June 11th, 2013

The Grill On The Alley Lunch Review – Good Craic, Keanu and a Legendary Lunch

The Grill On The Alley Lunch Review – Good Craic, Keanu and a Legendary Lunch

I should have known when I invited the Wedding Planner to lunch that this wasn't going to be a quick bite - four hours later and we were still at the table gassing like the best Irish navvies and fully sated after a superb lunch.

No-one does casual fine-dining as well as Living Ventures and The Grill On The Alley described by gorgeous BDM Michelle as 'the mothership' and has just launched a new Summer menu - well it would be rude not to try it.

"The eatery is wonderfully light and airy with a plethora of comfy booths and enough room to swing a herd of cats downstairs if you're looking for a venue."

The menu is the same at lunch as it is at dinner which means you can opt for something quick  and cheapish (main size salads are from £10.25 and staples such as moules frittes from £10.50) or make a meal of it as we did.

We were looked after by passionate foody Paul, a new Dad, who grows his own rocket and keeps chickens in the quest for perfection and knows his onions as well as the menu inside and out.

To start we thought it only right to order cocktails as it's that kind of place, my porn star martini was 10 out of 10 while the Wedding Planner's champagne mojito was a revelation and our new favourite drink. And with cocktails from £7.00, the prices are also not too hard to swallow.

"The menu looks so delicious you could actually eat it with a great mix of steaks (including steak of the months) and seafood."

To start we tried the news kids on the menu and actually had three (starters from £6).  I couldn't resist the prawn cocktail which came in a bucket (a very nice clean one) and was the classic jumbo prawns with Marie rose sauce and shredded lettuce - actually what you want in this 80s throw-back. A shot glass side of avocado and spice, like a mini gazpacho, added a contemporary element.

But the winner for me was the foie gras. This was proper corn-fed liver not the pate, served on pineapple chutney and was melt in the mouth perfect. The chutney being almost marmalade and creating a great taste on the tongue that will have me dreaming of this dish.

The Wedding Planner - who had just got back from New York where she was taken on tour of the city by a multi-millionaire described as smaller and older than Yoda (is that possible?) - opted for the new salmon dish which is marinated in beetroot.  It looked incredibly pretty as all the dishes do here and in her words was fantastic.

Obviously because she doesn't stop talking it took her an hour to eat it in which time we had gone from her friend doing phsyio on Keanu (apparently girls he is not fat and that shot from Cannes was simply unflattering) to the pros and cons of Dublin Bay oysters.

They don't do prosecco here but offer Chapel Down brut that's made in Kent for £39.50, with champagne starting from £52.50. I liked the English fizz, it was tarter than prosecco but a good quality quaff in any case.

"The flattened rump with chimichurri appeared to be the size of Argentina."

Onto mains and I chose the new flattened rump with chimichurri - I have had similar in Gaucho and indeed this appeared to be the size of Argentina. It managed to mix spice with a refreshing after-bite and was totally delicious accompanied by rocket and tomato salad with of course fat cut chips and mayo.

The Wedding Planner had sesame-crusted tuna, again this was a huge portion, with two hearty 'steaks'. And they cooked it perfectly as she wanted it, which was 'pink, but not too pink, if you know what I mean', which fortunately they did.

We were pleasantly full so didn't fancy big puddings and shared the cheese board. It was good, but we felt the portions should have been bigger. Not that we could have managed it, but we do know size is important to Mancs and it was a bit of departure from the monstrous other portions.

Overall a fantastic meal, perfect for corporate entertaining or gossiping away an hour or four with the gals. And Michelle assured me, you can actually do lunch in an hour if you choose to, just don't go with the Wedding Planner.

On the I Love Ometer:  A match made in heaven.

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Tags: I love Manchester, Review, The Grill on the Alley
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We focus on no nonsense food; specialising in wholesome ingredients, mixing distinctive textures and flavours that just work together, offering a mix of innovative dishes with comfortable favourites.