Sunny afternoons in beer gardens may be becoming few and far between, but there’s a brand new haven in the heart of Spinningfields – Sunset by Australasia.
This relaxed terrace bar makes for a stylish hideout for cocktails and Instagram-worthy dishes with its canopied, heated terrace and luxurious Pacific-style surroundings.
Designed by award-winning interior designer Michelle Derbyshire, Sunset by Australasia offers a pleasure-seekers’ hideaway, with a decor that oozes Miami-cool and laid-back Ibizan vibes.
It’s very pretty, very pink, and undeniably glamorous. But it’s not all about the decor.
Australasia is known for its beautifully presented sushi and seafood, and the Sunset menu takes inspiration from Australian cuisine and Pacific Rim flavours.
New additions include delicious Japanese kakigori desserts made using ancient methods with fresh fruits and shaved ice in flavours such as elderflower, hibiscus and orange, as well as exotic afternoon teas and bento boxes.
There are also hot granite bowls filled with finely shredded vegetables, rice noodles and aromatic broth with a choice of Thai chicken skewers, Szechuan beef skewers or silken tofy and asparagus, to be cooked at the table (£13).
A selection of bento boxes, served from noon until 6pm, start from £17.50 for a nine-piece lunch box with miso soup.
There’s also a more indulgent 15-piece box for £25 (or £40 for two to share), which includes a selection of premium dishes including Szechuan steak, seared scallops and black cod, or a vegan option at £15.
The premium box is a thing of beauty – no wonder photos of it are starting to flood Instagram. Even the cutlery is gold.
Following a savoury, comforting miso soup, the box includes a tender beef stew over which a dinky little teapot of rich, clear broth is poured.
There’s crunchy rainbow salad, California rolls with duck, sweet hoisin and onion, and crisp vegetable tempura in light batter.
There’s also seared Szechuan steak, refreshing pickled daikon and vegetables, delicate Yellowfin tuna tartare speckled with sesame seeds, and Robata grilled red curry chicken.
The standout dishes include black cod, already a signature dish on the main Australasia menu where it’s roasted in hoba leaf.
Perfectly cooked, it’s silky and almost buttery, infused with flavour from the umami-rich marinade.
A plump, juicy scallop is lightly seared, sweet and delicate, with a subtle kick of chilli, fresh mango and fragrant pomegranate.
There’s a dessert bento selection for £8 per person, too, which includes a mini-chocolate caramel dome, ginger cheesecake, panna cotta, pistachio and passion fruit macarons and coconut friandes, the small almond cakes popoular in Australia and New Zealand.
Or an exotic afternoon tea which starts with a frozen pornstar martini and includes a selection of savoury dishes followed by the mini desserts. At weekends, it becomes a Sunset tea party with a resident DJ.
Drinks-wise, the new menu includes fruity sorbet and prosecco blends, sparkling spritzers and frozen cocktails as well as alcohol-free options such as an apple, kiwi and honey cooler.
Signature cocktails (from £9) range from Sunset sangria, which mixes kumquat liqueur, plum sake, passion fruit, lemon and soda with Rioja, to a fragrant negroni made with lavender gin, Campari and Belsazar Rose.
A rose and lychee martini is elegant and beautifully perfumed, while a melon and green apple spritzer, lengthened with wine and with a touch of citrus and sugar, is clean, zingy and refreshing.
Sunny days may be getting rarer, but you can still enjoy a Sunset. It’s a colourful escape from the inevitable grey skies, if only for an afternoon.