Ok, here we go again, yet another reboot! The lack of posts I can only put down to laziness and procrastination (can’t believe I spelt that right first time!) So what have we been up since that last time I blogged, well Alison and I have been to Fuerteventura and Prague and I have been to Porto with the “boys”, we have also been out for the odd cocktail or two! I may or may not do a collective blog piece on these adventures.
But this blog is about last weekend. A long time ago I booked tickets to see Funny Girl at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and Alison had booked a room at the Midland Hotel for the night, I finished work early and met Alison at the hotel at 2pm
(the joys of flexi time), after getting ourselves sorted in the room, we went down to the spa for a swim and sauna, once we were calm and relaxed it was up to the room to get changed.
For dinner I had booked us a table at The Refuge by Volta the restaurant in the refurbished Palace Hotel or as it’s now called The Pricipal Manchester. Rather than go in through the main entrance to the restaurant and bar is now on the corner of Oxford Road and Whitworth Street. The menu is made up of Voltini, small plates inspired by Volta’s travels, in other words tapas! We chose to go for the, Refuge introduction The Chef’s selection of six Voltini and a carafe of wine, this consisted of, Chargrilled cauliflower, carraway, pomegranate, Fattoush, sumac, tomato, cucumber salad, Slow-cooked Massaman ox cheek, Fire-roasted Padrón peppers with Maldon salt, Cheese Board: British cheeses with walnut bread and chutney, Lamb shawarma, harissa, yogurt. The wine came first and it was a small carafe! A little bit naughty we thought, the dishes come when they are ready just like tapas, but there was quite a long wait and the place was not that busy. So what did the food last like, well we were completely underwhelmed, the best two dishes were the ox cheek and the lamb, most everything else was basically tasteless and or a bit of a mess, the cauliflower was not so much chargrilled more warmed and a little brown! the salad looked like it had been dropped on the plate from a great height, the cheese board was ok, but lets be honest it is quite hard to mess up putting some decent cheese on a board and opening some jars of chutney.
The menu itself is a bit of a mess with nothing tying the dishes together, all in all it was a disappointment, which is a pity as the space is great; as well as the restaurant there is winter garden, with a great roof light, trees and good seating, there is a den area with a pool table and table football, there is even an outdoor street space with heaters and tables and the bar area looks good. I think the problem is they are trying to be too cool, the space suites a more formal dinning experience rather than staff in jeans and tying to cash in on the small plate cicchetti / tapas scene, of which has been done better by the likes of Fumo and Evuna. So would we go back? Well not to eat, but we would try the bar out.
From there it was across the road to the theatre for Funny Girl, which was an excellent show Sheridan Smith was very good in the role of Fanny Brice and made it her own with is a difficult thing to do with apart an icon like Barbara Streisand made her own, although controversially I did think she “mugged” a little too much in some of the scenes. Darius Campbell was maybe a little wooden, but sang it very well and the rest of the cast were superb and full of energy, as was the band.
After the show we made are way to Mr Coppers House and Garden for cocktails, we have been here many times before and have always enjoyed it, not tonight! What can I say the place has gone
down, there was always a lovely atmosphere impeccable, knowledgeable and friendly service and well made cocktails , this time not so much. In the past not log after sitting down a member of staff would appear with water and ask if you were ready to order or need help, not this time it took some considerable time for a member of staff to come over and we had to ask for water, we ordered an Espresso Martin for Alison and asked for an In from the Cold (Gin, Violet, Ice-Brewed Coffee, Caraway, Cassis), this tasted vaguely of caraway and not a lot else, while Alison’s martin was definitely below par! Now as I say we like Mr Coopers so we will give it another try as maybe it was on off night.
The next morning is was off to the Alchemist New York Street for brunch, where I had booked us in to take advantage of their 2 for 1 brunch offer if you pre-booked. When we arrived they could not find our booking, it seems like some fool had booked it for Friday Morning not Saturday morning! As it was brunch we thought we would go for a breakfast cocktail a Lady Marmalade (Chase marmalade vodka, Belsazar vermouth, bergamot, lemon, orange and grapefruit), but they did had run out of the marmalade vodka; so instead I went for a Barrel Aged Corpse Reviver (Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, Lillet vermouth, citrus, aniseed), Alison had a Bananagroni (Aperol, Banna Belsazar, Whitley Nell gin), to eat Smashed Avocado, Poached eggs with bacon on Toasted Rye Bread for Alison and Eggs Bury ( Poached eggs, Bury Black Pudding on an English Muffin, with Hollandaise Sauce) for me.
When to food and drink arrived, which did take sometime, Alison’s eggs were cold so we had to send them back, again had the feeling that they were just resting on their laurels, whist the drinks and food were good, the service was slow and everything just seemed to lack a little. After some shopping in Town we stopped off at Salvi’s Terrazza Prosecco & Cocktail Bar in the Corn Exchange for a couple of Aperol Spritz and very nice they were too, from there it was off home to do some jobs, after which we had sirloin steak, asparagus tips and dauphinoise potatoes, which, even if I say so myself were expertly cooked!
Sunday was a day out to Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, near Doncaster, no cocktails but there was coffee and cake! If you are looking for a good day out I can definitely recommend it, the hall is very interesting and if you get the chance take the free guided tour. The gardens are beautiful with lots of little paths and different areas and if you go on a Sunday through the summer they have a brass band too! After getting home we decided to finish the weekend off with a curry, so we went to Asian Spice in Ashton Village, when we arrived it was very busy and the waiter was a little harassed and it did take some time for us to place our order, we ordered a Balti Peshwari (Diced chicken cooked in a buttered sauce with spices, almonds, raisins and cashew nuts) and a Chasni (Marinated chicken, fresh ginger and mango slices in a rich sauce) and very tasty they were too, I also tried a Bangra beer which I have not had before and that was good too. So all in all a good weekend!