After Barca closed its doors to the public back in 2008 it was hard to see the establishment ever regaining its former glory. In the late 90s it had been the ‘place to be’, where the cool people hung out and it was of course co-owned by Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall. Since shutting down the venue has seen new owners come and go but none have really managed to attract the masses or stay for that long.Hopefully 2012 is about to signal a change and it looks like the current management are doing everything they can to achieve the recipe for success.
What they have done already is present the public with 3 options under 1 roof. Taking up half the residence upstairs is Twisted Med, offering Mediterranean food and drink, the other half is home to the ultra cool Uber Lounge which shakes up sexy cocktails every Thurs-Sat from 7pm till 3am.
Last Thursday night I was invited to check out Bohemia, their stylish Bar and Grill which takes over the whole of the downstairs area. They have recently updated their menu and the changes seem to take in account the forthcoming Summer months with a nice twist on the usual dishes. Arriving at the early time of 7.30pm I was surprised to find a real ‘buzz’ already in the air and the tables filling up nicely. Diners included a group of women who looked like they were indulging in ‘after work’ drinks, catching up on gossip and a fair few couples enjoying a romantic meal and soaking up the intimate atmosphere, complete with mood lighting and piano bar singer.
Bohemia’s starters included Pan Seared Tuna, served on a five bean salad (£7.75), Homemade Crab Cakes, with garlic, aioli and chilli mayonnaise dips (£6.95) and Mixed Wild Mushrooms, sautéed with garlic, cooked in a Pinot Grigio cream sauce and served on toasted ciabatta (£6.25). I opted for the crab cakes, which were delicious and delivered a more than sufficient portion, which meant my ‘other half’ could sample to his delight! He chose the Pan Seared Tuna which, although tasty, was a little overfacing for a starter.
For the main course I committed the deadly sin of following a fish starter with a fish main but I admit I couldn’t resist the sound of the Mixed Grill Fish Platter (£24.95). I like the fact that Bohemia allows you to order a platter for one and not a minimum of 2 like so many other places. It did not disappoint and was a seafood feast; the seabass melted in my mouth, the tiger prawns were well seasoned and the half a lobster was glorious. I didn’t really need the side order of Mixed Salad (£3.25) but would suggest if you were tempted to order a side you would be best to go with a light option such as that one.
Wanting to appear ‘manly’ my partner decided on the more meaty option and was tempted by the Chargrilled Chicken Breast Sizzler (£14.95), served with sautéed mixed peppers, vine cherry tomatoes, onion and garlic.
The sizzlers offer a range of options for those who like to try something a little different, coming in chicken, steak and prawn. Diners can then select from 25 different glazes, from classics like Peppercorn, Lemon & pepper, Smoky BBQ, to the more exotic flavours such as Thai green, Jerk and Bulgagi. We chose a sweet chilli glaze with a side order of homemade chunky chips (£3.25).
If you can manage a dessert, which is hard, considering the generous portions, they include a Chocolate brownie (£4.50) and a Strawberry & clotted cream tart (£4.50). We both decided on their ‘liquid’ dessert; Strawberry cheesecake cocktail – Vodka, Cointreau and strawberry puree, topped with cream and crumble Oreo cookies (£5.95). It was naughty on lots of levels and totally scrumptious, however, if you want to be less naughty or you are the ‘designated driver’ I’m assured they can do a non-alcoholic version too!
All credit to the staff at Bohemia for their welcoming air and attentive attitude-our waiter Chris was lovely and spot on when it came to recommendations on the menu.
It was clear that everyone here was having a fabulous night and after chatting to other diners the generally vibe was that people were so glad to have the venue back and ‘alive’. Last week also saw the new addition of the ‘al fresco decking area’, perfect for Summer drinks and dining, which had just been fitted. In the words of Adele, ‘Rumour has it’ there’s plans for an outside bar, BBQ and outdoor music speakers which, if they pull that off, makes me dream of Ibiza evenings by the Castlefield Canal watching the sun set over Manchester.
Watch this space, and in the meantime head over there and check it out for yourself!
For bookings and opening hours call 0161 839 7099 www.bohemiacastlefield.com