Grafene, based in Manchester, is a British fine dining restaurant with a focus on re-inventing British tapas. Grafene offers an a la carte menu (which changes daily), a seven-course tasting experience and an array of tapas dishes. The ideas behind the menu came from Head Chef Ben Mounsey, who provides a creative twist on classic dishes to ensure an interesting visit each time.
Grafene is hidden away from heart of Manchester, roughly a 5 minute walk from the town hall. The decor is stylish and well-coordinated, with a mixture of tables and booths available which surround a large bar area brimming with glassware. A nice touch is also the open kitchen where we saw Ben and his team preparing tapas dishes and getting ready for the day ahead.
We visited Grafene at lunchtime and were able to try the British tapas. The menu is Ben’s reflection of British life in the modern age. The food choices are varied and clearly take inspiration from many different sources, with an often-eclectic combination of ingredients from around the UK.
There was a large selection of tapas dishes available, covering a lot of different tastes and ensuring there is something for everyone. We were unsure how many dishes to order, so our waitress kindly explained the various dishes and suggested we have eight to share between the two us. The menu is laid out to cater for nibbles, more substantial dishes and pudding. With this in mind, we tried three ‘main dishes’ and then a selection of smaller plates to accompany them.
First, we opted for the Grafene bread and butter which was freshly made and an excellent recommendation to start with any meal. The marinated olives which were deliciously marinated in a chorizo-tasting oil. The corn-fed chicken with croquettes and cauliflower was succulent, although not our favourite. The Miso Salsify and seasonal salad were also tasty but didn’t stand out when compared to our two favourite dishes.
First up was the burnt ends of brisket; this may be the nicest beef brisket we have reviewed on Lussorian, with a sweet BBQ sauce and served with roasted onion. It’s safe to say that we could have easily eaten two of these. Next was the rendered duck leg, which came with beet piccalilli and herbs. This was easily the largest dish we had and was perfect for sharing between 2 people. The meat fell off the bone and clearly, none of the flavours were lost during cooking; this is definitely a must-try out of all of the items on the menu.
To finish we had an intricately crafted gingerbread sandwich, with blood orange and buttercream. It was rich, packed with flavour, and had a spiciness which was pleasantly subdued by the cream. Don’t be disheartened by the fact it’s small, as it really packs a punch. Overall this was the perfect palate cleanser. Alongside our meal, we were able to sample a few cocktails, including the fruit pastille bellini and the Passion Fruit & White Chocolate Martini. Like the food, the cocktails were served in decorative glasses but had simplicity at their core. Both were fruity but – when paired with the intensity of the alcohol – seemed to hit a nice sweet spot.
Overall our visit to Grafene offered a variety of different flavours which made the whole meal into an interesting journey. Although we were not able to try the evening menu, this is certainly something that we would go back to sample. To find out more for yourself and reverse a table, visit www.grafene.co.uk or call them on 0161 696 9700.
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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