Interiors_Ivy

The Ivy, Manchester –
We ate, we drank, we conquered.

My musings on our experience dining at The Ivy Asia, Manchester.

*please note – our experience at The Ivy Asia was gifted to us, however I assure you this does not sway or affect my opinions in my review.

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Welcome to The Ivy; Manchester’s most highly anticipated restaurant of 2018. A delay in its building works meant it opened at a later date than expected, opening its doors, and its arms, to the Mancunian public late November 2018.

Suavely placing itself in the heart of Spinningfields, The Ivy probably picked one of the more difficult places in Manchester to open, with long standing competitors like The Alchemist, Ibérica and 20 Stories right on its doorstep. But do we really think this had them quaking in their boots? No, I don’t really think so either…

Flamed Edamame Beans with Spicy Dip – and boy, was it spicy!

I’m a 2014 Spinningfields kinda girl myself – my local haunts included the Lawn Club, Long Bar, and in the summer I often frequented the Spinningfields Cinema Screenings on the lawns, remember those good ol’ deck chairs? Thems were the days!

So when Spinningfields started to have a bit of a make-over, least I could say is that I wasn’t best impressed. Some of my old favourites are still standing, Australasia and Oast House to name a couple. But over recent years, actually to be honest in more recent months, we’ve seen the format of Spinningfields shift into something that 2014 wouldn’t even recognise if it fell over it.

With closures from the likes of Artisan, and reincarnations from Manchester House, Spinningfields has been beckoning out for something new, something chic, and let’s be honest – something that will last.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Kimchi Mayonnaise.

I was’t convinced, I am not going to lie. I’m like you; I’ve seen that intertwining ivy going up for the last 10 months, and every time I’ve walked to and from my office (which is also, in Spinningfields) I’ve thought to myself “how long is this going to take?” and “is The Ivy really worth the hype?”. Short answer…

Yes.
Yes it is.

Our drinks – Jon tried the Coalition Brewing Company’s “Zen Pale Ale” and I opted, as always, for a cocktail, a “Beijing Sling”.

I was wowed from the onset – suited and booted gents granted our entry, and we felt rather chic being admitted and gliding up to the second floor as people were being turned away at the door. Not taking pleasure in this no, but I did feel rather special hitting up Manchester’s latest contender.

Everyone was lovely from the entrance, to the front of house, to our waiter Kyle who really made the whole experience go from an 8 to a 9.5 for me! I always feel like a place just moves up a notch when they employ incredible waiting staff – and Kyle really did impress.
We walked in feeling slightly nervous, and perhaps even underdressed, but no one made us feel out of place. We were seated to the back of Ivy Asia, right near where all the action happens in the open kitchen. Perfect for people watching, I am such a nosey parker, made all the better for spotting Ryan Giggs and one of the Neville brothers, don’t ask me which one… This place really is the most hippest and most happening place in town! I’m surprised I didn’t see Mr. Big and Ms. Bradshaw at the back ordering a bourbon and a Cosmopolitan.

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Our meal, well, sorry to sound like a broken record, was sensational from starters to desserts. We indulged somewhat, we went on a Tuesday night, which in our household counts for treat night! So we went all out. We started out with your staple Japanese entree, edamame beans with this deliciously set-your-mouth-on-fire sauce, perhaps if you’re not a fan of spice, opt for the option with matcha salt instead.

Then we were explained to that the menu worked more like a traditional Asian sharing style, than the classic British “starter, main, dessert” format. Sounded perfect to us, we’re big fans of sharing, you can usually find me and my fork sneaking around Jon’s dinner plate most days of the week. We opted for Buttermilk Fried Chicken, with the Kimchi Mayonnaise, accompanied by the Prawn and Chive Steamed Dumplings, with Shredded Nori and Miso Foam. I think the steamed dumplings were the winner from the small plates from me – such an unusual dish, with hints of Asian cuisine I’ve only been able to find on the shores of Hong Kong.

Our welcome champagne, to the left. And then to the right, our Duck Massaman Curry with Cashew Nuts.

Dishes tended to come over two at a time – so what followed was our Crispy Duck Bao Buns with Hoisin and Five Spice, alongside our order of Duck Massaman Curry with Cashew Nuts and Steamed Rice. Now I am not a bao bun connoisseur, truth be told I find them a little gimmicky and tailored to the European market. However, as they go, these are one of the nicest and truest to texture I have found in Manchester. The five spice just gives it that Asian kick you’re really hankering for, but the hoisin brings it right back down to earth with the gooey, stickiness that Brits know and love. The Massaman curry was a creamy-delicious bowl of heaven too; only thing I’d say was that they were quite light on the cashews, I think we only found two in the whole curry, but don’t let me fool you into thinking I am discouraging you to try this dish – as I am not, it was delightful.

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Dessert – White Chocolate Sphere, with Passion Fruit, Meringue, Yuzu Foam and Caramel Sauce.

Dessert was well, the proverbial treat. Again, we went to town, due to it being treat night, and we ordered a dessert each! Unheard of in the Taylor-Glass household. I opted for, you guessed it, the most sickly sweet dessert on the menu: the White Chocolate Sphere, my inner fat girl was elated. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a dome of chocolate melt way due to it being bulldozed with caramel sauce; fact. The photograph above I am afraid is post-pour, but it just lets you see its inner workings in all its glory. Even though we did share, Jon ordered the Matcha Green Tea Creme Brûlée with Crushed Raspberries, which he said was just heavenly. It had that real thwack to the top of it, you know what I mean, that beautiful sugary coated topping that you just want to crack with the back of your spoon. But then the inside, oh the inside, this gloriously smooth and creamy brûlée that wasn’t too sweet as the matcha just reined it in somewhat. I think this dish won Jon over, and was his favourite of the whole meal.

Now I think besides the meal, the service and the decor, the thing I was most surprised about was the price. Okay, when you’re dining somewhere like The Ivy Asia, you know it’s not going to be a trip to your local, it’s going to cost you slightly more than your average meal out. However, baring in mind our experience was gifted to us, I took the time to price up based on everything we had, how much it would cost. For everything, from the champagne right down to our desserts, it came to £98.30 -wow. Now, I think that’s economically priced, baring it mind where you’re dining. It’s not somewhere you want to go every Friday night, unless perhaps you are indeed Ryan Giggs.

Overall verdict – 9.5/10
And I’ve booked the Brasserie for my birthday in February too.

Have you dined at The Ivy? Or The Ivy Asia?
What do you think of the ever evolving landscape of Spinningfields?

Let me know in the comments below.

& if I don’t see you before then, a very Merry Christmas to you all, and a happy new year x

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2019 ®

My top dog-friendly picks in South Manchester for 2018.

There’s a lot to be said for dog-friendly locations in Manchester and its surrounding suburbs in 2018. I’d go as far as to say Greater Manchester is more dog friendly these days, than it isn’t.

I see people curling their lips at screaming babies, and over awkward conversations of neighbouring tables, but I rarely see anyone but coo over tiny hounds under coffee tables, or giant Great Danes in your local tap.

It suits Lolli and I; Being able to swan from brunch with friends, to a gander round the shops, to an afternoon Sunday-lunch is one of the most pleasurable things really. Modern society makes it so easy to just cruise around Manchester with a pampered pooch in tow.

But what about the surrounding areas of Manchester? The idyllic Cheshire countryside and the slightly grungier Mancunian suburbs – are they just as welcoming to our four legged friends? Or is it still a nightmare to find a hotspot for you and your suburban-mutt.

It’s been 3 years (can you believe it?!) since I published my first book Pub Dogs of Manchester, and boy, has the landscape of dog-friendly Manchester changed since then. At the time of publishing, there were already newer and shinier establishments popping up all around from Chorlton, to Bury even to Lymm. So I feel like there’s a lot of ground to cover in the 3 years I’ve been absent from the dog-friendly scene.

I’m here to tell you that life does exist for you and your hound outside of the city-centre. At the time of publishing, I was living in a quaint flat in the Northern Quarter, I thought I was trendy AF, living above (one of my faves) Fig + Sparrow. But if Lolli and I can move out from our digs, into the South Manchester village of Northenden, I promise you can too.

Below follows my top picks for dog-friendly South Manchester for 2018.

Brunch – Another Heart to Feed, West Didsbury

I’d go as far as to say moving from Salford to Burton Road, was probably the best thing Another Heart to Feed ever did. Moving to an area where the clientele loves brunch, boozy cocktails and anything with avocado on proved to be a success for this joint venture between AHTF and bar West Village.

Making the place dog-friendly was just the icing on the cake. Lolli, the family and myself frequent this brunch-time favourite often, and the owners even know Lolli by name now. It’s quite small, so if you’re planning on heading down with your Newfoundland, perhaps take a coat and sit outside in winter months, as the place is very popular and tends to get over crowded.

I’d recommend something simple like the free range eggs on sourdough, or if you’re after something more adventurous perhaps opt for the house made beans, or the smashed avo with feta and beetroot hummus. Whatever you choose, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Afternoon Tea – Barristers, at The Courthouse, Knutsford

Lolli, my Mum and myself visited Barristers restaurant at the Courthouse Knutsford back in June for a treat for my Mum’s birthday. When you step inside it’s a spectacle to behold – somewhat of an illusion from the front; you’d expect something grand and perhaps even a little stuffy, but I promise you that is not the case at all.

The staff are warm and inviting and so welcoming of dogs. We sat on the dog-friendly lower level, where in the olden’-days people would have waited in the docks, and then tried before been locked up – very cool.

Our waitress gave Lolli a good old fuss and immediately brought her over a water bowl without us even asking, and fed her a treat. Lolli, as you can imagine, was in her element. The afternoon tea in-itself was delicious. An eco-nominal £23 for ‘Rose Bubbles Afternoon Tea’, or the same amount for a ‘Yorkshire G&Tea’, loves me a pun. You can understand how and why The Courthouse has become a hit with the dog-friendly locals of Cheshire.

Dinner – Tre Ciccio, Bramhall

I can’t really go on without mentioning Tre Ciccio in my round-up for 2018, can I? Such a huge part of my year, Tre Ciccio are one of my main clients. So you can imagine my glee when they announced that the terrace at the Bramhall site would be not only be heated, but dog-friendly as well. I think Lolli and I rushed down quicker than you can say ‘have you got the poo bags?’

Bold statement time – I think Tre Ciccio do the best pizza in Manchester, end of argument. And no, this is not because they’re one of my clients. Jon and I have become somewhat pizza-connoisseurs over the last 19 months of being together, and we’ve sampled some of what pizza Manchester has to offer.

100% worth travelling out of the city-centre with your hound for – only 20 minutes on the train from Piccadilly, don’t you know… – Tre Ciccio do some of the best antipasti, roasted chicken and pizza I have ever tried. And please don’t get me started on the Tiramisu *give me strength*.

The heated terrace sits on Bramhall lane, and is beautifully enclosed by the shrubbery at the front, so isn’t too noisy for your fur-babies. They’ve also recently fitted CozyTables, so you and your furry friends can keep toasty and warm in those colder-months.

Clothes – Steranko, West Didsbury

Always one to support an independent over the classic main stream shops, Steranko is a Glass family favourite. Housing clothing and footwear for both men and women, it’s located just further up Burton Road from Another Heart to Feed, and your well-behaved mutts are welcome, as long as they’re kept on lead.

Burton road is more dog-friendly than not, to be honest! So even though we were thrilled to find out Steranko allowed Lolli in, we weren’t surprised. Carrying brands like Birkenstock, Fred Perry, Nümph and Vans, Steranko has a unique style, suited to the likes of its very Mancunian following. If you like petit dresses coupled with grungy belts and trainers, then this place is for you my friend.

Again, perhaps not one for the larger breeds, I’ve only ever been in with my tiny schnauzer, but every time I’ve been in they’re always so accommodating and friendly. The shop is quite small, so just make sure you’re all on your best behaviour.

Drinks – Coffee Fix, Gatley

‘Our local’, if you will. Coffee Fix has inhabited Gatley now for over 8 years, and is a firm fixture in it’s local’s hearts. Advertising itself since the end of the summer as ‘all day barista, late night brew bar’, Coffee Fix has morphed from what was an eatery by day, to now a bar with bites in the evening as well.

Exactly what Gatley needed, somewhere independent and hip that you could go for a late night tipple, of course with your pooch. The owners, being dog lovers themselves, are extremely passionate about all the hounds that come through their front door. So it was only right to carry their dog-friendly attitude into their late night evenings Thursdays through to Sundays.

I’d recommend anything off their cocktail list to be fair, however their Pumpkin Spiced Ice Tea (pictured) was my most recent try, I just wait to make my way through the rest of their cocktail menu.

Something a bit different – La Belle Assiette

Last, but most definitely not least, if you fancy something a little bit different, and can’t bare the thought of heading out into the cold this winter and leaving your fur-baby at home, then a La Belle Assiette dinner is most definitely for you.

Designed in France, brought to all corners of the Globe, LBA champion bringing gourmet, chef-cooked food to you, in the comfort of your own home for you to throw a stylish dinner party for your friends and family.

La Belle Assiette came to visit me in October, and boy, did Chef Kimberley prepare and serve some delectable creations. The concept it super simple, I’ll run you through it – Chef Kimberley bought the food, prepared it from my kitchen, ahead of my guests arriving. Then as everyone arrived, I hosted in the living room whilst Kimberley put all the finishing touches together in the kitchen. She then served and introduced each dish to us, and then she even cleaned up before leaving! What an absolute treat, we all felt very spoiled when she left.

They have three price points from ‘Temptation’ (£39 per guest) to ‘Signature’ (a pricier £89 per guest), which means there’s something for everyone. It’s perfect to create special memories with the ones you love. As as long as you keep your pup out of the kitchen, and out from under your chef’s feet, they’re welcome to stay by your side and enjoy the evening, and your scraps, with you!

Pictured was my favourite dish, dessert (of course) – Banoffee Pie.

Where was your favourite dog-friendly establishment of 2018?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings on the matter. I want to start introducing more pooch-related content throughout 2019, Lolli keeps badgering me that she’s a star, and doesn’t feature here on my Blog enough.

Would you like to see more pooch-related content on my blog?

Where do you and your hound like to hangout?

Recommendations and comments always welcome; let me know in the comments below.

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2019 ®