Thursday, 22 March 2018

Restaurant Review: New Opening - Blanchflower, Altrincham


Today I've got a food review - and an exciting one at that! A new Manchester gem, recently opened in my town of Altrincham.

Alty newcomer, Blanchflower opened up by the popular market hall a few weeks back for brunch/lunch and I'd often wandered slowly past the window, making a mental note to check out their Eggs Benedict.

I was delighted to hear that they had just launched into evening service with an exciting and innovative menu, keeping their core 'artisan bakery' status as a key component. With this, I was thrilled to accept their invitation to try out the new menu*.

Let's delve in!

N.B. since my visit, Blanchflower's menu, along with portion sizes, have changed somewhat. The below review is based on the smaller plate sizes, with us choosing five dishes to share.

Altrincham Blanchflower Menu

As touched upon above, the bakery element is Blanchflower's real selling point. Having taken centre stage during the day with freshly baked bread and pastry; baked goods are certainly not forgotten during the evening. 

After settling at our table, we were given the most magnificent bread bowl. Every kind of bread was explained (their signature sourdough bread is the product of a three-day process, don't you know?) and we were encouraged to let the waiting staff know if more was desired. My favourite item was the sea salt 'cracker' which was beautifully crisp and covered in just the right amount of coarse sea salt. Accompanying our bread was a saucer of house-made thyme butter - delicious!

The best bit? Complimentary, of course. No overpriced stale hunks of baguette added to the bill here!

Though only just opened for dinner service, the restaurant was surprisingly busy and so I struggled to get many shots of the interior. 

Blanchflower manages to achieve an almost industrial cool, while still feeling like an intimate dining experience. Modern without being overly slick, the atmosphere pairs perfectly with the food.

First Round

As noted above, we were advised to order five dishes to share (without puddings). The menu is split into sections, 'Bar Snacks', 'Small Plates', 'Larger Plates' and 'Puddings' and the dishes brought out in order of their respective position on the menu.

I was very pleased to hear this as sharing small plates is my favourite kind of eating; there's nothing worse than food envy!

Our first choices were the Fried Buttermilk Chicken with Homemade Sriracha Mayo and the Ox Cheek Croquettes with Truffle Mayo.

The chicken could have possibly had a little more seasoning for my taste but was crisp on the outside and lovely and juicy inside. The sriracha mayo was an excellent accompaniment too.

The ox cheek croquettes were incredible and quite possibly my favourite dish of the meal! They melted in the mouth and were full of flavour. As someone who loves the taste of truffle too, the mayo really took these to the next level!

Second Round

Our third dish hot off the counter was Rainbow Trout with Fermented Pepper Hollandaise, Potatoes and Chives.

This was our 'wild card' dish - not something either of us would usually order but it sounded interesting so we went for it!

It turned out to be one of the highlights. The fish was cooked perfectly with a crispy skin and the hollandaise with the peppers made it really flavoursome. 

Third Round

We were looking forward to these! The larger plates were certainly more substantial and looked impressive!

We chose the Free-Range Herb Feb Chicken with Green Sauce and Roast Jerusalem Artichoke and the Charcoal Grilled Bavette Steak with Potato Gratin and Juniper Carrots.

The chicken was probably my least favourite dish of the evening. Usually a safe bet, I found myself leaning towards the bigger flavours of the other dishes we tried - it was still delicious!

Another highlight of the meal was the bavette steak. Full of flavour and charred on the outside, it was perfectly cooked - and the potato gratin was amazing! 


Comfortably satisfied, there was still room for dessert!

Our waiter recommended the Cardamon Spiced Custard Tart with Poached Rhubarb which I didn't hesitate to choose, while my date opted for the Apple & Almond Streusel Tart.

I thoroughly enjoyed the custard tart but have to say that the apple tart (which I stole a mouthful of) topped it!

I think that Blanchflower is a fantastic addition to Altrincham's burgeoning food scene. Style and substance and a focus on quality ingredients make this place a real gem, almost too good to share. I think I've found my favourite local restaurant!

I'll definitely be back to try their brunch soon.

Let me know if you agree that Blanchflower looks like a restaurant worth travelling out of Manchester for!


Sunday, 4 March 2018

Restaurant Review: New Menu at Bundobust, Manchester


A food review today and not a new restaurant opening, rather a menu relaunch from an old favourite of mine, Bundobust!

The independent Indian street food and craft beer concept, first established in Leeds before opening in Manchester in 2016, has a really laidback vibe and great food - a winning combination that still sees this Piccadilly basement restaurant packed out on a regular basis.

I've resolved to try to eat a little less meat this year, something that isn't going fantastically well. When I heard that Bundobust were relaunching their entirely meat-free menu with new additions and improved recipes, I knew it was something I wanted to check out*!

Having already got firm favourites in mind, I headed into town after work one evening to see if any of the new dishes could top the old classics.

Bundobust Indian Street Food Piccadilly
Bundobust Indian Street Food Piccadilly

One of the great things about Bundobust is that the drinks line-up is as equally in the limelight as the food. Their ever-changing blackboard of regional and wider-known independent beers is certainly impressive and the staff are more than happy to offer up their knowledge and a little taster if (like me) you find it hard to choose!

My date's Bombay Dazzler, created in collaboration with Bundobust by Yorkshire Brewery Northern Monk, was so good that I had to order one on the next round. With flavours of ginger, cardamom and coriander, it paired perfectly with the Indian spices.

Bundobust have also added an array of new cocktails to their drinks list. I opted for a Desi 75 - a refreshing mix of Sipsmith sloe gin, lemon, cinnamon syrup and prosecco.

Northern Monk Bombay Dazzler Bundobust
Desi 75 cocktail Bombay Dazzler Bundobust

On to the food!

As well as reworked dishes, there are five brand new additions to the Bundobust menu that we were presented with. They are (clockwise as pictured below):

GOBI MUSHROOM MANCHURIAN - Mushroom & cauliflower pakoras in an Indo-Chinese sauce

PANEER KADAI - Paneer cheese cooked in a deep cinnamon, fenugreek, red pepper & tomato sauce. Served with bhatura

PAV BHAJI - Mashed up cauliflower, potato & peas. Flavoured with garam massala. Served with a spiced toasted brioche bun

RAGHDA PETHIS - a spicy mushy peas & potato cake, topped with turmeric noodles, tomato, onion & tamarind chutney

CHOLE SAAG - Chickpea & spinach massala. Served with puri

Bundobust Manchester new street food menu
Bundobust Manchester new dishes
Bundobust Chickpea Curry

There's some great additions here! I love that most of the more substantial items come with a bread on the side. I wasn't so sure about the toasted brioche bun but the bhatura and puri were excellent - light and tasty and perfect for dipping!

For me, the Paneer Kadai was definitely a highlight. Even though it was full of delicious, big chunks of paneer cheese, it wasn't too rich at all. The sauce was deep, smokey and aromatic - just perfect!

My favourite dish however was the the Chole Saag. This chickpea curry was so unbelievably tasty, with a rich massala sauce and folded fried puri on the side for scooping up every last bit (which I did).

Bundobust Indian Street Food
Bundobust Vegetarian Indian Food Manchester

Of course we couldn't resist ordering our favourites from the last visit: the Tarka Dhal, a classic medium cumin-infused lentil curry sat atop basmati rice, and the Vada Pav, a spiced fried potato burger. I don't know what it is about the Vada Pav but I found myself thinking about it regularly - thankfully, it was just as good as I remembered!

Bundobust Vada Pav Potato Burger

With an all-vegetarian, mostly vegan and often gluten-free menu, Bundobust surely is a crowd-pleaser - even for an enthusiastic carnivore like myself!

You can check out the full Bundo menu here.

Are you a street food fan?

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