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It's not all about V-day this week, but there does seem to be a lot going on for couples, with flutes of fizz Friday through to Sunday, and plenty of cheese for star-crossed lovers – sharing is caring all weekend. Throw in some award-winning burgers, half-term brunch opps and a meal deal for your mum to have beef with.
Here’s what’s happening…
Read the signs
All Valentine’s weekend (with it falling on a Friday, happily, the fun has been extended this year), you can get the ultimate love potion at The Alchemist, where the mixologists are teaming up with Hendrick’s Gin until Sunday. The latest personalised cocktail creation choices for star-crossed lovers are called The Sign, based on the Zodiac categories of water, earth, fire and air. The horoscope-inspired recipe starts with the aptly named Hendrick’s Lunar Gin plus Briolette Apricot, Orange Bitters and tonic, and is finished with the perfect match to your own star sign – so if you’re a grounded and hardworking Virgo, quaff a Water cocktail to nourish and feed your ideas; fiery Leo, grab the Air option to fuel your dreams and push your potential. This, we’re told, will be perfect for a "Valentine’s Day date or a fun night out for Galentine’s Day” and is available in all three Alchemists: MediaCity UK, the city centre’s New York Street and Spinningfields. Trip up the road to Deansgate cocktail bar One Eight Six and keep that warm glow alive – here, couples can enjoy a special red-coloured Valentine’s Day Sharer, served in a decadent heart-shaped bottle and described as “a true love tonic” and “the perfect tipple for those in love, or even lust.”
Cosy up together
The way to hearts is through stomachs, so the saying goes, and the Corn Exchange has it licked. Pizza Express has rustled up a set menu for Valentine’s Day for £28.95 available on 14th and 15th February, with Dough Balls Doppio to share for starters, your choice of main each and a trio of delicious desserts “served with two spoons obviously.” Or book a table à deux at neighbouring Cosy Club for Friday or Saturday and, for £58 per couple, two glasses of bubbles will ease you into three courses: a whole baked Camembert to dig into together, two 28-day aged 8oz sirloin steaks with fries and salad, and a saucy strawberry and white chocolate mousse served with fresh strawberries and shortbread for dipping. Can’t get in? Come back with the family next week during half-term and rise and shine with the breakfast club offer: any brunch dish and a hot drink for £8.50, weekdays 9-11.30am. Choices include eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, avocado brunch, shakshuka and more.
Here’s some pick-me-up news: the shortlist is in for the National Burger Awards, with 16 restaurants, pubs and street food outlets pitted against each other for the sixth live final, taking place in London’s Islington next Wednesday. Three rounds will put the chefs to the test in a live cook-off, including making a “technical” burger from a provided set of ingredients and an against-the-clock challenge to produce the signature dish that was chosen for the final, with industry experts naming the UK’s tastiest burger and handing over £1000. The Printworks’ Hard Rock Cafe chef Liam Lunniss is one of those shortlisted, with his twist on a classic BBQ burger: (Everything I Do) I Do It For Ribs. Inspired by Japanese and Chinese techniques and flavours such as umami, Liam developed his idea after honeymooning in Asia last year; his creation, described as “unusual,” features a juicy steak patty topped with melt-in-the-mouth beef short rib and citrusy Sriracha slaw in a toasted sourdough bun. Also making it into the final are Cafe Rouge, Slims in Liverpool and The Botanist’s signature cheeseburger, featuring a double beef burger topped with American cheese on a soft brioche bun with lettuce and “secret” burger sauce.
Best thing since…
Comfort food beckons in Spinningfields, where Bread and Bowl are serving up a new choice at The Tavern, home to Wednesday’s Quiz & Fizz night and Thursday’s new Drag Bingo. As well as classics like fishfinger butties, roast chicken salad and basin-fulls of soup, think lots of melted cheese, including the all-around-town (see Cosy Club, above) super-popular Camembert tear and share. The after-work favourite on Hardman Square (which took over from The Lawn Club in October) also has a revamped drinks menu featuring new cocktails such as Honey Jack Sour and Gin Genie, plus Tavern lager, Orchard Cider and Camden Hells, available by the pint or Bavarian Stein. The Tavern’s operations manager Adrian Price said: “We’re thrilled to have Bread and Bowl on site serving our customers a fantastic range of seasonal food. They are already proving extremely popular with the crowds passing through the venue throughout the week.”
The Tampopo team reckon you should go back to school – they’ve just lined up more dates for their cookery classes led by Jackie Kearney (pictured), award-winning cookbook author and MasterChef finalist, and the restaurant chain’s co-founder David Fox. You’ll get the chance to pick up plenty of tips and tricks and learn some Eastern classics such as Rendang, Nasi Goreng and Pad Thai – just choose a date: Saturday 22nd February, Saturday 16th May and Saturday 6th June at Tampopo Corn Exchange and Saturday 18th April, Saturday 18th July, Sunday 19th July, Saturday 25th July and Sunday 26th July at Tampopo Trafford Centre. Classes start at 10am and cost £65, including welcome drinks and lunch.
Read more - Go back to school with Tampopo
Mother of all roasts
Take your Mama out for what they’re calling a "modern Mother’s Day with a twist" at Peru Perdu on Sunday 22nd March. Book now, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be sitting down to a roast sprinkled with some South American magic at the second food residency to feature in the restaurant at The Cotton Factory. Choose from grilled Churrasco beef, La Brasa charcoal chicken, pork belly or a vegetarian choice of chimichurri cauliflower, all served with roast veg and gluten-free gravy. Throw in bottomless cocktails and some disco classics courtesy a live DJ set for a lively new take on the traditional Mother’s Day offering – all for just £30 a head.
We're delighted to announce that the award winning @ShootTheBullUK has taken ownership of the Solita Restaurants in Manchester.
Your favourite dishes will be staying at Didsbury & NQ. Plus, you'll soon see the introduction of exciting new food created by Shoot The Bull! pic.twitter.com/4ROmi6Wv9v
— Solita Restaurants (@SolitaNQ) February 13, 2020
Solita fans, fear not – the Manchester-based mini-chain is under new management, as Shoot The Bull steps in hooves and all. And you’ll be in good, er, hands as the award-winning group moves west, fresh from successes with The Old House in both Hull and York, and boasting a British Street Food Award 2016, Scotland & North Heat. What's more, they're promising to keep all your favourite dishes on the menu at the Didsbury and Northern Quarter restaurants, plus, says their Twitter feed: “You'll soon see the introduction of exciting new food created by Shoot The Bull!"