Some days, you really just deserve to be spoilt.
But forget the flowers, swerve the sales and don’t bother burying your head in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. Instead, book yourself an evening at Grafene in Manchester.
Tucked away down the side of King Street, away from the hustle and bustle; step inside and immediately find yourself immersed in their cosy yet luxurious surroundings.
But first, treat yourself to a drink at the bar.
Can I offer a recommendation?
The Grafene 55 is really quite spectacular.
Take your pearly tanqueray concoction, pour into your glass and watch it transform into a deep dark galaxy before your very eyes.
If you find the magic goes to your head quite quickly (often the trouble with delicious cocktails), get yourself comfy at your table.
Are you ready for another recommendation?
Order yourself a fresh batch while you peruse the menu and indulge in soft, fluffy rolls, a cheese and onion bun and crunchy slices of sourdough – all baked in-house.
Slather with beef dripping and salted butter and enjoy.
The simple pleasures are always the most satisfying.
The menu at Grafene is wonderfully varied, classic but far from traditional. Take your pick and stay open-minded; the talented chefs will far exceed your expectations.
First, for starters…
Plump, pillowy soft scallops, charred gem lettuce, crispy bites of bacon and peas.
A delicate ensemble, rich with humble and satisying flavours.
Chicken and sweetcorn, complete with consommé and wonton.
THE most divine creation.
Comforting and familiar flavours, refined into a complex, exquisite dish. Every mouthful as decadently pleasing as the last – and the wonton? A parcelled piece of joy! A real winner.
Thankfully, the sadness of finishing our dishes was quickly relieved with the arrival of our mains.
It was love at first sight.
Summer Bouillabaisse (a fun word to say after two or three Grafene 55’s…) Market fish, accompanied by mussels, juicy prawn, fresh sprouting pulses and a wickedly creamy bisque broth.
I beamed at the artistically devised concoction, snapping my meal like a proud mother on her child’s first picture day.
I dove in, savouring every creamy, sumptuous bite. The fish soft and indulgent, the pulses crunchy and satisfying; the seafood fresh and perfected by the smooth and richly seasoned bisque.
Now the Gnocchi, but not as you know it.
Not a potato or shell of pasta in sight, admittedly this dish is not much to look at – but I promise you, if you have an itch to scratch, this plateful will get it.
Rolls of ricotta, lemon and basil; fresh, thick and creamy to taste – so simple and yet almost impossible to describe.
The kind of dish you can’t help but smile about; stuffed with rich and satisying flavours without the lingering guilt that pasta can sometimes leave (the only guilt being you can’t eat more obviously).
Now, on to the puddings!
The portions are so wonderfully crafted at Grafene that you can’t help but have just enough room for a final hurrah.
I asked our server, Lee his favourite.
Fortunately it had been exactly what I had my eye on.
Lee, along with all of the servers we engaged with was knowledgable and ever so friendly. He had excellent taste in both eyewear and desserts it seemed…
I opted for the rhubarb crumble, the nation’s favourite – but reinvented with iced custard and pearls of ginger.
Thick, creamy panna cotta, tart chunks of rhubarb, lip-lickingly sweet custard piled high atop of a sweet biscuit crumble; and this wasn’t no digestive crumb either – this was the real sweet deal.
The pearls of ginger popped with flavour on every spoonful, giving each bite a fiery flutter.
Don’t tell my mum, but it was possibly the best crumble I’ve ever had.
And just to finish us off; the white chocolate and raspberry delice.
Heavier than expected, but lavish and a marriage of all things a dessert should be.
Worth ordering for the homemade slabs of aero chocolate alone.
Having left no trace of our sweet treats behind, we nestled further into our booth to exchange our thoughts on the joy experienced that evening; slightly saddened that our tasting adventure had come to an end.
Fortunately, the chef had a final trick or two up her sleeve.
Homemade fruit pastilles and hazelnut chocolate truffles.
Almost impossibly full, we half-heartedly exclaimed we couldn’t possibly eat another bite…but as equal opportunists we gave them a good go!
…And hoovered up the lot.
Our evening at Grafene was a total success from start to finish, from the personable staff to the breathtaking, behind the scenes talent of the chefs.
We bid adieu to our new found friends and set off into the night as content as two amused bouches, already planning our return.
If you’re looking to treat yourself, I highl recommend you tempt yourself with an evening at Grafene. Book here and prepare yourself for an evening of culinary delight; trust me, you deserve it.