January 14th, 2014

Review: Winter menu at the The Grill on New York Street, Manchester

Review: Winter menu at the The Grill on New York Street, Manchester

By Adam Lowe, So So Gay

The Grill on New York Street, you may remember, is one of our favourite Manchester restaurants. Tucked away off Portland Street, just a short mince from Manchester's gay village, The Grill focuses on simple food, done well.

The restaurant is done out like a New York loft: dark wood, glass, chrome, low-hanging light fittings, vast windows, a mural of the Manhattan cityscape. There's a good bustle to the restaurant. It's busy, but not too loud. There's a steady turnover of customers, but it doesn't feel rushed. We ordered cocktails, bread and olives, three courses and coffees, and it took about an hour and 45 minutes. There was breathing time between courses, where we were able to work up our appetite, but we never felt we were being forgotten or that the food was coming out slowly.

The diners at Grill on New York Street are a young, professional bunch, and there's a high number of LGBT customers who frequent the restaurant. As such it's very gay-friendly, as evidenced by their support of Manchester Pride last year. Diners can opt to sit in the booths along the far left wall, or at a table in the centre. There is a bar along the far right wall, for those who fancy a pre-dinner cocktail or a liquid lunch. If you're feeling in the mood, and it's a warm day, there is even al fresco dining space on the street, with heaters and umbrellas in the cold weather.

The restaurant is also deceptively spacious. We were seated in a two-seater booth but we had plenty of room. Because the windows are set deep into the walls, there's space to put phones (and in our case, notepads and cameras) beside you, instead of on the table. We noticed women on the tables nearby had used the space for purses and handbags. There's nothing worse than having legroom cluttered up by bags (although diners are welcome to check in coats and bags at the door, too). For this reason, I always request a booth if possible. The booths have the added benefit of feeling a little more intimate too.
We started with marinated olives and warm baked loaf while we looked over the menu. The olives were particularly fresh, and had just a hint of vinegar in the marinade to give them some bite. The warm baked loaf, we mentioned last time, is delicious and works perfectly with the salted butter. However, we did notice that the bread can be very filling, so you might want to consider how much you eat if you want to try all three courses, as we did.

The Grill's mixologists serve up a mean cocktail. The cocktails we had were light, fresh and fruity, and made a nice change to red wine. Those diners still wanting wine, of course, have a rather extensive menu of well-selected wines to choose from too. We tried the Serious Zombie (for serious alcoholics only) and the always popular Spiced Pineapple Mojito. The Serious Zombie, like all zombies, is a super-strong rum-based concoction, here using absinthe rather than overproof rum, for a slightly spicier taste. The Spiced Pineapple Mojito is another rum-based drink, with orange liqueur, mint, fresh lime and pineapple juice thrown into the equation. (We have our own versions of these cocktail recipes in our 'Top 5 rum cocktails' feature from last year.)

The cocktails were the perfect start to our evening, and definitely helped warm us up for the food that followed.

For starters we tried the seafood mornay and foie gras. The highlight of the mornay, a cheesy shellfish dish of prawns, scallops, mussels and leeks, was the mussels. These were succulent and, to coin a cliché, melted in the mouth. The mussels were something of a risk for my dining companion, who admitted he didn't usually like them and had only tried these to see if the chefs could impress. Luckily, they did, and I think he's now a convert.

The foie gras is served whole (unadulterated, unlike mousses or pates), and was very soft and tender, with its rich buttery flavour and meaty consistency. Although very calorific, the dish felt light, without skimping on any of the flavour. This was served with a tangy-sweet pineapple chutney which was the perfect counterpoint to the strong flavours of the bird liver. Other starters include the bang bang chicken (worth a try just for the pun potential) and a massive Blackhouse sharing plate with chicken skewers, fish cakes, duck spring roll and calamari.

For mains we ordered the Aberdeen Angus fillet steak from the Best of British menu with blue cheese sauce, and duck with a side of French beans. The steak was soft without tasting raw (my companion had it medium-rare). The steak came with a sizeable portion of hand-cut chips (diners can opt for mash potatoes or a jacket potato instead) and a handful of watercress. The blue cheese sauce was pungent but not overpowering, and actually worked well in tandem with the meat. And these are very good cuts of meat, indeed.
The duck was served pink, with a crisp outer skin, and retained its juiciness as a result. It was served with pureed squash and sunflower seeds, which were creamy and nutty, respectively; roasted sprouts, which were tasty but just a little on the dry side in this instance; and a tasty red wine jus. The duck breast is a rather decent portion so, if you've had starters already, it will be more than enough.

The grill-style menu also features a range of guest meats, fresh fish, specials, fajitas, burgers and even lobster. It's in the meat and fish that they really excel, with a focus on small and boutique producers, so that details of suppliers, farmers and brewers are included on both the food and drinks menus. The Best of British showcases special steaks and ales that change each month.

I'm not much of a dessert person, so while my companion ordered the chocolate fudge cake with ice cream, I ordered a dessert cocktail: the Toffee Apple. The chocolate fudge cake had a milk chocolate drizzle on top, which added a splash of colour. The cake was rich and indulgent, without being sickening, and the vanilla ice cream offered a nice, creamy balance. The Toffee Apple cocktail (Teichenne Butterscotch, Drambuie and fresh apple juice) came in a small 50ml glass, and was a sweet and light drink that made a nice alternative to a dessert wine. There are a range of these dessert cocktails, including a delicious Parma Violet, a 'Jaffa Cake' and a Lemon Drop which are also worth trying.
We rounded off dinner with coffee, which our helpful server suggested we 'Irish up'. I had the Frangelico coffee, while my companion had an After 8 coffee with Mozart Dark chocolate liqueur and Creme de Menthe. These were served in tall, stemmed glasses, and were a rich, slightly bitter way to perk ourselves up after a very filling meal.
The staff at The Grill on New York Street are always very helpful. Our waiter Sean was friendly, on the ball but laidback, and very knowledgeable about the menu. Although Grill on New York Street has a wide range of cuts and meats, Sean was able to explain where each came from, what the differences in taste and texture were, and which dishes might suit our palates. This made it easier to navigate the a la carte and Best of British menus. Sean also gave his recommendations for cocktails and sides, which proved to be spot on.

With this new menu, The Grill on New York Street has changed a few dishes, brushed up a few classics, and introduced us to some very flavoursome and surprising dishes. This is why we keep coming back, and why the restaurant has proved popular with punters across the city. Membership offers also include 40% off food between certain times and a 50% off food sale throughout January. You can register for membership in your local Blackhouse restaurant.

Visit The Grill on New York Street website to book, or call 0161 228 1444.

Opening times (kitchens close at 11pm): 11am to 12am (Mon to Fri) / 11am to 11pm (Sun)

The Grill on New York Street, New York Street, Manchester M1 4BD

Tags: Blackhouse, New York Street, Review
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