Brasserie Abode – bringing it home.

It was on a balmy night in Manchester when Brasserie Abode threw open its doors, banged on its bongos and welcomed Manchester into its loving, refurbished arms.

If the recently rebranded bar and restaurant is anything like its welcome party, us mancs (born and honorary) are in for a treat.

Last Thursday I got a glimpse into the mirrored spectacle that is the new Brasserie Abode. On Piccadilly, it’s the bar and restaurant of, yes, Abode Manchester.

My first foray into the Manchester hotel bar ‘scene’ (pretty sure it’s a scene), was back in 2000 and the bar at the V&A hotel (Manchester Marriot) when I worked for Granada TV. A shooting schedule’s throw from the studios, the bar was oft frequented by those who both did and didn’t have homes to go to, after a hard day’s media-ing.
Seeing as you didn’t ask, my top 5 hotel bar moments:

  • seeing Hank Marvin (Malmaison – he looked hungry);
  • being given drinks on the house because the owners were having a dinner party ‘out back’ (B&B in Edinburgh);
  • seeing Tilda Swinton with one of her two infamous (at the time) other halves..or quarters, I suppose (The Mandeville, London);
  • watching a man stand on stage holding an eagle aloft for 15 minutes,saying nothing. absolutely nothing. then eventually walking off again leaving the audience, and eagle, equally confused (Tenerife, obvs); and
  • I can’t think of a fifth.

Despite these examples, I’ve always been a bit dubious about hotel bars – they can sometimes feel a lonely place and a bit of an add-on.

Cliche checklist:

  • Lonely travelling salesman
  • Lonely travelling for work to the other office person
  • Lonely can’t get a drink anywhere else person
  • Lonely person
  • Person
  • Lonely
  • Bit seedy?
  • Lonely
  • The Major ordering his sherry in Fawlty Towers (six o’clock Fawlty!)


Brasserie Abode is NOT that place.


Whilst they don’t guarantee Hollywood stars with unusual spousal arrangements or perplexed birds of prey, they do bring a stylish, French themed, smart and sophisticated destination bar and brasserie to Manchester.

Previous incarnations included Michael Caines fine dining restaurant (not a lot of people know that – they do actually) and a Hotel called the Rosetti. 

Another tick on its mancunian credentials (the main one being actually being in Manchester, of course) which the building brings, is in its DJ history. Amongst others, one Mr Dave Haslam used to play down in the basement (now the restaurant) – legendary night Chica Chica Boom, 2003?

Well the DJs are back on the menu, including VIVA Ems, recently returned from up and coming festival Glastonbury.

Along with some fine friends on the bongos and trumpet, she entertained with a fantastic set at the launch. I understand it’s vocal house and tech house. 

I can confidently say that her house brought the launch night home at Abode.

House puns. Right there ⬆️

I’m yet to sample the restaurant side aside from some fine canapés – oysters. I managed to eat my third lifetime oyster which was a pleasure.The first two, some years back, were taken in the safety of my own home. There was carnage and drama on that occasion. I won’t go into details but think choking, tears and recriminations.

But for now, I can give my two penneth on  Brasserie Abode as a bar –

 Spacious yet divided into areas which feel intimate, the lights are low and the quality of the service, high. 

I think the biggest compliment I can give it (purely in the context of my above musings, you understand ), is that you definitely wouldn’t be depressed here, or here out of desperation. You wouldn’t know it was a hotel bar. And by that I only mean good things. 

Definitely a destination bar, there’s no place like Brasserie Abode.
Another house pun ⬆️

All the deets

All the visuals 

Malmaison brings the Millennial touch to Afternoon Tea 

When I was young, I had two major concerns about getting older:

I wouldn’t be allowed to wear my hair in a ponytail anymore; and 

What would I do about coffee mornings – I hated coffee and indeed tea.

What world I was living in where the latter was a real worry, I don’t know. One of my own making, clearly straight out of a Miss Marple story.

Anyway, it was a concern and whilst I still retch whenever coffee’s near me, two further things have since occurred to me:

You can get your adult badge by drinking herbal tea which is quite nice; and 

The coffee morning isn’t a concept that comes up too often. It’s fine.

What is a thing, and a big thing at that, is the increasing popularity of the afternoon tea. A quaint and quintessentially English affair which has taken hold, and is not just reserved for tea shops, The Ritz or, indeed, ladies of retirement age.

The afternoon tea has entered our bars, hotels and restaurants and, when done well, is a beautiful thing (especially when champagne enters the fray.

Celebrating 17 years since I started working, living in and generally loving Manchester, myself and my husband, took ourselves off to Malmaison. 

Here in the city before even I arrived (imagine!), Malmaison has held its own amongst new arrivals over the years, including The Lowry, Radisson Edwardian and, more recently, Gotham.



Malmaison always reminded me of two things:

Its past connection to another Mancunian stalwart, Mick Hucknall; and

drum roll

Hank Marvin.

Yes he of the Shadows and popular rhyming slang, Hank Marvin was once spotted in the lobby there, by a very excited young lady (me). Speaking of which, when I sat down for afternoon tea I was …hungry.

Thankfully Malmaison didn’t disappoint.


There was nothing cheeky about their Afternoon Tea in terms of taste and ingredients – it’s the perfect balance of pretty and  plentiful. 


It is not for me to use or assume gender stereotypes, but I took a man (it’s ok, we’re married) who, whilst would be perfectly at ease amongst sandwiches with their crusts removed, was reassured by sight of the savoury selection. 
The chipotle chicken and avocado wrap and burger sliders brought the millennial touches to the table, with a nod to the traditional with the smoked salmon sandwich. 

I know, I used millenial again. It’s what I’m doing now.

I’m relevant.

Relevant 

Scones are always my favourite part of afternoon tea (champagne aside), and what I put most stock in. They didn’t disappoint…

Technically a Devonian (born but not bred), the scone debate between Devon and Cornwall is obviously an issue close to my heart. So close that I couldn’t remember which county coveted which – jam before cream or cream before jam?

I hedged my bets, and dressed each half a different way…


A quick Google afterwards reminds me (tells me) the Devonians likes to do it cream before jam (left).
Plenty replenished and happy (but far from finished) it was time for tea (the champagne was, of course, long gone).

And here, I am trying and wanting to use both perfect storm and storm in a teacup. But both sound a little negative and it wasn’t. I’ll just go for it and assume the rest of my text assures that there was nothing bad about it 

The fruit and traditional teas available proved the perfect storm in a teacup.

Look they were good, is what I’m saying,  and beautifully presented. 

We were brought a little teapot each which could be refilled as required.

No confusing apparatus that looks like something out of a laboratory (I won’t name names, but there was plenty of time to ponder their tea brewing process in the lift down to reception that afternoon back in 2015), just a selection of teas, a teapot of hot water and really lovely people to refill it for you.

Between us we sampled English breakfast, peppermint and green. 

And you can’t have tea without cake and happy to report that each tasted as delicious as they look below…

The strawberry and vanilla mini pavlova caught my attention and it was everything I’d hoped. Trust me, I invest hope in such things. And it’s the little touches such as the little sliced strawberry on top which brings the elegance to proceedings.

Whilst each cake brought something different yet equally decadent, it was the pannacotta which stole the show for us both…

Tea for two but with a feast for more, I urge all Mancs – honorary or otherwise, and indeed Manchester guests to book in.

The balance between the classic and modern will suit Millenials, Miss Marples and both male and female diners alike. 

Especially if you’re Hank Marvin.

All the deets

the King’s Speech – ooh, ahh, an evening with Eric Cantona

Against an apt backdrop of much controversy and mirth, Eric Cantona brought his Evening with… show to The Lowry Theatre this week. 


Prior to taking my red husband (in football supporting terms, you understand, his blood pressure is normal) last night (Thurs 23 February) for his Valentine’s treat, we were treated to a cacophony (about 4) of reports about the catastrophe that was the Bournemouth show.

Auctions! Late Arrivals! Inappropriate Comedians!

…screamed the press, in the biggest  controversy since a footballer Kung fu kicked a man. 

Quicker than you can say trawlers (bet you thought I would go with seagulls didn’t you), reference was made to the Bournemouth Bloodbath in the opening moments by the (very good) local knowledge in-joke laden stand up, and there wasn’t an auction in sight.

Our tickets meant that not even my old reliable iPhone could take a non-blurry photo of the stage and the man (I’ll have you know that £55 applied to every seat – even ours in the Gods, so I definitely wasn’t in the cheap seats here), and so I  have a series of loud, shouty videos depicting hero-worship in all its glory.

He was everything you’d want him to be. The man basically gave good Cantona.

To sum up: great night – we laughed, we chanted and we collectively winced when, during a question on mental health support for retiring players, a woman shouted out 

Ere y’are, what did that ‘ooligan say to make you kick ‘im?!

Together with an oscar-worthy reenactment of the great quote itself and a couple of nuggets which included hearing of Cantona’s upcoming Chinese project (nothing involving £1 million weekly wages) and his love for Loach, worth the pennies.
All the deets 

 
Keegan, Trump, FIFA and Liverpool fans – best you swerve Sunday’s matinee.

C’est magnifique

Manchester on my lunch hour

Manchester, you’re killing me man, you’re killing me. Your 50% off food this, and 50% off food that…well it’s February now so…deal with that. Manchester.

Like a cliche, a glorious cliche, I was battling all the 50% off restaurant shenanigans as I resolved away, this January, and opted for the rare and untapped resolution that is to be more healthy. 

Healthy – yes, you heard right! Where do I get my imagination from? 

Aiding me in my bid has been my trusty Fitbit and on a none gym day, decided to veer from the treadmill to  tread past many a mill (Yes. Oh yes.) and take my steps to the streets of our glorious Manchester. 


Laughing in the face of the pusher, I took an amble along the canal towpath and enjoyed one of the best lunch hours (techically lunch hour and 20 minutes) of my career. 

Where old meets new, goose meets duck (fight!) and street art sits alongside many a sign telling me to watch my head, this was

Manchester on my lunch hour…


Magic…

AltrinCHAM (no pagne, no gain)

Yes, I did that in the title. It’s tenuous but almost could have been brilliant.

Running through my veins is champagne – or at least it would if only I could.

Another passion is Italy whose prosecco  has in recent years probably tripled the sale of flutes and quadrupled the use of the phrase Fizz Friday on marketing materials in pubs and bars up and down the country.

Beginning my career in both the job sense and as an Honorary Mancunian back in 2000, my first week working in the media began with a cliched bang – champagne in the office to celebrate a colleague’s success and sent home with a bottle to celebrate the company’s share success, I was off to a good start.

However – at that time, my young, naive tastebuds weren’t that interested in champagne and were fairly underwhelmed.

Oh thanks, that’s nice.

16 years on and that apathy is a long and distant memory

Me

Let’s have champagne.

Why

It’s Monday

And so I’m a sucker for anywhere where I can sample, sip and learn more about my passion for the good stuff.


This flyer which happened upon me like a gift from the gods (no drama here) for my local fizz festival in Altrincham is both pinned to my fridge, my calendar and my heart (no drama here)…

Come the weekend of 12 and 13 November, I’ll be paying my first visit to Altrincham town hall to perform an act of what I consider to be my civic duty to concentrate my efforts in sampling champagne,  prosecco and cava from a range of producers who I feel need  my reassurance and help to know that their products are fit for flutes across Greater Manchester.

Yes you can see the shadow of my fingers gripping this for dear life

Such is my commitment to the cause, I will be their guinea pig and try their tipple more than once if they need me.

Talking to a friend, whilst it is my first fizz festival in Altrincham, I learnt that it is the second and so I squeezed them for information.

It’s fantastic and most of all generous.

My friend bought a case and stocked up for Christmas

I zoned in on generous and case so next Sunday 13 November, I’ll be off for tastings and tutorials not only at the town hall but round Altrincham. And it’s all in the name of research, education and civic duty.

All the Fizz deets

Tickets to tasters’ paradise here
See you on the other side fizz fans…