I feel before this that I should make a confession.
Albatross & Arnold is part of The Range – a fantastic indoor golfing system, that means you can practice, or play without going out and getting wet (I mean it is in Manchester after all), and enjoy a cocktail or two while you do.
But I’m not a golf fan. I mean, I get the idea, but let’s be clear. I am clumsy. I mean really, I’m surprised sometimes the gym actually let me use big heavy weights, but then I figure it’s because the weights are so heavy, I’m unlikely to accidentally chuck one at someone, more likely to just drop one on myself. And I do. Regularly.
Unlike a golf club. Which is light, and in the air and I’m quietly envisioning those times (yes there were more than one) where I accidentally let go of a rounders bat, but it’s indoor and there are more people close by. So… Maybe one day, but not this visit.
Whilst I didn’t partake of the golf, Mr GFB did, and will be taking advantage of the opportunity to train with a pro at The Range in the future, because he is far more in control of his hand/eye coordination (and more confident about it) than I am.
But alongside this indoor golfing fun, there is also food and drink, so if like me, you’re more likely to watch, or just practice putt a couple of holes instead of whacking that ball across the green, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
And even if you don’t like golf, I’d suggest you go for the food and drink anyway.
The decor is light, classy with an Art Deco edge – and comfortable. There are plenty of squishy sofas, and plush chairs which make lingering over a cocktail or two a pleasure. Though I would suggest that if you are…. Ample of behind like me, you might want to avoid the bar stools. They’re beautifully elegant, but not made for big bottoms.
The cocktail list is small, but well formed, featuring a lot of gentle twists on classics. The Pampelle Negroni features a grapefruit liqueur, and sloe gin, making it less bitter and more fruity than it’s forebear, and the mint and thyme sour is a rum based sour with Havana 7 year old, that’s a refreshing twist of it’s own.
But don’t worry if cocktails, or a G&T aren’t your thing. There are plenty of beer options (including the sustainable TOAST beer) and wine if that’s more your cup of tea – or glass of vino. For us, it was all about cocktails, and of course the food.
The food, as we’re finding more and more on menus, is small plates. We had a selection of the dishes on the menu, from lighter nibbles, to some of the more substantial options.
Absolutely stand out dishes included the scallops with black pudding, cauliflower puree and crispy kale, and the pan roasted cod with crispy skin, and an intriguing menthol and liquorice sauce, both of which had us wondering if the clientele was the sort who would mind if we licked the plate. And special mention must got to the crunchy roast potatoes, dusted with horseradish and served with a pool of quail gravy, perfect for dunking.
Those that were good, but not quite there included the sticky pork, which was bloody lovely, but I must admit to expecting more from the Laoproaig featured in the sticky sauce. Maybe that’s because I’m a peaty whisky fan and wanted it to punch me in the tastebuds, and it didn’t quite manage it.
And whilst the black pudding scotch eggs were good, I suspect being regulars of Beastro has spoiled us a little and these were good, but not Beastro good.
But then the tenderest of venison dishes with crisp parsnip and soft blackberries and purple sprouting broccoli with lemon oil were on hand to soothe the disappointment (and yes Mr GFB ate lots, and I’m beginning to think it’s just my cooking of vegetables he doesn’t like).
After such a delicious feast, dessert certainly wasn’t an option, but another cocktail was, and so for afters we went for the Salted Caramel Old Fashioned.
Think Werther’s Original, with booze and just a little salt, and you’ve got it in a glass. Rich, warm, and decadent.
Overall? OK the food isn’t cheap, but you can tell the quality in every mouthful – the care that’s been taken in sourcing the ingredients, and again, we’re not talking crazy golf with a couple of mates and a hot dog. This is Spinningfields, and the venue, the style, the food and drink fit very well with the area.
For me? OK, I’m not sure about the golf. But I’ll certainly be back for the food and drink. I just maybe won’t sit at the bar.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by A&A. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
The food and drink were great, the venue is beautiful, and the staff attentive, personable, but not intrusive. Whilst I might not be a golf fan, the cocktails and food will mean I’ll happily head back!