When I started Finest 5 years ago one of the founding principles was around encouraging people to try places outside of their usual territory. If someone is staunchly Northern Quarter, why not try Spinningfields, break the pattern and discover other independent businesses, operating in a different way but with underlining shared values.
Menagerie has over the last 12 months gained a well earned reputation as the “go to” place for the well dressed, well versed female Manchester socialites. This all being well however begs the question, what’s there for me. In a word, food. Menagerie have launched a serious a la carte menu for 2017 and is looking to pull in a new and appreciative crowd.
We started with a show stopper. The seafood sharing platter is quite frankly fantastic, an enormous show piece that delivers not only your first Instagram moment of the evening, but something truly tasty. Oysters, sushi and a shrimp cocktail salad dish all served in a huge shell on a bed of ice with chilled champagne has the potential to stop people right there. But I’d advise delving a little further.
At this point I will state we heavily over ordered, for the purposes of being thorough of course. 3 small plates comprising of Duck Croquettes with honey & truffle, which are a must, Charamalized Halloumi with cauliflower puree, capers and toasted almonds which was as salty as it was moorish and seared Tuna Tartare with sesame, soy mayonnaise, avocado as fresh as it comes.
Between courses a rather unexpected interlude transpired in the form of acrobatic dance. The large suspended hoop in the centre of the room elevates a performer and seconds later it’s Instagram moment number 2.
Following on from that it’s Crispy Duck Salad with cucumber, coriander, mango, hoisin & plum and a rather splendid and generous 16oz Pork Chop with sweet potato puree, apple confit, maple syrup dish that was cooked brilliantly and rivalled the croquettes. All our dishes came at the recommendation of our server so a quick mention on that. Menagerie is a really good dining experience, what it isn’t is fine dining, the staff get that and as such the level of service is spot on across the board.
Dessert, yes that’s right, we went all the way. Menagerie Meringue with mango, passion fruit and coconut is not for the faint hearted, it looks like a piece of modernist sculpture yet the portion size is more a-kin to modernist architecture. The gold dusted Millionaires Torte with dark chocolate, shortbread, caramel and hand made Ferrero ends our evenings foodie romance on a fittingly indulgent note.
If by the end of this your mind still leans toward the familiar then maybe Menagerie is not for you. But then again, Menagerie is an ever changing experience, who knows what yours will be, you should probably go see.