A long time ago (in social media time scales) I wrote a rather desiccating review of Australasia, a place I found to be rather more style than substance; a place which left a rather large hole in the pocket of my dining companion.
In a bid to exorcise demons (and as I was stranded on a cold and blustery day in the soulless wastelands of Spinningfields without any desire to move my feet more than they had to) I came upon the decision that it was finally time to try Grand Pacific, the upstairs/less formal/outdoors area/annexe of Australasia.
Grand Pacific may be dressed up as a different restaurant, but it’s Australasia; it has the same menu, the same staff, the same decor and if you go downstairs, the same toilets. I was momentarily upset by the realisation that I’d be eating the same menu items I so roundly denigrated last time. It then struck me and double times upset me, that this time around it would be a hole in my own pocket and not some hapless companion.
Fortuitously for me the upset lasted only as long as it took the food to arrive (about thirteen minutes if you’re interested). In place of the misjudged flavours and lack lustre baubles I’d experienced on my last visit, this time the food was little less than exsquisite.
BBQ lamb chops were delivered over a somewhat superfluous, but (I have to admit) somewhat aesthetically pleasing warming plate. Soft, sweet and covered in a teriyaki style marinade, they also processed a moreish smoky char that left me wishing I’d been served more than the plump three I’d just inhaled. The tuna tartar proved to be a well balanced dish of almost buttery fish with subtle zings of citrus, mustard, spice and caper. The tuna was so delicately chopped that each small piece resembled a tiny, intact jewel with none of the mushiness you get from rough chopping or poor quality fish.
|Pretty food, amazing tastes|
Sour plum and salmon futomaki were great, just over shadowed by everything else on the table, especially the pigeon. I warn you now, I’m going to wax lyrical a little… The pigeon was presented as two plump, pink breasts surround with small clusters of mustard fruits and topped with two pastilles. Not only was the dish a beauty to behold, but the combination of sweet, rich meat and fruit, cut with the mustard and the sharp crunch of filo was utterly sublime. It’s one of the most delicious dishes that I have eaten in Manchester for a while.
|Amazing Duck and Mustard|
Oh and the chips are bloody moreish. End of.
To top our rather delightful experience we were also treated to some of the exceptional customers service that Living Ventures, the company behind Grand Pacific, are so famous for. We were served by Alex who not only had a thorough understanding coeliac disease, but who then proceeded to run to the kitchen with all our questions, asked the kitchen to change dishes to incorporate non-gluten ingredients and sourced some tamari (gluten free soy sauce) so we could both experience exactly the same tastes and textures throughout the meal.
In all, Grand Pacific completely changed my opinions of Australaisa, I might even go back to the main restaurant now.
Price for four cocktails, four sharing dishes and one side: £74.50
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service – 10/10
Value for money – 7/10
Total – 34/40
Go again? Yes.
Grand Pacific, 1 The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3AP – 0161 831 0288