What is a weekend if it doesn't involve clumsily pawing a smear of gravy off your chin at some point during the laziest of Sunday afternoons?
Last time out, our search for redemption via well roasted things brought us to Alston Bar & Beef, a low-lit basement on the Cathedral side of the Corn Exchange, where the two things that matter above all else are meat and gin.
Not a bad way to live life, although it must be said similar attention is clearly paid to vegetables too. Glistening, syrup-sweet honeyed chantenay carrots, cabbage so buttery it somehow seems sinful and a mustard seed speckled smear of parsnip puree line up to make the most of your choice between picture-perfect pink-centred Tweed Valley beef rump and crisp, pepper skinned Corn fed chicken breast.
Our own personal gravy boats arrive alongside, ready to dish out as seen fit, I recommend topping up the well proportioned Yorkshire pudding and then trying to get as much of it as possible in your mouth rather or around it, whatever. Potatoes could be more golden, but the quality of the meat on our plates really shines through. On this showing if I don’t make it back very soon to eat some steak I’m going to be pretty disappointed in myself.
Singed and tinged cauliflower cheese, that’s seen the exact right amount of flames, plays a valuable support act. Surely this humble side has now done enough to achieve national treasure status, and the rich, nutmeg spiked portions are as good as you’ll find anywhere.
From the drinks menu there’s plenty that needs shouting about,not least the Cathedral Honey Bee’s Knees. A simple cocktail of Manchester Three Rivers Gin and Manchester Cathedral Honey with lemon that hits all the right notes. Gin and Gingerbread, comprising of lime, ginger beer toasted ginger foam and Hayman’s London is similarly salubrious.
A selection of in house infused cold compound gins is what really sets Alston apart though and after dinner we pull up a stool at the bar to sample a few. Pineapple and coconut seem an unusual choice for gin infusion but the combination works surprisingly well, as does orange and vanilla. A fair amount of experimentation has clearly gone in to find the ideal flavours and tonics to match, which sounds like a lot of fun to be honest.
If you’re going to specialise in two things gin and beef seem as good a choice as any, maybe they should start offering that course at Manchester Uni, I’d sign up. In the meantime we can just go to Alston Bar & Beef this Sunday, tuck in to a roast and then get stuck in to the bar.
Sunday Dinners served from 12pm until they run out, don’t be late.
Alston Bar & Beef
Corn Exchange, Cathedral St, Manchester M4 3TR
0161 804 5555