Whilst there are many restaurants in Manchester many people would regard as rather special, there are just a handful that I would reserve for special occasions. The Living Room is one of them.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or a promotion, or you’re finally heading out after getting rid of that nightmare ex, this bar/restaurant fusion has plenty to get stuck into.
We popped in on a rainy Friday afternoon – is there any other kind? – to check out the new menu.
The Living Room is a misleading name for what is part cocktail bar and part restaurant. There’s an undeniable air of exclusivity when you enter. Loads of dark wood, plants lining the walls, trendy bare lightbulbs, ivy hanging over dining tables.
It’s an instagrammers paradise. And even though it might feel like a membership joint, don’t worry. There are no joining requirements other than a love of plush opulent décor and extra special dining.
If you’re as lucky as we were, you’ll have your very own cushy booth, with enough privacy to share the day’s gossip and but enough of a view to admire the glorious light fixtures and hanging ivy.
Keep your iPhone at the ready and your instagram hand strong as both the meal and the venue dish out gorgeousness in troves.
The upstairs looks like something straight from Jay Gatsby’s party pad, complete with a balcony overhang to the bar below and a single gloriously luxurious pale white piano. The seating upstairs is baby pink suede and has been adorned by many a celeb derriere.
Downstairs, we were served by Simon, a beaming waiter who seemed to know about every dish as though he’d cooked it himself. He ran expertly through the specials with us and left us to survey the décor and decide on our meals.
To start I found there was nothing on the menu that called my name as much as the baked camembert. The cheese came out cooked to a pouring consistency and was served with moreish mouthful-sized focaccia for dipping.
I sank my crisp and crunchy hunk of bread into the cheesy goo and coated both my fork and focaccia in a sizeable mouthful. The cheesy molten goodness and the chutney’s tangy bite melted perfectly in my mouth. Buttery, tart and creamy in perfect balance. I savoured every mouthful like it was the last and ordered more bread to mop up those final morsels of cheese. Too good to miss.
I was soon snapped from my cheesy dream by a round of cheering which broke out as a cocktail tree was brought over to the table next to us, followed closely by a chorus of Happy Birthday and the click of an iPhone camera. One for the gram and one for snapchat no doubt.
For mains, I opted for the grilled lemon sole. It is a white fish which came grilled on top of a plate of perfectly slow roasted tomatoes and asparagus with hearty flavourful baby potatoes on the side. A pot of pesto and white wine sauce came as a pour over. This deliciousness tasted of so many good things it could be dabbed behind the ears – if fishy perfume is your kind of thing.
As a side I ordered sweet potato fries. They’re hard to get right but these guys had aced the magic medley. Chips delicately adorned with Parmesan and fried until perfectly crisp yet still fabulously fluffy. I was impressed.
I’d read that some reviewers have found fault with the size of the portions here. We definitely didn’t feel the need to stop for a Big Mac on the way home but kudos to anyone who can fit one in.
The burger, which was ordered by my plus one, was a beast. Peppered beef rib burger which came with maple bacon, plenty of pickles and a messy gooey and delicious peppercorn sauce melt.
With only meagre traces of vegetables from my side dish and a few burger breadcrumbs left as evidence of our feast, we took a breather before allowing ourselves a dessert.
For me, there was only ever one contender. Sticky toffee pudding. And it certainly delivered.
It arrived steaming in spongey perfection. I poured the jug of butterscotch sauce over the sponge pudding and I’m sure you’ll understand my appreciation for a place that allows you the luxury of pouring until you see fit. I scooped a spoonful of the gloriously gooey and deliciously decadent treat into my mouth and both myself and my companion agreed that it was something special.
Granted, it’s not some pretty pretty dessert or pretentious gateau but this pud demands respect all the same. Order it.
Sometimes a little space in your hectic schedule is the only occasion you need for that special meal out. The Living Room has completely revamped its décor and they’ve put together a snazzy new menu to match.
Finish up every meal with a tinker at the cocktail menu, which is one of the best – and most reasonably priced – menus on Deansgate. It’s sure to make for a memorable evening – or not so memorable, depending on how many pornstar martinis you knock back.
Either way you’re in for a treat. Click here to book.