A new head chef brings a taste of things to come for Grafene in Manchester
I’ll be honest, before dining at Grafene, I hadn’t done much research. When I rocked up to the restaurant, I had little idea of what to expect, but my first impressions were extremely positive. To begin with, it’s located just off Kings Street (aka the road that’s home to most of Manchester’s finest eateries) so I knew from the postcode alone that it would probably be a great place to dine. And, I can confirm my premonitions were right!
It doesn’t look particularly swish from the outside, but the interior is slick and almost industrial, paying homage to its home city. My friend Jodie and I visited on a drizzly December week night, but that didn’t seem to deter the crowds; the venue was buzzing.
We were there to try the seven course tasting menu with wine pairings. Jodie opted for the meat menu, whereas I tried the fish/vegetarian courses. Often veggies can be left behind when it comes to tasting options, but at Grafene this wasn’t the case. Careful thought had gone into each course and there was a real range of ingredients and flavours.
Grafene’s kitchen is run by head chef Ben Mounsey, who offers diners modern British cuisine; it was clear to see he had made a concerted effort to include fresh, seasonal produce. Being winter, the menu featured lots of root vegetables like beetroot, onion and cauliflower.
One of the opening courses was a simple selection of freshly-made breads, served with salted butter – in my eyes you can do no wrong with a decent doughy delight, and this starter was no exception.
Another highlight was the beetroot and goats curd dish. Beetroot and goats cheese is a tried and tested combo, but this plate was given a fun twist, courtesy of roasted granola. Normally associated with breakfast, the oaty goodness added a touch of crunch to the pickled and roasted beetroot.
Personally, my favourite course was the pan-seared stone bass fish, which was accompanied by cauliflower in 3 ways. Cauliflower happens to be my favourite vegetable, so I was in heaven. The veloute was particularly delicious; the combination of earthy flavour worked beautifully with the salty, crispy bass.
Perhaps the most memorable of all the dishes was the stuffed pasta, topped with egg yolk and smoky charred leek. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to have good quality pasta on a tasting menu. The pasta was cooked to perfection and, just to add texture, was sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. I’d go to Grafene again simply to order this as my main!
I left the restaurant feeling pleasantly full, which is a testament to the menu; the portions were ample and, largely, protein/vegetable based – I’m a huge fan of this, but if you’re seeking something heartier, then try their wide-ranging A La Carte menu, which changes daily.
As well as being a restaurant, Grafene also boasts a compact, but aesthetic, bar area serving an eclectic range of cocktails and copious brands of gin! It’s the perfect venue for a romantic date, but also equally suitable for business meetings, especially given its central location.
In short, I’d really recommend an evening at Grafene.
Address: 55 King Street, Manchester M2 4LQ
Phone: 0161 696 9700