We all know that King Street Townhouse probably has some of the best views in the city. And there’s no doubt that it’s a top brass hotel.
Manchester has it’s fair share of great hotels but King Street Townhouse offers up something a little different – a real home away from home.
The decor is inviting, the rooms have everything you could wish for, including a bath you could swing a cat in and panoramic views of our fair city.
Downstairs in the King Street Tavern you’ll find a dining room laid out with plush leather booths, chandeliers and cutlery that shines by candlelight. We popped down on a rainy Friday afternoon to try the food.
As soon as you step through the huge oak doors of this Grade II listed building you’re greeted by the glistening bar in one corner and, behind that, a mezzanine complete with spiral staircase and so many bookshelves it puts Central Library to shame.
You’ll be shown to a booth for your sit down meal – unless you’re one of the swankily dressed businessmen who tend to hover around the bar, loosening ties and cracking jokes between sips of cognac.
If you’re are looking for a business venue, there’s a board room in the wine cellar. Yes, it’s as eccentrically brilliant as it sounds.
Once you’ve sat down, you’ll be offered a drink. Try the Forest Old Fashioned (£13) because it is, in a word, divine.
These bartenders (no, never mixologists) have turned crafting cocktails into an art form. They passionately swizzle, crush and shake their way through a cocktail menu that mixes simplicity with competitive flair. Old Fashioned done new, but still classic. It is, of course, a good whisky poured over ice and blended with Forest gin, maple syrup and bitters. Grip one of these beauties and swizzle the glass as you pick from the menu.
For a slightly snazzier concoction, the Pimms Royal (£11) goes down a treat.
Starters here are fresher than a new fade. We’d recommend starting with the garlic pan fried king prawns (£7). They’re fresh and salty and aromatic without being too chewy or too hard. In a word, delicious.
I asked for some extra cracked black pepper but that was just down to personal choice. I like all things in life a little spicy.
The beef carpaccio (£6.50) also looked inviting with a side of fresh rocket and parmesan but we opted for the cod cheek tempura (£7.50) because we’d heard great things and those great things were true.
Fresh fish, not that reconstituted rubbish. If, like me, your only experience with tempura is re-constituted prawns smothered in greasy batter and accompanied by a watery sauce, you’re in for a treat here.
The chef served up the juiciest flakes of fish in a fluffy batter with a saffron aioli on the side. The chef is clearly dedicated to getting just the right amount of batter on every piece of tempura and frying it for just the right amount of time. Order it and you’ll see what I mean.
The lamb rack looked handsome and packed the perfect amounts of flavour and texture, served with baby aubergine and a broad bean dressing.
I opted for the seared salmon (£16) which came with soft new potatoes and sprinkles of samphire. It was generously flavoured with garlic and lemon and the potatoes on the side were both dreamy and creamy. An altogether excellent dish.
Unlike plenty of other gastro pubs where you’re left searching your plate for the fish you ordered, the portions here are also heartily large. You can be sure your fish won’t have swum away. Altogether 10/10.
If you have room for dessert (you probably won’t but you’ll probably order one anyway), we’d recommend the lemon and blueberry pavlova. It’s light and crisp and creamy with the perfect balance between the tart of the lemon curd and the sweetness of the meringue. A very happy combination.
The double chocolate sticky toffee pudding (£7) is perfect if you fancy being rolled out of the premises. It comes with a warning as one mouthful and ‘just a little bit’ will soon turn into licking the final morsel and whispering ‘oh damn’ but ah well, who’s counting calories anyway? Gym starts next month, as usual.
There’s a selection of coffees on the menu that are both strong and well brewed. They make you feel very European as you sip your espresso with an almond biscuit on the side. Nice touch.
The dim lighting and cosy ambiance make this venue the perfect place for a first, second or, heck, even a third date. It’s also the most flattering lighting which is always a bonus for any manner of social occasion. Hold hands, look deep into each other’s eyes and book a room upstairs if you’re so inclined. Why not?
It’s also worth mentioning that, after your meal, you can ask to see if the South Terrace is free. If it is, grab your plus one and head up there.
If those views don’t win them over, I don’t know what will.