The Ski Club Manchester

12 Nov
When it comes to writing a blog, you are your own editor. No-one recommending where you review, helping you pull together a content plan or fine-tuning and editing your piece for publishing. For the most part there is great joy in that. It gives you the blessed freedom to push your own agenda and write in your preferred style, and given that the majority of blogs are self-funded, (this one included), it means you can eat and drink where the hell you like. So far, all gravy, but given it’s your hard earned cash being spent, you tend to stray towards those places you knows you’ll enjoy, resulting in largely warm to glowing reviews. 
Occasionally however, you are invited along to a free event, and whilst you are glad your purse is provided with a much needed night off, the do in question might not be quite your thing. Resultantly, the friendly tone that typifies your usual writing style takes a break too. Whilst it is no bad thing to stretch your mean muscles, and as a blogger, important to write fair and unbiased reviews, (especially when food and drink is being comped), for a lady who believes that unless someone had literally pissed on your chips, there is no such thing as a terrible experience, so forgive me if I choose to see both sides of the coin.
The latest free do I attended was one of the launch nights at The Ski Club, the newest venture from Heart Soul Rock and Roll, Manchester pop-up pioneers and the guys behind The Yacht Club. Fond of Spinningfields and taking inspiration from the playgrounds of the rich and famous, off the back of their first success seemingly believe themselves to have found a winning formula. Whilst not a fan of either Spinningfields (soulless and way too fond of a chain) or establishments characterised by overly coiffed hair and too much ankle on show (and that’s just the boys), I can concede that The Yacht Club was a cleverly thought out and well-executed idea.
The Ski Club however, not so much. Overly excited by the promise of fondue (which is making a comeback, don’t cha know) and a creative cocktail list, expectations were high. Sadly, these were quickly managed. Located in a business block to the side of Spinningfields, the place already lacks the prestige that The Yacht Club achieved, and welcomed by cheap roll-out carpets and sickly blue lighting, you quickly wonder where it all went wrong. The tacky fixtures and fittings won’t speak to the moneyed crowd the pop-up will be hoping to attract, despite the great people watching that the alpine-style window looking out over Spinningfields affords.

The Ski Club Manchester: Fondue

The Ski Club’s saving grace comes from the comfy seating and cosy atmosphere. Tucking into a cheese and meat board of French and Swiss provenance or spooning hot cheese into your mouth on the end of a sausage, you can’t help but relax and enjoy the company you are keeping. Minor blunders blighted the experience however. Too little bread for the cheese and meat board to share was a sloppy oversight, and despite some interesting flavours on show in the canapés, including bratwurst wrapped in pancetta and a wild mushroom arancini, the bites were dry and cold. Underwhelming to say the least.

The Ski Club Manchester: Cheese and Meat Board

The Ski Club Manchester: Bratwurst wrapped in Pancetta

As for the cocktails, the most that can be said is that they were bold. Truly a winter warmer menu, the list read with great promise. Cognac, brandy, sloe gin and port all featured across the board, but cack-handed delivery made for clunky cocktails where big flavours drowned one another, and despite some fun presentation, were largely disappointing. The Brandy Blazer was the best of the bunch, with Grand Marnier, apple brandy and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg to recommend it, but heated through prior to serving, the marshmallow-adorned brandy glass came with a nostril hair singeing amount of ethanol that took several minutes to dissipate.

The Ski Club Manchester: The Brandy Blazer

The award for the most fun cocktail to look at was closely contested by the bright blue and coconut-rimmed Tiffany & Coco, a bizarre and overly sweet Jack Daniels and blue curacao concoction, and the monstrously large Ski Club Punch Bowl, a kind of chilled mulled wine brew. Served in an oversized gold cocktail glass, it made quite the statement, but with a heavy dose of plum bitters and red wine, left an unattractive lip-curling skin on your teeth. Resultantly, the blue cocktail won out, but as beauty is only skin deep, I won’t be flirting with this cocktail menu again any time soon, nor the champagne or spirits by the bottle list, which stretches way beyond my budget.

The Ski Club Manchester: Tiffany & Coco

The Ski Club Manchester: Ski Club Punch Bowl

Had Heart Soul Rock and Roll not skimped on the décor, presumably to save money after the grandiosity of The Yacht Club, and paid more attention to the delivery, this could have been a wholly different review. Great ideas are all in evidence here, and hiring #22 Redbank to design the food menu shows they’re dedicated to seeing through a good concept, but the devil is in the detail, and they’re missing it. Small successes can be seen in the friendliness of the staff and a reasonably priced food menu, but in spite of that, I won’t be returning, despite the temptation of that delicious fondue.

I will be keeping an eye on future ventures from Heart Soul Rock and Roll, however. This kind of creativity is much welcomed, and has the potential to inject some much needed fun into the Manchester hospitality scene. Just not this Christmas sadly, kids.


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