Recently we were invited along to the launch party of the city centre’s latest food haunt Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar near the town hall on Lloyd Street. As a self-confessed foodie, I was very excited by the concept of lots of tasty American style barbecue dishes all cooked low and slow on an open fire pit for a truly authentic taste; it was all I could think about in the hours before the launch party.
In the evening, we headed down to the venue which happens to be right next to Red’s True BBQ; an already established and popular venue in Manchester that also has a very meaty and barbecue orientated offering – so all in all a very brave move by Manchester Smokehouse to take the competition head on.
We followed the crowds into the venue and the place was jam packed full of people ready to enjoy the launch party. Although underground, Smokehouse Manchester was surprisingly bright and was filled with loads of copper caged bulbs. I really liked the rugged, industrial aesthetic of exposed brickwork, wooden floors and copper accents as it really complimented the restaurant’s personality.
Although it was the launch night, it was hard to pin point a member of staff who was greeting guests or even escorting people to tables but we were eventually seen to a table towards the back of the restaurant in full view of the open kitchen. As the evening progressed, the music volume was cranked up more and more to an almost deafening level and we had to shout across the table to hear each other; music that loud in a nightclub or late bar yes, but not in the early evening when trying to enjoy some food – but I’ll let Smokehouse off as it was their opening night.
I had to settle for soft drinks as the designated driver, but my plus one was eager to sample the Pilsner Urquell tank beer on offer that is stored in signature copper tanks in the centre of the restaurant. Manchester Smokehouse is the second bar in the city to offer Pilsner tank beer and this is bound to be a major selling point for many beer connoisseurs. The only downside was the bar area was quite small and my plus one would disappear for 20 odd minutes at a time waiting to be served and order one beer and a soft drink.
Throughout the evening, we were invited to sample a few of Smokehouse Manchester’s dishes that were brought directly to people’s tables; the bad thing about sitting so close to the kitchen is seeing all the delicious food being taken past your table!
We started with the Smoked Pulled Pork Po Boy (£7.95) which is served with coleslaw in a traditional Louisiana sub roll with rustic skin on fries on the side. The pulled pork was deliciously flavourful without the need to be overloaded on the BBQ sauce and worked well with the coleslaw – although it may not be to everyone’s taste to serve it inside the sub roll rather than on the side. The rustic fries were perfectly seasoned and crispy, just how all proper fries should be; we soon polished this dish off and eagerly waited to see what will be next.
Next up were the Pull a Pig Fries (£5.50), which featured fries covered in pulled pork drizzled with BBQ sauce and onions. If we hadn’t just had the pulled pork roll, we probably would have enjoyed this dish more as it was pretty much the same components of the first dish (although don’t get me wrong it was still tasty). It would have been nice to try an alternative but the Pull a Pig Fries were a good choice; as a personal preference i would have liked this dish to be a bit more generous with the sauce.
Next up was the Dirty Double Burger (£9.95), which features a 6oz beef steak patty with a double serving of cheese & bacon in a seeded brioche bun with a helping of rustic fries. In Manchester, we are spoilt for choice in terms of burger joints with the like of Almost Famous and Solita bursting onto the scene a few years ago, so I was intrigued to see how Manchester Smokehouse compared.
Although a classically simple combination, the Dirty Double burger was absolutely delicious. The steak burger was so juicy and you could taste the authentic BBQ flavours from the cooking coming through. In a world where bigger and crazier burger combinations are becoming the norm, it was refreshing to strip back to the basics for once with high quality ingredients and incredible flavours for a satisfying dish.
Overall, Manchester Smokehouse was an enjoyable experience with a well thought out menu that I think will fit in well with Manchester’s food-obsessed clientele. As with most new venues, there are always teething problems as the staff settle into the routine and you could tell that some were stressed (and maybe a little short) dealing with the amount of people let into the launch party. Now with a few weeks of being open, all staff should be well equipped to offer good customer service.
If you love dishes like ribs, pulled pork, steaks and burgers with an authentic BBQ flavour, then Manchester Smokehouse is definitely a new destination to feed your cravings. Not stopping at food, Manchester Smokehouse also has a late license with live entertainment at the weekends, so you can enjoy some cocktails or Pilsner tank beer until the early hours of the morning.
Visit Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar’s website to view their food and drinks menus.
For bookings, visit Open Table’s website or call: 0161 832 0393
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