Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Bit Of Culture

Alison had booked tickets for Husbands and Sons by D H Lawrence at the Royal Exchange, so I thought lets do one of our stay overs and did secret hotels on Late Rooms and managed to get the Arora Hotel, where we have stayed before.  I went to work in the morning and Alison came in to Manchester in the afternoon to meet me.  Before checking in to the hotel we went to The Alchemist on New York Street for cocktails.  With it being a Friday afternoon is was quite busy but we were lucky as a couple of seats became free as we got there.  Alison had Bubble Bath (Bombay Dry Gin, Chambord, Aperol, Apple Juice and a Dash of Sugar Syrup and a little bit of magic!) IMG 1399and I had a Ball Breaker (Bombay Dry Gin, Lemon and Sugar, topped with a Blackcurrant Orb!) as you can see from the picture Alison’s was foaming and when I burst the orb on mine blackcurrant liqueur came out!  From there it was off to the hotel, as I have said we have stayed at the Arora before, this time we were on the second floor in a room with two double beds.


After unpacking it was off to Stevenson Square, I had thought to call into Dusk till Pawn as we have not been there yet, but it was closed, it was 3pm and it doesn’t open till 4pm, so it was off to the Rosylee, where we were booked in for 3:30pm, we were going to have a drink at the bar first but there were no seats, so we went straight through to the restaurant.  We ordered drinks (kiwi and lime, Old Moot cider for Alison and a Birra Moretti for me) and some nibbles, honey & mustard glazed chipolatas and red pepper houmous with croutes.  After looking at the menu we ordered the 8oz ribeye steak for myself and chicken supreme, stuffed with Blacksticks Blue for Alison, with these we ordered the hand cut chips and the Inka roast veg.  My steak was good and cooked medium rare like I asked, Alison said her chicken was good but it did take her some time to find the cheese stuffing!  The chips were fine, but the roast veg was more steamed than roast.  For desert we had chocolate brownie and I had the sticky toffee pudding, both came with ice cream, again both good.  While the food was good the service left a bit to be desired, it was slow and a little haphazard, when we arrived there was only the barman about and he showed us to our table, as this was by the door leading to the toilets we asked to seat somewhere else, which he did, but there were hardly any empty cleared tables, the one he showed us to had to be wiped and reset, I would say that about have the tables in the place had not been cleared. Now this was not totally the fault of the staff as it seemed that there was only two of them on.  After leaving we walked, in the rain, to the Royal Exchange where Alison had got tickets to Husbands & Sons by D H Lawrence,

IMG_0683it was very good, as usual the set was clever and innovative and the cast excellent, you did not notice it was a three hour play.  After leaving the theatre and on the way back to the hotel we decided to call into the King Street Tavren the restaurant and bar that is part of the King Street Townhouse hotel.  We had a G & T and a Rum & coke, not the cheapest place to go for a drink but nice surroundings, off the restaurant and bar area is a lounge area and a mezzanine lounge which are both very nicely set out and was very good, as usual the set was clever and innovative and the cast excellent, you did not notice it was a three hour play.

We had a G & T and a Rum & coke, not the cheapest place to go for a drink but nice surroundings, off the restaurant and bar area is a lounge area and a mezzanine lounge which are both very nicely set out and comfortable.  Then it was back to The Arora and to bed.

The next morning we decided to go to Moose, where we have been before, for breakfast, but as usual there was a queue and as it was raining we decided not to queue thought we would try the Infamous Diner instead, this bill itself as Manchester’s first independent all-American diner.  Well the place certainly looks the part with it’s red booths, American licence plate wall and metal tiled ceiling.  To drink we had a Classic Mojito for Alison and a Harbour Master’s Lemonade (for Evan Williams bourbon, triple sec, sweet and sour mix) for me, we also had a glass of orange juice each, it was breakfast time!  IMG_1409To eat we both had the Bacon French Toast (Brioche loaf, crispy bacon, sugar cinnamon and maple Syrup) and while it was nice they were stingy with the maple Syrup!  And while it looked the part and even the staff were dressed like you would expect, there was just something missing with the atmosphere.  From there it was off the Marks & Sparks for a bit of shopping before going home.



As it was my birthday on the 5th of Feb and Alison’s on the 9th of Feb, we decided to have a weekend away in Shrewsbury.  On the way there we visited Attingham Park, a National Trust property.  As it was winter the hall was shut to visitors, but they were doing guided tours so we went on one of those and very interesting it was too.  We also saw things not normally seen, then we had a cup off coffee and a snack in the cafe, followed by a pleasant walk round the grounds.  We then made our way to Shrewsbury, we were booked in at the Lion & Pheasant , we were staying in one of their “cosy double” rooms, it was on the top floor corner with a view over the Severn towards the Abbey on one side and the street on the other.


The room consisted of a vestibule with a built-in wardrobe off which were the bathroom and the bedroom, it was a very cosy room (see what I did there!) with a lovely cast iron bed with a good comfortable mattress, flat screen TV, tea, coffee and home made biscuits.  The bathroom was a nice size with a powerful hot shower.  The only complaint is the usual, not enough hangers in the wardrobe!  After checking in and unpacking we went down to the bar for little drink, Alison had a G & T made with Aviator gin, the bar has over 40 different gins, and I had a pint of Ludlow Gold.  We then went for a walk round Shrewsbury before returning to the room to get changed for tea.

We had booked into the Hayward which is the restaurant of the Lion hotel, when I booked I was told they were busy but they could squeeze us in at 8:15, more of which later.  Before eating we went to The Libertine Cocktail Bar a quirky place, where Alison ordered a Let’s Talk About Passion (gin, passIMG_1359ion fruit, raspberries, lime and pineapple) and I a Libertine Love and Tea (damson gin, hibiscus, lime and cranberry), Alison said her’s was nice but I was not so keen on the one I had, nothing wrong with it just not to my taste preference.  The place had quirky decor, bird cages hanging from the ceiling, hats as lampshades and even a vaulting horse as a table.  We met one of the local “characters” while we were in there, who had maybe had one or two too many, he talked at us for a good 10 minutes telling us about his troubles with the law, how it had started when he nicked a policeman’s bike when he was 12.  At least that’s what we think he said we could only understand one word in 20, after he left one of the barmen come over to apologise and give us a bit of background, at least that’s what we think he was doing, we only got one word in 10, it must be a Shrewsbury thing!

From there we went to the Hayward, remember we had been told that they had said they were busy but could squeeze us in.  Well we walked into the restaurant and there must have been at least 6 people in there!  The room was empty with half the tables not set and a couple not cleared.  We sat down had a look at the menu and ordered.  Alison went for the sun blushed tomato, chickpea and rocket salad with percorino crisps to start followed by rump of lamb, crushed minted potatoes, carrot and cumin puree with a pan jus.

I had potted wild Shropshire rabbit with pickled mushrooms, followed by roasted chicken breast, confit drumstick, beetroot jam, fondant potato and a butter sauce.  The food was good tasty and well cooked, but the service was a little iffy, bread was served cold and late, just as we got the starters, the wine pouring was a little haphazard.  When we walked past on Saturday night the whole restaurant was in use and lookedIMG_1371 busy so maybe it was us!  IMG_1373We then made our way back to the Lion and Pheasant
where we went into the bar for a nightcap,  an Oscar Bow Tie (25 year old Martell Cognac, prosecco finished with a blackberry bow tie) and a Spring Garden Daiquiri (white rum, elderflower, apple juice and lime)  we took these in the Inglenook Bar next to the fire, and very nice they were too, to finish the evening off we had a couple of Espresso Martinis, for a change!

After a comfortable nights sleep we got up for breakfast which at the weekend is served till 10:30, I had the full English and Alison had eggs royale, they were both very good all locally sourced ingredients well cooked and tasty.  We then went out for a walk round Shrewsbury in the pouring rain!  First off to the Abbey, then into town as it was pouring down we thought we would try out the Old Market Hall cafe bar and cinema, a little 80 seat independent cinema in the 16th century market house, getting a ticket was a little fraught but we got the last two seats for The Danish Girl, unfortunately all the two seater sofa seats had gone.  126When we came out it was still raining so we went to an independent coffee shop called Ginger & Co for a coffee and cake, the place was heaving but we managed to find two seats at a shelf table, we had ginger crunch and banana caramel cakes and very nice they were too.

From there it was more wandering and nipping in and out of shops and the obligatory walk up Grope Lane!  IMG_1376In Our wanderings we came upon St Nicolas a cafe – bar – spa, in on old church!  StNicholas-103The spa is down is on the ground floor and the cafe, bar in an upstairs area created over what would have been the chancel.  There Alison had a prosecco and I had an Hawaiian Redneck (dark rum, Southern Comfort, pineapple and grenadine), I then had a Peroni and Alison another prosecco.  The place was great and unusual being in a church.  The staff all looked very young about 12 or maybe that was just to us, however I did need to give instruction in opening and pouring sparking wine!  After our drinks we went back to the Lion and Pheasant to watch the Ireland, Wales game in the six nations before getting ready to go for our evening meal.

Earlier, when we came out of Ginger & Co we noticed a yellow, slightly tired looking doorway, this was the entrance to the Renaissance restaurant, reading their menu board we noticed that on a Friday and Saturday they do a six course surprise taster menu, sounds interesting we thought, so whilst in St Nicolas I phoned up to enquire.  I was told there was space at 8 o’clock, so I booked, on the phone I was asked if there was anything we didn’t eat, or dietary requirements or allergies.  When we arrived we went upstairs where we were met, had our coats taken and shown into the small bar, here we ordered a couple of G & Ts and had a look at the wine list, we were again asked about dietary retirements and if we had any food allergies.  We were then shown into one of two Regency dining rooms (the layout of the restaurant looks as thought it hasn’t changed since the Regency) and shown to our table and some lovely warm herb and salt bread was brought.  The first course was brought and the waitress described it, this happened for each subsequent course, apart from the sorbets where there was a little quiz.  The first course was a shot glass of sweet potato soup with a nutmeg foam, a parmesan and leek tart and a quail egg on a mushroom mousse with truffle, next came steamed bass, goujon of bass, with a pepper cream sauce on a small amount of puree potato.

Then we had the sorbets, there were two each of two flavors and we were asked to try and work out what they were, we got them wrong, there was an apple and pink peppercorn and an orange and cranberry, after this it was confi tof duck, duck breast, cooked pink with a damson sauce, parsnip mash and cabbage with chestnuts.  Then we had treacle tart with an orange and rosemary custard, a chocolate pot with amaretti biscuit ice cream and a lemon and ginger posset, the final course was a selection of three cheeses with biscuits, thin slices of celery, grapes and a date, we were also offered port which Alison refused but I accepted!  Quite a lot to eat but because of the small size you did not get over full.  The Renaissance is owned and run by Julie and Stephen, she does the front of house with the help of one waitress, while Stephen does the cooking with the help of one kitchen porter.  The decor is a little dated, the bar not overly well stocked, but the food was excellent and the service good, so I would definitely recommend it if you are ever in the area.

For breakfast the next day Alison had scrambled egg with smoked salmon and I had eggs bennedict, as I said earlier the breakfast was very good and both the scrambled and poached eggs were cooked to perfection.  We then packed and checked out, the hotel let us leave our car in their car park whist we went for a walk along the river and back through the town where we stopped at the Bear Steps Coffee house for a drink and some cake, we shared a piece of lemon and blueberry cake, IMG_3768The Bear Steps coffee house is quite small and low inside but there is lots of outside seating, the seats under the veranda also have heaters, it’s a nice place to sit and watch the world go by for a bit.  After finishing our coffee and cake it was back to the car and home.