Food Blog by Hayley and Scott Holliday.
We were invited to eXchange Lounge through Instagram, and I’m double glad that we went along as well. Smack bang in the middle of Portland Street, eXchange Lounge is a trendy bar that serves an eclectic array of bar food and an extensive selection of drinks – including cocktails and a gins. Yes ginS. Emphasis on the s!
I couldn’t really see a theme with the menu, it’s like whoever created it thought of all of their favourite food from around the world and convoked it on the menu… and good for them! There’s not a lot of places where a pie is followed by tom yum soup.
The decor, like the menu, is multifarious. Industrial tables forged from scaffolding are sat underneath old tasseled lampshades(like ones you’d imaging seeing in Jack and Vera Duckworth’s house) on extravagant light fittings. There is loads of telephone memorabilia scattered about the place and we didn’t click on at first, but eXchange Lounge (the clue is in the name) is based at the site of one of the world’s very first telephone exchanges. Pretty cool! We got a lot of the info off the chalk board wall feature full of facts about the building and its history which was a nice touch. The little additions like the personalised crates to hold the sauce and flowers in an empty gin bottle set the table up nicely.
We decided to share a couple of starters. I’m a sucker for cheese, so I opted for the baked camembert. It was everything you’d expect – lovely and gooey in the middle. God, I love that word, gooey. It was accompanied by salad sticks and grilled bread. Btw, I don’t want salad with cheese, more bread, please!
The nachos were huge for a very reasonable price of £5.00 and would have definitely been sufficient as a sharer on their own. Covered in copious amounts cheese and served with sour cream, salsa and guacamole… just a few jalapeños away from perfection!
I was apprehensive about ordering a burger, I didn’t want it to be your bog standard bar burger that’s been cremated. I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was plump, juicy and a bit pink in the middle – perfection!
(Hayley)As a vegetarian it is hard to find an option that lives up to the meat choices but The Hellenic Club Sandwich was a star dish on its own. 3 slices of thick toast sandwiching falafels, chargrilled vegetables and spinach and oozing with creamy hummus and stringy melted mozzarella. I did contemplate getting a side of fries but the club was more than enough so I’m glad I decided against it!
The portions were of a decent size but after seeing that they do a trio of creme brulee – that’s right, not just one, but THEE CREME BRULEES! – I had to try it. Really glad I did, too. There was a chocolate, vanilla and coffee brulee, all with luscious deep flavours… oh and all three passed the obligatory crack and shatter test.
The food was reasonably priced at around £5 a starter, £10 a main and £6 for desert. Drinks were a bit dearer in comparison, with draught starting at £4.20 and cocktails around £8, which is still good city centre value. Service throughout was brilliant, all staff were attentive but not overly-so.
If you are looking for some well cooked bar food in the centre of Manchester then you should definitely consider eXchange Lounge.