There will be those of you that may react with a certain amount of trepidation at the news of The Grill on the Alley’s menu refresh. Such is the popularity of this old favourite, certainly one of Manchester’s safest dinner bets, that any change of tack might mess with a much loved winning formula – thankfully they haven’t changed TOO much.
It’d be fair to say if you liked this place before you’re about to get more of what you came for. Namely top quality cuts of beef like this lump of Himalayan rock salt dry aged sirloin which is cut and weighed out in front of you.
Top tip, whilst picking your meat have a bit of bread with chorizo butter. Different flavoured butters seem to be pretty on trend at the moment and in particular Marmite stuff. Don’t get me wrong I’m definitely in the ‘love’ rather than ‘hate’ camp but I’ve pretty much been mixing the brown stuff with butter since I’ve been able to hold a knife, it really ain’t that impressive. This spicy sausage stuff with a hint of wholegrain on the other hand is well worth your attention.
Anyway before the beef, there are starters to tuck in to too. Piri piri calamari is great precursor to something much meatier, I’d have liked a bit more of the spice that fresh spring onion and chilli provided, but nonetheless the seafood was crisp and tender. There’s never anything quite as light about ribs, but they’re also pretty difficult to miss on a menu, and really when was the last time you regretted ordering some? There was no remorse with these, they even come with pork scratchings and apple sauce on the side as well as a sticky honey and orange glaze – lovely.
Whilst our starters were new, the main change to proceedings at The Grill on the Alley is a greater focus on providing the best quality beef. There’s now something called the Butcher’s Block which I mentioned earlier, we chose the Himalayan Rock Salt Sirloin, and you’ll also see some other new cuts too including Australian Aberdeen Black Fillet which we were pointed towards by pretty much everyone we spoke to so couldn’t really avoid. It more than lived up to those recommendations. It was one of those memorable pieces of meat that you eat and then bring up in conversation at regular intervals for the next few weeks… or is that just me? It’s worth talking about anyway. It was so tender that alongside a side salad of pecorino and rocket I could’ve been fooled in to thinking I was eating carpaccio, a very very large carpaccio. I actually felt a bit sorry for our other steak, nice as it was it came a litle over medium rare as asked and didn’t really compare. It seems difficult to imagine many things would’ve stood up well next that Aussie fillet though.
As much as I wanted to choose the big chocolately thing from the desserts we were pretty full, I think if you save too much space for pudding here you probably didn’t do it right. That said I was pretty happy with the Apple and Blackberry Pie with cream, a properly homely kind of treat that was just the right side of sweet and tart. A light, creamy and fresh tasting Lemon and Lime Posset with strawberry and brandy snaps was the sensible choice for a full belly though and offered just a nice bit of delicate indulgence to end the meal on a high.
It seems funny to think The Grill on the Alley is only 10 years old in a way as it seems to have been part of the restaurant scene forever somehow, and there are plenty of people in this city who seem to go a bit misty eyed when you bring the place up. The good news is nothing too much has changed, an old favourite has just sharpened its game a bit, so if you take your steak seriously this still deserves to be right up there on your dining wishlist.
The Grill On The Alley
5 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EG
0161 833 3465