Neighbourhood has had a makeover. Never a shrinking violet, the already indulgent glitzy interior has been opened out and made even more glamorous. The new pink neon sign hovering above the bar says ‘Best View of Heaven is from Hell.’ Wonder how they know. Some of the quirky Americana has gone and in its place is a more grown up and accessible space adorned with marble tables, a lot more seating including green leather booths, and much warmer lighting.
It is bidding to be all things to all people – bar, restaurant and club all rolled into one. The refurbishment actually captures more of a club lounge feel. It’s less shiny, but there is more sophistication – something the menu has never been short of.
This place makes great cocktails so how to start our lunch was a no brainer. Lychee & Rose (£8.50) was beautifully complex, heady with rose perfume liqueur, added egg white giving more richness and depth to this short, Martini style drink. London Sour (£9) was more refreshing – Beefeater 24 and elderflower liqueur balancing just right with the lovely addition of cucumber. Palates cleansed and all that, it was time to eat!
Last time I was here, I made a point of ordering the Lobster Tacos (£10) as I had read how amazing they were. Maybe because of all the hype I actually felt let down and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Maybe the chef was having an off day?
Never one to be defeated, I gave them another go and this time I got it. They were stunning. Elegant and light little crispy parcels of lobster with creamy avocado mayo on a floury soft wrap, and mango salsa adding tang and contrast. Every part worked well. There were only three and we wanted at least ten.
We also shared the Tuna Tartare (£10). I don’t think the presentation did it justice as it looked a bit messy in its bowl, but as soon as we started eating we didn’t care as the tuna was so fresh and well-seasoned.
We drank Picpoul de Pinet, Les Girelles (£8 175ml), my favourite style of white wine with shellfish and seafood, and this one was well balanced, delicate and fresh.
But what about the beef? The Roast Sirloin of Beef (£15.95) looked impressive, was tender and juicy and cooked pink to perfection but four very large thick slices was a bit too much cow on the plate even for even the most devoted carnivore. A great big Yorkshire pudding was a bit thin and very hollow. Style over substance.
Our biggest niggle was the anaemic roasties. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any as pale as these poor loves. The veg and gravy were fantastic though, and the mashed potato possibly the best in Manchester. Overall not a bad roast, but with a couple of schoolboy errors and its balance off kilter, I’m afraid it won’t be top of our leader board.
Black Forest Gateau (£7.95) looked nothing like one. It was one of those trendy deconstructed numbers but every element that should be there was there and it tasted fantastic. Bravo!
Neighbourhood is expensive and you could easily spend a small fortune there but the service and product are top notch most of the time. If we were judging on cocktails and starters it would have got a five, but for the purposes of this contest I’m marking on the roast alone and this is where it fell short.