Manchester is a city full of coincidences.
And yes I know, Media City isn’t strictly Manchester, but that’s by the by. When a conversation reveals that one of the personal trainers who works in your gym moonlights as a jazz singer – and is going to be providing the accompaniment to a pop up jazz dinner in a coffee shop you know rather well… Well yes, exactly.
And this was how Mr GFB and I happened to be sitting in Grindsmith over in Media City, with a delicious looking menu of five courses ahead of us, and Kathy singing beautifully in the background.
Now admittedly, Grindsmith are definitely known more for their coffee than their five course dinners, but their Media City site has seen them grow – this venue has a full breakfast brunch and lunch offering, as well as the usual coffee and tea you’ll find at all their sites, and even goes into a full cocktail menu (curated by Jamie Jones aka The Cocktail Hobbit). To be honest, their GTC blends three of my favourite things into one, Gin, Tonic and Cold brew Coffee. It’s like a caffeinated G&T. And yes I may be a little addicted. Which is why I enjoyed one before dinner started.
While Kathy serenaded us with classics from Etta James and Dinah Washington, our first dish made it’s way to the table. Creole buttered prawns.
Well just look at the size of them.
Soft sweet shellfish that had me wishing I had brought tupperware and rucksack instead of a clutch bag. They were just begging to be used in fish stock after I’d dug every bit of flesh from them. In fact the spiced butter was so delicious, I might have asked our server to see if chef would let us have some bread to mop the plate with.
I cannot confirm or deny this, having eaten the evidence.
Our second course also had me enthralled. Roasted figs with toasted pecans, grapes and a soft blue cheese, dressed with a sherry vinaigrette. The soft warm flesh of the fig with the acidity of the blue cheese, the crunch of the pecans and the sweetness of the grapes. I could have eaten a big bowl of this. Given we had five courses, that wasn’t an option, but I’m going to have to recreate this at home, as the balance of flavours was just heavenly. A real plate of autumn – my favourite season.
And just when I thought I couldn’t be happier, the blackened swordfish with creamed corn appeared. The fish was just done, the charred lime sweet and sour, and that corn. I don’t know what was in there, but oh god I need more. Spiced, but not hot, sweet nutty coconut flavours, plates were cleaned. And I mean cleaned.
By comparison and (sorry chef), the gumbo was a bit of a disappointment. I love a good gumbo and I was expecting a deep rich broth, with lots of spice and flavour. This wasn’t bad, the stock had flavour, the vegetables crunch and the chicken and pork was tender, but it wasn’t what I had in my head. This was light, fresh and clean, but compared to the other dishes, left me wanting a bit more oompf. Not a bad dish, but not a gumbo.
Dessert may have gone some way to fixing things. I love pecan tart, but have had so many bad ones, or reheated badly ones (see my last visit to Bill’s in Manchester), that it often leaves me feeling a bit flat. Much the same experience as I’ve had with tarte tatin. There is nothing more depressing than an anaemic looking tatin.
This tart, however was fabulous. Deep crisp base – no soggy bottom to be found – and a generous helping of pecans in the filling which was sweet, nutty with that chewy toffee texture you want. Then with a good scoop of caramel ice cream and a sauce that was….
The whole night was great. Great wine, great food, great music. It’s almost a shame that Grindsmith don’t do more of these nights – but far be it from me to put ideas into their heads.
This meal was paid for by Grindsmith, but all drinks consumed were paid for by ourselves. Thanks to the team, and to Kathy (who really isn’t used to seeing me with make up on, and normal clothes) for the music.