Review by Scott Holliday
Grill on the Alley have recently launched their summer menu and they have really upped the steak!
The restaurant is smack bang in the Centre of Manchester – tucked away on Ridgefield behind the hustle and bustle of Deansgate and St John’s Street – so location-wise it’s ideal.
There’s a laid back vibe at The Alley, the decor is understated with exposed brickwork and leather booths but there’s a real air of class. I don’t know whether it’s because of the lighting and quality fixtures or the attentive and friendly staff but the atmosphere is spot on.
I always appreciate an open kitchen – and loved it that you can see the meat in the glass fronted fridge. The butchers block in front of it is a great touch as well.
Making a reservation was effortless and with everything in place when we arrived General Manager Caoilfhionn greeted us and explained the notion of the menu along with the new additions.
Starter – Short Rib Bon Bons £8
I love short ribs but usually don’t bother ordering them as they are messy – but there’s no finger bowl required with these bon bons – you still get the succulent meat with pockets of melt in the mouth fat without needing a bib! They were accompanied, perfectly, by burnt onion mayonnaise, horseradish creme fraiche and pickled red cabbage that had been cooked in white wine vinegar and mustard seeds. The mayonnaise’s buttery composition, warming horseradish and the zingy cabbage ticked all of the taste senses. Three was probably the right amount as it left me ready for the main… which was the star of the show!
Main – Premium Australian Aberdeen Black Grain Fed Rib Eye Steak £36
Rib eye is my favourite cut of meat – the pockets of fat and marbling are better than any other cut in my opinion – and this was probably the nicest I’ve had. The only way I can describe the meat is that it was like salmon when it flakes – you could cut it with a fork it was that succulent – and it had a depth of flavour like no other. This was down to it being mainly grain fed meat, but still allowing a little bit of grass in the diet. You have to try this meat!
Dessert – Chocolate Fondant £6.50
My dessert was cooked to perfection – it passed the fondant test – and was soft and gooey in the middle but it lacked a punch. It was creamy and not very chocolatey. Don’t get me wrong it was delicious but was just lacking that little hunk of chocolate.
Starter – Piri Piri Calamari £7
My wife joined me for dinner and whilst I cannot comment too much on what she ate, here are my thoughts from the dishes I tried… I reckon that calamari is a good test of a restaurant’s competence. Yes, it’s such a simple dish but it can easily go very wrong. Luckily for us, this was flawless. Different sizes and cuts of quality squid, cooked to perfection! It had a bit of a thai twist with chilli and lime. The prawn crackers were a brilliant addition too.
Main – Cod Loin with crushed potatoes, samphire and lobster bisque £17.95
I’ll let the picture do the talking on this one… stunning!
Dessert – Coconut Bakewell Tart £6.75
I personally loved the addition of the coconut to the frangipane. It was everything an English pudding should be – stodgy (in a good way), sticky and sweet!
We also had half a grilled lobster on the side (£5.30 per 100g) and washed our meal down with a bottle of Rioja (£28) from their extensive wine list.
It has been an absolute pleasure visiting and then reliving my visit to Grill on the Alley by writing this blog. If you find yourself in Manchester and appreciate quality steak, seafood and service then you’ve got to give Grill on the Alley a try.