Restaurant Review: Comptoir Libanais, Manchester

Comptoir Libanais – Lovely Lebanese Lunch

Nestled between war-torn Syria and tumultuous Israel, Lebanon could be forgiven for producing depressed cuisine: Comptoir Libanais Manchester’s environment was anything but. Dizzying splashes of vibrant colour with the frenetic fusing of glossy tiles, kitsch prints and miles of merchandise, created a spotlessly clean, immersive dining area.

Comptoir Libanais‘ zingy ‘Toufaha’ (apple, mint, ginger) and ‘Roomana’ (pomegranate, orange blossom) juices were the most refreshing entity my mouth had encountered: I now no longer regard non-alcoholic drinks the domain of the devout, prepubescent or recovering alcoholics only.

Starters provided mouth-watering salty, golden, succulent halloumi – God’s consolation prize to vegetarians. The accompanying robust tomatoes, vigorous dressing and flavourful olives whisked me away from Spinningfields to the Mediterranean. The simple Baba Ghanuj granted me authentically smokey bread, lifted with bursts of exotic pomegranate.

Regarding mains, a generous hunk of hot lamb was tender, satisfying with well-formed rice. The dish was properly slow-cooked, flavourful, zealously salty but ultimately one dimensional in taste, texture and presentation. Meanwhile, the falafel & fattoush salad was attractively arranged, with pleasingly contrasting colours and shapes. The falafel was skilfully formed, with befittingly crispy out edges and bready, soft centres. The dish provided a glorious balance of sweetness and acidity, and the fresh herbs worked wonders – a rare example of a salad that didn’t need a side of chips to make it delicious.

Comptoir Libanais Manchester produced food as genuine as the charming servers’ tans – a novelty for chain restaurants. Give it a go.

Comptoir Libanais Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 9/10    Quality 9/10    Service 9/10

 

Comptoir Libanais, Spinningfields Manchester Restaurant Review Lebanese Food

Wonderfully refreshing

Comptoir Libanais Manchester Spinningfields Restaurant Review Lebanese Food

Tomato & Halloumi

Comptoir Libanais, Spinningfields Manchester Restaurant Review Lebanese Food

Baba Ghanuj

Comptoir Libanais, Spinningfields Manchester Restaurant Review Lebanese Food

Falafel & Fattoush Salad

Comptoir Libanais, Spinningfields Manchester Restaurant Review Lebanese Food

Lamb Maqlooba

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Restaurant Review: Iberica, Manchester

Iberica Manchester – Tip Top Tapas

I loved Iberica Spinningfields. It pleasingly served dishes separately but rapidly, and in big enough portions to actually share. Iberica Manchester was social eating at its best, something that surprisingly few other Tapas restaurants deliver on.

Iberica Spinningfields didn’t just offer the same chorizo, gambas, calamari, patatas bravas lead menu found everywhere. I love these dishes, but Iberica Spinningfields made a refreshing change. I went weak at the knees laying eyes on their artisan cheese menu; being exclusively Spanish it provided the opportunity to discover new products and flavours.

The Red Berry Gazpacho was the finest cold soup I’d ever eaten. It was alive with vibrancy and just wonderfully summery. I’d never had a more flavoursome dish for £4. The humble Bread & Oil was as good as anywhere. The grilled Padron Peppers were pleasingly salty and made a classy beer accompaniment. The curious Spring Onion Tempura were bronzed crunchy phallic mouthfuls, served with decidedly delicious dips. The Classic Tortilla didn’t let its nation down, providing a perfectly respectable account of itself.

The meaty Sea Trout was lightly cooked and uniquely served with peanuts and Ajo Blanco sauce. The dish was certainly enjoyable, but quite expensive at £8. The Chorizo Lollipops were golden balls of fun, served with an intriguing pear aioli. In the wake of these quirky touches, came the poshest Ham, Egg & Chips in Manchester. The Sliced Cooked Beef was Spain’s answer to Bresaola and every bit as flavourful.

The Churros were piping hot, pleasingly crispy and sugary pieces of happiness. The small but perfectly formed cheese board paired marvellously with the amber-hued viscous sherry. I don’t know anything about sherry, other than that I need to drink more of it.

With the drinks menu heavily marked up and the additional 12.5% service charge, Iberica Spinningfields is at the pricier end of Manchester’s bustling restaurant scene. Given the exciting menu, quality ingredients, sophisticated atmosphere and charming staff, it is still certainly worth exploring.

Iberica Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 6/10    Quality 10/10    Service 9/10

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review

A decent drop…

Ibérica Spinningfields

Bread & Oil

Ibérica Spinningfields

Outstanding Red Berry Gazpacho

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Padron Peppers

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Spring Onion Tempura

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Sea Trout, Ajoblanca & Pitu Sauce

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Fried Chorizo Lollipops w/ Pear Alioli

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Iberico Ham, Egg & Chips

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Sliced Cooked Beef

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Churros

Ibérica Spinningfields Restaurant Review Manchester

Cheese

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Bar Review: Australasia, Manchester

Australasia – Subterranean Spinningfields Chic

After each of my (several) visits to Australasia, my opinion of Living Ventures bars and restaurants are consistently reinforced. One receives a solid theme which never fails to deliver. Australasia’s theme is the often poorly executed: ‘where to take your soon-to-be high-maintenance girlfriend on a first date’ theme.

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 is captivating. 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’s bar itself has elegantly tall, stylishly lit, well-stocked shelves all kept spotlessly clean. The trendily minimal menus list drinks which all sound sexy and exotic – think lychees, hibiscus flowers and girly purees. I loved the swapping of Prosecco for Australian sparkling Chardonnay and oriental curioustities like jasmine foam and galangal.

Australasia provides healthy, small portioned, sharp flavoured, beautifully presented food to peck at; paired with light, citrusy, floral cocktails crafted from premium products. 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.

Australasia Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 4/10    Quality 10/10    Service 8/10

Australasia Spinningfields Manchester Bar Review

Alan Partridge’s Favourite – Ladyboy Martini

Australasia Spinningfields Manchester Bar Review

“Art”

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