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 ®

What is the most millennial thing you’ve ever done? I’ve wracked my brain and I think my most millennial moment of 2017 was when I went for brunch at Neighbourhood Spinningfields with some of my favourite Instagram gal-pals over prosecco pre 12 noon. That’s right; you heard me correctly, prosecco, in the morning. Who the hell do I think I am?

The lovely folks at Neighbourhood Manchester invited me along to sample their new Brunch menu in November 2017, and obviously they let me bring along a few lovely friends for the ride. As if we need an excuse to catch up, I asked along my beautiful friends Jacinta Dawn, Danielle of KIHT Collective and Sam Bella of The Travel Crush. Which by the way; if you’re not already following them, you should be, they’re awesome. Of course, they naturally bit my hand off (s’cuse the pun…)

Now, if you’re not already sat down, I encourage you to take a seat for this next statement; I have never been to Neighbourhood Manchester. Nope, not even for a night out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard amazing things, but I’ve never thought ahead to pre-book a table for a Saturday night or, I’ve never found myself in that neck of the woods for brunch on a Sunday morning, probably because I’m usually too hungover from the Saturday night that came before! So when the opportunity arose to go down and sample their avo-offering, how could I refuse?

Funnily enough, I’m not an avocado kind of girl. I know, avocado has been to the Tenties what Patrick Swayze was to the 80s, and shag bands were to the early 2000s. But finding avocado on my plate, you will not. If you’re like me, do not fret. Neighbourhood’s brunch menu caters to so many different palettes. I went for the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on rye bread toast, and I would not be over embellishing to say they were some of the best scrambled eggs in my life. You’d think it’d be easy to whip up scrambled eggs? You’d be mistaken, I’ve eaten so many plates-full of rubbery eggs in my time. So I was pleasantly surprised with Neighbourhood’s offering.

I had food envy over my friends though; Jacinta opted for the French Toast with, wait for it, maple syrup, crème fraiche, banana and wild berries… I had to resist creeping over to her plate for a taste. I know Danielle had a lovely visit too; I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing with you that she’s diary intolerant, which holds something of unease for her at any breakfast or brunch outing. This was no hassle for Neighbourhood; they have a plethora of milk choices, and are really easy going with alterations to the menu. Danielle managed to sort herself with some lovely poached eggs on sourdough, which I believe went down a treat.

Overall I was majorly impressed; the decor is beautiful, the staff are super friendly and, I mean, it’s got to be a hit if you’re allowed to drink prosecco before noon. I’ll definitely be encouraging my friends and family to visit Neighbourhood Manchester in 2018, not only for a party, but to sample their delicious menu. I’ve just got to get myself back ASAP to try their main menu.

Where’s your favourite place to have brunch in Manchester?
Have you been somewhere recently you’d like to recommend?
Or have you too had a lovely brunch or experience at Neighbourhood?

I’d love to know in the comments below.

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2018 ®

You might not have known this, but I am actually from Cheshire. Officially a converted Mancunion now, but if I ever find myself venturing back into Cheshire, I always find myself never suggesting Knutsford for meetings, lunches or dog walks. As to be honest, I find Knutsford a little daunting. I never know where anything is, I don’t understand that scary roundabout in the centre, and unless it’s on that main High Street, it might as well not exist in my eyes.

So when WeBlog North invited me last week to go to afternoon tea at The Courthouse, I was a little uncertain what to think. Mainly as it meant having to deal with that sodding roundabout and I had no idea where to park, but I was excited to go and see more of Knutsford (and I was relieved to find out The Courthouse has a car park!) When I arrived I was a little earlier than the other WeBloggers, so I got to explore.

When I walked in I was amazed with how beautiful of a setting it is. We were dining in the Barristers restaurant, which as its name suggests is set in what used to be the old courtroom; as, if you didn’t know already, the Courthouse actually used to be a courthouse, once upon a time. It’s one of the most iconic buildings in South Cheshire, and has hold host to many a court trial, famously (and disgracefully) the trial of Alan Turning in the 1950s. They’ve really kept the history of the venue at theirs hearts and minds during the renovation, the place is still seeping in it’s legacy. When you walk round the upper level of the restaurant it is hard not to gasp in awe at how stunning the interiors are.

The Courthouse doesn’t just hold host to it’s restaurant, it boasts a 50 room luxury stay, rooftop gardens, the court-house itself and also has a wonderful events and wedding space (which I know they’re holding an open day for soon! Click here for more info).

We were promptly greeted with beautiful loose-leafed teas upon our arrival, and as I was distracted taking in all the artwork on the walls by the extremely talented local artist James Blinkhorn, our afternoon tea was served. We were lucky enough to just catch the tail-end of the Festive Afternoon Tea, which included unconventional twists on old classics, so that they included christmassy influences. As someone dreading letting go to Christmas, I was more than happy to still be eating mince pie and eggnog infused afternoon treats.

However, their afternoon tea menu is quite diverse, whatever time of year you decide to visit. I’d say it’s also worth a mention that two of the WeBlog attendees were Gluten Free and another was Vegetarian, and they hosted them at the greatest of ease, and no one felt left out and everyone left contently full.

I’m pleased now to know a fail-safe place in Knutsford where I would be happy to take my family, boyfriend, or even suggest meeting a client there. The staff were delightful, and the afternoon teas was absolutely delicious. I’m just keen to go back now, and graze my way through the extensive lunch and dinner menu.

Have you ever been to The Courthouse? What did you think?
Do you have any other suggestions for me to visit in Knutsford or South Cheshire?
Let me know in the comments below.

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If so, click here.

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2018 ®