Manchester has really exploded in terms of new restaurant openings over the last 12 months or so, so much so that it can be difficult to muster up a lot of enthusiasm for each new venture. That is until Living Ventures announced they had acquired the old Room site and would be flinging open the doors as a new Grand Pacific.
The grade II listed building is one of my favourites in the city. The old reform club was built in the 19th century and its beautifully gothic balcony saw Winston Churchill deliver his election victory speech in 1906. It is steeped in history and I was so conscious of how this would work when the new owners moved in.
As you can see the space oozes style. It is described as colonial Great Britain meets the Pacific with a heavy nod to the legendary Raffles Hotel in Singapore and you know what? Decor wise they have absolutely smashed it.
From the vintage style bathroom sinks to the flamboyant bird cage style chairs on the landing, they have thought of every details and I urge you to visit if you enjoy interior design or old buildings, grab a cocktail and have a look around, you will not be disappointed.
I have been lucky to visit both during lunch time and in the evening to experience this delightful venue at different times of the day. Both experiences are different and here is why.
My first visit was during the soft launch so the staff were very new, the menu very new, things are never perfect. The music was loud, a bit too loud for my liking when dining but otherwise, we settled down to look through the menu. They have thought of all the finer details, how beautiful are the embroidered linen napkins?
To start I chose the Chirashi Sushi Bowl which arrived a rainbow of colours and punchy flavours. Slightly sweet and sticky sushi rice topped with tuna and salmon sashimi, pickled mackerel, avocado and soy sauce. It was fresh and a lovely twist on traditional sushi meaning it not only looked more elegant on the plate but allowed for a combination of flavours according to your taste.
My friend ordered the Satay Chicken Skewers which arrived beautifully presented. The chicken itself was a little bland but the dipping sauce was really good with a real hit of heat that didn’t overpower the peanutty dip.
Having tried Massaman Curry at Vivid Lounge I knew I had to have it here. Melt in the mouth lamb in a rich and delicately spiced sauce is just divine and not too spicy. The menu said the dish was served with forbidden rice which I thought was black rice but white rice arrived with a small bowl of gunpowder potatoes in every colour you could wish for, including purple! This is the dish that will have me returning time and time again.
My friend went simple and ordered the 8oz Fillet Steak. Ordered blue it quivered on the plate and was seared well. The meat was butter soft and succulent served with kimchi and heart of palm. It is fairly small and having to order fries separately is a little annoying but they were tasty none the less.
Onto dessert and my friend ordered the Chocolate Fondant and I was jealous. A light crust on the outside housed a gooey chocolatey centre that was paired with salted caramel sauce, honeycomb pieces and peanuts. Each mouthful was an explosion of flavour with salty, sweet then sticky and crunchy.
I chose the Hibiscus and Sherry Trifle which transported me back in time to around when the building was constructed. Traditional with a twist of floral from the hibiscus in the jelly, raspberry sherbet in the fruit and lemon curd creme fraiche for a slightly lighter topping. The sherry gave it a richness that ended the meal well.
The staff are a little confusing with some wearing white lace shirts and black skirts, some wearing tiki style hawaiian t shirts and the bar staff wearing black. I assume the staff in t shirts are runners but it isn’t clear for me, and I think it needs to be so you know who to approach should you want to order drinks or request the bill.
Onto Sunday lunch and the ambiance at Grand Pacific changes completely. The sun streaming through the huge windows gives the space a much softer vibe and the string quartet played throughout the afternoon added to the opulence of the place that gives a regular Sunday lunch a touch of luxury. I found it a little odd, I’m not going to lie, but once you get into it, it just makes sense.
The Sunday lunch menu is small with a set option for starter and dessert, and just two options for mains. At £24.95 for all three courses I think it is well priced especially for the full experience of the music and the ambience of Grand Pacific. The Prawn Cocktail starter is visually exquisite with a giant king prawns perched around an ornate silver basket style bowl, the kimchi marie rose sauce is lightly spiced and the buttered bread is heavy which worked well with the spicy sauce. With the basket style bowl it is actually quite difficult to eat but the centre of the bowl does come out which makes it easier, if not as pretty.
The meat is carved a the table by a chef pushing a delightful gold cart. It would be tacky anywhere else but here it all adds to the experience. Thick slices of beef and a yorkshire pudding are laced with gravy before a large silver tray arrives with all the trimmings. I love the addition of creamy mashed potatoes and creamy cauliflower cheese which are rarely included in a Sunday lunch these days. The seasonal greens were also lovely and the jug of gravy meant the whole thing could be smothered or drizzled lightly according to your taste. I was a little disappointed when the gentleman on the table next to us also ordered the Sunday lunch but was served the full platter when we had received one to share. There was more than enough but it made sense to me for there to be a smaller tray when people chose the Sunday lunch option for one.
Dessert was the Sherry Trifle I had ordered on my first visit which finished off the meal nicely. Despite the decadence of the surroundings the pace is relaxed, there is no rushing and there is a luxury chilled out vibe throughout. Perfect for a special occasion or just post shopping with the girls, don your Sunday best and soak in the experience.
So there it is, Grand Pacific at night and in the day. Both offer a unique experience but in such different ways that it is difficult to choose a favourite. I am looking forward to going back to work my way through the cocktail menu with friends, I’ll see you at the bar.
I was invited to dine as a guest of Grand Pacific and not asked to pay for food. All drinks were paid for. Images of the interior credited to Grand Pacific.