It’s no fun being ill, so when Manchester’s Spinningfields and restaurant Southern Eleven had a Twitter competition to try out their new festival cocktails I thought that was just the tonic I needed.
I’ve been itching to try out Southern Eleven since it opened a few months back. I’ve read some rave reviews about the food there so was really looking forward to giving it a whirl.
A plethora of public transport disasters left me thinking that we were never going to make it into Manchester, so we were about an hour fashionably late by the time we managed to get in to town. Seriously, it is no fun being an out of town blogger! One of us normally drives but as cocktails were on the cards this just wasn’t even considered.
Our tardy arrival meant that there was no room left at the reserved party table when we arrived, so we plonked ourselves by the twinkly window and watched the accountants in the open plan glass building opposite pulling a late shift whilst we checked out the festive-themed drinks on offer.
We started off with the hotties- I had a mulled wine and my husband had a hot spiced cider. Now I’m no cider fan (too many teenage hangovers) but this was nice. Not a nasty sweet cider but dry with added cloves and cinnamon. And the mulled wine was a hit too – it didn’t have the bitter aftertaste of some you get.
With a nice warm glow, we decided to both go for a Christmas pudding and custard martini. When hubby came back from the bar with them, I asked him what alcohol he’d seen going in. He pointed at the wall of spirits behind the bar and said: “all of them”. Yikes! It certainly did pack a punch – a custardy layer on top seemed to be eggnog and then you hit the bottom layer which certainly did taste like Christmas pud. I would hasten a guess at dark rum, but you really taste the festive fruit in there- it tastes like the smell of my Christmas cake when it came out of the oven. Oh, and talking of Christmas cake, the martini came with two little slices on the side which I thought was a really cute touch.
So the cocktails were a success, and I was starting to feel the effects, so we took a table at the back of the restaurant and ordered some food. I had the tender pulled pork – smoky and sweet it was a very generous portion which came with corn bread (my first time and I liked it a lot) and slaw (cute kilner jar presentation but straight out of the fridge so a bit too cold). A side of parmesan truffle fries were tasty, and made it a complete meal. He had a dry-aged rib eye which came medium rare and was lovely and tender.
Price wise, the meals were really good value- I think the pork was about £9.50 and the steak about £15. To put it in perspective with another American joint nearby, we ate at Frankie & Bennies at the weekend (chosen by my eight year old niece I should add) where a main course was around £13 and quite average. Here you are getting top quality meat at a very attractive price for the city centre. And the festive cocktails were about £4 each – they were top quality so a bargain really. Not one for the vegetarians though – it really is all about the meat here!
After Southern Eleven, we took a stroll around Spinningfields, watched a man doing what looked like handbreak turns in a maintenance vehicle on the ice rink, and ended up in Oast House for a final drink of the night.
Where to start? I really wanted to like Oast House. For one the quirky idea of a hop-drying building in the middle of shiny Spinningfields sounds bonkers. However, we both felt that the faux shabby chic left us cold. It was just a bit OTT, a bit Disney. I am sure that Kirstie Allsopp would have loved it, but for me it was too much – tin roof, nails sticking out of wood panels on the wall. But the icing on the decor cake came in the ladies. The cubicles were made from rustic wood panels…but I could see the lady in the cubicle next to me through the gaps in the panels! Now really, I love things which are rustic and home spun but that was just too far!
At the bar, I was still full from pork and cocktails so I ordered a lemonade and he had a Duvel. I had read that the beer was on the pricey side here, but I didn’t expect a small bottle to be £5…and draught lemonade £2.05. I’m not sure which annoyed me the most, but the mad pricing, bad toilets and film set interior means that I am unlikely to visit again. Give me 57 Thomas Street any day for a full on beer-fest. But saying that it was busy in there so good luck to them as they obviously have a fan base.
So, thank you to Southern Eleven for the great cocktails – I am sure I will be back to sample more before the festive season is out, and any meat lovers looking for a quality lunch or evening meal would be wise to check them out.
3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, Manchester. M3 3EB
Tel: 0161 832 0482