Australasia is the latest ‘where to eat’ restaurant in Manchester, so we popped in for Sunday lunch to see what all the fuss was about.
(It has to be said it was a late lunch and maybe that was the reason it was so empty)
Located in Spinningfields, on Deansgate, the Pacific Rim pan-Asian themed restaurant opened on 24th May 2011, with the menu devised by former Young Australian Chef of the Year, Paul Greening.
(I don’t know whether this is a scoop or not but on questioning one of the staff to see whether the Head Chef was on the pass, we where told there was a new head chef, which we thought odd because it had not been publicized)
The entrance is a three dimensional glass triangle that juts out off the ground, very impressive.
We had a lovely greeting by the maitre d’ who led us to our table and announced the name of the waitress who would be serving us. There was nothing plastic about the welcome, a nice smile and her personalty shone through.
Couldn’t really say that about the waitress though, she seemed a little nervous and proceeded as if she was reading of a script; clearly new her job perhaps a little too well (over zealous training)
My wife had ‘ Yellowfin tuna Nigiri Sushi’ and I not being a sushi fan ordered ‘Prawn, avocado and cucumber Californian Roll’ (thinking that it would suit western palates better).
The common ingredient across all the different kinds of sushi, is sushi rice, you only need to ask the waitress to explain what the dishes are if like me you are a novice.
On arrival to the table ….surprise surprise these ‘finger food delights’ had to be tackled with a knife and fork, easily twice the size my wife had ever witnessed before and therefore too much of a stray from convention.
Unlike sashimi, which is almost always eaten with chopsticks, nigirizushi is traditionally eaten with the fingers, even in formal settings.
The sushi must have been pre-made and stored at a cold temperature, which I understand, however, I think it should be assembled to order and served at room temperature, here you could taste the coldness of the fridge.
We were assigned a wine waiter who presented us with an i-pad to select our wine, gimmicky maybe but it did hold a lot more information in terms of the wine history than a conventional wine menu and may well be the way forward; it was fun and apart from the selection been on the hefty price tag side, we managed to select a reasonable bottle of Sauvignon Blanc which was very good along with the wine waiter from Northern Ireland; again with a manner that was genuine and polite and clearly well trained.
For our mains I had ‘Ocean trout fillet with pancetta, caramelized onion and Madeira shallots with a side order of mixed leaf salad ‘ which was absolutely gorgeous although I did have to send back my mixed leaf salad because it hadn’t been washed properly; full of grit; having an open kitchen, when the salad went back I noticed the head chef on duty took charge, and
redone the salad himself, second time round, perfection!
My wife had 28 day aged premium grade British beef in the form of rib-eye steak with beetroot coleslaw, peppercorn sauce and a side order of fries. Her first reaction (being somewhat of a expert on chips) was.
“The fries are really good”
The main enhancement was, I think, garlic rock salt.
The steak was good, the peppercorn sauce was a little runny and we thought the cold beetroot coleslaw was weird as an accompaniment; although after saying that, all was eaten. I pinched the rest of the white wine and my wife had a glass of Shiraz to complement her rib-eye.,
The lime white interior was the ideal solution for a basement space creating a cosy ambiance; the seating was wonderfully comfortable and the lighting is just clever, you completely forget you are underground, it definitely has a wow factor.
Somewhere to entertain if you want to impress or a special treat. (avoid center isle for intimacy)
This next comment is really for their own good as I would like Australasia to say around longer than some I could mention.
Our bill was £73.00; grit in salad leaf is amateurish and should never of happened
The head chef who has changed since opening was not in the kitchen; he can’t be there every day.
The staff get a score of 2/3 but all new their job.
Having a brigade of 7 chefs covering only 16 people on a Sunday afternoon and according to a member of staff “it’s quiet on a Sundays” some one needs to look at costs.
The small faults we encountered should not have occurred at this stage.
Would I go back, Yes please if your asking.
The Cornerstones Guest House is a 5 minute walk away from Brooklands Tram Station; get off the first stop in the city which is the G Mex (12 minutes)
turn right on to Deansgate and you’ll find Australasia about 5 minutes down the road on the left hand side.