T’was the night before payday and all the town was quiet – well until we got to The Grill On the Alley which was absolutely rammed. How do I not know this?
“…steaks, seafood, upmarket burgers and the like in a ‘plain but great’ cooking kind of a way.”
This eatery, next to Pizza Express and over the road from RBG, has been part of the scene for some time and specialises, as the name would imply in steaks, seafood, upmarket burgers and the like in a ‘plain but great’ cooking kind of a way.
It has a bustling bar near the entrance, sexy booths, an open kitchen and a huge downstairs for over-spill, all of which was full, quite amazing for the longest January in the history of Januarys.
It also seemed to have a lot of gay men in, so obviously the Gay, who was not meant to join us had sensed this in a sixth sense kind of way and came for pudding and anything else he could get. His gaydar is notoriously bad (it consists of me having to ask people whether they are gay) but even he detected a Canal Street vibe. All to the good in making this a noisy, full of life, fun venue and there was plenty of eye candy for the straights as well (Ginger’s neck was sore).
It was just me and Ginger to start with and we were given a lovely booth, which meant we could really stretch out and have now decided to start booth surfing our way round Manchester.
We were catching up on gossip and looking at how the site is developing. It’s all very exciting as we have new offices and you will be seeing new additions to I Love Manchester very soon.
The Ginger Ninja is also in training for a Boxing Match, being trained by none other than the team behind Ricky Hatton, for a match on May 4 (as in may the fourth be with you – ha!). I’m not sure what I feel about this pugilism, but he’s been told he really, really could have been a contender, so more on this soon and good luck to him.
But enough of work (although I have started minding my p’s and q’s around the Ginge as he now appears to be Rocky Balboa), as we started to tuck into the prosecco (wines start from £14.75, prosecco from £27.50) and red for the Ginge.
Our lovely waitress Betty was like all the staff, friendly and efficient and took us through the options. It’s a standard kind of grill menu, reasonably priced with starters from £4.75 and mains from £10.50. I think this is a good thing, it’s about offering one type of food but doing it really well and here the emphasis is on getting the best and most sustainable raw ingredients from cows to prawns.
The menu offered oysters which I adore, but they were off (as in not available). This has to be about the fifth time I’ve been out for dinner recently and the oysters are off. I am beginning to detect a conspiracy, are they really off or are restaurants just not getting them in as they are costly and don’t last long in this quiet January period.
I had wanted to try them, because with V Day on the horizon we thought it would be a good idea to start giving you some thoughts for romantic venues.
After my crustacean disappointment I opted instead for garlic king prawn as recommended by Betty. These came in all their glory (heads, tails etc), something I am cool with and I heartily ripped into them, enjoying the juicy, tender prawns and succulent garlic don’t-snog -anyone sauce with crusty bread to mop it all up with.
Ginge went for Thai fish cakes which he reckoned were and I quote ‘juicier than Angelina Jolie’s lips’, which I believe is a good thing.
For mains we had to have beef. This is after all the signature of GOA but we opted for the chateaubriand because we thought it was a nice couple’s dish for those lucky in love.
It’s made for two people and is £52, which includes chips and greens. We also ordered a side of béarnaise to dip things in.
Perfectly cooked with a pink blush throughout, snuggling in its rich meaty juices, this was a sensuous, hearty dish. It would be perfect for sharing if you don’t have to fight for your share with a Ginger Mohammed Ali.
I have to be honest, this wasn’t as good as the RBG chateaubriand which was the mother of all chateaubriand so that’s not a bad thing. Like the Ginger Ninja, it’s a very good contender and a good indicator of the quality of other dishes.
By this time the Gay had appeared, like a man sniffing a promise. So we went onto puds.
I hadn’t wanted anything more, but a crème brulee ordered by the Gay was so divine and custardy I wolfed the lot.
Ginger tucked into sticky toffee pudding as part of his new fitness regime and thought it quite gorgeous.
The Gay snacked on a cheese platter as he checked the room for talent and tried to look like a big cheese, enjoying the ripe fromage.
Then it was on into the night and a drop in at the Liquor Store but that’s another story.
On the I Love’o’meter
I’m glad I hooked up with GOA again and will be seeing her soon for more.
5 Ridgefield (just off John Dalton Street), Manchester M2 6EG
0161 833 3465