Lunching At Australasia, Manchestesr
The first time I ventured to Australasia in Manchester's Spinningfields was to show off to my Southern friends, who were visiting for the weekend. I wanted them to see just how fancy pants Manchester can be. I brought them into this underground venue for a pretty impressive Pornstar Martini, in which they were suitably impressed with how classy the place was. It has a super cool and modern DJ set up, complete with a fresh, airy and light interior. The prestigious feel of the place was one of the reasons I kept coming back here, using it as an excuse to visit every time there was a celebration or the need for something a bit special.
I visited for a while purely on the basis of a night out, to experience the incredible cocktails and luxury drinks (not to mention the stunning interior). It was only recently I actually tried this place out for food, in which myself and some friends booked into one of the plush booths for a leaving meal. I never even knew they were open for lunch times, let alone had a nice new lunch menu that has recently launched. So the other week, I took my mum, sister, and little baby niece along with me to try it out on a Tuesday lunchtime.
First of all, I expected it to be a fairly quiet lunch setting. After all, it was 1.30pm on a weekday, and with Australasia having a very impressive reputation, I figured it may be a place that starts attracting diners more so in the evenings. I couldn't have been more wrong. The restaurant area was filling up thick and fast, with lots of groups of business workers, families and general ‘ladies who lunch'. The staff were super welcoming and attentive upon our arrival, taking our coats to the cloakroom and guiding us to our seats. I do love a good welcome service, especially when it involves getting rid of my hefty coat!
We were handed the lunchtime menus, which are themed around little tapas dishes. An ideal option for sharing, or if you are a little greedier (like me!) you can select a number of your favourites to indulge in yourself. The current offering sits at two dishes for£12, three for £16 and four for £21. You can see how they have worked it for the ideal group lunch time, ideal for those who work close by to pop in with their colleagues and order a couple of sharers, for a quick, fresh and tasty lunch.
Although the restaurant is aptly named Australasia, which is obviously going to reflect some of Australias finest cuisine dishes, it is also inspired by surrounding cultures. Indonesian, South-east Asian and Japanese influences are strongly evident across the menu, and in particularly around the lunch menu. Think lots of sushi inspired plates, Vietnamese style salads, and Thai infused curries. If you like this type of food, you're in luck - because in my opinion, all dishes are as authentic as they get.
For the more adventurous diners, they have a lovely stir fried mussels with chilli, sweet basil and chilli dish. I don't mind picking at someone else's plate of mussels, but for myself, it's probably not one of my favourite options. So I opted for the Red fish curry with sticky jasmine rice, Futomaki with yellow fin tuna, daikon and avocado, Temaki seaweed rolls with salmon and robata beef and Roasted duck fuku with sriracha, bean sprouts and coriander. You can tell I'm into my sushi, right?
It's actually really refreshing to go into a more quality restaurant and get the chance to eat small sushi plates suitable for lunch time. As much as I love Yo Sushi and Itsu, it's lovely to be able to sit inside and eat a ‘proper meal' of sushi during lunch. The Futomaki and roasted duck fuku rolls were possibly my favourites - the rice was soft and sticky with delicious fillings. I also loved the Tamaki options, as the slices of meat along with the rice gave it a really tasty mix.
Another firm favourite was the Seared teriyaki beef, peanut and baby mixed leaf salad with sweet chilli dressing. As you can see, we ordered two of these because it was so yummy! The beef was tender and soft with a crispier outing. The sweet chilli dressing gave it more of a Thai kick, along with crushed peanuts which really complemented the taste. A great option for the meat lovers - and if you are trying to go easy on the carbs!
A more unusual option - yet a totally tasty one - was the Tempura spiced pork and jasmine rice dumplings. My sister ordered these, and I thought I wouldn't be all that impressed with not being a huge pork fan. However, the pork is muddled with the rice, along with various spices, so they actually taste like risotto balls. And boy, do I love risotto balls!
By the time I came to tuck into the red fish curry with sticky jasmine rice, I was suitably full. Let alone making my way through the chunky chips and asparagus side orders we greedily ordered too. Between 3 of us, we tucked into 8 small plates and two sides, with a glass of white wine each, and I can tell you for sure it was an absolute feast. Our bellies were full, our appetites fulfilled, and our taste-buds were more than happy!
But wait - you didn't think I would skip dessert? Did you?! If so, you need to brush up on your What Emma Did skills. This girl always goes for a dessert.
Some of the options include a tangy mango soufflé with coconut ice cream and mango sauce, a chocolate dome with salted caramel and blackberries (I saw these on other tables, and I don't know how I resisted this) and a green tea and ginger cheesecake. In true Australasia style, the cheesecake wasn't your average cheesecake. It came over to us like a chunky disk, crammed with filling and a crisped ginger casing.
All desserts cost £7.50, and are the ideal size to provide a little sweet treat after the Eastern infused mains.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience at Australasia, and I am overly happy to have discovered this gem of a lunch time menu. All the tapas plates were packed with unique flavours and textures, without being too rich. Service was spot on, and I genuinely love how the dishes come out at different times, so you can make your way through them in a timely manner, rather than worrying out dishes going cold.
A fantastic lunch time spot with a touch of class. Take a look at the website here.
A menu of Pacific Rim flavours underpinned by European cooking tradition, an exotic blend of Indonesian and Southeast Asian influences. Australia's strong ties with Japan also help determine taste and style.