We started the weekend early, on Thursday actually! We had tickets for the Caro Emerald gig at the Opera House and Alison had booked us into The Arora on Portland Street. I arrived first and booked us in, the reception staff were very friendly and efficient and the lobby looked nice with its modern Christmas tree. Our room was on the fifth floor overlooking St. Peters Square, a view of the library, town hall new annex and clock and if you leaned a bit The Midland and Beetham Tower. Unfortunately this will disappear once No 2 St Peter’s Square is built. The room was nice with everything you would need including a fridge, which we used for a favourite hangover cure, Ironbrew!
The Arora has a basement bar and grill called 24 and on the way in Alison had seen a sign offering two for £10 on cocktails so we thought it would be rude not to go for our first cocktail of the day, the bar was quite when we got there, it was 17:00 on a Thursday! The bar is decorated in a modern style lots of shiny metal and blue lights, after perusing the cocktail menu Alison decided on a Porn Star Martini (Passion vodka, passionfruit liqueur, passionfruit puree and a shot of champagne on the side) and I had a Rum and Raspberry Twist (Sailor Jerry Rum, Chambord Black Raspberry liquor, passion fruit syrup, raspberry and pineapple.) They were both good, we also got some free nibbles in the form of a pot of salted popcorn. We liked the place and would definitely go back, there is a bar food menu which looks good and we had a quick look at the restaurant and it’s menu and it’s on our list of places to try! From there we went to Albert’s Schloss, which was heaving, there was a networking thing on! Because there were no seats and Alison was wearing her high boots we decide to give it a miss and went next door to Revolution de Cuba for something to eat. But we will definitely go back and try it again, when wearing lower shoes. Revs de Cuba was busy too and looked like the Christmas party season had started, but we got a table straight away. Service was a little slow, which normally wouldn’t have been a problem, but as we had gig tickets we needed to be in and out quite quickly. Alison had a Classic Mojito (Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, mint, lime, sugar and soda) and I one of the Christmas cocktails, a Roast Chestnut Old Fashioned (Santa Teresa 1796 rum, chestnut syrup and a hint of orange). To eat Alison had a Cuba Libra Pulled Pork Burrito which came with tortilla chips and black beans and I had a Lime and Soy Chicken Chimichanga which came with house rice, black beans, guacamole and sour cream, both where nice, although maybe not quite hot enough. We didn’t have a desert opting instead for another cocktail each, a Quenching Torontino (Appleton Estate VX rum with cranberry, apple, almond and lime, topped with Red Bull) which I though was a little heavy on the Red Bull as that’s all I could taste, Alison had on off the Christmas cocktail list, a Trinket (Teresa Claro rum, cranberry, elderflower and ginger). Then off to the Opera House for the gig which we enjoyed very much. From there we went to Artisan and went to the upstairs bar I went for a Hobo & Co beer, a Bohemian style larger and Alison had a strawberry and lime Rekorderlig, from there we wended our merry way back to the hotel.
On Friday morning we decided to go the Christmas markets for breakfast and the hotel kindly let us leave our bags so we didn’t have to carry them round. But when we got to Albert Square the market was shut due to a security alert, so I suggested Moose where they do a lovely breakfast, but they were packed, with a half hour wait, so we then tried Alchemist but they don’t do breakfast on a Friday! However they did recommend Federal in the Northern Quarter, which was busy but they found us a table quickly. Alison went for the heathy option, Tropical Granola Sundae, with summer berry compote, vanilla yoghurt; poppy seeds, honey & mint and I had the Smashed Avocado on sourdough toast with poached eggs, streaky bacon & rocket, we had coffee and prosecco to drink! Then a wander round the markets tasting the free samples. From there it was off home to get ready for the evening.
We were booked in to the Hale Kitchen for 20:00 and decided to try No 3 Cocktail bar in Altrincham first, this has only been open for six weeks, very nice inside with a ground floor bar and a first floor bar up a spiral staircase. A Garden Party (Portobello Rd Gin, Falernum, lime, apple, basil and cucumber) for Alison and a Baller (Jim Beam, Southern Comfort, Lemon, apricot jam, mint) for me. From there a quick walk into Hale, luckily missing the rain, to the Hale Kitchen to eat, Alison had a voucher and as a consequence I think we were sat on the “naughty” table by the back door and stairs! That said the service was good if a little too attentive. I had, wood pigeon breast, with braised red cabbage, crispy celeriac and a balsamic red wine jus as my starter and it was cooked just how I like it, still pink in the centre. Deep fried goats cheese with caramelised red onion, crispy leek and baby leaves for Alison, the mains were salmon fillet with sautéed new potatoes, asparagus & caper beurre blanc for Alison and slow braised pork belly egg noodles, oriental vegetables, soy sauce for me. For desert Alsion had orange posset with star anise and ginger syrup, cinnamon shortbread, fresh berries and I had Chocolate délice with raspberry chantilly cream all of which was very nice. When we got there the restaurant was buzzing and very busy but with an hour it had virtually emptied, when we let at 9:45 there was only two other couples in. We then headedback into Altrincham to have a night cap at Riddles, which is near the market and has a 1930’s speakeasy feel. Alison had an espresso martini, which said was not one of the best she has had and I had a rum Sazerac (an absinthe-lined glass with sugar, bitters and El Ron Prohibido) which was very good. Then it was a taxi home and bed.
And for those that care we spent Saturday night in!