I like old things. I prefer the charms of Manchester city centre to the high gloss fakery of the Trafford Centre. I like antiques rather than Argos, and I like eating in old, bespoke, establishments rather than shiny glass restaurants.
Bearing all this in mind, Spinningfields is not my ‘go-to’ area in town. But on the rare occasions I find myself hungry and up that part of town, I am always pleasantly surprised.
Fazenda is no exception to my quiet and growing appreciation. Although open only a couple of years, the restaurant has a timeless feel with a well-stocked bar, a comfy waiting area, a huge terrace and an impressive dining area. There is an air of New York chic here but it is definitely unpretentious – like New York in the 70s. The bar is something from The Great Gatsby and offers fabulous cocktails that would send those 1920s Flappers into a tasselled tizz.
Although not on the drinks menu (let’s hope this changes), we asked for a French 75. If you haven’t tried this cocktail before and you like gin (who doesn’t?), champagne (again…) and lemon, it’s a delicious tipple and a decadent way to start off Fazenda’s fine new bar menu on a rainy afternoon.
Fazenda prides itself on the never-ending meat selection served in the restaurant, and the salad bar (not your average limp iceberg and stale French bread). Like that upgraded BBQ fayre, the bar menu is a little different from the norm.
It would be rude not to try everything and so we munched our way through pickles, cheese bread balls, beef croquettes, empanadas, and churros. We crammed in so much food that we didn’t eat again that day. The spread is robust and flavoursome and there’s a good mix of fish and meat dishes. Fazenda really isn’t the best place to come if you are vegetarian but snacking on wedges is no bad thing, right?
The highlight of the 11 dishes are the Pasteis or prawn empanadas – spicy, fresh and perfectly-sized finger food worth the visit alone. Coming in a close second is the Bolinho de Bacalhau, a fritter made from cod and mashed potato. A minor criticism is that some of this food may not be conducive to sitting on sofas. The Tropiera Sausages are a little tricky to handle with the sloppy fried egg and beans, most of which seemed to end up on the table.
The staff are uber-friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed. With nothing over £6 on the menu, it suits pretty much every budget. If you’re passing and get caught in the rain, pop in for a well-priced pick-me-up. You’ll be made very welcome.
By Lucia Cox
Where: The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester
When: Mon-Sat, 12pm-10pm; Sun, 12pm-9pm
More info: fazenda.co.uk/manchester