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Australasia: Gordo’s Verdict. Michelin Star?

Gordo thinks the new place on Deansgate is very special

Published on June 6th 2011.


Australasia: Gordo’s Verdict. Michelin Star?

YOU MAY, or may not have heard of Australasia. You may have heard it first from Confidential, when we broke the news last year. 

Anything that scores over eighteen out of twenty is worthy of a Michelin star; whether or not this brilliantly cool contemporary restaurant will achieve a Michelin Star here in Manchester is questionable with the current crop of Michelin inspectors. 

Gordo remembers talking to Mike Ingall, gaffer of Allied London, the team which built Spinningfields.

Australasia external 006.JPGMike had done a u-turn on his policy of concentrating on bringing mediocre brands into the estate with strong credit ratings: Café Rouge being a good example. Local operators without triple AAA credit ratings had until that point little chance of securing prime space in this otherwise well run area.

Mike went hunting again, with an eye to getting some quality local operators in. One team he went after were the boys who, well over a decade ago, transformed Manchester’s bar scene with The Living Room, which spawned copycats across the city and the nation.

The food was good, the place was jumping and the girls looked great. Since then, Tim Bacon and his team have made a couple of step-ups, in particular with Grill on the Alley, a product that regularly delivers great food; in particular with its seafood.

Tim has long since sold The Living Room whilst buying Est Est Est, the Italian chain which was re-branded Gusto, with a proposition that built on the previous menu, improving the chain enormously.

Then came the Alchemist, an instant hit; Alchemist is a bar first and foremost, with a menu that amongst other things delivers the best nachos in town, the food in the main intending to complement the cocktails and mainly fizzy foreign beer. Great burgers as well.

And now we have Australasia.

The restaurant menu and proposition has been a closely guarded secret. Generally, the food in Australia has improved over the past two decades as its sons and daughters went off to travel the world and came back refusing to eat the dross their parents were happy with.

This resulted, along with the influx of immigration from all across the Pacific Rim, with an eclectic cuisine managed by young chefs who weren’t afraid to mix and match ingredients straddling Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and a myriad of others whilst using its native livestock and fish to  best advantage.

Gordo was invited, along with Jonathan Schofield to a menu tasting pre opening. This was the first time the two had stepped foot in the place. The entrance is via a small glass pyramid taking you into the basement below Armani on Deansgate.

D2X_1617.JPGThe space is a long deep oblong with a bar area to the left and the restaurant seating stretching to the right, where at the far end there is an open kitchen which adds theatre. Along the left hand wall there are semi-private booths of tables for eight or ten, with lattice-work walls where these diners still get the atmosphere along with some degree of privacy.

Seating is comfortable and relaxed, mixed and matched adding to personality, with driftwood trees (you mean dead ones, Ed) floating up to the ceilings. There is a bit of magic going on with the lighting, defeating the basement effect entirely; it feels like the sun is shining at all times.

The menu is a delight to read. In fact it’s too bloody interesting. On a third and final visit with one of Gordo’s colleagues, Ruth Allan, the fat one had trouble in deciding what he was going to have.

Oysters are a great bet here, 6 or a dozen (£19 for 12) will be the best in the North West as John Brannigan, the executive chef across the group, is good at sourcing and has the buying power to get to the front of the queue when the boats come in.

The sushi on all three visits have been the best Gordo has experienced anywhere in Britain. A soft shell crab Californian roll (£7.50 for four) had a deep fried claw crisped perfectly which perfumed the rice with a breeze of toasted garlic; Loc Duart salmon sashimi (£6 for four) and yellow tail tuna sashimi (£6 for four) were firm pieces of fish standing up proud, box cut. It’s a good idea to get the mixed sushi and sashimi selection (£19.50) which will give four people a good sampler.

One strange dish in this section you must try; the scallop parcels in shellfish ‘consume’ (£13), the likes of which Gordo has never experienced. This is a must -ave dish so strange, odd and fabulous it’s an impossibility to describe. ‘Ave it.

There is an area that deals with tempura, salads and small plates, completely ideal for light lunches at sensible prices. The soft shell crab (yes, Gordo has a fetish here) and courgette flowers, chilli seasoned (£12.50) is a dish of massive simplicity with textures and flavour that marks out a clever conductor in the kitchen.

IMG_3241.JPGThe smoked salmon, pomelo fruit and avocado with horseradish snow (£9.50) was overshadowed by its siblings in all fairness, whilst the sticky pork and tofu with Japanese mushrooms and squid (£9.50) had a sauce as sticky as treacle that matched the slow braised pork beautifully - but Gordo wasn’t sure of the usefulness of the tofu. The mushrooms sat proudly on top with small pieces of well poached squid.

Then there was the roast foie gras and mango on toasted almond (£13.50). Gordo has thought long and hard over two weeks about this dish. And here is his view. It’s the best dish outside London.

The foie gras is a two centimetre slab, cooked swiftly and caramelised on the outside; a mango purée is smeared across the side of the plate, the foie gras sat on a bed of the toasted almonds that give crunchy texture. It was then polished off with poached pineapple cut in small dice. The ‘mouth-feel’ of this loaded together on a fork is close to perfection whilst the slight acidity of the pineapple and toasty nuts melt together with the warm foie gras as well as anything ever could. Gordo would walk across hot coals to get to this dish.

There is a ‘Big Soup’ section untried by Gordo, including an intriguingly named pork “Wonmono” with udon noodles and tofu in a light soy and sake broth (£10).

The mains have been standout; lacquered Barbary duck with ginger and Chinese vegetable salad (£17) ordered by one of Gordo’s guests, James Reddington of Media Vest, woofed it so fast no one else had a chance to taste it.

To get a better lobster dish than this establishment’s pot roasted lobster with kaffir lime, chilli and Thai basil (£45) you would have to visit Gordo’s favourite restaurant in the world, Les Pres d’Eugenie in South West France. That’s a Michelin three star by the way.

The Wagyu steak is stunning, (£40), the raw ingredient being very right to start with is helped along by expert seasoning and a wasabi egg; this latter piece of genius is an egg yolk, runny, injected with wasabi to give it a great kick. Little bits of taste explosions are scattered across all the dishes making each one a journey through tastes you either don’t expect or have never experienced or, indeed, both at once.

Ocean trout fillet with pancetta, caramelised onion and Madeira shallots (£18.50) was tried on two separate occasions, the first time delivered perfectly, the second slightly over cooked; apparently the kitchen were getting complaints that the fish was undercooked by people who still expect theirs dried out in solid flakes. If it was me I would throw them out of the restaurant. The quality of this fish is out of this world, as ever married to ingredients that you don’t expect, crispy pancetta for example working brilliantly with the onions and the fish.

The kitchen makes good use of edible flowers in the presentation, some for show, and others for flavour whilst their use of salad leaves and their dressings is exemplary.

Crispy suckling pork belly with a pineapple curry (£14.50) is another total stand out; the suckling pig juicy, luscious and piggy with the best crisped skin you could ever hope for whilst the pineapple curry is a flavour festival; this dish is, basically, the best sweet and sour pork you will ever eat anywhere in the world.

There are some extras as always; the glazed carrots (£3.50) weren’t to Gordo’s taste, odd texture and sour taste; sweet potato and rosemary mash (£3.50) was totally to Gordo’s taste whilst the mixed Leaf and wild herb salad (£3) was an absolute knockout, particularly as the dressing was a little bit of citrus heaven.

IMG_3245.JPGPuddings including chocolate pave with sour cherry jelly, girottine cherries (oooh dear, how good were these with the chocolat…) and miso ice-cream (£7) as well as artisan ice-creams and sorbets (£7). These fellas are in a class of their own. The ice cream here is interesting (ie fucking brilliant) with some special equipment Gordo doesn’t understand; they are churned to order, and are fantastic.

But wait. Mango soufflé with coconut ice-cream and mango soup (£7) is a two star Michelin dish. It is perfection.

Gordo has tried it three times, the first he didn’t think the ice cream was right, but has subsequently surrendered. It is as near perfect a pudding as you will get in Manchester. Gordo had champagne on the second visit, Mumm vintage at £80, and a good Bandol Rose on the second, £35. The wine list comes on an iPad, quite good as it happens. Maybe there could be a few more selections in the £20 to £30 range.

Service is slightly over fussy at present, which comes from the Tim Bacon training school which is brutal in its expectations, rightly so, but will calm down.

The atmosphere is what it should be in a restaurant of this quality, a complete buzz. An occasion. There is a DJ. This worries Gordo, it’s just background music for most of the day, but gets turned up at 11.30 pm for the bar traffic. Two complaints about this from diners on Saturday night; let’s see how it pans out.

Anything that scores over eighteen out of twenty is worthy of a Michelin star; whether or not this brilliantly cool contemporary restaurant will achieve a Michelin Star here in Manchester is questionable with the current crop of Michelin inspectors. Gordo can tell you this; Australasia is a triumph.

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @gordomanchester

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. £1000 to the reader who can prove otherwise, and dismissal for the staff member who wrote a review scored out of twenty on a freebie from the restaurant.

Australasia

1 The Avenue
Spinningfields, M3 3AE

Rating: 19/20
Food: 9.5/10
Service: 4.75/5
Ambience: 4.75/5

 

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

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61 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Tyson ThebeerhoundJune 7th 2011.

Oh, please. Anywhere that is still serving foie gras has zero credibilty. Michelin star? More like a MacDonalds star.

A GooseJune 7th 2011.

Tyson....er what's wrong with serving foie gras?

AnonymousJune 7th 2011.

Went recently...absolutley brilliant, best meal out I have had in a while

Had the Foie Gras and it was superlative.

HeadjackJune 7th 2011.

I spotted Gordo in there last Tuesday (I've also spent far too much than is healthy). Scallops were fantastic, and so was the mango souffle.

Tyson ThebeerhoundJune 7th 2011.

Why? Because I'm ethically opposed to the production of foie gras?

Terry GravesJune 7th 2011.

If you go down the road of ethical refusal to foods there'll be no end to it Tyson and you'll end up eating a few miserable bits of veg grown in your own garden.

Tyson ThebeerhoundJune 7th 2011.

And if we foillowed that logic, we could abolish the whole concept of ethics altogether. I'm no militant; by all means carry on with your foie gras. But let's do without the self-justification, and pretending that it's anything other than a pretentious indulgence.

Kelly Johnson shared this on Facebook on June 7th 2011.
Biggy SmallsJune 7th 2011.

I went in the opening week so not sure if soft opening affected food quality but the soft shell crab sushi was disaster - rice had too much vinegar, whilst crab was cold and soggy. We suspected it wasn't freshly made but thought wasn't possible given the 25+ kitchen staff. However on way to toilet where i passed the open glass kitchen, i definately saw a tray of the soft shell crab maki rolls which had been made earlier - scandalous for a restaurant deemed 19/20!

Alan VileJune 7th 2011.

Going out for dinner could be dubbed a pretentious indulgence Tyson. Even going to Take That could be deemed the same.

AnonymousJune 7th 2011.

It's Loch Duart - not Loc. You're either thick or rubbish at spelling.

EditorialJune 7th 2011.

We're thick we are. We're a celebration of stupidity and a festival of foolishness. Ignorance is bliss.

suzyblewJune 7th 2011.

presentation of wine definitely needs work. When sat we were presented with the drinks menu from the bar and had to ask for the wine list! When it came, the 'sommelier' and I use that term loosely, had less knowledge that than the staff at Gusto. This was first week.

i also think Gordo be aware you are getting better service than some of us plebs! 2 hours for 3 courses is very slow and I am not one to rush!

AnonymousJune 7th 2011.

In order to say that something is 'the best dish outside London' one would've had to have tried every dish at every restaurant in the country. Reining in the hyperbole may help with the credibility.

Hero
HowieJune 7th 2011.

Confession: I went five times last week so they are definitely doing a lot right. That said, Saturday was not good. Every restaurant can have an off night but the cross-over ambition to be a Panacea after 9.00 just didn't work. If Oz really wants to take the place at the head of the table then it should focus on just that. Trying to be all things to all people with a few quid will not work. I'll be honest, if my first experience of Oz had been Saturday night, I would not return.

AnonymousJune 7th 2011.

went twice on the opening week and was totally blown away with the venue! cool, chic and contemporary with an airy elegance not found in many restaurants above the ground, never mind below!
Though the food was of a good quality, i can't say it woould be the reason i would return!
i thought the pretence of presenting the wine list on an ipad unecessary, especially as the waitress still had to come and write down the order!
i have no doubt this is a great place, but the restaurant is way too big! the restaurant could be half the size, with buzz and atmosphere created by a larger bar area.

Jane BaxterJune 7th 2011.

I went on a Saturday and was disappointed. I certainly don't think the food is the best in Manchester. I thought they messed around with the food, trying to over fancify it and consequently it lost out on the taste.
Also, I am allergic to eggs and when I enquired if they had any egg free desserts they came back to tell me that all the desserts have some powdered egg in them. Now I am not a cook at all but I thought top restaurants would use real egg. Wouldn't they? Isn't powdered egg a bit like making custard with custard powder?
Anyway we went home and had cheese..............

Bruce WayneJune 8th 2011.

Sounds perfectly affordable to the common man

Eddy ChurchillJune 8th 2011.

Powdered egg ?!?!?!?!?! Do they offer a spoonful full of VIROL too? Do you have to show your ration book with the bill?

Chrissy BrandJune 8th 2011.

Sounds like a hype but we shall see. and completely agree that foie grass should not be served anywhere

Kris CullineyJune 8th 2011.

The last comment re: Michelin Inspectors is totally wrong We have no michelin stars because we have no michelin starred cooking in manchester unfortunately.
Yes its true!
From my perspective its down to attention to detail. A lot of manchester chefs have loads of bravado but do not deliver. A lot of the local press also i believe heap lots of plaudits on a place and these places think that they can rest on their laurels.
Another reason i believe is that service staff are just not good enough and have no real interest in the trade and subsequently it shows. Just try asking any waiter/ress where your fish comes from i'll place a tenner they have not got a clue. Again i partly blame the chef how many chefs will perform briefings before service not many i'll bet ya.

I will be trying Australasia though i will report back!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Pedro1874June 12th 2011.

Totally correct with your Michelin * comments Kris. I thought it was just me being picky but after 2 visits to "The pipe and glass" near Beverley, I can assure everyone that the Michelin Inspectors know their job! Thoroughly recommended.

Wall-EJune 8th 2011.

Went last night. Really good atmosphere though fairly loud music. I would say potential. A few mistakes with orders and 2 1/2 hours for 3 courses. Food generally good with the occassional touch of brilliance: mango souffle, fillet steak. No better or worse than Abode or Second floor other than lively atmosphere. Very comfy seats. Service quite friendly and very knowledgable. If you add this to these places and Mark Addy, River Restaurant Lowry, 1847 and Cicchetti I think the city centre is far better than most. Have to add went to Northcote last month and was really ordinary compared to some of the places above so not always easy to judge a potential michelin star. Fraiche is the best north west restaurant.

Robert RedfordJune 8th 2011.

Right. This could be everything Gordo says, but left after a great dinner, but the bloody noise! It suddenly went mental at nine thirty, couldn't sit and relax with a coffee and drink after the meal and left. Told a great waitress my thoughts. Sort it out Gordo! It's our only chance of great pacific rim grub yet this lot think they can turn a fine dining proposition into Panacea at nine thirty?

T DAviesJune 8th 2011.

Nine thirty? Wow. Not ten thirty or as Gordo says eleven thirty? That's silly. DJs can be like bad referees, thinking they're the main event rather than a background function. Presumably Australasia isn't going to be putting on 'name' djs so their team of music makers should pipe down until the diners have left.

Hero
HowieJune 9th 2011.

I'm glad I'm not alone in hating the din. Totally with T Davies about the egos of DJs. Tim, Jeremy just stop it!!

The GunJune 9th 2011.

Got taken for lunch by the future missus last friday
had the prawn and avocado california roll's, eel nigiri, crab parcels small plate and the scallop sashimi parcels to start I agree the scallop parcels are a must try dish. The eel is a favourite of ours and did't disapoint, next round of food was the soft shelled crab and courgette flowers tempura, the pork belly and the Barbary duck. The Pineapple curry with the Pork belly was a triumph. I also had the duck as I wanted both dishes and couldn't decide, beautiful produce from france cooked well, think this could be done with English duck just as well posibly as the laquer i felt was the key driver in the dish. Dessert was a recomendation from our server of Espresso fondant, this was the best desert i've had so far this year absolutely faultless. Wine with lunch was a bottle of Perrier Jouet. Great food and service in a lovely new venue.

Andy VoJune 9th 2011.

I went here on Wedsnesday night and unfortunately, was not overly impressed. The unit is great and the designers have made a wonderful job of making the basement feel light and airy with a decent atmosphere, however there were a few shortcomings with the food and service.

Wine and water were placed off the table out of our reach so we were reliant on the waiting staff to top up our glasses which didn't occur as often as it should have done. We were served by two separate waitresses, one for food and one for drink. This seemed a bit strange and was even stranger still when the drinks waitress couldn't take our order for coffee?!?!

Mixed sushi plate was average. The rice was slightly dry and the nori seaweed had gone chewy which seemed to suggest that the sushi had been sat around for a bit for the nori to soak in some moisture for the rice. Also, for a place that wanted to offer a "finer dining" experience, shouldn't proper chopsticks be used rather than the wooden take away ones?

Mains of barbary duck and belly of pork were ok however by the time the pork dish arrived in front of me, the pieces had been knocked out of place by the waitress and therefore the presentation had gone out of the window.

The total bill still seemed a little steep for what it was even including a 33% introductory discount off food. I may visit again but will probably leave it a couple of months for things to bed in.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Robert RedfordJune 9th 2011.

Hi Andy, where have you been hiding? Not seen you for a while?

Andy VoJune 10th 2011.

I've been lurking on here but not posted for a while.

Since my initial visit, I've won a charity auction for a table of 4 at Australasia. It should have been for this Saturday night, but unfortunately, I couldn't make it. The management have quite graciously agreed to change the date of the booking notwithstanding the fact that they were under no obligation to do so. In my book, this amounts to quite a lot on their part and in the cirsumtances, I hope I'll be able to report back more favourable about my second visit.

Eddy LidlJune 9th 2011.

Am i the only person who hasnt been?

1 Response: Reply To This...
tblzebraJune 9th 2011.

Yes

Charlie ButterworthJune 9th 2011.

You should go. Every Lidl helps

AnonymousJune 10th 2011.

A Manchester Confidential special discount rate would be just the thing to ensure we mere mortals could sample their wares.

CBJune 10th 2011.

went last Saturday for lunch on the third off offer and I was very impressed. Special food and the fit out is lovely. A think here and The Lowry River would have to battle it out for best desserts in the city though - very similar styles and quality.

Wall-EJune 11th 2011.

Become a member on their website. 20percent off

Pedro1874June 12th 2011.

Kris's Michelin* comments above are absolutely correct. There are still no eateries in Manchester worthy of a star and from the comments above, I doubt whether the Australasia will get one, especially if the inspectors visit later in the evening lol! I thought it was just me being picky, but after 2 visits to "The pipe and glass" near Beverley, I can assure everyone that the Michelin Inspectors know their job! Thoroughly recommended.

TaylorJune 12th 2011.

Yet Pedro I went to the Old Vicarage in Sheffield and thought it the most deadening affair I've ever had the dishonour to pay over £100 for two. Who cares about a Michelin star? It normally means antediluvian standards. You can say the same for Northcote Manor and for that matter Holbeck Ghyll. It feels like we skip back to Edwardian times and that repressive formality that makes pleasant situations strained.

1 Response: Reply To This...
RayJune 16th 2011.

That statement is itself well out of date. To selectively choose country retreats of a certain style as repesntative of Michelin approved cuisine is a nonsense. The Pipe & Glass is warm, welcoming and the food is simply, yet beautifully done. Filling, too. L'Enclume is hardly antediluvian, nor is Square, nor is Ledbury, nor is Mr Underhill, Turners, Purnells, Kitchin. Who cares about Michelin? Many diners do - not necessarily because it has a star, but because it raises the bar in the locality. You then get some brilliant aspirational restaurants. Michelin has moved with the times. Have you?

AnonymousJune 12th 2011.

as a reply to the comments about the DJ and comments about not wanting to eat with loud drum and bass ... have you actually been there to Australasia? i went on saturday the food and service was great no loud banging music at all went to the bar after and there was a dj and he was playing some great tunes nice atmosphere not loud just right he was really good and also all the staff were great ... as to the comments about this is why ithaca went wrong as it tried to be a bar a restaurant and a club i disagree... multi function venue, great concept pop in for a drink a bit of a boogie or food or all 3 Ithaca shut as Arnie Hira has no business sence whatsoever and is a spoilt fool who trades off the reputation of his family and as for his latest simply abu dhabi magazine well how come there is no affiliation on the United Printing & Publishing Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Media Company http://www.admedia.ae/brands/ also he claims a datta base of 350000 including royalty and celebs etc really my uncle works in abu dhabi and whilst he is no millionare he is well off and has never seen a copy of the mag there as i asked him to send me a copy also the mag is just full of pictures and no real content i hope his pretty girlfriend that has obviously judging by face book got roped into fronting it as his reputation is worthless as he is and always will be a wanabe ithaca was his one chance to shine and he failed due to his own incompetance and lack of business sence Anyway my point is dont compare Australasia to ithaca or tim bacon to arnie as this is really like chalk and cheese. Australasia is fantastic in every way well done again tim.

Pedro1874June 12th 2011.

I know what you mean Taylor but I am really meaning the food quality being consistently a few notches above very good and usually very special . To reassure everyone, there are no "antedeluvian standards" or "repressive formality" at "The Pipe and Glass Inn". It is an old Country Inn and you can go there for a drink and have the pick of the restaurant menu in the public bar area if you wish.

DR AHSJune 13th 2011.

Great venue, had one of the booths down the left hand side for our meal. Very hot on a warm Saturday night. Will need air-conning if it gets warmer outside.
Music was the right level, food was generally very good, but not all brilliant, atmos was good.
Will go back but its certainly not gonna get a look in for any michelin stars.
Good cooking, done well, in a cool setting. Dont go if your looking for a quiet meal, thats not what its about.

max fineJune 13th 2011.

I agree with the DR - the ManCon review of Australasia is more than a little OTT and will only result in many a disappointed patron. Not because it's not a good restaurant - it is - but because the superlatives are too much for what is essentially a chain restaurant, to live up to.

Do they have a talented young chef? Maybe, but just one it seems - and unfortunately his minions (while worthy of carrying out instructions), are not nearly in the same league when it comes to technical ability. Or so it appears judging by my own visits, where the food has SORT of resembled the pictures above, but not quite. And this is a busy restaurant with a lot of covers; with all the will in the world one man can only do so much.

The chopsticks are the disposable kind, and you WILL be served by a student with little training or know-how (albeit with a big smile and a friendly manner). And like most chains, the cocktail menu and food sourcing (though excellent) is very rigid. An example of this was being told that the kitchen had run out of kingfish sashimi while kingfish sushi was still available, and that only a passion fruit mojito could be conjured up at the bar.

I have been twice in two weeks now, and on each visit the kitchen ran out of at least two of the dishes I requested. On the last visit I also had £30 worth of drinks added to the bill that were neither ordered nor consumed, and which took about 15 mins for the waitress to rectify. Some lucky begger was obviously well lubricated, gratis.

So anybody going expecting a Michelin star experience is going to leave severely disappointed. However, if you attend expecting (mostly) decent restaurant food with some interesting, different and sometimes delicious flavours, you'll be fine.

The sushi is the best since Ithaca, but so far Australasia hasn't served me a dish to match anything like the genius of Ithica's chilli sea bass. The roasted foie gras came closest but after the first few mouthfuls became a little sickly.

The barramundi with mitsuba toast was a huge disappointment; under the lights too long and already soggy due to the accompanying broth by the time it reached the table (complete with a gritty scallop). Other dishes including roasted scallops, sticky pork and the tempura have all been lovely however - and the beef fillet of the best I've tasted in Manchester.

I was completely underwhelmed by the much hyped soufflé - after a few mouthfuls the mango sauce was just too overpowering and sickly sweet. The spiced summer berries were better and the espresso fondant better still, although overall I have better desserts elsewhere (The French and Second Floor to name two).

In short, it's a very nice place to eat, but not worthy of the superlatives lauded upon it (yet). I for one wont be rushing back for a while now, but the quality of the meat and fish has convinced me to sample other grill on the alley venues in the very near future.

So go, enjoy the food and the very Living-Roomy style atmosphere but don't be fooled into thinking this is anything close to being a Michelin-starred venue.

1 Response: Reply To This...
buckoboyJune 16th 2011.

I know where you're coming from Max I ate here last Tues and my first impressions were good. Busy bar and restaurant for a Tues which is always nice to see, restaurant was nice and light and didn’t feel too much like you were underground, staff buzzing round everywhere and a general good feel about the place. The DJ booth alone is enough to entice you in which is rumoured to cost a whopping £8000! The booths are a nice touch and you don’t feel too closed off from the action but you do retain some level of privacy. Firstly the service – we sat down to our table and were introduced to our drinks waiter and then 2 food waiters, bit much i thought, however all were fairly knowledgeable on food and wine etc. Onto the food – i ate with 2 friends and we ordered the sushi sharing platter between us. Firstly the sushi was very small – much smaller than YO Sushi! And ten to our disgust a long, thick black hair that appeared to be gently placed on one of the pieces of sushi. The food waiter was decent enough in dealing with the matter and a fresh plate was brought out. On the whole the sushi was ok, no better than Yo Sushi and much more expensive. For main 2 out of the 3 of us had the duck breast, the other one had the chicken with asparagus. The chicken looked and tasted impressive, not a great deal of it for the price though. I was asked by the food waiter if i was ok with my duck being pink, i replied, “the pinker the better!” in the hope i would receive a succulent, pinky duck breast....what arrived could not have been further from this. Decent size however cooked right through. The sauce that came with it tasted like a rich, posh soy sauce, again, nothing special. Veg was again basic but ok. I think Gordo has severely gone overboard with his review on this one. Michelin Star??????? Nowhere near. Im all for championing great restaurants in Manchester as Im gagging for us to get a Michelin Star however this does not hit that level. The venue itself is gorgeous however the food is far from Michelin standard. It strikes me as a place that will become very popular very soon but the food will take a back seat. Perhaps Gordo needs to review Vertigo properly to experience great food....or maybe i should review it myself.......i doubt id do a worse job than Gordo...?

Wall-EJune 28th 2011.

Is it true the exec head chef has gone already?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 7th 2011.

yes

AnonymousJuly 1st 2011.

After reading Gordo’s review and having spoken to several people about Australasia, myself and several colleagues decided it was worth a try!

We booked a table for 6:30pm on a Thursday night as we could go straight from work. We were all looking forward to this as we had heard fantastic reviews and the foie gras was a must try for us. Unfortunately the night turned out to be a bit of a disappointment from the moment we arrived which we were a little taken a back by especially after the reviews.

We arrived just before our booking time at 6:30pm and was drawn in instantly by the crisp white lines of the bar & restaurant with its fabulous soft furnishings and lighting. Visually this restaurant is stunning but unfortunately that’s where our praise ends. when we arrived at the restaurant and booked in with a young waitress who seemed to know what she was doing until a man in a suit appeared and ushered her out of the way (I presume he was either the manager or a supervisor) he then just stood there looking at the computer screen, didn’t make any sort of eye contact or communication with us and we were left just standing there while he mumbled to the staff about what table to put us on (the restaurant wasn’t busy at this time and there were only two tables in before us) this was a little awkward for us just standing there.

We were finally taken to our table (on the right hand side of the restaurant on the fab sofa tables) when we got to the table it wasn’t laid for 4 people and looked like it hadn’t been cleared/cleaned from previous guests sitting there. On the plus side of this the sofas were so combatable and the restaurant gives off a lovely laid back vibe which is just perfect after a long day at work! A waitress soon laid our table and we were given the menus to start looking at all of the varied choice. While we were looking at the menus the wine waiter came over and introduced himself (Tim, who was Australian) we decided to go for a bottle of still water and champagne to start with. Tim went off to fetch these and while we waited we noticed the champagne glasses were filthy, one had a chip in and the water glasses were also dirty! These were replaced immediately but they shouldn’t be on the table in the first place!

A young guy who wasn’t Tim came over to open the champagne (Curtis I do believe his name was) he opened the champagne and it went everywhere which wasn’t his fault but it went everywhere all over him, the table and the floor. Which doesn’t look the most professional but it can’t always be helped. As Curtis was embarrassed by this another girl came over to serve the new bottle of champagne. The restaurant appears to run sections and each waitress looks after a selection of tables. Nik and Tim (waitress and wine waiter) were our servers. Nik and Tim were very knowledgeable about the food and drink but didn’t appear to have that ease when talking to the guests and seemed a little nervous and uncomfortable at times. I suppose this will come with time. Even though Nik and Time were our servers we were served constantly by different staff members which made it hard to identify who was in charge of looking after us. This process can be improved upon! On a plus Tim was very efficient at topping up our water, champagne and wine but I would suggest that maybe training could be improved upon as he never once asked if we were ok for drinks and did we want another bottle of champagne or anything else. We ended up having to ask a waiter who was walking past to get us a bottle of wine and some cocktails.

Nik took our order and she explained what the dishes were when we asked. I had the chicken “big soup” which I have to say was fantastic but far to much of it, I couldn’t eat it all and one of the men in my party finished it off for me. The other three people enjoyed their starters but enjoy would just be the word. The starters didn’t blow us away and we have certainly had better starters else where. They were very average. Also I noticed that the staff tried to position the starters so they would appear in front of each guest as like magic without asking what people wanted. The staff got this the wrong way round which ended up making this slick process look messy and unprofessional. One of my party did have the foie gras and we all tired it. We were all very disappointed as it was extremely small and wasn’t anything which we haven’t eaten else where. Very average were the comments.

The main courses, I had the trout on recommendations from a friend and as I love trout I felt this was a great choice. The trout came, a little over cooked I may add and it was all over a little bland. Considering some of the dishes are visually attractive. This was not one of them. The comment from the rest of my party about their mains was the same. We have later discussed this and we feel that the food was ok and average but wasn’t anywhere near the standard which Gordo and other reviewers have painted it to be.

I have to say everyone in the party was extremely disappointed with the deserts! I have even burnt my hand on mine as no one told me that I shouldn’t touch the soufflé pot which I was trying to move on suggestion of the waitress as she said I had to pour the mango soup in to the soufflé. No one said it would be hot so be careful! My hand is extremely sore now!
The deserts were all very bland and the espresso fondant apparently was nice until you get an over powering taste of salt which my colleague commented on “it feels like I have just swallowed sea water” this taste was then left lingering in their mouth and they didn’t enjoy the rest of their sweet!

After our deserts we had several different cocktails which were nice, except the one Tim had recommended which he didn’t tell us was made with Chilli, but as soon as he realised we didn’t like it he switched it to something a little more fruity! One of the men in our party was driving so had asked for an espresso which took about 40 minutes to arrive which isn’t really acceptable for an espresso!

The bill worked out at £76 per person and we are more than happy to pay this and a lot more for good service and food but £76 per person for this experience was not worth it at all and was severely over priced for what it is. To be honest to sum all of this up, the staff require training and the food needs to improve significantly to even come close to Gordo’s inappropriate comment of being a Michelin restaurant and some of the dishes were certainly not the best outside of London. Our visit was an overall disappointment and won’t be recommending this to our friends, which is a real shame after all the money and effort which has clearly gone into this place.

paulJuly 7th 2011.

I was thinking of going on the Man Con Micheal Cains divine dining offer maybe I should go here for something to eat after

Wall-EJuly 8th 2011.

Had it confirmed now that Greening left so could explain the drop in standards.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 20th 2011.

Yes thats right apparently left at the start of June

Wall-EJuly 11th 2011.

On a more positive note Pilling is opening a restaurant at the courthouse.

EditorialJuly 11th 2011.

Wall-E, more on this soon.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2011.

turned up on friday 6pm with my date dressed up perfectly fine - as becoming a 'quality' establishment. was refused entry due to a private party. what a load of bollocks,

AnonymousJuly 17th 2011.

Yes I agree, this militant clipboard look at the front is not necessary....

AnonymousJuly 20th 2011.

I have to admit went there at the very begining when Greening was there and it was amazing!!! like fantastic so happy somewhere had got it right. Then I went there about three weeks later and everything was different like different chef or something like sushi was shit, like really bad and mains were just shocking bad presentation I guess it explains everything!! that the chef greening had gone, and left grill on the alley chefs to cook the food, cant believe they let this talented chef leave. A friend told me he left at the start of June, obviously it wasnt for him shame Australasia could have been something special!!!

AnonymousJuly 28th 2011.

Went to Australasia just after it opened, was disappointed, for the extortionate price we received greasy tempura along with a pineapple desert that was over powered by liquorice, the atmosphere was good but was there any need for two waiters (a drinks and a food)? If anything, they kept getting mixed up. Hopefully will improve over time, it has the potential.

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