You can wait for what feels like a lifetime for one decent restaurant and suddenly three turn up at once – a bit like the buses going down Bury New Road.
We heard about Ivory Bar and Grill’s glowing reputation a few weeks ago. It’s a splash of cosmopolitanism in the suburbs of north Manchester, directly opposite Slattery’s on Bury New Road.
On entering, you’re invited to wait in the bar area in a small room to the left. It’s a bit of a narrow bottleneck of people enjoying a drink while they wait for their tables.
The restaurant itself is a real buzz. Sexy and stylish, it’s evocative of a certain colonial basement restaurant in Manchester, especially the impressive holographic DJ console as you enter. The interior is a careful combination of whitewashed wooden cladding and albino brickwork. Neutral blond fabrics and hanging lights cover a comfortable table sitting. It’s blonder than a reunion of Rod Stewart’s ex-wives.
Lighting is soft and atmospheric – something that’s quite hard to get just right but, for me, worth the attention. There’s nothing worse than sitting under a 100 watt spotlight like you’re eating in a bowling alley.
The menu is a please-all plentiful array from dim sum and Chinese small plates to Asian-infused main courses and grill. Oh, and fish and chips. A menu that has attracted a vast mix of customers of all ages. It makes for a quality atmosphere.
The kitchen is in the good hands of the former head chef of Grill On The Alley who also worked at Steak and Lobster in the city centre. The other chefs have 30 years experience between them at a variety of favourite city centre venues including Victorian Chop Houses (Sam’s Chop House etc) and Albert’s Shed.
My companion and I nibbled away on Edamame Beans (£3) and nodded our heads to the perfect volume of deep house music. The beans were too dry and lacked seasoning. We agreed that perhaps more rock salt and adding garlic and/or chilli oil would have done the trick.
Up next was Cantonese dim sum dish of Char Siu Bau – a generous portion of Chinese soft steamed buns filled with barbecue pork. Again, too dry and lacked depth. I asked for some barbecue sauce to dip them in. You dim sum and you lose some.
It’s hard not to order meat for mains, given the head chef’s reputation. The menu has a highlighted centre column featuring 7-28 day aged steak. The beef is aged in-house to produce an extraordinary tender and intense flavour. Sounds like good stock to me. I’m told that even the flat iron steak is splendid here.
They specialise in fireside cooking from a Robata Grill, a Japanese-style grill which has a long tradition and history of producing dramatic and flavoursome food.
For something a little different, the Tiger Cry (£18.95) is grilled flat iron steak with Thai herb sauce and sticky rice. It’s a substantial and fiery fragrant dish.
I was recommended the Crispy Salt & Pepper Chilli Beef Fajitas (£13.95) which comes with the usual wraps and mixed sauces. A dish most definitely borrowed from Grill On The Alley. Well, you can’t blame them. It was a playful little Mexican party. Salt and pepper beef was truly light crunchy batter with excellent ingredients.
My companion opted for Thai Green Curry Chicken (£12.95) which came with veg and Thai sweet basil. An authentic dish which laughs in the face of the usual audaciously British take on the traditional Thai dish.
Spoiled by the generous portions and fragrant flavours so far, we couldn’t face dessert. We agreed that to leave without even a liquid dessert would have been rude so we asked for a couple of (decaf) espresso martinis (£7.50 each) which came with their own little twist – a creamy drop of Bailey’s. It was a gorgeous finish to a wonderful evening. We left glowing.
Waiting service, including manager Julie, were delightful, happy and attentive.
Apparently, the restaurant transforms into a late lounge on a Friday and Saturday night. That’s your entire evening sorted without leaving Whitefield.
190-194 Bury New Rd, Whitefield, Manchester M45 6QF