Restaurant Review: Avalanche, Manchester

One of the wonderful things about Manchester is that there are so many bars and restaurants to try. There are new and exciting places popping up weekly in totally different areas of the city giving us a really vibrant mix. So vibrant it is hard to keep up at times. On a recent visit to Liquorice I noticed Avalanche on the corner off Pall Mall on Booth Street. I then noticed some pretty photographs being put on Twitter of their food so added it to the list of places I needed to visit. As I am sure you can imagine this list is incredibly long!

Lucky for me I had a spare Saturday before a gig at the Phones 4 You Arena so booked in to see if the photographs reflected the food in terms of taste as well as appearance. Despite arriving on time and the restaurant being relatively empty, we were told our table was being sorted so would we grab a drink at the bar first. This wasn’t a problem as we had allocated plenty of time for the food before we had to be over at the Arena. The wine menu is competitively priced for the King Street area so we chose a bottle of the Frascati which was so good, we ordered another bottle.

We were soon showed to our table which was in the window. Perfect for nosey little me to watch the world go by! The specials had been written on a chalkboard within the restaurant but were quite unclear as to what they were. I had my eye on the ‘pollo basilica’ recognising the Italian word for chicken but had no idea what this dish would entail. Unfortunately there wasn’t anyone to ask either as we waited a good 20 minutes to place our order. We had to grab a server to ask if we could place our order in the end for fear that we would miss the show. Turns out the specials had been printed on a separate menu with descriptions of what they were; we just hadn’t been given this.

Once the food had been ordered things moved much more quickly and our starters arrived in no time.

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I ordered the trio of bruschetta which arrived on a wooden serving board. The olive tapenade topped with mozzarella was my favourite of the three which is surprising considering my dislike of olives in general. The glug of olive oil really helped the tapenade along but I would have preferred the bread to be more toasted. The oil left it a little soggy considering it had only really been warmed through. The smoked salmon was clearly good quality on a bed of soft cheese and the marinated tomatoes had a lovely sweetness that showed to me that they were really fresh. One thing I would say about this dish is that it is extortionately priced for what it is. £7.45 for a starter of bruschetta that was ok seems really steep when a similar dish at Rosso, a much more established restaurant in a more prominent location, costs just £4.95.

My date’s starter was similar story. He ordered the meatballs which were juicy with a lovely rich tomato sauce. The sauce was so good he commented that more bread would have been welcomed to mop it up properly. This dish was also pricey at £7.95 although tasty enough to justify it. I’m also sure, had my date asked that more bread would not have been a problem.

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Our plates were cleared quickly and our mains followed. I chose the chicken special which consisted of chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese covered in a cream sauce on a bed of mashed potato. The chicken was cooked perfectly; just cooked so still lovely and juicy in the centre. The ricotta was a lovely touch but I did feel the addition of mash and a cream sauce was a bit too much. I think this dish would have worked with a tomato sauce to compliment the cheese so much better.

My date had requested the veal cutlet served with a wine sauce. It was only halfway through his meal he questioned the dish that had been brought to him. It appears the kitchen had gotten the dish mixed up with the escalope which is served with a caper, garlic and olive sauce. By this time it was too late to question it but the veal had been cooked exactly as requested and the sauce worked well with the meat, the saltiness complimenting the game flavours of the veal.

We were far too full for dessert so didn’t indulge. By the time we left Avalanche it was full of customers enjoying their food with lots of pizzas coming out of the kitchen. The service was incredibly slow at the beginning of our meal but certainly picked up with the help of a more experienced member of staff. I would say the gentleman who served us for the rest of the evening was the owner but I don’t want to presume because I didn’t ask if this was the case. Either way he was incredibly pleasant and even walked us to the door having a chat.

Whilst the food was enjoyable I don’t think I will be rushing back. Considering I have yet to visit the big players in Italian food in Manchester, namely San Carlo and Don Giovanni, I’d like to see how they measure up against this stiff competition.

This meal was paid for.


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