My relationship with Artisan has had its ups and downs. From the time we drank ourselves stupid celebrating their birthday party, to the time a fellow diner threw up all over the floor next to our table that was left too long to be cleaned, it hasn’t always been perfect and for that reason it isn’t often my first choice of restaurants when picking somewhere to eat in the City Centre. I am all for giving places a second chance so when they asked if I fancied trying their new menu, I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and give it a try.
Something I have always liked about Artisan is the layout, the way they separate the bar from the restaurant and how the restaurant, despite being such a large and vast space, feels separated somehow. I guess it is hard to describe but the high backed seating and shelving in between divides it up and takes away that feeling that you are eating with loads of other people. Even though it was still light when we visited, the restaurant is fairly dark and I’d like to see brighter lighting to try and ‘summer’ the place up a bit.
The menu has been more than re-jigged for Summer, it has had a complete overhaul and is a lot smaller than it used to be. I am not against small menus if they cater for all, and focus on well-made, tasty dishes. I would have liked to see a bit more though, perhaps a summery stew? We settled with a cocktail and travel brochures having just booked a trip to Thailand, more of that to follow.
For starters my friend chose the Prawns (£7.50), which arrived in a tomato and garlic sauce. They were fairly small and there wasn’t a lot of them in honesty, but what was there was tasty and there was a real kick from the garlic. For me, they either needed less sauce, or some bread to mop it up. We were told this feedback had already been given and they are considering this for the menu, some bread was provided and it finished off the dish well.
I chose my staple starter and opted for the Camembert (£6.50). A mini melted cheese topped with a bacon crumb arrived with lots of bread for dipping. I thought the price incredibly reasonable as camembert tends to be more expensive elsewhere, and I liked the saltiness that adding bacon brings to the dish. I would definitely order it again.
For his main my friend chose the Grilled Chicken Burger (£11) adding bacon and mature cheddar. The pretzel bun was slightly chewy and sweet, perfect for the soft chicken and rich cheddar. It also comes with fries, which makes it a meal in my eyes. I’ll ever understand why a restaurant would serve a burger without a side of fries as standard but perhaps that is me.
I went for the 10oz Ribeye Steak (£18.50) which is a huge piece of meat! Soft and buttery, cooked medium as requested, the 28 day aged Lancashire cut really was beautiful and I struggled to finish it with the mountain of fries with which it is served. All was seasoned perfectly.
For dessert my friend had the Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownie served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. The hazelnuts were still chunky giving bite and the brownie gooey and warm. It didn’t last long!
I chose the Chocolate Meringue with layers of meringue, cream, banana and salted caramel sauce. The meringue was too hard in my opinion and would have worked much better had it been chewy. The flavours were there though with the bitter chocolate taste to the sweet meringue and the rich salted caramel.
Other than the prawns I’m not sure the food is particularly summery although there is a good range of pizzas from their wood fired oven and some interesting salads that we could have chosen. I think the dishes are good value and the portion sizes more than adequate considering Artisan is in the heart of Spinningfields. On my eternal quest for the perfect Sunday lunch, I’ll definitely be back to try their offering which, at £12.95, is nearly a fiver cheaper than Neighbourhood’s just opposite. I wonder if there is a Roast out there to beat the Refinery?
I was invited to dine as a guest of Artisan and was not asked to pay for my meal.