Restaurant Review: Artisan, Manchester
It wasn’t awful, but for the price range, decor, and the experience we expected, it was disappointing. It’s probably why my revisit has taken a while. Whilst I’ve been in to play with cocktails, I’ve not eaten since. I can be stubborn when I want to.
The venue hasn’t changed much since my last visit – there’s new artwork, as you’d expect, the lighting is perhaps a little warmer, but the feel is still the same. It’s big, airy, full of objects and images that are visually distracting – it’s easy to get lost eyeing a piece of artwork on a wall, or mesmerised by the open kitchen and the wood fuelled oven.
And of course the ‘Bitching Room’ – an extension to the ladies loos with plush comfy seating – still exists, though perhaps it is referred to less as such given women are many things other than bitches and it looks more like a parlour.
Though we were fresh from pouring and sampling beer across Spinningfields, we decided to indulge in a cocktail before our food. Something to whet our appetite a little. Mr GFB indulged his sweet tooth with the Pineapple & Tarragon Sling – the hint of smoke from the tequila and the sweetness from the pineapple juice, worked well with the astringency from the shrub.
I too went fruity – but of course went with the gin laden option. The Grapefruit & Berry with fresh blueberries, Tanqueray, grapefruit and raspberry shrub, lemon juice – balanced out quite nicely and it was pleasing to be able to taste the spirit beneath the fruit.
Onto food and the new menu at Artisan has shrunk somewhat. This is by no means a bad thing – it’s better to do fewer dishes well, than a plethora not so well, and though it is smaller, it still offers plenty of choice.
Both of our starters were somewhat simple. For me, prawns in roasted garlic, and coriander with tomato, chilli and lemon lemon. Well cooked prawns in a lightly spiced tomato sauce. Though I admit to eyeing the bread on Mr GFBs plate somewhat enviously as so much sauce was left behind.
For his starter, Mr GFB not only had some crisp granary toast, but braised chorizo with Cipollini onions and cherry tomatoes. Again, simple but delicious, letting the ingredients speak for themselves, and letting that toast do the mopping up.
Onto mains and Mr GFB chose well enough to cause serious food envy.
My own choice was the cauliflower four cheese pizza. Yes, literally cauliflower with Goat’s cheese, Grana Padano, Stilton and mozzarella on top of a pizza base, and dotted with crisp sage leaves.
Whilst delicious it wasn’t a patch on Mr GFB’s selection.
The salt & pepper St. Louis belly pork rib was just heavenly. Crisp, but soft and tender, I spent a lot of time eyeing it up – despite having ordered my own portion of Asian slaw, and using the kimchi ketchup to dunk sections of my pizza in. The latter went really well with the pizza, and next time I’ll see if they can do a side of that it was so good.
Somehow we had room for dessert and both went for classics.
On the recommendation of our lovely server, I went for the apple turnover. Though I’d have preferred a little more acidity in this to balance it, the vanilla custard was welcome – considering it’s allegedly summer, the current grey skies and chill in the air has me craving comfort food.
Mr GFB was feeling the chill too, and went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding – another satisfying option, preparing us for the less than summery conditions outside.
Overall, I’m a little sad I waited a long time for a revisit – Artisan suits it’s space in Spinningfields well – but it has to be said, that pork rib was worth waiting for.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by Artisan. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
The service was excellent and that pork rib was heavenly!