05 October, 2011

Australasia - down under in Manchester

Travel Lightbulb tries to help people around the world discover places they made not otherwise have found, and today's featured restaurant is a case in point. Unless you know Manchester and its diverse dining scene, you may not even spot that it exists - and that is because it's underground! On the main street, Deansgate, there is a glass triangle in front of the Armani store, and that is the entrance to Australasia. 

When you delve beneath the curious glass threshold; a beautiful restaurant and bar await. With driftwood scupltures; comfortable booths, and the sound of chitter chatter, it becomes apparent that the place has a great vibe. This isn't a venue for the shy; as the walk to your table from the main desk takes you through the other diners, and there is a certain amount of posing being done! Having said that this is one of those restaurants where you want to dress well; be noticed, and feel good about yourself - so just go with the flow and strut your stuff. 

Ask for the wine list and you are presented with an i-pad, and an extensive choice to scroll through. The food menu is in the style of a passport, and you almost need one because the food is described as 'Pacific Rim flavours with an exotic blend of Indonesian and Southeast Asian influences'. The brains behind what is quite an eclectic, but fabulous menu is Paul Greening, a former Young Australian Chef of the Year, and I couldn't fault one thing I ate.

At the end of the restaurant, you can see the dishes being prepared behind 12 foot windows which look onto the open kitchen, and they really do work magic in there. The Szechuan salt and pepper beef skewers with sweet soy and crispy shallots (£8) were tender beyond belief, and the crispy suckling pork belly with a pineapple curry (£15.50) was a combination to die for - truly exquisite.

One of the great things about Australasia is the way it tricks you into feeling as though you are surrounded by natural light- even though the restaurant is totally underground. The warm glow from the lighting and abundance of candles really makes the interior of the restaurant welcoming, and you can quite happily sit here eating and drinking for hours - especially when the food is this good!

For more information on Australasia, click here. I'd strongly advise making a reservation - it's becoming a popular spot!

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