We went to Neighbourhood, the new eatery next door to Waitrose in Spinningfields on what had to be the wettest night of the year and when everyone was having their works Xmas bash.
Obviously the Gay was late (he had a date) and Ginger had got stuck in traffic, so it was up to me to man the booth for half an hour which they had thoughtfully matched to my blue Balenciaga dress.
“…this is going to be a place where people will go to be seen and will rival the likes of San Carlo, Rosso, Panacea etc.”
It’s based on Manhattan, New York bars and restaurants and the attention to detail in this place speaks volumes. It’s very cunningly designed so that in the restaurant area, you still get the vibe from the bustling bar without people standing over you.
There’s great music pumping out (Ginger wanted to dance, 80′s/90′s style) and the staff have to be among the most striking (as in the good looking not manning picket lines way) in the city.
You can go a la carte, which we did in a stunning room with five booths, mirrored topped tables or cosy tables for two by the floor to ceiling windows or you can dine by the bar or just have a drink.
Opened three weeks ago, this is going to be a place where people will go to be seen and will rival the likes of San Carlo, Rosso, Panacea etc.
It had almost my perfect menu, I could have ordered anything from it and there is a welcome emphasis on seafood and fish – we don’t have many fishy options in the city that do it well and Scott’s in London is one of my fave restaurants. This menu and the ambience, reminded me of that.
There’s a raw bar menu (dishes start from £9) which offers oysters, carpaccio, steak tartar and all kinds of shellfish to whet the appetite and frankly I could have worked my way through that.
Jamie, our maitre de, explained that you can go for a traditional dinner or order dishes to share which will come when they are ready (Chichettis anyone?), there are appetizers from £7 and mains from £7 if you go the pizza/pasta route, the cheapest other main is £13.
I started with ‘Shrimp Crackle and Pop’ one of the signature dishes where you get jumbo shrimp, shrimp chips and rice krispies, and pour over a seafood bisque – you can actually hear the dish crackle.
It was gorgeous, a sizzle of flavours with the jumbo prawns almost a meal in themselves and the bisque a salty, seafood heaven.
The Ginger had cheese dumplings in tomato soup which came on four individual ladles and he described them as perfect cheesy balls and quite beautiful, in fact, being from Swinton he wanted them in a huge bowl with loads of balls.
By this time, the Gay, slightly dishevelled had caught up with us and ordered the steak tartar. Ginger had never heard of eating raw beef (again being from Swinton) and was somewhat askance when it came, beautiful presented with a raw egg on top to mix in.
We all nicked bits of it, it was perfect. Peppery, meaty, beefy, raw and just plain great. Ingredients as Jamie told us and what you would expect from having a raw menu, being key and ordered locally.
We were supping Prosecco, beer, Rioja and Chenin Blanc getting giddy and thoroughly enjoying ourselves, while the Gay was hoping not to get too drunk because he was having Botox the next morning and didn’t want to freeze his ‘hangover face’ – good luck with that.
I had the lobster, a half after the jumbo prawns which was grilled simply to bring out the full fishyness of this crustacean. It was superb and went brilliantly with the herb salad as well piping hot chips and a side of broccoli in hollandaise.
The boys both went for the 8 oz fillet steak. Embarrassingly, this was also delicious and Ginger actually said he thought this was the best meal he had recently. Again, perfectly cooked and tender, cooked how they wanted it, while the Gay had spicy Chimichiurri sauce which tasted like a tangy pesto and Ginger hollandaise.
Ginger was also having a nostalgia trip, it reminded him of New York and it was New York that gave him the idea for I Love Manchester as he recounted his Mustang road trip of America.
Pudding confirmed the New York vibe. We shared the box of doughnuts which came with marshmallows and chocolate sauce and ice-cream cones which looked great and licked other desserts.
With Annies and Neighbourhood opening so recently, it’s great that the city is seeing some fantastic new restaurants coming on the scene.
Then it was back home, only to discover that everyone else wanted to come back from their Christmas parties to mine. Ginger went to hometown Swinton to meet his friend’s Birthday lock-in at The Weavers. But that’s another story …
On the I Love’o’meter
This is serious marriage material.
Neighbourhood, The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3JE
0871 977 3980