Saturday, 19 November 2016


Why we booked a table at Grafene earlier this month is still a mystery to us? Not in a bad way you understand but its just we can't remember where or how we discovered it! Having booked said table weeks in advance for a pre-theatre dinner we ventured up to King Street in the Deansgate area of Manchester city centre on quite a wet and windy Friday evening to see if there was method to our apparent madness.

As we walked through the door and into the warmth we were greeted by the friendly host who took the twenty layers of clothing we had on and kindly took us to our table 30 minutes before we had booked it. Grafene is gorgeous inside. The exposed industrial ceiling covers a beautifully furnished dining room of grays and blues which sounds like it would be really dull but when it's done to as high a standard as it is here it really works. There is a small private dining room which would be cute for a small family celebration and a bar area just past the entrance if you want to indulge in pre-food drinks before tucking into your food.

Speaking of drinks, Grafene's cocktail list looked too divine to pass up on. I mean, anywhere with a list of signature cocktails must know what they are doing right? Well, after my first sip of the "King Street Corpse" I was won over. These are proper cocktail for proper cocktail lovers. This beauty was a mix of botanist gin, cointreau, briotett quince, lillet blanc, lemon juice and absinthe air. Yes that's right, absinthe air but don't worry it won't blow your socks off. The balance of all the components is spot on and I could of sat here all night sipping on these bad boys. This would be my first recommendation if you can't decide which cocktail to have!

Let's have a look at the food! Our first starter was the soup. I say soup, it was a squash bisque with some gorgeous strips of king oyster mushrooms layered on top. Oyster mushrooms can be terribly soggy and unappetizing if overcooked but these were done to perfection. They were tender and added texture to the bisque which had a rich sweetness which complimented the earthiness of the mushrooms. A hint of basil and the broad beans tie everything together to form a bowl of pure perfection. Being northern folk we would of mopped up every last bit with a chunk of bread but you know; we didn't want to show ourselves up now did we!

I often scoff at fancy food that's presented all delicately for being style over substance but then I had this seared scallop dish. The scallops were the best I've ever had, they melted like butter in my mouth. They sat on a chorizo puree which was so intense and smoky and complimented the crispy pieces of prosciutto standing proud around the plate. The black pudding bon bon stole the show though and it took all my willpower not to shove it all in my mouth in one go. I savored every last bit; I just wish there was more. Stunning to look at and equally stunning to eat!

Would the mains be just as mouth-wateringly immense as the starters? When the first main dish arrived at the table, a beetroot orzotto I was stunned. I have never seen anything that vibrant and purple at dinner time before and the flavor was just as magical. The pearl barley had a real bite to it making it much more interesting on the palette compared to a soggy badly made rice risotto. The sweetness of beets and what I think was carrot gel partnered with the pretty little seasonal vegetables shows that even vegetarian food can be refined and exciting.

Manchester is famous for its curry mile but this tandoori monkfish dish is a million miles from a vindaloo and a pint of lager. The plump monk fish fillet was perfectly cooked and delightful when dipped in the saffron yogurt served on the side. For me, the true star of the show was the amazing kedgeree served very much in the style of an arancini ball which the monk fish sat upon. As you got through the crunchy outsides of the balls, a delightfully warm and fragrant curry flavor pours into your mouth that really is something special. A work of art on a plate, I cannot fault it in anyway. 

Surely dessert couldn't be as spectacular as the first two courses. Well, when mine arrived at the table I was initially concerned due to the fact that it appeared to resemble a deconstructed lime cheesecake - a pet hate of mine! I stayed open minded though and I can't argue the fact that it was smooth and creamy with a sharp tangy lime flavor with the crumb on the side giving some needed crunch. I could of done with more of the sticky raspberry gel on the side as it was delicious whilst the sorbet on the side was the best palette cleanser to get you ready for the next spoonful of yumminess. Pure decadence! 

Then along came the next pudding. a caramel pannacotta! With its perfect little wobble, it was even more smooth than the body of the lime cheesecake. The pannacotta came served with "textures of apple"; a cool and refreshing apple sorbet, little blobs of apple gel with an intense fruity flavor and some crunchy fresh apple spheres that I think had been mixed with cinnamon to give them an amazing apple pie style flavor. Add to the plate a splash of sticky caramel sauce and a gingerbread crumb and you have the perfect end to a three course masterpiece!

That's right; a masterpiece. This was genuinely one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The teeny tiny faults I could pick at were majorly outweighed by the multitude of positives in everything presented to the table. The decor is delicious, cocktails heavenly and the food is utter genius. Yes its pricey but if you are looking to really treat yourself or a loved one whilst up in Manchester then Grafene is the place to go, it's absolutely glorious!

To book a table, look at the scrumptious menu or for more information about Grafene, head on over to those website by clicking here!

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