Manchester Smokehouse & Cellar

We had wanted to try a smokehouse in Manchester for a while now and Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar was the one we ended up in.  It was Reds on the corner that attracted us over and whilst we were reading the menu we spotted the Smokehouse sign just down the road.

It was just before 5pm when we arrived and the place was pretty much empty.  We were shown to a lovely large table with a sofa style seat on one side.  We sat side by side and enjoyed the view out into the restaurant watching the comings and goings of the place.

You probably know my views on ordering tap water by now and they happily obliged with a nice big bottle, the cider was a bit on the flat side though!  We decided on the Big Smoke, which is billed as all the best bits for 2 to share or a greedy one!  In reality it’s more than enough for 3 to share!

There were Americans at the next table who were really enjoying there food and were raving that it was as good as America so we really had some high hopes for our food.

Or platter arrived and apparently there was sliced brisket, burnt ends, baby back ribs, chicken, pulled pork and sausages, it was all a little on the brown side!  Served alongside was chips, beans, sweetcorn and garlic bread, however there was no sign of the promised coleslaw or pickled veggies.  There were four different sauces already on the table and we found all of these to be delicious, especially the bbq.

We found all the meat had the same kind of taste and it was pretty difficult to distinguish one from the other, the sides were the best part of the meal and we had a lot of leftovers.

By the time we were ready to leave it had really started to fill up and they were turning away people who hadn’t booked.  I’m not sure if we were just a little early in the day and didn’t have big enough appetites or it was coming off the back of a month without eating meat but unfortunately the smokehouse failed to blow us away and we wont be making a return visit anytime soon.

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Hilton Deansgate Manchester

I had wanted to stay at The Hilton in Manchester for a long while now.  If you know Manchester, you know “The Hilton Building” or Beetham Tower as its officially called and its equally famous 23rd floor bar Cloud 23.  So I decided to shell out on an executive room, to get the full Hilton experience, which guaranteed us a high floor and came with access to the executive lounge on the 23rd floor, kind of giving us the hotel and 23rd floor experience in one go!

We arrived at The Hilton ridiculously early around 11am.  We went to reception and were told to come back after 12pm and were pointed towards the concierge who would look after our bags in the meantime.  The concierge was a local Salford lad, he was chatty and friendly and to be honest the only member of staff the whole stay who made any effort to be friendly to us.

We left to explore Manchester and get some lunch.  We had a lovely walk down the canal and through the gay village. We had burgers for lunch at Jamboree Footfest on Portland Street which were great, especially as we got 3 courses for £19.99.  We arrived back after 2pm and were able to check in straight away even though check in time is officially 3pm.  The entrance is pretty unremarkable and we underwhelmed by reception and again by waiting area for the lifts.

We were given a room on the 19th floor, it was pretty similar to the standard room we had got in London a few weeks before and was painted a really horrible shade of brown.  It of course had the obligatory Nespresso machine that somehow miraculously makes a room executive.  The bathroom had a separate shower cubicle and we had bath robes but other than that I could barely see what made this room executive.  The view was pretty good and although we backed onto the lifts there was no horrible clunking noise that you sometimes get with rooms close to the lifts.

We decided to go up to the Executive Lounge.  You use your room key to gain access and it was a little strange. It was full of reserved tables and people having afternoon tea on 3 tier cake stands.  We later learned that they use the Executive lounge as an over spill for Cloud 23 and there were only about 6 tables available for the lounge guests, fortunately we got the only one left by the window and the very scratched glass floor and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea, minus the 3 tier stand but none the less we had a lovely relaxing hour.

We had an early dinner booked at Wood Manchester so were out from 5pm but they apparently serve canapes and alcohol for a few hours in the evening.

We slept pretty well I awoke in time to see the sun rise over Manchester .A quick shower later and we headed back to the 23rd floor, for the other perk of the Executive room, breakfast!  This time the lounge was full of hotel guests.  We secured the same table as we’d had the day before by the window and enjoyed a pretty decent breakfast.  The coffee was by way of a commercial Nespresso machine that no one knew how to use and it appeared that one guest would tell another and then they would tell the next.  I usually have earl grey tea which I made using the tea pots provided, however on first pour I realised the teapot contained lots of unwanted “bits” that happily floated into my cup, yuck, so I braved a latte instead from the dreaded Nespresso machine.

We used the express check out and with that we were on the free Manchester bus no 3 and back to Manchester Piccadilly train station.  I’m so glad that we decided to stay at the Hilton Manchester but I wont be rushing back there again anytime soon.  I think its probably more of a special occasion kind of a place but just for a night out in Manchester I think its a waste of money and a little bit of a let down.  Something that promised so much but failed to deliver.

Wood Manchester

I had been wanting to go to Wood Manchester ever since it opened its doors in the Summer of last year.  I liked the idea of the open kitchen, the blind tasting menu but more importantly I wanted to try MasterChef winner Simon Woods’ food.

We were out in Manchester watching Fuzzy Sun and I had already booked cocktails at The Washhouse for 7pm, so the only chance we had of eating at Wood was to have a really early dinner.  On checking out the website I noticed that they had a Theatre menu that is only £27.50 for 3 courses.  I thought I had come up with a perfect plan but unfortunately on checking the availability online, there was none!!  Sulky face was most definitely out!

Two days before we were due in Manchester I thought I would check again, there must have been a cancellation because there looking back at me was availability for dinner at 5.15pm, perfect!

We arrived almost exactly on time and received a warm welcome at the door.  Our coats were taken and we noticed they operate a funky playing card coat check system, which was a fun touch.  We were shown to a fabulous table for two, right alongside the open kitchen.

We honestly could not have received a better table if we had paid for it.  We were at the business end of the kitchen and we could literally hear and see everything that was going on.  The icing on the cake was that Simon was there working in the kitchen.

Our waitress was professional and i’m not sure if she was a little shy or standoffish but the service was efficient if a little lacking in the friendly department.  Water was brought for the table and I have to admit to judging a restaurant on how they deal with you when ordering tap water.  I am happy to report no problems here, a large carafe and some lovely glasses were soon brought over.  We also ordered a bottle of the house white which was excellent and drank very easily.

We both ordered the Ham Hock Terrine to start, followed by the Flat Iron Steak, we were warned that it would be served pink which was perfect for us.  Whilst we waited for our food to be cooked we watched the entertainment in the kitchen.  It seamed an easy partnership between Simon and the guy we thought might be the head chef.  We even heard him confess to missing an order of Flat Iron steak!

The Ham Hock Terrine was delicious and came with a celeriac remoulade and a piccalilli and we demolished it in no time at all.

Then arrived the Flat Iron Steak, mine was a little thicker that Hubbies and was therefore more pink, Hubbies I have to admit was a little tough as it was overcooked, however when the waitress checked if everything was ok, we both said yes!

This came with a purple potato salad which although it was lovely, was a huge portion and I got a little bored of it, if i’m honest, but Hubbie soon managed to polish off both mine and his.

We chose dessert off the set menu and I went for the lemon meringue and Hubbie went with the rhubarb brulee which before I had even tasted it, I knew would be too tart and I wasn’t wrong but Hubbie was very happy with what he had ordered.

The lemon meringue was absolutely delicious the most special part was the beautiful lemon posset that the meringue was sat on.

We were finished for 6.30pm which was just about perfect, as we needed to run across town to the washhouse for 7pm.

We had a lovely, if not perfect meal but we both agreed that we would like to return to try the tasting menu later on in the year.

The Washhouse Manchester

The Washhouse is one of those places that you have sort of heard about but never been. One of those places that’s hard to get into and makes me question can I really be bothered to try? How good can it really be?

I pushed my questioning to one side and decided I was going to try to get in. The booking line is only open 12-4pm week days and I have to admit to a nervous anticipation when I dialled their number! Please, please let them have a table for when I want it!!!!

My call was answered by a very friendly guy, not at all stuck up like I was expecting! I asked for 2 loads for the 24th at 7pm and no problem came the reply! What???? I’ve got a table???? They take a £25 deposit, that is redeemed against cocktails on the night and that’s it, as easy as that we were all booked in.

After legging it from Wood Manchester on First St, which is on the other side of town, we arrived to an empty Washhouse, with much excitement I picked the phone up, pressed the button and told them we had arrived. We’re just getting your table ready came the reply, so we took a seat on the little bench in the window and waited!

Next minute there are five bums pressed up against the window, a group of girls have arrived and are having their picture taken outside.  They spill into The Washhouse and wonder aloud how they get in, we tell them they need to phone.  They also have to wait and there is much laughing and giggling as we are all excited to see what lies behind the giant washer door!

The door opens and I hear my name, we push through and are soon seated opposite the bar.  The hostess is lovely and instantly put us at ease, we are poured glasses of water and given menus and are left alone to choose our poison.

We look around and take in the place, its smaller that we imagined and somehow elegant.  What a fab seat we have been given, we can see all the amazing creations being poured and wonder what each one is.  The bartenders are chatty and the interaction is spot on.

We choose the botanical garden and a pineapple tiki one that I don’t remember the name of!  We watch whilst they are made and wow they look amazing, the pineapple one is one fire, literally!!!  Seriously how many places give you a marshmallow to toast before you drink your cocktail?

The cocktails are delicious and even better they come with a little bowl of retro crisps, which it turns out gets topped up the minute you have finished it, its like a little never ending bowl of deliciousness.  The sound track has obviously had a lot of thought put into it and the packed bar is soon singing along, there is a lovely buzz to the place which is a mixed bag of couples and groups.

We order another round of drinks and my hubbie soon finds a bowl of coco pops placed in front of him, awesome!

He sits and eats them with the biggest grin.  I have a poppy drink that is both sweet and delicious, seriously can this place do any wrong?  We both declare that The Washhouse is something else and we need to return again soon, very very soon.

Fuzzy Sun Band @ Jimmys nq

On Saturday 24th March we had the pleasure of seeing Fuzzy Sun at Jimmys in the Northern Quarter, Manchester.

Jimmys is somewhere we are probably a little old for, but nonetheless we arrived about 9pm.  It was already pretty packed downstairs and the support band were already in full swing.  The girl singer reminded me of Kate Bush somehow!

There was an hours wait almost for Fuzzy Sun to arrive on stage and the already packed Jimmys suddenly filled to capacity.

Fuzzy sun, high from the release of their EP “Want Love” were in fine form, performing to the packed crowd.  They played a great set and the knowledgeable audience really got involved and engaged with them.  The relationship on stage between the lead singer and the lead guitarist was pretty special and the energy was ovewhelming!

I really hope that Fuzzy Sun go on to greater things, as this is a good band with a great sound. Watch out for them supporting The Blossoms on tour in May.

The food was simply out of this world!

There are no words that can do the food at TMBTC justice! The food and the drinks pairings were simply out of this world. It was an experience we did not want to end. So instead of waxing lyrical, I’ll share some pictures with you instead!

How do you get into The Man Behind the Curtain?

As you might well know TMBTC is situated above Flannels clothes shop in Leeds city centre. The only sign that TMBTC is there is this window display! (This pic was taken earlier in the day, I did not go in, in bright turquoise trainers)!

As we approached Flannels a man with a clip board opened the door and asked for our name, he ticked us off his list and directed us towards the lift! It’s not everyday you see information like this outside a lift. I’ll get out at the third floor please!

On exiting the lift we were greeted with the fabulous reception area.

The actual restaurant is almost hidden from view, which adds to the anticipation of what’s to come!

We were shown to a large table in the corner which couldn’t have been any better for two people watchers like us as we had a fabulous view over the entire restaurant.

The Man Behind the Curtain was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be!

What can I say?  The Man Behind the Curtain is seriously brilliant.  From the entrance through Flannels although this is going to change soon to the lovely open feel of the restaurant, again soon to change to the super friendly, knowledgeable staff, hopefully not going to change anytime soon, this place is an experience like no other!

I’ll post more details and piccies soon!

Tomorrow is Man Behind the Curtain Day

I actually couldn’t be anymore excited because tomorrow, the day we go to The Man Behind the Curtain, has finally arrived!!

We first heard of Michael O’Hare on The Great British Menu and have been intrigued ever since.  I am interested to see how they deal with my Shellfish allergies because as far as I can tell at least half of the menu is Shellfish based.

We will be spending the night at the Marriott Leeds so I will include a post on that as well!

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