Thursday, 7 April 2016

Vivid Lounge, Manchester

Vivid Lounge, Manchester
We thought it was a weird concept; cafe by day, Thai restaurant by night. It was hard to fathom how that might work. It's a bit out of the way too, yet still I found myself drawn to Vivid Lounge. The name doesn't give much away, so it had to be investigated further. 

So it had tipped it down, but we arrived in sunny Ancoats to the perfect parking space, and a gaggle of geese having a little rest by the canal lock. It's a beautiful little spot which made us feel like we were a million miles from the city.
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
We were welcomed like old friends, and seated near a huge window. It looks like a cafe, but feels like you've been here a thousand times before; it just throws you when you don't know where the loo is. First of all the lovely Martha sorted us some drinks, and then a bubbly chap called Sam came over and explained how the menu works.

It's very simple in the evening. You decide which size bowl you want, and then pick something the list under each section. The bowls are split into the base, curry, bites, salad and extras. The tough bit is picking what you want to try. There is also a starter board where you pick two bites and a salad, which means you get to try even more!

Starter board
Bites - Southern chicken wings and pork skewers: Little crispy bits that blow your mind... It's a good job these were limited, as I think I would be 47 stones by now.
Salad - Carrot and coconut: How can something so simple be so full of flavour? This was one of my favourite things from Vivid Lounge. When Martha noticed us both fawning over its brilliance, she brought more without hesitation. We didn't feel bad, it's salad. It's good for you. Five a day, for your health.
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
The mains come in bowls ranging from large to small. I have a confession. I may have showed myself up when asked if I wanted the large one, I may have said 'that's what she said' to someone I'd never met. Luckily, it was Martha, who laughed. I knew we were going to get on... Anyway, who wouldn't want the large one? (that's what she said).

Bowl 1
Base - Roti: So soft and fluffy, the perfect base for that lovely tamarind sauce.
Curry - Duck and tamarind sauce: Beautifully cooked duck in a sweet and sticky sauce.
Bite - Thai corn fritters: One of the best things on Earth, I'm quite confident. You must have these.
Salad - Poached pak choi: Simple, yet a great side for all that sweetness.
Extras - Cherry tomatoes, Thai pickles, boiled egg and fried chillies: I adore the concept of the lovely little fresh things to accompany the bowl.
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
Bowl 2
Base - Jasmine rice: I can't get enough of sticky jasmine rice. I have to have it if it's an option. This soaked with Massaman sauce rocked my socks.
Curry - Beef Massaman: One of my favourite Thai curries. Slow cooked beef that falls apart, with the most delectable sauce.
Bite - Thai corn fritters: As above, I'm still insisting that you try these, only a little more fervently now.
Salad - Thai sauerkraut: Oh this. Crunchy and tangy and all kinds of aceness. Perfect with the sweet stuff.
Extras - Fried onion, Thai pickles, spring onions and green chillies: I think I made great choices here. I'd happily sit and eat a full bowl of those pickles.
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
I couldn't understand why I was so abhorrently full when I got home, but looking back at the pictures, it's suddenly becoming very clear. This is some of the most exciting food I've scoffed in a while. Just look at the colours in those bowls! It was all very exciting. 

The drinks were pretty good too. I was driving so stuck to San Pellegrino Limonata, but there's also a great selection of craft beers, including local brewers Marble and Cloudwater. 
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
We decided that our food coma may possibly be rectified with a hot drink. We tried both the sugar and caffeine routes. As lovely as both were, it turns out we were done for.
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
The food was phenomenal, but the staff made the experience equally brilliant. Their sense of humour and chatty ways made the whole experience an utter pleasure. There was another slightly sticky moment where I clocked this sign in the toilets, only to guffaw so loudly that I am sure the people outside heard. My bad. I had to get a photo for you...
Vivid Lounge, Manchester
I know the food was something special as I'm sat here feeling aggrieved that it isn't here now. I'd much rather have bits of different things than one big bowl of something. I'm easily bored by the same thing; I have a very short attention span. Although we didn't stay late, for some reason I was knackered when I got home. I can only think that I was suffering from sensory overload after such a feast!

I've already recommended Vivid Lounge to pretty much everyone I have come into contact with since. Go here if you like to try lots of little things, but still leave feeling very full indeed. They also have a pretty selection of home made cakes, but I'm sorry to say my powers had left me by this point. Just go. I have a lot of love for these folks.

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