2 Jun

I always used to wonder why food writers were such curmudgeons. More often than not dripping with disdain for the chef’s / front of house’s / interior decorator’s efforts and whip-smart snarks following on from some lengthy prose about anything but the food.* How could you make a misery out of something so inherently joyful in a review? Then, I started a food blog.

My passion for eating out turned into a twice a week habit which, after nine months of scoffing and scribing, turns out to be just enough time to make you gag each time you gorge on the latest food trend. Having a healthier base for comparison raises your expectations beyond measure, and in the name of having something interesting to say, forage endlessly for innovative ingredients and fresh food concepts to write about. The more you indulge, the harder it becomes to find satisfaction, and after a while, it all sort of blends into one. It seems gluttony quickly runs to ingratitude.

It’s a hard life, no?

No, I don’t think so either. I can’t sympathise with anyone enjoys such privilege, myself included. I’m exceptionally lucky, not only because I can afford to eat out on a regular basis, but also because I occasionally get invited along to review restaurants for free. So, having found myself overfaced and underwhelmed of late, I’ve had to have a long hard look at myself, especially after a perfectly lovely dining experience initially left me with little to say, and the only thing left wanting was my attitude to it all.

If you keep abreast of the Manchester food scene, you may have heard something of 3TwentyOne. Just another meat mecca, I thought, albeit with its own smoker and a penchant for good liquor. An invitation to the grand opening evening for Manchester media mavens was missed on account of birthday celebrations with much loved friends, so was invited to come along at a later date when the cacophony of blogger’s gums smacking around short ribs and Singapore Slings had died down.

Sadly, they forgot I was coming, and much to mine and my friend Mal’s discomfort, asked to check my email invitation, then spent half an hour playing Chinese whispers with the waitress and owner about exactly what was included in the review. This, and the fact she harangued us until we placed our order whilst simultaneously trying to settle into our surroundings and say our hellos were the only low points of the night. The rest was just… fine and dandy.

Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

The cocktails were a wonderful opener. My espresso martini of Kahlua, vanilla vodka and butterscotch syrup was perfectly pitched – neither overly sweet nor strong on the coffee – whilst Mal made appreciative noises over his Tommy’s Margarita. On reflection, it might be worth heading back and working my way through the cocktail menu alone, if nothing else than just to gaze on the bearded (slightly dour) hunk of a bartender, but I digress.

To its credit, the menu managed to distract me much more effectively, pared down as it was. Six starter and six dessert choices made the beginning and end of the meal fairly easy to navigate, but working your way through a list of four steaks, two types of ribs and a whole host of other hunks of meat made for a much beefier task.

Pork Ribs

Pork Ribs

The ribs weren’t bad. Both stickily coated and meaty, my barbecue pork ribs were a little fatty, though the pig happily fell off the bone and was made moreish by a boozy bourbon glaze used to jazz up the dish. Both mine and Mal’s beef short ribs were subtly smoked – a small disappointment given its billing as the main attraction – but had a decent flavour to them and were stacked high, making me grateful my eyes weren’t bigger than my belly in ordering more sides than the one that comes with – in my case crispy on the outside, fluffy within paprika-dusted fries. Perfection.

Manchester Egg

Manchester Egg

The Manchester Egg – black pudding and sausage meat wrapped round a gooey egg all deep fried in breadcrumbs – was a delight, as was the lightly smoked, tender boneless chicken wings with a creamy blue cheese sauce. Both disappeared pretty quickly (much to our waitress’ delight), though the puddings took longer to shift. A rich, fairly heady mud pie of rich chocolate ganache and Oreo biscuit base – from a fairly standard menu stretching not far beyond cheesecake – was lovely but a little too much to stomach, even with a sizeable dollop of Cheshire Farm ice cream to balance it out.

Mud Pie

Mud Pie

If I had never enjoyed the bounteous beauty of deep fried coke or eaten ribs fresh off the back of a pit barbecue, my review might have been much more evenly tempered, but for what it’s worth, 3TwentyOne is a lovely little establishment serving up simple, hearty food. Whilst the glut of Manchester food blogs reviewing the gaffe has paid testament to the shonky service, I suspect such teething problems will be soothed over time, and with soft, modern décor and an enviable location next to the Deansgate Hilton, will attract a good crowd once the blogger rush is over and done.

So, here’s hoping they get a little more heavy-handed with the smoker. That and another espresso martini is all it would take to tempt this blogger back.

* Equally guilty on the waffling front. Do forgive me. I am but human (and a gob shite).

3TwentyOne on Urbanspoon


2 Responses to “3TwentyOne”

  1. laurencoulman June 3, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Thank you lovely! x

  2. Mrs Petticoat June 3, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Wonderful write up, as always 🙂

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