Before I begin, I have a confession to make. This wasn’t my first visit to Impossible. In fact, it wasn’t even my second.
This is actually quite rare for me. Not simply because the abundance of restaurants in Manchester means you can dine out every night for well over year before you’d repeat yourself. But because I flit across the city from event to event and finding somewhere with speedy service and tasty food isn’t always doable.
In case you haven’t been yet, Impossible offers three floors for your delectation.
The ground floor is a bar and restaurant. The upper floor is a gin nest with a huge selection of gins on the bar, lots of wood, snuggly blankets and little finishing touches that I love like the drawers beneath the seating, so ladies can take off their shoes, pop them away and lean back on the long sofas in comfort. Sometimes it’s is the little things.
The basement, by contrast, is a den of iniquity. A theatre of dreams, taking the idea of a nightclub and turning it up a decadent notch.
But this time I was in the bar restaurant which barely hints at what lies beneath. It’s a comfortably casual bar, with tables and bench seating. Only the rich red curtains and the back bar vaguely hint at the other parts of the venue.
The last time we visited we ate hurriedly whilst paying the bill. On this occasion, the visit was a leisurely one, giving us a chance to enjoy the venue itself, particularly the busy object-laden back bar – I swear I spot something new every visit – and velvet drapes which provide a perfect backdrop to your G&T.
The menu is eclectic. It borrows from all over the world, from tacos – try the watermelon and feta for something a bit different – to a savoury tarte tatin, to steak and chips.
It’s designed to offer you a choice so you can dine from small plates or you can eat the more traditional three courses. It can feel a little jumbled at times but believe me when I say there are some little gems.
Take the garlic and herb bread with cheese. You might be picturing something baguette- shaped with a smearing of garlic butter and a little grated cheddar.
What you get is a warm, hanging flat bread. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and served with an oozy cheese sauce, garlic and herb butter and a paint brush.
Ditch the paintbrush, pour the butter into the cheese and dunk hunks of the bread. It may be simple but the richness of flavour makes it feel like a decadent sharer – perfect for the theme of the venue.
For something a little lighter, try the salmon fishcakes. The dipping sauce is perfectly astringent for cutting through the fattiness of the salmon and that thick Thai-style texture and actually goes better with the duck spring rolls than the plum sauce they are served with.
The scallops served with Bury black pudding and minted pea puree are served with a flourish from a smoked dome. The scallops are cooked beautifully, the soft sweetness contrasting with the richness of the pudding and the freshness of the pea puree.
For something a little more exotic, there’s a range of options – kangaroo, crocodile (tastes like chicken in case you’re wondering), but my favourites are the crickets. Crunchy, nutty, spiked with salt and pepper, served in a crispy leek ‘grass’. They can be a challenge for an untested palate but for those of us who will eat almost anything, an easy nibble.
When it comes to desserts, I don’t often make it that far when eating in a tapas style. My mum always said little pickers have bigger knickers and she was right. But the iced cherry parfait is delicious, and I’m told the white chocolate and bourbon cheesecake is an easy sharer too.
Impossible wows with its 18 page gin menu, gin nest and basement theatre. But the food menu isn’t to be ignored either.
The Pavilion at The Great Northern Warehouse, 36 Peter Street, Manchester M2 5QR