I am thoroughly enjoying bring food reviews to you as it enables me to indulge in two of my favourite pass times; writing and eating. As I’m based in Manchester, the restaurants that I visit are in the local area and I do think that Manchester is fast becoming a real diverse place for all cuisine as well as having areas around the town that are absolutely thriving. It’s no secret that I love Spinningfields, and you would find me here more often than say the Northern Quarter. I have written about Artisan Bar and Restaurant before, however the menu has since been updated for summer and I had to go and try it out. A glorious summer day outside, the coolness of the interior of Artisan gave us much need relief from the burning sun, and a chance to catch up with my Sister-in-law.
I don’t know what it is about the sun, but it makes me want to drink a big glass of rosé over ice. It’s not a usual choice, but I started off the afternoon with a glass of a Garnacha Rosada. I had previously browsed the menu online so I knew what I wanted when it came to both starter and dessert, but I did look again just in case I had changed my mind. Sticking with a classic baked Camembert with a bacon crumb and crisp flatbread. I took my lactose tablets beforehand to make sure I could digest it easily. I’m still a sucker for melted cheese, especially when mixed with bacon. I don’t think there was a single morsel left by the time it came to clear the table. The cheese was perfectly ripe, oozing and delicious without any sign of a bitter after taste. The crisp flatbread made light work on scooping out every morsel, and although it was quite large was a starter, I had plenty of room for my entree. Claire ate the braised chorizo with Cipollini onions, cherry tomatoes and granary bread. I only had a small taste of the chorizo, but it was cooked beautifully, with the oil from the chorizo flavouring the tomatoes and permeating the granary bread.
Again, when it came to the main course, I had already pre planned which dish I wanted but after hearing our server describe it, I didn’t even look at anything else. Going for the salt and pepper St. Louis belly pork rib with Asian slaw, Kimchi ketchup and a side of summer greens was the best decision I made that day. Belly pork is one of those dishes that jumps off the menu and I find that you don’t see it very often in restaurants. I do think that Artisan have made an great addition to the menu with this. The belly pork was cooked so well, that I had no difficulty in sliding the meat from the bone. The crackling was succulent and crunchy, with the meat so tender that it fell apart in my mouth. The Asian slaw that accompanied the meat was the pinnacle. Crispy slaw, with crunchy chopped peanuts and sesame seeds, it was light and fresh. The Kimchi ketchup brought a whole new meaning to taste sensation. Several times through my meal, I had to stop as I had an explosion of flavours in my mouth and I couldn’t work out what it was. Combined together, it was incredible and probably the best thing I have eaten in a long time. The next time I go back, I wouldn’t even look at the rest of the menu and go straight for the belly pork. Claire indulged in a medium rare rib eye steak with fries, which was cooked just how a medium rare steak should be cooked. The fact that we were pretty silent whilst eating spoke volumes.
There’s always room for dessert and I was torn between the lemon tart and the chocolate meringue. I chose the chocolate meringue with banana, Chantilly cream and salted caramel whilst Claire had the chocolate and hazlenut brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. I was actually quite pleased to see a meringue that wasn’t packed with summer fruits, which although lovely, gets to be a bit boring after a while. The meringue was made with chocolate and was one of those huge meringues that you struggle to chip into delicately, sending shards across the table. The salted caramel and banana combination made the dessert very light, ideal with it being the third course, and although it was very sweet, the saltiness of the caramel took the edge off somewhat. I only had a small bite of the chocolate brownie, and I think that Claire enjoyed it as it was gone in minutes.
Finishing off our meal, it would be rude not to squeeze in a cocktail, before heading out into the 30 degree heat of Manchester. The Cherry and Coconut Sling jumped straight out of menu to me. I adore cherry and I’m having a love affair with anything coconut at the moment. Maybe I’m dreaming of holidays or something? Cherry preserve, Appleton V/X, Koko Kanu, thyme, lime juice & coconut water blended together over ice and garnished with twisty orange peel and a sprig of fresh thyme. Fresh, fruity, not overly sweet nor strong in the sense that the alcohol can be detected over the flavours of the cocktail mix. A wonderful refreshing cocktail to round off the afternoon.
As I continue with my quest of trying out all the Sunday roasts around Manchester, I will have to come back to Artisan to sample their offering. I may try a different meat this time. After all they do have pork and after that tasty slice of belly pork, I can only imagine how good it will be. Artisan is located on the Avenue at Spinningfields, open daily.
*Meal and drinks provided free of charge however all opinions are my own