Neighbourhood opened in 2013, and its industrial come twenties New York bar and restaurant proposition was incredibly popular with the Spinningfields crowds, particularly at weekends. But, like anyone who’s passed through their best years will understand, three years of making a name for yourself and heavy partying and you start to look a bit tired and in need of a slightly more refined and sophisticated do-over, which is exactly what Neighbourhood has had.
Neighbourhood is now an all day eatery and late bar, with a heavy emphasis on refined food, offering their version of the increasingly popular Bottomless Brunch (£35 for unlimited fizz and three courses at weekends), regular brunch, lunch, and dinner as well as afternoon tea and a very well-priced, in fact generous, Frugal Feast menu (three courses for £25) on Tuesdays – designed to allow you to try their most decadent dishes, which is what we came to try.
The newly refurbished Neighbourhood is still as energetic and lively as it ever was. There’s nods throughout to the sorts of bars and eateries that exist in the various neighbourhoods of Manhattan from which Neighbourhood draws its inspiration, hence the name, and there’s a sense of timelessness as styles from different periods are brought together: the lighting and wood cladding offer a slight colonial feel, but there’s a pop of 50’s and 60’s style in the use of colour and art.
Now, you might expect a Tuesday evening at Neighbourhood to be quiet, subdued even. It isn’t. By 7.30pm the food’s flying out and the dining areas are full with people arriving for post-work drinks, friends gathering with intent, as well as those on dates and just casual diners ending a day of shopping in the best kind of way.
We arrive at 6.30pm, when there’s a gentle bustle but you could easily walk-in and get a table, and we mull over the new menus with a pre-dinner gin and tonic for me and a beer for my companion. We decide to order from the main menu as well as the (Tuesday only) Frugal Feast menu (designed to allow you to try their most decadent dishes for less), to have a good taste of what’s on offer. To start with, we have some olives from the main menu which are served in a martini glass stuffed with crushed ice and are large, have a good bite and are tasty. Then from the frugal feast menu we share a sushi platter which in all honesty is a shame to demolish because it’s as attractive as it is delicious and a mound of wasabi clears the sinuses and wakes up our palates ready for our mains.
From the dinner menu, I’ve ordered the lamb cutlets which come with a bed of mash and spiced olives, I also order broccolini with a hollandaise sauce which is deeply rich. The lamb is pink and the crust is packed with flavour. The spiced olive jus brings the dish together and I finish it probably a little bit too quickly to appear polite, but what the heck, it’s Tuesday. We also try the steak from the frugal menu which is cooked to order (rare), is melting and juicy, and comes with big thick chips, as you’d hope, that are well seasoned, crisp and fluffy.
We have a little wait for desserts to arrive which is indeed a welcome rest. The atmosphere is lively and nineties and early naughties tunes, yes ‘tunes’, belt out almost causing tiny burgers, which are flying out of the kitchen, to lose their tops. I’m enjoying myself immensely.
Britney is blasting now as we sample both desserts from the frugal feast menu: warm salted caramel doughnuts and the blueberry cheesecake. I have a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ moment over the doughnuts. Sugary, light and oozing with just the right amount of salted caramel, I can’t get enough of them. They’re swearably good. When I comment this to the waitress she agrees energetically.
The cheesecake (that is served whole) is good, too. More than good; it’s baked and its bottom is buttery, its centre creamy but not too rich and it’s topped with a juicy blueberry jelly and handfuls of fresh berries and cream are heaped on top with a few baby sprigs of mint. Pretty and delicious.
Neighbourhood delivers on all fronts. The food really exceeds expectations and as a destination it’s as good for a catch-up as it is for a big celebration. My advice? Go! and don’t forget to have the doughnuts.
For reservations, call: 0161 832 6334 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org