STYLEetc writer Alaka Prodhan loves nothing more than good food and a bargain; she was delighted to find both at The Alchemist last Friday night.
January is always a bit of a slow month for restaurants. Still burdened from the culinary excesses of Christmas, many folk choose to steer clear out of concern for their expanding waistlines, shrinking pockets and hastily assembled resolve to get fit. Gyms see a spike in memberships, whilst waiters and waitresses throughout the city stand around disconsolately, clock-watching as they gaze out over rows of empty tables and chairs.
To be honest, it’s so freezing out these days, one can’t be blamed for forgoing a potentially pricey jaunt out in town for the more immediate temptation of a nice cup of tea and some catch-up TV.
But brave the cold I did. “Why?” you may ask. Three words: “50% off” and “steak”.
The thing is, sometimes, you just crave a steak. Or I do, anyway. So what is a girl to do, having blown what little was left of December’s wage in the January Sales?
The answer is this: take advantage of the Living Ventures 50% off deal this January.
The offer applies to selected venues under the Living Ventures umbrella. In Manchester city centre these are The Alchemist (New York Street and Spinningfields), The Grill on the Alley, The Grill on New York Street and Olive Restaurant and Bar. All are offering a whopping 50% off your total food bill if you book online.
So, on Friday evening, as my brother and I wandered round the establishments of Spinningfields, brazenly sipping cocktails and showing that austerity who was boss, our hunger gradually grew from a small spark to a raging inferno. Our stomachs had spoken and I knew where to go.
Saddened to learn that our first choice, The Grill on the Alley, was fully booked for the night, we nevertheless found refuge in Plan B: The Alchemist Spinningfields. At 8pm, the bar was buzzing with a well-dressed, upbeat, post-work crowd. The restaurant meanwhile, I noted with interest, was nearly empty. Time to strike.
We booked our table online (thank you, iPhone) and immediately took our seats, happy at the warmth of the bar, the friendly and efficient service, and the prospect of satiating our steak craving.
To start, we opted for the Bar Snacks Platter – wings, nachos, potato wedges and beer battered prawns with dips (£10.95; £5.48 with offer). Of these, the nachos and prawns impressed the most: the former, an intriguing variation on the norm with a really rich, moreish tomato sauce; the latter, beautifully chunky prawns begging to be dunked in the sweet chilli sauce.
For mains, we were both eyeing up the fillet steak (200g, £19.95) but were advised this was the one exception to the offer. Unperturbed, my brother ordered the fillet steak fajitas (£12.95; £6.48 with offer) and I chose the rib eye (275g, £15.95; £7.98 with offer). I was not disappointed. Though the cheaper of the two steaks, the rib eye packed more meat per British pound than the fillet and was cooked to medium-rare perfection. Inside, it was a delicate rose pink; juicy and fulsome. I lathered it generously with peppercorn sauce and dipped in with my fries.
My brother’s dish of sliced fillet steak sizzled away in a musical symphony, but I only had eyes for my rib eye. I admit, in the end, I could barely finish it, so was glad when he offered to help me out. We left with satisfied tummies, having dined like kings for under £10 each.
There’s still a good ten days of the month to go, so what are you waiting for? Tuck into your very own steak at only half the usual cost – quickly, before dreary January turns into Full Price February!
Book online at www.thealchemist.uk.com/jansale
The Alchemist Spinningields
Hardman Street, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3HF
Telephone: 0161 8172950
By Alaka Prodhan (@EchoingBronze)