Last Wednesday I ventured to Manchester House with Links of London and Stylist to discover one of their hidden gems; the Manchester House lounge. If you picked up a copy of Stylist last week you would have spotted the lovely little guide to the best hidden gems in Manchester, including some of my favourite restaurants, bars and secret spots! If you didn't, take a look at the photo above and discover them for yourself, there are some real beauts in there.
I arrived a little late and flustered after a day at work and was greeted to the brightest, greenest cocktail I've ever had, created just for us and called an Emerald Sour just for Stylist! You can see snaps of it (and the rest of the night) over on my Instagram. I plonked myself down next to the lovely Holly and Sunita from Trace Publicity, sipped my cocktail and nattered away, the perfect way to unwind! As the cocktails flowed I chatted to Katie from Stylist, Penny from Fashion Fade (both of whom were instant soul mates), lovely Lily Kitten, Martyna from El Martina and Jess from Links of London about Manchester, our favourite places and general nonsense until it was time to head down for dinner, we were all too excited to discover what delights were awaiting us in the private dining room ten floors below...
We ventured down to the private dining room in the Manchester House restaurant which we were all a little overwhelmed by, I'm pretty sure all the other diners in there were confused why we were all taking photos and playing on our phone all night but that's bloggers for you!
After the initial excitement, a cheeky glass of wine and more chatting, our attention turned to the amazing menu and we made our selections. As a little amuse bouche we had a perfectly formed onion brioche, garlic butter and parmesan jus, it tasted amazing and just like the French onion soup I had in Paris earlier in the year, swoon.
To start I opted for the Charred Smoked Salmon and Goat's Cheese, it was literally the most beautiful plate of food I have ever seen. Festooned with edible flowers and curled leeks and potato crisps, I was in heaven. This was easily my favourite dish of the night, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! It also came with a pile of crisps and sour cream with salmon dip, a welcome addition.
In between courses (and during actually!) we all continued chatting about our favourite places in Manchester, firm faves were Proper Tea and Dusk til Pawn which I am determined to seek out tonight!
The lovely Jess (who we later discovered has a penchant for mad fancy dress!) from Links of London treated us all to a lovely surprise of a mini friendship bracelet, we all managed to pick a box that had the perfect colour for us inside! You can see a blurry me, Katie and Penny showing ours off above!
Then it was time for the main event...
I went a bit off piste for the main and chose Monkfish, Snails, Mushroom and Jersey Royals. I'm not a fan of mushrooms or potatoes but I thought Manchester House wouldn't present them as were all used to, and I wasn't wrong!
With scatters of snail caviar (not even sure what it is but it was delicious) and edible flowers, it looked like something from a forest. The monkfish was so good, probably the best monkfish I've ever had. I'm still not a fan of mushrooms (though I did try them) so I left them, but the snails and sliced Jersey Royals were delish.
Other choices were the lobster salad, seabass and the famous beer can chicken, which all went down well. I don't think anyone was disappointed with their food apart from Jess's dessert which may not have been the best recommendation!
Katie also educated us all that monkfish isn't actually a real fish, it's just part of the rather ugly Angler fish. You learn something new every day!
We chose from the A La Carte menu but there's really reasonable lunch menus (I think it's around £27.50 for three courses) and tasting menus so there's something for everyone. You can check out the menus here if you fancy.
How pretty is my new mini friendship bracelet? It's definitely going to be a staple of mine for summer!
We ended dinner with swoon worthy desserts and pastel macaroons, what better way to end a beaut of a dinner? I had the chocolate cake with cardamom, coffee and orange, it was an architectural masterpiece and tasted as good as it looks! The Manchester tart also went down very well, it looked amazing too.
We left the restaurant in high spirits and headed back to the Lounge for a cheeky cocktail, we all went with Katie's recommendation of a Hemingway Daiquiri, without sugar as he was a diabetic, which we loved. I definitely would have that again, it was a perfect mix of sweet and sour.
I had such a good night, it was lovely to meet new and familiar faces and I couldn't think of a better place to do it. It was also lovely to have such a relaxed environment, sometimes events can be a little forced but this was just like catching up with old friends, talking about ComicCon, Labyrinth, dressing up and other delights, we're going to have to do it again soon! Thanks to Links of London and Stylist for inviting me to join them, and to Manchester House for making the evening so amazing.
Where are your hidden gems around the UK? I'd love to find some new places to seek out!