After several visits to Manchester’s Australasia, my opinion of Living Ventures (the operating company running Australasia) in general are consistently reinforced. The restaurant provided a solid niche which never failed to deliver. Unfortunately, Australasia’s niche was ‘where to take your soon-to-be high-maintenance girlfriend on a first date’. It’s a tricky genre to capture. Plenty try and fail. Australasia nailed it.
Located at Number 1, The Avenue, Spinningfields, Australasia’s the G-Spot of Manchester’s W.A.G circuit. Australasia’s calming neutral furnishing matched with tranquil, coral-reef finishing was captivating. It’s the kind of restaurant where you want to steal the hand soap and moisturiser. The attention to aesthetic detail running through the fixtures and fittings, to the glassware and crockery is wonderful, although “art” consisting of tiny fish with a knife (no, really) was odd. Australasia calls itself “a stylish sanctuary, hidden under the heart of Manchester”, which I can’t disagree with.
I was greeted with a broad smile and fluttering eye-lashes by a smartly dressed host straight from central casting. Australasia’s bar had elegantly tall, stylishly lit, well-stocked shelves all kept spotlessly clean. The trendily minimal menus listed drinks all sounding sexy and exotic – think lychees, hibiscus flowers and girly purees. I loved the swapping of Prosecco for Australian sparkling Chardonnay and oriental curiosities like jasmine foam and galangal.
I liked the menu. The Mrs loved the menu. It felt like the menu was written by a bitchy marketing manager, and corroborated by focus groups of skinny girls with their boyfriend’s wallets. It’s all pretty pieces of tuna, avocado, scallops and things on little skewers. Perhaps I’m just cynical…
Overall, Australasia provided healthy, small-portioned, sharp-flavoured, beautifully-presented food to peck at; paired with light, citrusy, floral cocktails crafted from premium products. Don’t get me wrong, these are good things. Unfortunately, the clientèle are similarly small portioned, beautifully presented, citrusy and floral – giving a slightly obnoxious atmosphere – sometimes rubbing off on the otherwise well-organised staff.
Atmosphere 8 Cost 5 Quality 9 Service 8