Artisan

6 Aug

I’ve been on a bit of a journey of late. Re-prioritising areas of my life, working out what’s really important and challenging myself to confront preconceived ideas I had which might previously have been holding me back. With this blog in particular – a challenge which just one short year ago I relished – I’ve ridden myself into a bit of a rut, finding that the big dream of learning about food and drink, developing my writing style and promoting the idea of bringing people together through food and drink hasn’t fully borne fruit.

Beyond sharing funny anecdotes, it’s wildly inappropriate to share the intimate details of your conversations and your life (endlessly difficult for a gobshite like me) and whilst gluttony has long proved to be my favourite vice – making eating out once a week amount to being handed heaven in a bread basket – my waistline is in jelly belly hell, and such over indulgence has revealed what may just be a gluten intolerance (which I’m currently having tested). Rats!

So, what’s a girl to do? Start work on a new project of course – one which I’ve been maturing for months now – and should I be able to get my act together early next year, hopefully fulfil all my original dreams. Until then, the continuing joy of discovering new foods and embracing new dining experiences, not to mention indulging my never-ending hunger for honing my vocabulary, should see me amply nourished (and this blog fed on a reasonably regular basis for the foreseeable).

Enter, fine dining. Just six short months ago, I would never have willingly stepped foot into a Living Ventures (LV) establishment. Previously perceived as all style over substance, and expensive for the sake of making the more moneyed mortals of the Manchester feel like they had somewhere to splash the cash, only the surprise success of a recent trip to Rosso and the heart breaking ten courses I seemingly dreamed my way through at The French made me see sense. Not before time too…

With a second Simon Rogan venture, the Aiden Byrne / LV project about to launch over at Manchester House and the PR fanfare surrounding the ever affable James Martin’s arrival at the city’s 235Casino, the Manchester restaurant scene is about to come over all fancy pants, and thanks to some lovely invites and impeccable experiences, I’m poised. A recent review arranged at Artisan, LV’s latest food establishment, has helped better my previously belligerent attitude towards slick service and scaled down portions more so than ever before.

Artisan

Artisan

With its hybrid art collection cum excitably curated and oh-so-current food concept, what was anticipated to be all booth space and shiny surfaces actually transpired to be a Northern Quarter inspired eaterie. All exposed brick walls (natch) and original concrete roof panels, so far, not so fine dining. Being situated on the outskirts of the city slicker haven that is Spinningfields, it made for a much welcomed and not too unfamiliar an environment, though not so new a dining experience after all. No bad thing. It seems LV are loosening up! *

Whilst not quite to the extremes that some Northern Quarter establishments provide casual service – usually ranging from indifference to downright ignorance of customer needs – the staff were amiable, attentive and relaxed, regularly checking in and making confident recommendations on the large and slightly overwhelming menu (on account of it showcasing so many blockbusting dishes) making it near on impossible to choose. Ingeniously, bringing different samples of wine to a friend made navigating the drinks list a whole lot easier.

Salt & Pepper Pork Crackling with Apple Sauce

Salt & Pepper Pork Crackling with Apple Sauce

So, that menu! Along with the art adorning the walls (in which sadly I have little interest), the food offering has deservedly garnered the most PR. Its dude food done with polish, with a few grown up dishes thrown in for good measure. Sense reigns mainly on the mains menu, with mackerel baked on pine and pork and duck cassoulet in the offing, but it’s the pizza menu, closely followed by the vast array of small plates (starters) and desserts which give cause to excess salivating.

New York Deli Pizza with Pastrami, Pickles, Smoked Cheese and Mustard

New York Deli Pizza with Pastrami, Pickles, Smoked Cheese and Mustard

Artisan Burger - with bacon and/or cheese - stands alone as Artisan wisely chooses not to compete in the Manchester burger wars

Artisan Burger – with bacon and/or cheese – stands alone as Artisan wisely chooses not to compete in the Manchester burger wars

Doner kebab or pulled pork pizza (in a fun riff on ham and pineapple) anyone? How about salt and pepper crackling to nibble on (crack like in its moreish-ness) or potato wedges cooked in paprika and beef dripping (fat ass and succulent). Classics of the like of artic roll and baked Alaska adorn the desserts menu, though the salted caramel drowned banana with gingerbread ice cream found a special place in my heart on account of the sweet, salt and spicy flavours proffered and gooey texture to tackle.

Salted Caramel Baked Banana with Gingerbread Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Baked Banana with Gingerbread Ice Cream

I loved the place so much, I’ve been back since my original review as a fully paying member of the public and plan to go again. The menu is far too fun to try only a couple of dishes, and despite a few snarls from Spinningfields shemales sporting gold brocade, and too, too many deck shoes treading the reclaimed floorboards, it’s a warm, inviting environment to eat and be entertained in, offering that holy grail of experiences of forgetting where you are, whilst whiling away the hours with good company, food and drink. My kind of place.

* So much so, that the DJ played everything from 70’s hip hop to Britney Spears. L.O.V.E.

Artisan on Urbanspoon

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