Grand Pacific is the lighter-bite little sister of Australasia. Nestled in Manchester’s Spinningfields behind the huge Versace emporium and having only opened six months ago, this neat, sweet Colonial-shabby-chic eatery is fun, friendly and filling.
With sun-bleached wicker furniture, white-washed wood panelling and beachcomber treasures adorning the walls the ambience is one of a slight decadent calm and is the perfect midday antidote to the fast-paced daily grind.
The menu on offer is a fusion of Pacific Rim flavours and contemporary Australian cuisine which includes Asian High Tea and a mixed selection of ‘tapas’ dishes with enough variety to tickle even the most fussy of taste buds.
There are two courses for £11, three for £15 and four for £20. Between two people, six ‘tapas’ is plenty especially if you’re sipping cocktails, which we are, and want a dessert, which we do.
There are the usual suspects in this Pan-Asian-inspired menu. The perfectly-cooked, crispy vegetable tempura is delightful and is accompanied by a tiny cone of wasabi which we’re instructed to dissolve in the dish of light soy sauce that comes with the dish. This fiery little detail is what turns this new kid on the block into a special dining experience. It’s no Wagamama (with its generic noodle fodder), neither is it pretentious or over-fussy.
There’s seared teriyaki beef with sweet soy and spring onion which is a tiny bit chewy for my palette, sweet coconut red fish curry with sticky jasmine rice and Temaki seaweed rolls with salmon and robata beef. So far, so familiar and really well balanced in flavour and in amount per serving. But would anyone care for a Collingwood Dinkie?
Named after a suburb in trendy Oz city Melbourne, the Collingwood bite-size pies, or ‘dinkie’, is a strange addition to the otherwise ethnic menu. The short-crust pastry pies are filled with spicy fish, chicken and beef and, although interesting in theory, don’t quite measure up as a taste-experience. The pastry’s a little too thick, the filling a little too meagre.
Fortunately, when the menu doesn’t quite hit the mark there are more than 30 cocktails to take the taste buds on a dangerously alcoholic, exquisitely appealing journey. Recommended from the ‘signature cocktail’ menu are the sweet and sassy Kiwi and Honey Crush, the fragrant Hibiscus Martini and the fierce-kicking Asian Mule.
In addition, there are menus offering Asian classic cocktails like TukTuk and sparkling cocktails including the Ginger and Pear Bellini.
Also included in the well-stocked drinks cabinet is an exquisite range of champagne, Saki and, for those who wish to return to the office compos mentis, there’s a generous non-alcoholic menu.
The dessert menu claims that the dishes are ‘must-haves’ and the verbosity of the claim is not unfounded. New additions are the lemon crème brȗlée with raspberry sorbet which is a perfect marriage of soft, smooth creamy lemon and bittersweet sorbet. Another newcomer is the deconstructed Black Forest gateaux which includes purple sherbet, cherry jelly, vanilla cream, chocolate mousse and fruit sorbet.
If you’re passing, I would recommend a pit stop for coffee and dessert at any time of the day and there are many other main courses on the menu which incorporate extensive seafood selections. With a canopied heated terrace outside, friendly, knowledgeable waiting staff and a beautifully-lit bar area, it’s the perfect indoor or al fresco venue for all seasons and for all tastes. It’s this unpretentiousness which means it should do well in Manchester. It’s high tea without being high brow. Take your mum, take your kids, take your boyfriend or take your gal pals – you won’t be disappointed.
By Lucia Cox
Where: Spinningfields, Manchester
More info: http://australasia.uk.com/grandpacific/