We’ve yet again seen a flurry of new venues opening in Manchester – and typically just as I’m flying (not literally) up and down the country and not able to go and play.
Thankfully some souls have taken pity on me and invited me in after the furore (and the hangovers) have settled and things are a little less party atmosphere, and more what they’ll be day to day. Probably a lot more interesting for you dear reader than how hammered someone got on fizz at the launch do.
Impossible is in that white building across from the Great Northern which for those of you old enough to remember used to be Bar 38, then it was something else, then something else and then the financial crisis hit, and it sat unloved and unwanted. Til now.
Now it’s a bar cum restaurant, with plenty of outside seating for the summer, inside a long bar sits oddly in front of some of the doors, there’s a good amount of bar seating, and bench style restaurant seating with a ‘secret’ gin bar upstairs (it’s not that secret, but it does have a good list of 64 gins).
Speaking of the upstairs, I suspect with it’s fluffy throws, day bed like seating and secret drawers for you to chuck your heels in (no seriously, you can then curl up comfortably) it’s going to become a bit of a haven in winter. It’s snug, warm, cosy.
And there’s a couple of little secret spots too. Near the loos is a little balcony overlooking Peter Street, and on the opposite side of the gin bar, there’s a cute little snug.
The whole space is perfect for private functions – own bar, own loos – but i suspect more for personal parties than working events. I can’t see myself chatting to the MD of a company about gin events whilst curled up on a cushion, smothered in a rug. Or maybe that’s just me.
Back downstairs and we were in for dinner. The menu is a selective affair. There’s as ever the option to pick at small plates (perfect if you just need a nibble with drinks) or a full three courses, if you’re in need of something a little more substantial.
As we were past the point of hungry-but-able-to-make-a-decision and firmly in oh-my-lots-of-food-need-all-the-food-someone-just-get-me-food-please we opted for a couple of nibbles to keep us going. The olives were good, but not wow, it was our other nibble that we really rather loved.
Salt and pepper crickets on a bed of crispy chives to be exact, presented – well, as you can see – with a little flare and theatre. There’s no missing the crickets being served, and we were pleased to see we weren’t the only ones opting for them. Flavour wise, they were great – crispy, nutty, with a little spice, we polished off the lot. And I don’t mind admitting they were probably my favourite dish.
My second favourite dish was the scallops – cooked well, sitting on a pea puree with slices of black pudding, topped with pea shoots and served in a cloche filled with applewood smoke. The smoke was just enough – not too heavy, not too much, just enough to fill the scallops with flavour.
We continued our tour of the small plates with tacos – Phat Beef with strips of spicy beef, sour cream and avocado stuck to tradition somewhat, but was rich and tasty for all that. The Juicy Melon – with watermelon and feta however, bypassed tradition completely and with the crunch of pistachios for added texture was light, fresh and utterly lovely.
From the larger plates menu the macaroni with truffle oil called us. It was possibly over truffled, but not intensely so, and not with that cheap truffle oil flavour that often ruins good dishes. As both cheese and truffle lovers, we ate forkfuls with gusto.
The Moules Frites was presented in a giant teacup, and was another generously sized dish. The mussels were just done, and the broth in the bottom plentiful – my only issue would be that the seasoning was a little heavy and instead of mopping the latter up with enthusiasm, we left it wasted in the bottom of the bowl.
Of course after all this food, there was no room for dessert. So we had a second G&T instead. If you feel the need for a little something sweet, I can heartily recommend something like the Whitley Neill Quince Gin, or the Warner Edwards Victoria Rhubarb Gin in a perfectly garnished G&T. If gin isn’t your thing, there are one or two tasty looking cocktails on the menu, in particular the rich Chocolate Chili Cheesecake, or the Strawberry and Cream Royale.
Overall, I think this is going to be an interesting venue to watch as it grows. The space is gorgeous, service impeccable and I suspect with a few tweaks to the menu, it should do really well. Small plates on the menu work well for lunch and for those in need of a little something before they play out on a weekend, the cocktail menu is intriguing, and the Gin Nest in winter especially I think is going to be full to overflowing.
For me, just the fact that it’s across from me when I leave the gym is going to be some form of torture.
Save me some crickets?