I recently had the opportunity to visit Manchester’s newish Menagerie restaurant for a business networking lunch. I say Manchester’s Menagerie restaurant but I really mean to say Salford’s Menagerie restaurant. Strictly speaking it’s in Salford as part of the Blackfriars area near Deansgate. But, that’s mostly a postcode and city boundary technicality. To all intents and purposes it certainly feels like a Manchester city centre restaurant or bar, albeit this restaurant purports to be one of the new breed of immersive ‘experience’ restaurants.
I’d been once before just after Christmas with friends for a between Christmas and New Year treat after a visit to the Selfridge’s make-up basement and a complimentary makeover, followed by a pre-afternoon-tea glass of champagne in Selfridge’s champagne bar. The champagne at Selfridges and afternoon-tea at Menagerie was enjoyed by all on that visit. The company was lively (bonkers fun friends) and our table attendant couldn’t be more helpful; constantly returning to our table to offer us champagne top-ups.
As the name would hint, there’s a fair deal of decadent gilt-edged birdcage look going on. Quintessentially Kardashian cosmopolitan decadence without the solid gold price-tag. It’s all very exciting and extravagant. Designed to thrill, whilst also ticking all the boxes on the culinary front. Large gold rimmed mirrors make for a spacious feel, and the odd gold looking statue adds to the obvious decadent theme further. Gold coloured bird-cage is atop and encloses one of the tables in the restaurant so some guests are literally sat in a birdcage. The whole look is toned down with tasteful cream rhodedendron flower heads as table decorations and cream table linen, albeit the tables are marble, with velvet chairs and gold coloured cutlery.
Oh, did I mention that in the evening they also have circus performers spinning around on hoops above the heads of one table of diners and a catwalk cabaret show?
Or so I hear.
At lunchtime the empty hoop hanging from the ceiling looks a little less exciting (and somewhat odd) than it would with a real acrobat hanging and spinning from it. The aforementioned catwalk is concealed during daylight hours behind a sheer cream curtain.
Given we’d enjoyed that visit so much I was very much looking forward to lunching again at some point at Menagerie. The opportunity arose when after joining The Boardroom (a Manchester business owner’s networking lunch club) who hold regular informal working lunches I learned that their next lunchtime meetup was at The Menagerie.
I jumped at the chance to join said lunch at The Menagerie and spend a few hours on a sunny late Friday June afternoon to finish the working week off.
I was again not disappointed.
I’m gluten-intolerant yet the staff could not do enough to cater for me, despite being provided with no forewarning of the situation.
My dining-companies ate a combination of shared starters consisting of spiced lamb meatballs with harissa and whipped yoghurt, mini chicken tacos, duck croquettes with honey and truffle and mini mac and cheese bites. My gluten issue meant that I deferred from sharing their starters but I was reliably informed that all of these nibbles were delicious and plentiful, even when shared amongst 3.
Hearing I was gluten-intolerant the waitress quickly offered a… “don’t worry about it at all. We’ll make something special for you”, returning promptly with a plate of spiced houmus with turmeric, accompanied by a crisp leaf or two, and carrot batons for dipping. Very tasty too.
Main course was steak-frites; a flat-iron steak (works well with gluten intolerances), accompanied by french fries, crispy salad and a choice of sauce on the side. Despite a little clash with gluten from the sauce, I decided to chance it as I’d abstained with everything else that day, and opted for the peppercorn sauce with medium-rare steak.
My dining companies opted for the same.
Absolutely delicious we all agreed. Steak cooked to perfection, sauce fabulous, and just enough frites to soak up saucy peppercorn residue.
I thoroughly enjoyed my working lunch visit to the Menagerie.
So much so, the next day I made a reservation for dinner the following Saturday evening.
I’m determined to see those acrobats in the hoops and hear the entertainment show is a plethora of sense-spinning extravaganza. It certainly looks worth a trip if the image below shared by The Menagerie’s Twitter account is anything to go off.
Here’s hoping the evening dining is as good as lunch and afternoon tea.