Monday, 12 June 2017

Artisan, Manchester

Long time no see. It wasn't you, it was me. 

So my world fell down, and I had to climb out of a proper dark hole. It was a rubbish hole, filled with obstacles and monsters, which made me feel a bit like Sarah in Labyrinth in so many ways. I was just missing a talking worm (things aren't that bad, just yet).

I decided I wasn't keen on the oubliette I had found myself in, so needed to do something about it. Cue my decision to be happy. How did Sarah beat the baby stealing Goblin King? That's right, she remembered the last line of the book; 'you have no power over me'. Sadness has no power over me either, so I'm kicking it in the pants. I have a freakishly strong kick, for an old bird. 

My next few posts are examples of just that. Getting out into the real world, and remembering who and what makes me smile. 

First stop, Artisan in Spinningfields, Manchester. Artisan is an old friend. My first trip was on a very hot day, not long after it opened a few years ago. They've just had a bit of a menu revamp, and asked me to trot along to give it a whirl. With pleasure. 
Artisan is massive, with around 250 covers in the restaurant, plus two large bar areas. However it doesn't feel overbearing or loud in the slightest, with each area of the restaurant segregated to create a cosier feel to what is actually a beast of a restaurant. Apologies in advance for some of the photos turning out a little 'warm', but it was the giant light over our heads, which amazingly, neither of us head-butted (a first).
Artisan Manchester - drinks
Drinks (clockwise) 
Passion Fruit and pomegranate sling - pomegranate seeds, passionfruit shrub, Tanqueray, passoa and lemon juice
Raspberry and thyme sour - raspberry and thyme shrub, Ketel one, chambord and apple juice
Kiwi cooler -kiwi, lemon juice, apple juice and soda water (alcohol free)
All Living Ventures establishments do a bloody good cocktail. We were told by the charming front of house chap (whose name we forgot to ask - curses!), that all fruit cocktails start with something they call a 'shrub'. This is basically a sugar syrup infused with fruit. The difference is a much deeper flavour in the drink, rather than a few raspberries bobbing around.

I was driving, but didn't feel overly deprived, as their mocktails are just as lovely, albeit sans alcohol. The kiwi cooler is a perfect alternative, especially on a warm day.
Wood fired garlic bread with cheese
Wood fired garlic bread with cheese: The powers that be at Artisan saw fit to call this a 'nibble'. It was huge, but hell fire, it was amazing! They've replaced their sourdough version of this with a soft pizza dough type. We ate the lot, despite planning on saving some to dip in our starters...Prawns, roasted garlic and coriander, tomato, chilli and lemon
Prawns, roasted garlic and coriander, tomato, chilli and lemon: Prawns used to be one of my mortal enemies, as was most seafood and shellfish in all honesty. Check me out now, fully enjoying prawns like some sort of cat. They were beautifully cooked, drenched in a sweet tomato sauce. All that was missing was some sort of bread to mop up the rest up. If only we had ordered some... oh...
Braised chorizo, cipollini onions, cherry tomatoes and granary toast
Braised chorizo, cipollini onions, cherry tomatoes and granary toast: Little spicy balls of joy, served with soft onions and roasted garlic. This did come with bread, but we nicked that for the prawn dish.
Mussels mariniere baked in a pizza crust with fries
Mussels mariniere baked in a pizza crust with fries: Bit of a star of the show this one. Genius really. So you have the mussels cooked in a velvety sauce, which creeps into the shells, infusing them with this lovely rich flavour. But wait... all that sauce pooled at the bottom can be soaked up with that soft pizza crust which has just kept them moist whilst cooking. You think I'm obsessed with the sauce/bread combo now, don't you? You were right...
7oz Fillet steak - 28 day aged Lancashire beef with fries
7oz Fillet steak - 28 day aged Lancashire beef with fries: Thought a nice lean steak might be a lighter option after all the carbs. I suppose it is, before you add a big pile of fries and peppercorn sauce. Cooked rare, just as I had requested, it was perfect.
7oz Fillet steak - 28 day aged Lancashire beef with fries
Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream
Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream: Medicinal sugar to combat all the lovely carbs. Soft, sticky, and incredibly light. Ate it all bar one mouthful. Some say warrior, others say greedy...
Selection of ice creams - Eton mess, pistachio and salted caramel
Selection of ice creams - Eton mess, pistachio and salted caramel: Who said ice cream is boring? These sparked quite the debate as we tried to rank them. Think we both agreed in the end that the Eton mess one was a tour de force. Our only criticism was a soft brandy snap, which we decided we could live with. Luckily for Artisan, Mary Berry was nowhere to be seen.

We ate from the standard menu, but it's worth mentioning that they have a brilliant deal on during the day, where you can get two courses plus a 125ml glass of wine or half a pint of draught beer for £9.95. That garlic bread with cheese is one of the starter options. Just saying. Have a look here.

I went back to Artisan expecting a pleasant evening. We left having been filled with superbly cooked food, lovingly crafted drinks, and the sense that the service we received was possibly some of the best in Manchester. We were blown away. A special thank you goes to our waitress Issy; she was knowledgeable, funny, and accommodated our every request with a the kind of sincerity that makes me think she's a natural at giving truly great service. Give the girl a pay rise.

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, remember the best remedy is fun with your friends and loved ones. I have been incredibly lucky to have been showered with love from almost every direction. You have no power over me.

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