TravelNoise: Grafene, Manchester
Someone please introduce me to the person that designed the interior of Grafene, because they need to come and do my house. The gold and blue in the colour scheme are more suited than Jack and Vera Duckworth, it’s aesthetically marvellous and oh my, the grey speckled plates are also to die for.
Before I get carried away with designing my dream house, or thinking how I could take over the place and just move in, not much would need to be done and I’d have a damn fine kitchen, I’m here to talk about the quality of the food.
I’m not one to research madly into where i’m going to eat, I don’t like to arrive with any expectations nor do I (because it’s my pet bloody hate) decide beforehand what I’m going to have. So from my first impression of Grafene, I wasn’t expecting the àla-carte menu to be, well, quite so àla-carte.
The small dining room and island bar could lend itself quite easily to a gastro kind of menu, but on the journey to our table, I passed more than a dozen ‘I’m desperately trying to impress you’ faces, from the men on first dates, which gave me an inkling that we were about to receive something pretty great, it wasn’t just your average kinda place. I was beginning to feel quite smug since it was the boyfriend’s birthday and I also desperately wanted to impress.
Taking the devil-may-care approach when it came to choosing food, I was willing to try something I’d never had before, so the Pigeon (£9) seemed like an exciting way to start. It was an ideal dish with the deep flavours of pigeon and haggis flirting with sweet apricot in your mouth. The partner in crime went for the Seared Scallops (£9) which were good but completely outshone by the black-pudding bonbon that put me on cloud nine.
Each course arrived at the table more striking than the one before, the interior designer must have been put to good use here too, even the drinks were beautiful, a cocktail served to a close by couple arrived in a puff of smoke, clouds billowing from the glass forcing even the most polite diner to turn and stare.
The Highland Venison (£23) was everything I wanted it to be, yet again, the savoury flavours taking occasional sweet hits from the sweetcorn ketchup and dark berries, it was just splendid. The birthday boy’s main was a lot more sizable than mine and I was a little jealous, Himalayan Salt Aged Beef Fillet 8oz (£28) with a classic peppercorn sauce (£2) that I’m almost certain he could have drank from the jug if he had let his manners go completely out the window.
The desserts were good yes, Baked Goat’s Curd Cheesecake (£8) and Milk Chocolate Brulee (£8) but just not a patch on the mains and starters – which is a huge statement coming from sweet-toothed me, if I had the pleasure of doing it all over again I would stock up on sides and skip the pud.
To fit in with the Grafene crowd you might have to put on your Sunday best, but you’ll definitely enjoy the food. The dishes are simultaneously interesting, authentic and wholesome. British flavours joining together, inspiring the new while honouring tradition.