Monday 23 November 2015

A culinary odyssey at Manchester House...

Last week I was fortunate enough to be swept in to a world of refinement and culinary art which I have been eager to experience for some time. Situated in the thriving Spinningfields area of Manchester, Manchester House* Restaurant and Lounge has acclaimed chef Aiden Byrne at the helm, who was already a Head Chef by the age of just 22 and is celebrated for his skill and creativity. When you walk in to the building, at first glance you feel as though you are in an ordinary office reception until you see the Manchester House hostess stand.
I exited the lift above, to find a stylish and minimal world of elegance with glowing lights, large windows and a symmetrical open kitchen where Aiden Byrne himself was busy working, looking totally in his element.
After a warm welcome, my friendly server recommended the eight course tasting menu, which  was an offer I could not refuse! I sipped a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and my feast began with a square of soft thyme scented brioche with chicken crackling and roasted chicken butter.The artichoke consommé which accompanied this was full of flavour, and there was chicken within the glistening broth, adding another layer of depth which sat well against the rich roasted chicken butter and the divine brioche.

There was so much to be enjoyed about the soft and satisfying brioche, which I found to be the perfect start to the meal as it delivered so much flavour without being overpowering. The second plate was soon set before me, and I was dazzled by grilled oyster, roasted sweetbreads and king oyster mushroom. This dish was a work of art which combined the sea and the land so well as the pure oyster taste was complemented by the mushroom and the richness of the sweetbreads whilst parsley added a welcome zing. 

The next course of Pork rillette with smoked anchovies and leek fondants was a joy to behold, with so many elements carefully presented. Glittering anchovies gave a silver accent to the plate and a beautiful rich smokiness was added by the pork whilst subtly sweet leeks and crispy sourdough added further enjoyment to this dish.

It always shows a stroke of genius when chefs add extra touches of unexpected fun to their dishes, and I was impressed that the next course of roasted cod with barbecued celeriac and walnut purée was served with a homemade fruit cider which gave a rush of blackberry and a sweetness which went well with the flaky white cod loin. The punchy pink cider felt like an indulgent delight which recalled the childhood joy of a glass of cordial. The barbecued celeriac added a woody accent and walnut brought in a slight sharpness which offset the other elements of the dish beautifully. 

The next course of Yorkshire venison haunch, with a fermented red cabbage purée and jus was a delight to the palate with plenty of flavour. The deep red cabbage purée was sharp whilst an additional mousse pot added a further contrast of sweet and savoury elements as well as a delightful texture. This dish worked so well and it was at once simple yet refined, a true triumph.

After such magical dishes I was keen to see what thrills dessert would have in store and I was not disappointed. Firstly,  blackberry, apple and bay conjured up autumn on a plate with a wealth of complex flavours. The fresh sweetness of apple danced around the sharpness of blackberries, with meringue and sorbet adding plenty of texture to create a delight for the senses. 

Another demonstration of creativity was shown in the the second dessert. A pairing of chocolate, pineapple and liquorice was a combination I could never have imagined together until I experienced the brilliance of this dessert, which packed in the divine sweetness of pineapple against the heady taste of liquorice whilst a rich chocolate cookie similar to an Oreo added indulgence and a pineapple crisp added texture which melted in the mouth. 

It would not be too much to say that this entire meal was a sheer joy, with exquisite flavours, a clear eye for beautiful presentation and skillful culinary prowess. It is easy to see why Aiden Byrne is so revered for his cooking, which is excellent in every way. This was a odyssey of brilliant flavours and textures and I am always thrilled when a meal can surprise and delight in the way that this one did, with ingredients I would not have imagined together working in perfect harmony.
The magic was not over quite yet as alongside a latte, I was presented with a wooden box inscribed ‘thank you’ which contained six perfect macaroons, which I devoured immediately!
The superb dishes and attention to detail at Manchester House show the hard work  put in to the entire experience by Aiden Byrne and his team. Dining here is a truly special experience which elevates food to theatre with artistic talent which is a joy to witness.

What do you all think, would you like to dine at Manchester House and which of these dishes appeals to you? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Manchester House 
18-22 Bridge Street
M3 3BZ
0161 835 2557

Until next time,



I was kindly invited to experience Manchester House, the meal was complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Turtle Bay Liverpool...

One of the best aspects of writing about food is that I often get to meet amazing chefs who are so enthusiastic about what they do that it is simply inspirational. Turtle Bay is a Caribbean restaurant group which has recently opened a new location in Liverpool, I was fortunate enough to be invited along to a preview event last week, with some lovely fellow writers and later in the week I also attended the launch party. 
It was cold and grey outside but as soon as I walked in to Turtle Bay I was transported to the sunshine of the Caribbean. The vibrant colours of the interior design create an immediate sense of warmth and happiness and the restaurant makes you feel as though you are on an outdoor terrace. The bar dominates the centre of the room, flanked by tables and booths and an open kitchen at the other side gives a glimpse of where the magical Caribbean dishes are made. 

We were lucky enough to be given a masterclass by Chef Colin Scott who is Development and Training Chef for the Turtle Bay group. His knowledge is incredible and he gave us a fascinating insight in to Caribbean culture and food. We took our seats in a cosy booth and Colin poured us delicious Rum Punch, a neon pink cocktail which transported my mind to a white sand beach! We were talked through the menu and we found out that ‘Cutters’ are the Caribbean way of starting a meal, which we would refer to as starters. There are lots of mouth-watering dishes on the menu at Turtle Bay from jerk pit barbecue dishes to one pots and salads.

We were lucky enough to sample two dishes during the evening, the first of which was Curry Goat. There are many one pot dishes on the menu at Turtle Bay and Chef Colin gave us an insight about the importance of goat in Caribbean culture, before he vanished to the kitchen and tantalising aromas filled the air. After a while, Colin reappeared wielding a large pot and we gasped as he lifted the lid to reveal the fragrant curry, topped with coconut shavings. The dish was a work of art, with chunks of vegetables and a rich, deep colour. 

A simple side of rice and peas accompanied the curry, which is a traditional dish in the Caribbean. The curry was ladled out and we were thrilled by the explosion of flavours and the hearty chunks of meat, the spice level was surprisingly subtle at first, then it built to a much spicier crescendo after you had taken a few mouthfuls! It was so satisfying and full of flavour whilst the coconut rounded off the dish with a delightful sweetness. 

We headed over to the open kitchen next to watch Chef Colin prepare some Jerk chicken for us, which is marinated prior to cooking and glazed several times during cooking to add an extra depth of flavour. The jerk sauce contains a blend of spices and molasses and we tasted the delicious marinade which was sensational even on its own. Liquid smoke is also used during the cooking process to add further depth to the taste. 

The chicken is cooked on a special Japanese Robata grill, which uses volcanic stone and radiates a fierce heat, it was quite the spectacle to see the flames and smoke rising up as Colin expertly tended to the grill. It was ready in no time and we headed back to the booth where we feasted on the chicken which was served on a board topped with a tangy sour orange chutney which added a sweet and sharp element to the tender meat. 

What a feast, the food was divine and we had so much fun during the evening, it was a privilege to hear Chef Colin talk about menu development at Turtle Bay and to witness him at work!

Two nights later I was back at Turtle Bay again for the VIP launch party which was also a super evening. The restaurant was full of party guests and the expert mixologists at the bar served up cocktails such as Caribbean Pimms, Rum Punch and Bay Bramble as live music played and mini dishes from the Turtle Bay menu were served. Afterwards we went outside on to the terrace for more drinks and music, before finally heading home well after midnight. It was such a great party!

What do you all think, have you eaten at Turtle Bay and would you like to try any of these dishes? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Turtle Bay

6A Victoria Street 


Until next time,



Sunday 15 November 2015

Euro Hostel Liverpool launches...

Let’s face it, when somebody mentions staying in a travel hostel it can conjure up images of basic accommodation which won’t break the bank. I stayed in a youth hostel for a week when I visited New York many years ago and although it was reasonably priced, the accommodation was pretty standard and the best thing about staying there was being able to afford to spend a week in New York. 
Nevertheless, the face of travel hostel accommodation has changed dramatically recently thanks to the company Euro Hostel, who have been completely reinventing the face of hostel style accommodation since they opened their first site in 2000. They now have sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Liverpool, meaning that you can finally go on a city break without spending a fortune staying in a hotel. 

Recently, the Euro Hostel group acquired the site of the former Hoax Hostel on Stanley Street in Liverpool city centre and they have given it an impressive £600,000 makeover to transform it into a luxurious and cool hostel with a contemporary and stylish interior design aesthetic and useful extras which make your stay all the more comfortable. Euro Hostel could not be located in a better place, as Stanley Street is right in the centre of Liverpool, close to shops, bars and restaurants. 

The Euro Hostel boasts its own 250-capacity bar and live music venue called The Hatch, which serves food and drinks all day.
There are 260 bed spaces at Euro Hostel and t
hree types of accommodation are available; private rooms for one, two, four, six or eight people as well as dorms and the new VIP suites. All accommodation types have en-suite bathrooms and with free WiFi in all areas, you can still keep up with work or study during your stay!
I was delighted to be given a sneak preview of the hostel and I found out all about the new VIP suites which are equipped with a sleeping area, private living area and bathroom. What girl could resist a suite which also comes with useful extras such as GHD straighteners, widescreen television and USB ports? Euro Hostel have definitely taken the whole concept of hostel accommodation and completely revolutionised it! 

The Liverpool Euro Hostel launched with a glamorous party on 12th November when the cocktails flowed and there was live music from The Showhawk Duo. I think Euro Hostel is such a cool concept, offering affordable accommodation in stylish surroundings which can even cater to larger groups of family or friends in the VIP suites.

Euro Hostel’s general manager at Liverpool, Emma Wright said: “The Euro Hostel brand has changed the perception of hostel accommodation and it’s become an incredibly popular, sociable and fun way to visit a city". I could not agree more and I am looking forward to staying there myself sometime soon!

What do you all think, have you ever stayed in a travel hostel and would you like to stay in one of the cool and stylish Euro Hostels? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post! 

Until next time, 



Thursday 12 November 2015

Comptoir Libanais Manchester launch party...

It is rare to come across a breath of fresh air in the restaurant scene, with virtually every cuisine and concept we can think of readily available in major cities. One cuisine however which is not as freely available is Middle Eastern, so I was delighted to hear that celebrated restaurant Comptoir Libanais is opening a location in the hip Spinningfields area of Manchester. I just love Spinningfields, it is such a good place to go out in Manchester, bursting with great restaurants and bars.

I was so pleased to be invited to attend the launch party for Comptoir Libanais, because I love Middle Eastern food. From the second we arrived, I knew we were in for a special evening and I was delighted by the beautiful interior of the space. The restaurant was already full of party guests when we got there, and many people were outside on the sweeping covered terrace, which brings a real flavour of warmer climates to the restaurant. Adding a covered terrace is an inspired touch, because you can enjoy being outside no matter what the weather!

 Comptoir Libanais is the brainchild of Tony Kitous, and the first restaurant opened in 2008. He wanted to bring authentic and wholesome Lebanese food to the people, and the brand has been growing steadily ever since. Comptoir Libanais is a hotly anticipated and welcome addition to the Manchester scene, with so much to offer in terms of both menu and ambience. 

After a warm welcome from the lovely Andy Foy who is the restaurant manager, we headed to the bar where we sipped chilled prosecco and homemade Toufaha lemonade, with apple, mint and ginger. The bar staff were impressively efficient, serving the guests rapidly and whipping up cocktails with real flair! 

Silver bowls brimming with fresh fruit and jugs of pomegranate water on the bar gave even more colour to the vibrant setting. I just love the interior design of Comptoir Libanais, which has a large open plan restaurant space (complete with private dining area), open kitchen counter and a long bar area with banquette seats, decorative tables and colourful scatter cushions. Everywhere you look, there are elements of Middle Eastern décor, with beautiful painted tiled walls and floors, pretty coffee pots and handmade baskets which you can buy to take home!

We tucked in to delicious canapes during the evening, such as h
ommos, fishcakes, chicken skewers and baba ghanuj as we chatted with friends and soaked up the party atmosphere. We also enjoyed delectable baklawa, which are always a favourite of mine. They were delicious with flaky pastry, honey and pistachio. Irresistible bites of sweetness which go so well with traditional Lebanese style coffee; strong black coffee slow roasted and finely ground with Cardamom and served in a traditional rakweh. 

Comptoir Libanais will offer coffee and a croissant for £2.75 every day until 11am, so Manchester will have a bustling and warm new spot to enjoy that essential morning caffeine-fix from now on! If I lived nearby I would be popping in all the time, because the colourful interior just makes you smile from ear to ear! The emphasis at Comptoir is on healthy, light and affordable food which can be enjoyed in the restaurant or to take away. 

 As well as tasty breakfast options, the menu has sumptuous mezze platters, wraps, salads, traditional tagine and Lebanese mana’esh flatbreads to offer. Divine! The casual yet chic style of the restaurant is really appealing, this is a 'roll your sleeves up and enjoy' kind of atmosphere, with none of the stuffy old fashioned feeling which makes some restaurants so unappealing. 

Drinks are equally impressive, with coffee, tea, iced tea, homemade lemonades, cocktails, wines and beers to choose from! As well as being a cool spot to grab a bite to eat, I could definitely imagine popping in to Comptoir Libanais just for drinks, as the bar area is light and airy and the huge selection on offer plus the lure of the outdoor terrace to enjoy makes for a winning combination! 

 I am so envious of Manchester to have such an exciting new addition to the thriving dining scene. I cannot wait until we have a Comptoir Libanais in Liverpool, make it happen soon please!
I will be going back soon to review the restaurant menu, so watch this space. Many congratulations to the whole Comptoir Libanais team and thank you for a wonderful party! 

What do you all think, would you like to try a tasty tagine or some moreish mezze in the vibrant surroundings of Comptoir Libanais? Have you tried Lebanese food before? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post! 

Comptoir Libanais 
18-19 The Avenue,

M3 3HF

Until next time,