What a place!

On Saturday night we had the pleasure of dining at Tattu (Gartside St, 3 Hardman Sq, Spinningfields, Manchester). I’ve wanted to visit since it opened and it was recommended by a friend who had been there to celebrate their engagement. 

We were quickly whisked upstairs to the dining area and seated on a table for two. The decor in Tattu is beautiful, tables, chairs and napkins are all black, in the centre of the room is a gigantic cherry blossom tree. Giant anchors hang from the ceiling down into the bar area and the ceiling is crisscrossed with rope. 

Our server, Casper, was amazing. As it was our first visit he talked us through the menu and advised us on the size of the dishes available. There’s dim sum, small dishes and large dishes. The small dishes are starter size. Dim Sum can also be eaten instead of a starter. 

 

Tattu Manchester
 
The cocktails were out of this world. I went for Memoirs of a Geisha and the Gin Whisperer went for Skull Candy. My cocktail looked like a bubbling witches brew, the Skull Candy was served in a glass skull, smoking from the top. They both tasted absolutely amazing. 

We decided to save the Dim Sum for another time and went for Chilli Salt Baby Squid and Duck and Watermelon Salad. The squid was the best I have ever tasted, absolutely wonderful and the Duck salad was an absolute delight. The combination of flavours and textures with the cashew nuts, spring onions, mint, sesame seeds and coriander were just wonderful. Probably one of the best starters I’ve ever had. 

Chilli Salt Baby Squid and Duck & Watermelon Salad

Next up were the main dishes. I chose the Char Siu Pork and the Gin Whisperer went for the Black Angus Fillet, rare. 

Clockwise from left: Char Siu Pork, Black Angus Fillet, Green Beans & XO Sauce, Beansprout Noodles

When Casper deliver our mains he gave us additional information about the dishes, whilst the Char Siu sauce is very good the Caramel Soy sauce with the fillet was ‘liquid gold’ and I should try it with my pork too. My pork topped with orange and lemon marmalade and served on a bed of Choi Sum with the sauce, served warm, on the side. Absolutely delicious. The Black Fillet was cooked to perfection, topped with Shitake and served on a bed of asparagus with the ‘liquid gold’ on the side. Casper wasn’t joking about the sauce, it was amazing! Sides were good too.

Finally came the desserts, yes, after both those delicious courses we still had room for dessert. We would have been crazy not to make room! Casper suggested I go for the Cherry Blossom and who was I to choose anything else? And the Gin Whisperer went for the Chocolate Satay. There wasn’t much of a description of how the desserts might be served. The Cherry Blossom simply said  ‘Chocolate, Miso and Cherry’. The Chocolate Satay simply said ‘Chocolate, Peanut and Coconut’. This is how they arrived…….

 

Top: Cherry Blossom Bottom: Chocolate Satay
 
Only one word can describe the presentation: Wow! The Cherry Blossom was two balls of chocolate mousse, cherry meringues, cherry sorbet, chocolate soil, candy floss, dark chocolate flakes, tiny gel pearls filled with cherry and finished off with edible flowers and micro-herbs. The Chocolate Satay consisted of, from what I can remember, chocolate cake, peanut ice cream, chocolate soil, dried red pepper skin, coconut pearls and a macaron, again finished with micro-herbs and edible flowers. Having mentioned that it was our wedding anniversary the desserts were served with a giant sparkler and a nice little speech from Casper wishing us a happy anniversary. And yes, the desserts did taste just as good as they looked.

Tattu has the potential to be a totally over the top, pretentious restaurant which is style over substance but it has managed to be completely the opposite. From the warm welcome at reception, sumptuous booths in the bar area available to book with no minimum spend, the friendly and professional service, the atmosphere, the decor, the food. Everything about this restaurant is perfection. I have never enjoyed a meal more, in fact I would go as far as to say this is the best meal I’ve ever had. 

We paid just under £200 for 3 courses, 2 cocktails, a bottle of wine and 4 glasses of champagne. Definitely worth visiting again and again and again. 

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Solita Didsbury

This weekend I took my search for the perfect burger to Didsbury. We had agreed to meet friends before the football and they suggested Solita (1 Ogden Street, Manchester, M20 6RD) instead of having to fight through the hoards on Deansgate on derby day. 

We didn’t have a problem getting a table as we were quite early for a Sunday, especially for somewhere not offering a traditional roast but the place soon filled up and there were plenty of people enjoying the sun on the tables outside. 

A warm welcome as we entered and were seated in a booth at the back of the restaurant, menus were already laid out at each place setting. 

There was so much choice on the menu. Not just burgers but also steaks, Chicago style hotdogs, salads, grilled seafood, chicken wings. If the waitress hadn’t come over to take our order I would probably still be deciding what to have everything sounded so delicious. 

I went for a Smokehouse burger, upgraded my fries to sweet potato and added some Mac & Cheese on the side. I also ordered a pint of Big Wave which I’ve never had before. 

  
The food came pretty swiftly and was delicious. The burger patties are made in house daily from chuck steak and were amazing. Mine was topped with smoked brisket chilli, Lancashire cheese, pickles and BBQ sauce. Whilst the presentation wasn’t up to much, it’s difficult when the burger had that much sauce, the food itself exceeded my expectations. The brisket chilli was excellent, not too hot and went perfectly with the cheese and pickles. And I love BBQ sauce. The burger was a nightmare to pick up, I ate half with my hands but had to admit defeat and ate the rest with a knife and fork! Nice to see a sesame seed bun too, I love a brioche roll but I just don’t think it would have worked as well. 

The sweet potato fries were good but I don’t know if they warrant an extra £2 on top of the price of normal fries and the Mac & Cheese was good too although a few too many bread crumbs for the Gin Whisperers liking. 

He went for the Perfect Storm burger, a panko breadcrumbed fish fillet with American cheese, homemade tartare sauce, tomato and lettuce. The only thing he left was the lettuce!  

And Big Wave was a revelation, I’ll definitely have another pint if I see it being served again. 

Our only disappointment was that we couldn’t stay longer. Definitely worth another visit! 

Altogether just over £78 for 3 burgers, two hotdogs, sides, 3 beers and 2 soft drinks. Good value for the quality of the food. 

Confused by Hawksmoor Manchester

Yesterday we were in Manchester early for the match so decided to visit Hawksmoor.

I’d seen some fab pictures of food in the London restaurants on Instagram and was looking forward to what looked like an absolute meat treat.

The Manchester branch looks very swish from the outside, I think it is in an old bank. We were greeted at reception and asked if we had a table booked. We hadn’t.  ‘No problem’ came the reply from the girl on reception who then proceeded to tap away on her computer. This place must be packed, I thought, if it’s taking this long to find us a table. She then showed us upstairs, through the bar and into the main dining area. No one at the bar or at the tables in the bar and only about 8 tables seated in the main restaurant. Although saying that, about five minutes later the greeter sat someone on the table slap-bang next to us even though there were plenty of other empty tables.

 
Drinks were ordered, I went for the Fitzpatricks Aviation cocktail while the Gin Whisperer went for a Plymouth and Slim.  When they arrived my cocktail was delicious, if a little small. The Gin Whisperer was unimpressed that his Plymouth was served in a tall glass with a slice of lemon (Plymouth should come with lime) and the entire 200ml bottle of tonic had been poured in. Given the choice he would have preferred to put the tonic in himself, 200ml is too much for a single gin. Three slices of lime were quickly dispatched to our table though, great service. Tap water was constantly topped up.

Some steaks are priced per 100g, Chateaubriand, Porterhouse,T-bone and Bone-in prime rib, and there is a blackboard stating what weight of steaks are available. Other steaks ranged in price from £18.50 for 55 day aged D-rump to £34 for a 300g fillet. Instead of this we decided to go for the Express menu available 12-3pm and 5-6.30pm. Two courses for £24 or three for £27.

As a starter I had Bone Marrow and onions which was delicious and the Gin Whisperer went for the potted Mackerel which was also yummy but kept reminding him how it tasted for the rest of the day.

  
For mains we both went for Rump, the only steak on the express menu. We both asked for them rare and to be honest they were cooked to perfection. Really well rested, mine was a little on the tepid side though. It’s a good job the Express Menu includes a side each as all you get in the plate is your steak. And with being from the Express Menu it wasn’t a particularly large steak. Nice and thick, just not very big. Probably a little bigger than my fist.

  
As a side I had the triple cooked chips which were lovely and crispy and the Gin Whisperer went for the greens. He had bone marrow gravy and I had the Stilon hollandaise. Both were good. As was the homemade ketchup. His steak was lovely but when I turned mine over it was hiding a whole side of fat, not the nice juicy stuff, the horrible gristly leathery stuff that you simply cannot chew. Now, I don’t mind a fatty rump, I’ve been cultivating my own for a few years now, but this was awful and very well hidden by the kitchen.

For an extra £3 we decided to have a dessert, we had room given the size of the steaks. I had the honeycomb sundae and he had the sticky toffee pudding . Again both were nice, we saw the ‘Ambassador’s Reception’ passing and this looked amazing. A giant Ferrero Roche the size of a baseball on a plate!

Altogether we paid £75.40 for three courses, two sauces, one cocktail, one G&T and one glass of red (the cheapest at £6 a glass). If it hadn’t been for the express menu we would have probably paid well over £100, I’ve seen reviews where people have paid over £300 for two people. And this is where it gets confusing.

I am unsure what Hawksmoor is trying to be. Expensive steaks, cocktails and wine (ranging from £22 a bottle to an eye-watering £2,500) served on expensive plates, by friendly hipsters in ripped jeans, vests, checked shirts and scruffy trainers. Yes, the service was slick but just a little too familiar for my liking. The lady who brought the drink was lovely though! But not a proper gin glass in sight. I’ve seen people saying that these are London prices and not Manchester prices. I’ve lived in London and these are not the type of prices I recognise for what is really just glorified steak and chips! No atmosphere at all, no music and a mixed bunch of stuffy looking clientele, uncomfortable looking couples and pre-match football supporters. The decor in the main restaurant looked very cheaply done, wooden panelling painted dark green and the tables were too small. Once you had your giant plate of steak, sides, sauces and gravy, wine glasses, water glasses etc it was just too cramped. And an absolute treck downstairs to the cold toilets. 

In my opinion there are much better places in Manchester, more innovative with warmer atmospheres and much less expensive price tags. But I’m sure there are enough Wags and footballers to keep this place going for a while due to its name alone. We will definitely given it a wide berth!