Review: Bourbon & Black
I love lazy Sundays.
Mine rarely are, which is why when they happen, they are real treat. And I mean a real treat. The sort that makes a box of chocolates look like a frivolity and a manicure look like mere whimsy.
So Sunday dawned with a long lie in and a lazy breakfast with Mr GFB, before a late lunch/early tea (tunch? lea?) at a new venue in Didsbury. Perfect.
I even managed to squeeze in a little wander around the rich pickings of the Didsbury charity shops before heading in to Bourbon & Black to meet my date.
Who was late.
No matter, after a nice chat to the chap behind the bar, a Manhattan, complete with toasted marshmallow garnish appeared.
No we were talking. The back bar is a treasure trove of bourbon loveliness. Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve and many more lesser known beauties – the list is impressive. Unsurprising really, as rumour has it that a particular brand has it’s hand in this venue.
Just as I finished softly chewing my marshmallow and refreshing my Twitter messages for the umpteenth time, my date arrived.
A teensy bit under the weather. Possibly a little self inflicted.
Eschewing a bourbon for himself for something soft, he smoothly hopped off to source a second drink for me, allowing me time to take in the surroundings.
Downstairs is a small bar where leather, wood, brick all play into the well known industrial style that’s known across the Northern Quarter. A little bit of hipster invading Didsbury? Anywhere there’s a comfy Chesterfield works for me, especially where there’s the scent of vanillin and smoke.
The restaurant upstairs has plenty of cushioned seating, more wood, more stencilling and a chandelier that I fell in love with. Even if it has to hang from next to the air conditioning unit.
My only grumble about the decor in any form would probably be the seating. The long banquette cushioned seats felt distinctly too high for the tables. In fact, I could only just put my tip-toes on the floor. And I’m average height.
The food menu is, as you’d expect, heavy on meat, oozing with American influences – burger or pulled pork anyone? But also classically rustic (dear god, did I just write that?) with artisan breads, charcoal grilled steaks, handcut chips and hot smoked salmon. Think Grill on the Alley but with a double measure of Bulleit.
As my date switched from soft drink to water (he really wasn’t in a good way, poor boy), our starters arrived – we were sharing a portion of baby chipolatas in a honey mustard glaze.
Well, I say share….
The sausages were plump and meaty, the sauce sweet with visible grains, but not much else. Probably not the best start after a very good Manhattan.
Onto mains, and I was going for the lamb rump with roasted vegetables and dark chocolate sauce, whilst my date plumped for the beef roast dinner.
Though he utterly failed to do it justice (and I hope is still speaking to me at the end of the blog post as it’s continually sounding like censure) the Yorkshire puds were large and crispy, the vegetables done spot on and the beef nicely pink. If he weren’t suffering so much, he’d have been a very happy man.
My lamb was delicious. Tender, with just the right amount of fat, done to a nice pink, with a rich sauce that hinted at chocolate, but in a deep umami sort of way and the same roast vegetables that were with the Sunday roast. This was very much a step up from the glazed sausages.
A second Manhattan (and glass of water) called before dessert. The options are small but perfectly formed, including cheesecake and, though I’d normally have selected the cheese board, I stepped away from boring you lot too much, and went to sticky toffee pudding, whilst my date sipped his water.
This is pretty good. I make STP, regularly buy from Cartmel and though it’s intensely sweet and I only allow myself teeny tiny portions, I bloody love the stuff.
And it’s so easy to get wrong.
This was moist, sweet, with that proper sturdy consistency that somehow manages to have a lightness but a stodgy appeal at the same time and it comes in a portion just the right size to fill you up, but not to make you contemplate rolling down the stairs as opposed to walking.
Given the back bar, the bourbon flights (yes, having one of those next time) and the food, I’ll definitely revisit. There are niggles, but given it hasn’t even been open a month, I’m sure these will be fixed swiftly.
Relaxed, full and satisfied we, left, I went in search of a place to nap, whilst my date left to make his way to work for a long shift.
The meal at Bourbon & Black was paid for entirely by myself and my date.