Lunchtime dining at Australasia: small plates big on flavour


We’re all guilty of it. We sit at our desk at lunch, a limp-packeted sandwich half-eaten, coffee, if we’re lucky a little something extra – a packet of crisps, a bar of chocolate.

Lunch is hurried, rushed, eaten without thinking, without tasting. Which, given the number of lunch offers the city has, is a bit of a shame. Sure we can’t all be ladies (or gents) who lunch, but the odd escape or two from the office should be positively encouraged. Not only is it giving us a break and encouraging us to move, but it actually improves productivity and focus.

So for the sake of my health (no, really) and productivity, I took a lunch break for once and headed over to Australasia to indulge a little in their lunchtime offerings.

Through the glass door and down the stairs, Australasia is bright and light with clean lines, wicker seating and plump cushions. The kitchen glows in a neon yellow light at the rear of the space across from private booths, louvered doors and pale brickwork.

The decor screams restaurant on Sydney harbour front – and the menu too hints at the Pacific rim. Asian influences abound with seafood – sushi and sashimi, dumplings, crisp pork, bao buns and teriyaki. Somewhat fitting.

Australasia, like many of the restaurants in the city, has a menu based around small plates, which ups the options when it comes to lunch. Not only is there a regularly changing small lunch menu (with plates at 2 for £12, 3 for £16, or 4 for £21) but you can also refer to the main menu and add to your selection from there, too.

Of course, you can always take the three course option. But for those of us who love variety, there’s a flexibility that small plates gives you to try a little it of everything. So that’s what we did.

Sushi was the first selection for us. My date had never experienced sushi before and so I attempted to choose a range of options for her to sample. Futomaki with yellow fin tuna, daikon and avocado, tuna roll with green apple and kimchi, and spider roll with deep fried spider crab.

The sushi here is great – both in range and quality. The tuna roll could easily become something of a favourite, with the light crisp apple cutting through the rich tuna, and complementing the astringent spice of the kimchi.

Similarly the crunchy daikon and the creamy freshness of the avocado complimented the lighter yellow fin tuna. Unsurprisingly, my date was convinced that sushi, when done right, is a very good thing.

We made plenty of selections that weren’t sushi-led. Vegetable tempura – another first for my date – that offered perfectly crispy battered vegetables, roasted duck fuku with sriracha, bean sprouts and coriander was a delicious melding of soft rich pork, with spice and the steamed pork dumplings that were possibly the weakest dish that we selected – tender, but their delicate flavour perhaps a little lost after all the others that had gone before.

Somehow we still had a little room for dessert – but only a little – and so decided to share. The pineapple downunder with cherry and coconut is a little twist on a pineapple upside down cake. Served with tiny charred cubes of pineapple, passionfruit and cherry purees, and a soft sweet sponge that hit the satisfaction spot beautifully. Now we were finished, replete and utterly satisfied.

Australasia isn’t going to be an everyday lunch – at least not for me -but sometimes we all need to escape our desks, the hustle and bustle. We all need to put down those plasticky butties and head outside for something a little bit, well, more.

And if you want to do it while deliberately ignoring the grey skies outside and able to fantasise you’re on a beachfront in Oz, I know just the place.

1 The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3AP

To book a table for lunch (or dinner) call 0161 831 0288 or email [email protected]


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