This is an archived post, moved over from my old Blogger account- hence the lack of photos! If you’d like to see it in it’s full glory, you can still access it at www.GoodEggFoodie.blogspot.com.
I saw an episode of How I Met Your Mother recently where a character woke up on her birthday, plonked a plastic silver tiara on her head, and spent the rest of the day acting like a princess.
I’m afraid to say, that person is me! I am a total birthday brat. I love everything about them –birthday wishes, cards, presents (ooh, pretty ribbons), cake (bake my own so I always get one I like)…everything. So when I got to choose where to go for birthday dinner with my hubby, I chose one of Manchester’s newest- and much talked about- venues.
Australasia promised pan-asian cuisine in a ‘stylish but laid back’ style. Having fallen in love with Sydney and its food on my honeymoon several years ago, I was really keen to see if Australasia could live up to my aussie memories.
The restaurant is underground, accessed by a mini glass pyramid which reminded my husband of the Louvre in Paris. Down the stairs, and you are transported into a windowless world of cool. The lack of daylight is made up for with washed brick walls and lots of mirrors. Each table has a very big light hanging low over the middle which casts a lovely low glow so you can see you food and fellow diners and yet still feel cosy and intimate.
You can go two ways with the menu – chose a starter and main course, or chose sharing plates to enjoy with your table. We took the sharing plate route a) because it was my birthday and I wanted to (told you, brat!) and b) it is a good way of trying lots of the menu.
We started with some super fresh tuna, sushi and soft-shell crab California rolls. All beautifully presented (the tuna on a mound of ice, intersected with think slithers of lime) and tasty.
Next up came some giant pan fried scallops, with a gentle spice to them. Possibly the best scallops I have ever had, they practically melted on our tongues. Salt and pepper beef skewers were head and shoulders above those from the local Chinese takeaway, and Choi Sum was ordered as a concession to veg – the only green I had seen all day. Rather than just plain steamed, it came in oyster sauce and acted as a veg equivalent of sorbet- clearing our palates between mouthfuls.
And then we got greedy. We decided to order a couple more dishes- the problem with sharing plates is that it is easy to lose sight of what you have eaten. The two dishes we wanted to try – giant prawns and seared teriyaki beef- were sold out which was disappointing, but our back up choices arrived and disappointed disappeared. Blackened roast cod was a masterclass in good fish cooking: moist, meaty and perfectly seasoned. I was dubious about ordering prawns with red chilli- I feared that the chilli would push me over the edge late on in a meal. I’ve never tasted prawns like these. There was no biting heat from the chilli, but a gentle edge and sweetness from a crunchy topping which apparently was lime salt.
God forgive me, as if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we went for dessert too! I chose a passion fruit marshmallow because I had had the most amazing mini passion fruit marshmallows at Sydney’s Rockpool and desperately wanted these to be the same. Australasia’s version came as one big ‘mallow with a lovely pineapple sorbet and pineapple parcels. Good but Rockpool still wins out. Hubby had an espresso fondant with walnut ice cream. It must have been good because I didn’t get a look in even though he had half my dessert.
Drinks came in the form of lychee and rose martinis- again something I have loved since visiting Australia. Perfectly flavoured and a rose petal in the funky glass won me over for prettiness.
Staff were all very friendly, gave advice when we asked and didn’t over pester when we were eating.
The bar was full too and this was a Thursday night. A DJ played cool tunes and to be honest the only slight negative was that it was maybe just a tad too loud early doors- but then we were on a table nearest the bar and we are old people masquerading as thirtysomethings!
Oh, and I know it’s a girl thing, but the loos were divine!
Would I go again? Definitely. It’s the kind of place we would go to as a treat, but the fact that we have already decided what we are eating and drinking next time, suggests that a return visit won’t be too far in the future.
The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester.