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.