Friday 21 February 2014

Australasia, Manchester

As someone who is food obsessed with expensive tastes that are not matched by my actual budget, I plan to spend my money this year in only a few places. Perhaps five or six local restaurants that I suppose you could describe as 'foodie' favourites. These include Sticky Walnut in Chester, Mr Coopers in Manchester and select country pubs such as The Parkers Arms. (Not including an occasional burger, a curry in Mughli or new place that opens of course!)
But when I get invited* to visit somewhere that I probably wouldn't go to otherwise, it's a good opportunity that I grab with both hands.
 We really enjoyed Australasia a few years ago but maybe in my head I deemed it not 'foodie' enough and if I was spending my own money should I be able to afford it right now, I'd probably go to more recent high end arrivals like The French to be honest. Also because of all the baggage that goes with Living Ventures restaurants, it's filed in my brain as more glamorous and 'showy' than properly serious about food.
However I think it's important to judge a place as you find it, in our case the taste of the food, so I leave any prejudices at the door. Besides Australasia has a new chef in Australian David Spanner.
The service and interior was as slick as ever as you'd expect. It's just such a nice space with jazz playing although slightly too loudly we thought.
As we recently went to Grand Pacific their 'extension', we swerved the oysters and sushi on this occasion. We started off with Foie gras brûlée with lavas bread and roasted pistachio (£13).
We loved this, the Foie gras, was super creamy but there was a very slight bitterness which I could have done without, not sure what that was from. Beautiful dish though. The Hand dived scallops with belly pork, chilli caramel and cucumber pickle (£13.50) was very good too with lovely plump juicy scallops.
The quality of the produce they get here is second to none. The star of the show was the Black cod roasted in hoba leaf. This was absolutely stunning and as good as anything we've eaten this year. I'm going to do a Favourite Manchester dishes soon and this will appear there's no doubt. At £22.50 it's not cheap though. Nothing here is.
For mains we had the Roasted monkfish with razor clams, chorizo and squid (£21). Another winner.
It was also hard to resist the Pot-roasted lobster with a coconut and lime broth at an eye watering £47.50.
Bloody hell this was so lovely. At almost £50 you'd expect it to be. If I had the money I'd eat this dish every day. We started fighting over the precious juices and lobster.
A de-constructed Black forest gateaux  for pudding totally worked, the new Carrot cake with cream cheese ice-cream didn't at all for us. Very nice ice-cream though.
Our trip to Australasia was a really big surprise. Yes it's glamorous and glitzy which isn't really us, but judging it purely on the taste, it was excellent and even better than our previous visit a few years ago. All the food was good but there were two dishes that really stood out as being amongst the very best in the city in our opinion. The Black cod roasted in hoba leaf and the Pot-roasted lobster will long stay in our memory as they were quite simply superb.

* We were invited to Australasia at their expense but always tell it as it is.

Australasia Manchester on Urbanspoon

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