5 restaurants in Central Manchester/ Curry Mile.)
A restaurant I should have reviewed was The Room on King Street but unfortunately for them I just did not have the time to write the review. So all I'll say about it is it is fine dining in a night club. Take what you want from that, but it was a bit of a shock for me as I just wanted a quiet romantic meal at the time.
Smoak Grill is located in the very nice Malmaison Hotel by Piccadilly train station. On entry you will first notice the glass open kitchen. Some advice, if you want to have an open kitchen then make it a glass kitchen. It is not a selling point of the restaurant if the place stinks of all sorts of food. The only time you should smell the food is when it is served in front of you. You want to tell people about experiences at eateries, not let them gather your experiences from the lingering smell stuck on your clothes.
Beside the open kitchen was a variety of steaks on display. This emphasises what the restaurant was about. Great steak.
The room was very dimly lit, with small candle sticks on each table. I liked the simple but effective look however on our busy table some felt uncomfortable with that hazard.
As we all knew about the reputation of the steak that was the main focus of the menu, however at first we were a little concerned as the variety seemed to be pretty limited. However we then realised they had a 'specials' board dominated by different cuts of steaks which pleased us. The menu also had a few other dishes like ribs, cod and a lobster thermidor (which caught my eye) but I didn't give them too much consideration. Sides and sauces are ordered separately, for an additional charge. If no sides are ordered with the steak, you literally are only getting the steak by itself.
The waiter was very friendly, coming to take your order with an additional chalk board in his hand, which was different. He vastly explained all the specials, and had sufficient knowledge of the steaks which improved the experience.
We ordered bread to start with. It came in two rounds, the first coming with balsamic vinegar do dip your bread into, the second (oddly) with a garlic mayonnaise dip, which actually blended quite well with the bread.
If it wasn't for the bread coming in two rounds, we would have thought that service was incredibly slow for our main, some still thought this. It seemed everyone either ordered a 250g fillet steak or the 400g sirloin steak on the bone at similar prices. I really don't know how accurate the weight was as the fillet steak was literally a quarter of the size of the sirloin. The ones who ordered the sirloin were very, very happy. Meat binge!
I ordered the sweet potato fries as the side which were incredible. The sautéed potatoes were also gorged with great satisfaction too. With the sirloin steak, I got the garlic butter on top.
The steak was the best steak of my life. Cooked to perfection. Marinated perfectly. 28 days aged. Clearly from well-maintained cows. Just incredible quality. Definitely not horse meat.
In conclusion, it was a great evening. A tad expensive, all the extras like sides and bread come at a cost, which gives me the impression the restaurant are trying to get as much money from you as possible. However the steak was that good that I will go back. I have still yet to go to Gaucho and Grill on the Alley, but for now at least, the best steak in Manchester.
8.5 out of 10 rating.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Kyotoya - Season 2 Episode 1

Date: Friday 18th January 2013

Address: 28 Copson Street, Withington, Manchester, M20 3HB, 0161 445 2555

I'm back!

After taking a much needed sabbatical (from blogging) I think my experiences from the past year have broadened my knowledge in the fine dining. From the burgers of America, the street food of Kenya, and the Peking Duck of China, I do consider myself as a more well rounded diner than previous. So my first review on my return, I thought it would make sense to try this great little Japanese restaurant in Withington, as my taste buds have so recently tasted the fantastic eateries Japan had to offer. I actually came across this little gem as Trip Adviser rates them as one of the highest rated restaurants in Manchester.

It is probably unfair for me to compare this place with the food I had in Japan, so I will try and judge this place as a Japanese restaurant in England.

The actual restaurant is very small, it could only fit around 15-20 people, but to be honest it kind of added to the cramped Tokyo feel. It's a low budget restaurant so the decor was not extravagant, however it had true Japanese charm. The staff were all friendly and welcoming, not as much as the Japanese were in Japan but still very nice. In Japan, on entry the staff all yell to you 'irasshaimase' (sounds like 'wasa wasa' when they say it fast) even when busy, which means welcome, but unfortunately they did not here.

The menu tried to incorporate a lot of different Japanese dining, from gyoza (dumplings) to Ramen (noodles) to a range of sushi dishes. I really had a hankering for sushi so this was the majority of my order. On the menu, if you are an inexperienced sushi taster then you could order set platters however it wasn't clear what was included in the sushi platter. I personally went with ordering individually however you could only order it in a set of six unfortunately, stopping you from ordering more variety.

I personally thought the sushi variety was quite thin, but then again I think I'm judging harshly from the huge variety of sushi I had in Japan. They also had sashimi, which is literally sliced raw fish by itself, but I knew I wasn't a fan from previous experiences. It's a first I've seen sashimi in Manchester.

Between the two of us, we ordered five plates of 6 pieces. One plate of gyoza, three plates of nigiri sushi (sliced fish on rice) and one plate of maki sushi (rolled sushi). The chicken gyoza was pretty good. Not as crispy as I like but still as juicy. If you like your Chinese dumplings then I think these will be the dish of choice for you. Gyoza is my personal preference over the Chinese dish.

The maki sushi we ordered was the prawn tempura (cooked rather than raw). Maki isn't that popular in Japan, unless the rice rolls fish eggs, so I didn't have it much over there. Even though this is a western touch on a Japanese dish, it was delicious. The warm prawns in the rolled rice blended really well.

The nigiri sushi was just great. We ordered all the available fish options, so the smoked salmon, prawns, and tuna sushi. Wasn't too much a fan of the smoked salmon, wishing I ordered the normal salmon. The prawn nigiri however was gorgeously sweet and tender. The tuna was my favourite though, with the fish so succulent. Watch out though, you may get a piece with a tad too much wasabi so make sure you have a glass of water just in case. The sushi in my opinion is the best I have had in Manchester, if not outside Japan, so for certain I will be back.

The bill came back at under £30 which in my opinion is great for what we ordered. The best thing about this place is there were still a range of dishes I still need to try, from the Ramen to the cooked sea-bass. Also if the restaurant is full, or you just rather eat in the comfort of your own home, they do have a take away option, which is the first I have seen for a Japanese restaurant. For sure I'll be back, if not for the sushi then to try one of their other great looking dishes.

8.5 out of 10 rating.