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Artisan Previewed: The Next Big MCR Restaurant

Major New Manchester Restaurant Opens, First Pictures

Written by . Published on June 24th 2013.


Artisan Previewed: The Next Big MCR Restaurant
 

ARTISAN has opened.

Dylan Thomas is turning out some remarkable things on an encouragingly innovative menu, even though he's a dead Welsh poet.

This extends across the whole first floor of the former Manchester House (now called Tower 12) on Bridge Street and has almost 290 covers across 12,000 sq ft. 

It's vast.

And very clever. 

The restaurant is open plan in a 1965 building with exposed concrete beams but bare brick too and then heavy wooden fittings, herb gardens, original artworks and crazy bric-a-brac.

 

The art is for sale, and came from the Manchester-based Buy Art Fair people. It isn't the usual codswallop that adorns restaurant walls.

There's even an artist in residence plus a 'Bitching Room' where ladies can have a chat (of course they won't be bitching, ladies don't do that) before returning to the restaurant. The bar is the lowest in the world consisting of several thigh high tables. 

The private room is an antiquarian's dream space. Indeed the whole feel of Artisan is, in keeping with the name, akin to some mad apothecary's workshop.

Of course a mad apothecary's workshop delivered by Living Ventures of Australasia, Oast House, Alchemist, Grill on the Alley. So it's slick, but whatever you think of the company's ubiquity in this area, you'll probably be impressed by the place. 

Apothecary madness

 

Apothecary madness

The food comes from Dylan Thomas the dead, alcoholic Welsh poet and playwright only this case Mr Thomas is alive and well and he's boss chef here. He's turning out some remarkable things on an encouragingly innovative menu.

Artisan

Artisan

Mussels in a pie is genius, as are the artichoke, chicken and gammon dishes. We'll be back later to do a proper impartial review because the lunch was hosted by Living Ventures. 

In terms of bar and restaurant design Gordo thinks Artisan is a game changer, it's certainly a head-turner. 

Artisan is at Tower 12 (Why change the name from the far better Manchester House?), Bridge Street, Spinningfields. @artisan_sf

Baked mussels with curry and spinachBaked mussels with curry and spinach

Pork crackling massively seasoned with apple saucePork crackling massively seasoned with apple sauce

Some weirdoSome weirdo

Bric-a-brac and Bridge StreetBric-a-brac and Bridge Street

Chunky woodChunky wood

Individual art for saleIndividual art for sale

Artichoked ArtisanicArtichoked Artisanic

Gammon loveGammon love

Chicken with lots of thyme, mushrooms, lemon, garlic and mushroomsChicken with lots of thyme, mushrooms, lemon, garlic and mushrooms

Banana all salted and caramel with gingerbread ice creamBanana all salted and caramel with gingerbread ice cream

The Bitching RoomThe Bitching Room

Internal herb gardenInternal herb garden

Entrance to the chic ladies spaceEntrance to the chic ladies space

 

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

Dawn HoldingJune 25th 2013.

Looks fabulous, can't wait to try it

Maggie MilnerJune 25th 2013.

Food looks pretty impressive, shame about Gordo who looks rather like a resident in an upmarket old folks home waiting for his lunch (it's the chair really Gordo, not you!!)

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoJune 25th 2013.

bloody well wish I was!

AnonymousJune 25th 2013.

Looks nice. Pretty shit for Veggies though. Pizza it is.

pollolocoJune 25th 2013.

I realise I'm being pedantic.. but £10.95 for a bread and tomato salad???? It doesn't make sense when compared to prices of other dishes with more expensive ingredients. Also....please tell me the Artichoke doesn't come already stripped like that..

2 Responses: Reply To This...
gordoJune 25th 2013.

gawd

pollolocoJune 27th 2013.

F88k me...testing the chef, my arse! Everyone..let alone a professional cook, should be able to fry a bleedin egg! Just because some fat french chef used to test his recruits by asking them to do this simple task Gordo thinks it's smart zzzzz

TanyaJune 25th 2013.

Living Ventures? All pretend! ...staff with issues...some good dishes and some sh*t ones....that's my guess, but I am willing to try it and drag my dining club there to confirm....

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Terry ThomasJune 25th 2013.

bet they can't wait for your lot to turn up if they are as miserable as you

AnonymousJune 25th 2013.

Whats your 'dining club' Tanya?

AvoJune 26th 2013.

I bet one of the "dining club" have a blog too.

Stephen FeenanJune 29th 2013.

Looks like its the Bitching room for you and your club ;-)

kpJune 25th 2013.

Going today for lunch - can't wait.

TanyaJune 25th 2013.

Living Ventures? All pretend! ...staff with issues...some good dishes and some sh*t ones....that's my guess, but I am willing to try it and drag my dining club there to confirm....

1 Response: Reply To This...
Terry ThomasJune 25th 2013.

as above...

MarkJune 25th 2013.

£45 for a Sunday roast. Crikey.

Jonathan MoranJune 25th 2013.

Oh how unique! what a one off! Exposed brickwork, random shi'ite scattered around the dining area oh and is that a moose's head I see on the wall?? Welcome to Spinningfields, welcome to living ventures, welcome to Manchester.........nothing to see here folks move on!

15 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJune 25th 2013.

Why are you so negative Mr Moran? You come on Confidential and tend to spit bile. I'd rather you didn't read the site unless you can make your criticism more measured or even funny. You clearly know very little about the city.

AnonymousJune 25th 2013.

Completely agree with JM's comments. Another case of "look how wacky we are" & "aren't we cutting edge", whilst at the same time looking dated - very much like Almost Famous. Since when did Manchester become a city of chasing trends as opposed to setting them? The likes of Shoreditch/Bethnal Green/Hoxton were doing this nonsense 10 years ago.

Jonathan MoranJune 25th 2013.

I do not feel I 'spit bile' Jonathan, far from it. I believe evidence would back up much of what I write. Do you not feel that Spinningfields is becoming rather gimmicky? As another poster mentioned yesterday most of these venues that try oh so hard to appear unique and independent have big marketing teams and advertising budgets to aid them in achieving the pretence. I would love to see more genuine independent restaurants opening in the city centre and I suggest that if yourself and Mancon didn’t have such a cosy vested interest in Living ventures that you would probably find them the epitome of vulgarity. I’d also like some evidence as to why you believe I “clearly know very little about the city” as that’s way off the mark.

IanJune 25th 2013.

^ nicely summed up. But this place will still be rammed and the next outlet will no doubt open soon.

Terry ThomasJune 25th 2013.

JM, if you know anything about the history of dining in Manchester, you will know that the team behind LV are nearing the best in the business and have done more than any other to help heighten the quality of dineing in the city. To criticise so harshley prior to visiting shows you for what you are.

Jonathan MoranJune 25th 2013.

I am well aware of living ventures and have nothing against them per se. I just don't want a situation where the 'little guys' are priced out of the city centre or indeed Mancon. I looking forward to "dineing" their chain again in the future.

Jonathan SchofieldJune 25th 2013.

Mr Moran there are hundreds of independents out there. And there are places from Living Ventures, a company which must be doing something right otherwise they wouldn't pack out their places. Perhaps you have a low opinion of the customers of certain bars and restaurants like this - which isn't very nice. Artisan meanwhile is very good, and I wouldn't say that just because they advertise with us but because I believe it. As a writer I aim for some sort of integrity you know. Any objective viewer walking into Artisan would be impressed. Maybe you should try it yourself. Of course just as you need not read Confidential which seems to give you such displeasure, you don't have to go and sample this place for yourself, since you loathe what it represents. Still I'd rather have Living Ventures' bars and restaurants adding to the local economy and spreading joie de vivre, than them not doing so. What is so wrong with chains anyway? I'd rather have a good chain than a hopeless indie.

Jonathan MoranJune 25th 2013.

Suggesting I somehow look down on those who choose chain restaurants over independents is below the belt and a pretty poor attempt at discrediting my views. I have not come on this site to joust with you Jonathan but as readers (your lifeblood) we have every right to disagree when we feel the need. You sadly seem to have adopted an 'Almost Famous Burger’ type attitude in some of your replies i.e “if you don't like it f**k off” and that says more about you than a thousand articles ever could. I probably will try Artisan as I have many other LV venues (again I am not against them per se) it’s not all their fault but I do find the way we’re heading a little depressing......

Poster BoyJune 25th 2013.

Mr. Moran; you sound like the type of person who believes the purpose of Marxist theory is to make everyone equally poor...

Jonathan MoranJune 25th 2013.

Seeing as I believe Margaret Thatcher was one of our greatest leaders I find that pretty offensive- could a moderator please remove Poster Boy's comment please?

MaggieJune 25th 2013.

Mr Moron, Stop trying to take the high moral ground with anybody that disagrees with your 'moronic ' views. your initial posting on this string was sarcastic, whining, insulting and downright unwarranted.......hang on, your not a Scouser are you?/

Jonathan MoranJune 26th 2013.

Hilarious....off you pop Maggie.

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

I am impartial to the above but can't help but think Mr Moran should be entitled to voice a negative opinion on a topic/company without being not-so-subtlely asked to f**k off and read some other site. He doesn't appear to be outrageously negative or offensive. There also seems to be some unjustified accusations being levelled (little knowledge of MCR, low opinion of LV customers) that highlight a sensitivity toward this chain that needs to be reined in a little if reviews are to remain entirely credible. He responds well to a hard-line attitude taken against what began as some opinionated banter.

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

Oh Maggie what a hypocrite you are

MaggieJune 27th 2013.

Why is that anonymous?

MarkJune 25th 2013.

£45 for a Sunday roast. Crikey.

1 Response: Reply To This...
paulJune 25th 2013.

Yes Gordo but he broke the egg..

IanJune 25th 2013.

I don't even think the food looks good.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 25th 2013.

My first thought on seeing it was "I hope it tastes better than it looks"

IanJune 25th 2013.

yeah, gammon egg and chips etc looks terrible

GordoJune 25th 2013.

Ian, the joy in this menu is that LV are brave enough to put retro on with innovation. To test the chef, I ordered gammon, egg and chips. Its oh-so-easy for a chef to put on a great dish like chicken in hay, but whats he going to do with Gammon, egg and chips? What he did was to bring me home made crinkle-cut chips wonderfully seasoned; as a kid, these were the only ones I would accept to dip in my runny eggs. By the way, the eggs were wonderfully runny. Now that gammon; off an interesting piggy that my friend, cooked to the point of cooked, if you know what I mean; juicy, salty, piggy, fat crispy. I will be eating this at 12:15 for the next ten Saturdays probably. The point here is that if a chef can cook an egg properly, he can cook anything properly.

Poster BoyJune 25th 2013.

...Hamlet springs to mind

paulJune 25th 2013.

Yes Gordo but he broke the egg.....got in the right one this time

IanJune 26th 2013.

gammon, egg and chips + a pint = £19

IanJune 25th 2013.

£5+ for a pint, dear me.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Hero
Manc GuyJune 25th 2013.

It's £4.50 in Neighbourhood underneath! It's funny seeing the doorman just behind the sliding doors. The entrance doesn't look as though it fronts an overpriced restaurant. Costa' looks well placed next door though.

IanJune 25th 2013.

Neighbourhood was terrible. Like a night club with San Carlo crowd.

Big Boy BoydJune 26th 2013.

Ian FFS get off up to the Monkey, probably more your style

IanJune 26th 2013.

why, does it do gammon egg and chips?

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

Agree with Ian. Neighbourhood was great when it opened, then crawled up its own arse.

AnonymousJune 25th 2013.

GREAT! Just what Manchester needs, another homogeneous Living Ventures venue. I'm still suprised Living Ventures hasn't dabbled in the burger racket yet...

Hero
heskethJune 25th 2013.

Still nothing interesting for veggies........sigh. Chefs are so lazy and it would be so easy to accommodate us without using pizza, pasta and bloody risotto. Just look at the menu at 1847 and use some initiative, there are lots of us around these days, and we are not some hippy dippy flower waving loons either.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
pollolocoJune 25th 2013.

stop winging for F***s sake...there a blooddy tomato salad on there!

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

I remember the review of 1847 chorlton and the food looked poor.

Hero
John NuttallJune 25th 2013.

The British really do hate success, Living Ventures have made a roaring success of Spinningfields, a soul less urban space that I wouldn't have thought had a cat in hell's chance of succeeding. Good luck to them. As for them pricing independents out of the rental market, they are tenants not landlords, the owners of the buildings set the rents not LV.

1 Response: Reply To This...
JayJune 25th 2013.

I'm sure that the "success" of Spinningfields has more to do with Allied London than LV.

Klaxton sextantJune 25th 2013.

Really looking forward to this. Looks ace.

BaggioJune 25th 2013.

let's face it! whatever anybody does here, there will always be people to poo-poo and denounce it. fact of life.

HGJune 25th 2013.

Off here tomorrow night, looks really worth a try. Agree that there should be more veggie meal options though, but there are enough starters and salads to keep me occupied for now!

Rick22June 25th 2013.

I am going this place in a few weeks and looking forward to it based on the menu. I like Manchester restaurant scene because it has something for everyone. Chains are not always a bad thing as long as there is a good dollop of independent restaurants keeping them on their toes. You need variety to have a successful food scene and Manchester is starting to get that level of variety. we do have enough burger places now though, no more please!

John EdwardsJune 25th 2013.

Big menu - hope they can handle it... LV venues are fine places to get dressed up - mainly tastelessly - and get a bit pissed. If that's your thing - and it should be on occasion - have fun! Food will will be serviceable - but let's be honest that's not what LV is there for...

AdeleJune 25th 2013.

Whoa whats with the LV bashing, so a small(ish), successful, local company with a solid business model, employing lots of people in hospitality and providing consistency and quality and an environment people actually want to be in and the problem is what...? I'm the first person to support independents but they've got to be good and sadly lots are not. People are careful about how they spend hard earned disposable income and LV have raised the bar - how is this bad for the consumer? the fact is LV have transformed Spinningfields almost single handed, I didn't see anyone else queuing up to take those units or take a risk in hospitality in a recession. Australasia is exceptional, I can't wait to try this place, good luck to them.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

well said although more people might be interested in spinningfields if credit was easier to come by

kpJune 25th 2013.

Ok - I actually went there for lunch today with 2 vegetarians and the food was superb. I have to say I looked at the menu before going, & wasn't hugely excited. But that soon changed. It was excellent. We ordered a few items from the Small Plates & then on to the Larger Plates. Staff were excellent, really knowledgeable about items we queried & very friendly. Who cares who owns these places - they offer great food in a really fantastic space. Go & check it out before being critical due it's ownership.

James SmithJune 25th 2013.

Don't think it is so much LV bashing but more the typical Man Con "X Co can do no wrong whereas Y Co can do no right" tedious bollocks. Not got an issue with LV but find it bizarre that a review website can be either so far up LV's backsides or so far off the mark. The food in Alchemist is dire and overpriced, the decor pretty uninspiring. Putting Budweiser on tap in a mock 'real ale pub' is taking the piss, then charging £4+ for it is rubbing your face in it, but having the audacity to charge £11+ for the crappest driest burger you'll eat anywhere outside of a Blackpool Pleasure Beach is pretty much unacceptable. But it's good they drag in the crowds and its great that they are busy and Spinningfields is reaping the benefits. No one is forcing them to go. And you've got to take your hat off to them though because they seem to have Gordo and chums wrapped nicely around their little finger - wonder how that could be??

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Mark Garner Publisher, The Confidentials.June 26th 2013.

James, the reason I love what my people have achieved with Confidential over nine and a half years is that we have the balls to say exactly what we think without fear nor favour. I have a huge respect for Tim Bacon and Jeremy at Living Ventures. These two started their business on their own; They have built it through being in the top five restaurateurs in the North West consistently. They have both put their balls on the line. As another independent business here at mancon, given the grief we have had through the recession, still managing to come out the other side bloodied but unbowed, I love them for their success. But as always, if I had not been completely impressed I would have said so. I don't like the Alchemist concept, I love Australasia and I think the Oasthouse is good. Fab for a session. Artisan blew my skirt up. Go give it a try and let me know what you think. Because James, I treat your comments with enough respect to publish you without fear nor favour. We may think we are each talking crap, but i will fight for your right to be heard on my websites.

Jonathan MoranJune 26th 2013.

Fair comment.

Hero
Manc GuyJune 26th 2013.

A man blew up my trouser leg once, whilst I was having a drink on Canal Street.

James SmithJune 27th 2013.

Fair reply, absolute hats off to them, a Manchester success story, wish there were more of those. Will happily give it a go. Oh, and thanks for thinking that I am 'talking crap'.

T BrooksJune 26th 2013.

James this site's last review of The Alchemist was critical so maybe do the research. I disagreed with the review. www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/The-Alchemist-New-York-Street-Reviewed…

1 Response: Reply To This...
James SmithJune 27th 2013.

"The Alchemist part two will be another Living Ventures success. You can see versions opening in Liverpool and Leeds - maybe even in the place's spiritual home of the City of Sin, London's Square Mile. The place is ripe for replication. Certainly it’s hit the mark on New York Street." Am I missing something here?

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

The pizzas sound rank.

AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

Went here to eat last night. Service was good. The starters were very good. The pizzas less so. It's a vast space, they're going to have to work hard to fill it.

HGJune 27th 2013.

I was there last night too, really enjoyed it. All the staff were still in that "new" phase, so really attentive, we were asked our opinion about menu/food/drinks/décor by a few of them, they seem really keen to get it right. Starters (little plates) were huge, I loved the goats cheese salad as the main, really tasty. No space for dessert sadly but had two cocktails - they seemed cheaper than the normal Spinningfields places but were a bit smaller - fine with me as I could happily work my way through that list! Loved the toilets and the "bitching room"!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

Given the beer prices, the cocktails are relatively cheap. £4 for a 330ml bottle of Stella is a liberty.

Christine LawleyJune 28th 2013.

If this is a typical ' dining - out' experience in 21st century Manchester and the subsequent comments typical of the new breed of Mancunians, its time I packed my belongings and left the beautiful city I've remained loyal to all my 60 - odd years to head for a retirement bungalow by the sea .... what a bloody shower ( and I don't mean the weather )!

AnonymousJuly 3rd 2013.

We have a group of Italian friends over this weekend and I’ve tried to make a booking here for Saturday night, hoping to share the new restaurant scene in Manchester with them. As the person who picked up the phone “does not have the authority to make bookings”, I have been referred to their business development manager. I’m booking a table, not trying to sign a framework agreement! I’ve heard nothing from them yet so will be booking elsewhere. I work for one of those elusive companies that actually has an expense account for entertaining, the lack of which is often cited as the reason we don’t have Michelin star restaurants in Manchester. I live 3 minutes walk down the river from the restaurant; we eat out 2-3 times a week and had looked forward to making Artisan a regular Sunday dinner venue. Perhaps their lack of response is down to me not being enough of a name or a face in the Manchester PR scene? I appreciate that as a new opening they’re busy but if their focus is on creating buzz and their bookings are being managed by a short term orientated PR person then potential regulars and lunch time users will be sticking with Chiccetti etc where there is always a welcome, the motivation seems to be great food and service, and there is no need to vet potential customers. I’ve had a similar issue at Neighbourhood, so perhaps this is a LV policy?

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