You would never guess the entrance of the well known, posh restaurant and bar, Australasia, in Manchester, UK. Even I had to ask around when I was first informed of this place.
Once you find the abstract, half-pyramid shaped, glass doorway in front of Emporio Armani on Deansgate at the entrance of The Avenue, head down the stairs and be welcomed to a warm, modern style, cream-white ambiance. With the only natural light coming down from the top of the staircase above and cushy seats, this location is lounge central.
I spend most of my time eating over at the bar (which serves only half of the restaurant’s menu).
When you go down the three short steps to the bar area, you cannot miss the really cool, never-before-seen, flat glass turntables to your right, which is manned by resident and guest DJs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
This bar is well known, and rightfully so, for it’s inventive cocktails. One of my favourites is the Smokey Old Fashioned. You not only get a fire show from the bartender you get making this concoction, but receive an amazing drink with a smoke-filled beaker to pour your drink from. They really got inventive here. Even The Australasian Porn Star martini comes on a cute, metal tray with a mini shot of champagne/prosecco and a half-passion fruit flambéed (one more fire show – got to love the showmanship!).
Today, it’s Rose Litchi Martini time.
Next, I ordered the sashimi platter and the soft shell crab sushi roll (looked so good I had to eat before the picture below!).
And what’s a sushi order without chilled Daiginjo sake…
The only thing one needs to keep an eye on is the percentage of alcohol in any Sake. And most here are only served by the bottle. If you’re craving warm, low alcohol grade sake (15%) on a chilly night, I suggest a shot or bottle of the warm Honjozo Sake. Dry and crisp and only very slightly sweet when served warm.
Going back to food, even the bartenders tell me, to truly enjoy what the Australasia food menu has to offer, I would need to eat in the restaurant. Always been a bar girl, but maybe one of these nights I will venture on the other side. The customers who eventually venture to the bar for post-meal-drinks always tell me how much they enjoyed their food. Wouldn’t hurt for me to try one of these nights. For a future review!
However, from what I’ve tried, if you are a fresh fish connoisseur like I am (was a fish Monger for 6 years in my past life), you will most definitely enjoy the freshness of this fish. Fresh catch arriving every day, it shows in the bright colours of the fish presented to you (raw or cooked). Savoury dishes with every bite.
The bar is lovely to eat at, when you have a chair or table available (go earlier than later). The bar staff takes away bar chairs around 18-19:00 on busy nights for more space for the upcoming, nightly stampede, so you will need to grab a table if you plan to eat there.
And how could I forget the amazing bar staff! Whether you see them climbing like monkeys to get bottles way out of their reach or simply greeting you with a big smile and ask how your day has been, this group was nicely selected by management. Please, never give them a hard time, snap your fingers, or the like, as they see you and are truly working their buns off. Trust me, you will get your drink at busy times in due course. Just make sure to maintain eye contact, like at any bar.
Now, one interesting feature most do not know about this location is that near the toilets, past the kitchen, there is a stairwell on the right that secretively leads up to another nice bar – Grand Pacific (who are partners with the trendy lounge). If you want to be in a yachting environment, head on up there after Australasia for a post-drink. It gives the feeling of going from Asia into the Pacific (maybe why they named it as such). It’s very comfortable and the waitresses are pleasant. Get there late and the bar will surely be packed.
…just a quick demonstration of the look… (sorry for the red, the heaters were on… It’s normally white and navy blue mainly)
Overall, Australasia is a place I will most definitely frequent often. The price is better than most, it has fresh food, unique cocktails, friendly staff. Can’t go wrong for a fun night out or simply a chilled lunch.
…Let’s end the evening with an espresso…
Nicely written,makes you want to go there now