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Australasia exclusive: this food could be the best yet

Jonathan Schofield and Gordo are bowled over underground

Written by . Published on May 18th 2011.

Australasia exclusive: this food could be the best yet

CONFIDENTIAL broke the story about Australasia almost a year ago.

At Australasia there's delight at every turn, there are mixtures of ingredients I've never heard of, there are techniques being used I've never come across. 

Asked what he intended with his proposed new restaurant, Tim Bacon of Living Ventures, said this.

“I think Manchester needs a properly done place that combines great food, great looks and great atmosphere. Somewhere that’s a bit aspirational.”

Gordo and I went on a first tasting this week, before any other media group.

And swooned.

New Zealand chef, Paul Greening, has created a menu that delivers food so complex yet so subtle and beautiful we never wanted to leave. 

The menu is divided into three sections which includes a sushi and sashimi series of mouth waterers. 

We'll review the place fully when it opens to the public but here amongst sixteen dishes we tried (pictured in the gallery below) are six we especially adored - all of which were worthy of two hundred words.

Australasia 036.JPGScallop parcels in shellfish consommé (£13), the cannon of lamb with hickory aubergine, edamame and wild herbs (£19.50), smoked salmon, pomelo fruit and avocado with horseradish snow (£9.50), roasted scallops, carrot and orange puree, marinated seaweed and almonds (£12), Wagyu sirloin with spiced beetroot parcel, wasabi egg and Madeira (£40), mango souffle with coconut ice cream and mango soup (£7), chocolate  pavé with sour cherry jelly, girottine cherries and miso ice-cream (£7). 

Eat any of these and you smile. Eat any of the sixteen and you smile. The range of flavours, the exquisite timing, the creativity and presentation means that Manchester has a show stopping destination restaurant and bar in its city centre unlike any place in any other regional UK centre.

Australasia 056.JPGThe key is the attention to detail; the flowers in the consommé, the tomato pavé over the lamb, the Wasabi egg, the stonecrop, the subtle hickory aubergine, the perfect timing and heat of the soufflé, the horseradish snow.

Take the latter which had the bite of horse-radish yet was literally like a scoop of snow after a frost. 

As I've written before, the most delightful thing in food reviewing - in life generally - is pleasurable surprise. Let's take food writing, it's great eating out lots, but sometimes you have to work to write something interesting. Of course there are worse jobs.

At Australasia delight greets you at every turn, there are mixtures of ingredients I've never heard of, there are techniques being used I've never come across. Paul Greening gets a Pacific world of sensations onto the plate and makes them sing.

As a critic I look for merit and success and note the problems and errors. At Manchester Confidential we say it as we find on rated and scored reviews. It was hard to find errors on this visit.

Australasia opens on 28 May. Get in there as soon as you can.

Remember to click on and enlarge the pictures below.

Australasia is under Armani on Deansgate, M3 3AE. It will open until 3am as a bar, there will be a live DJ on at all times but music will be at easy conversational level until after 11pm. The winelist will be on an iPad - yeah we're not sure about that either. Cocktails will be a speciality.  

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

Yum yumMay 18th 2011.

My God that looks good.

Graham SMay 18th 2011.

That souffle thing - I want now

PhilboMay 18th 2011.

I want..... Looks amazing!!! Not a bad couple of months for food: Vertigo opening and now this...

JargeneseMay 18th 2011.

Jesus H this does look good. A bit of Aussie fusion will warm up a cold day.

TopchefMay 18th 2011.

Looks great, hope it lives up to the expectations. Its about time we had some good eateries in town..

GordoMay 18th 2011.

Jonathan speaks the truth; this food can compete with London, Bacon and his crew have come up with a remarkable menu; it is delightful. And the room! Oh dear, I could sit there all day long.

Calum McGMay 18th 2011.

It all looks divine!

FoodographicMay 18th 2011.

Just booked it. They need to get a move on finishing their website though if they are hoping to court wider interest.

Ellie QuigleyMay 18th 2011.

Looks awesome.

Joe BirtwellMay 18th 2011.

Sounds dee-lish!

Passed Armani the other day and noticed the new, uber cool glass entrance to this place heading underground, reminded me of the cool glass architecture within the Louvre in Paris almost (on a much smaller scale of course!!).

Sounds like Manchester eating and drinking is definitely going up in the world with this gaff :-)

sylvieMay 18th 2011.

i think gordo and jonathon should invite me here to give a review sounds like my kinda place!

James SpencerMay 18th 2011.

promising promising ....but lets hope it lives up to the promo meal

Wall-EMay 18th 2011.

Need to get this and Vertigo on the hero card soon.

SaffronMay 18th 2011.

It looks very exciting, but... ONE vegetarian main - PINEAPPLE CURRY?

GordoMay 18th 2011.

Saffron, wait till you try it though...

ManiacMay 18th 2011.

The great thing about life is sex, food and art. This seems to bring them together. Well maybe not the art. Er...I mean the sex.

LoopyluMay 18th 2011.

Just booked - lets hope it lives up to the hype!

FoodieMay 18th 2011.

I've tried to book because of this story and can't get through...is it me?

LoopyluMay 18th 2011.

Hi Foodie - I booked online through a link from the spinningfields newsletter - it makes you sign up then takes you to the booking page with an introductory offer of 33% off.

Wall-EMay 18th 2011.

Got 33 percent offer after signing up on their website for newsletter.

TopchefMay 19th 2011.

You state that it opens on the 28th, I believe the actual date is the 25th, could you confirm opening date.
Cant wait!!

Jonathan SchofieldMay 19th 2011.

Topchef, it's 28 May now. Had it confirmed. Thanks

suzyblewMay 19th 2011.

Those ipad wine lists are less complicated than you think. You can narrow the list much more easily when there are 1000s (literally) of options.

sylvieMay 19th 2011.

gordo.phillip can you reserve now??? cheers

R WilliamsMay 22nd 2011.

Wonderful looking food. Can't wait for this to open. I hope you're right Jonathan because I want a glam place with good food to take guests.

MojoMay 31st 2011.

Went last night for a drink and a nosy, and the place is gorgeous, the menu looked great... but the bar tender didn't know a thing. Including the difference between red and white wines on the menu, what an unoaked chardonnay was, and looked for my final choice of red wine in the fridge until I called him back over to point out the mistake. It was a bit embarrassing really. Not the quality I was expecting, I know it's only been a few days but seriously...

CBMay 31st 2011.

I ate here on Saturday. Fabulous food, quality staff, killer interiors.

Lets hope it doesn't become too wanky and WAG-gy

sherlockJune 6th 2011.

I totally agree with the full in depth review Gordo did.
I went there with three others up from London and had a great lunch time meal. Service was superb. I also know the manager who has run restaurants in London. Great guy and knows his stuff. This place has already attracted the pretentious over dressed poppsies with their over branded boyfriends. They truly add a fun element to the proceedings.
What a great place.......

Marianne JonesJune 11th 2011.

Went this week, food is beautiful but the vibe and building are the real stars for me. Felt like we were abroad sitting in the sun somewhere glam. Bit of a shock to the senses coming out hours later into a rainy manchester! Love this place.

AnonymousJune 30th 2011.

Venue very lovely. Sushi and tempura great. Crab parcels on the small plate menu, and one of the Salads very dissapointing (ruined with too much pink grapefruit). Puddings lovely. A mixed experience, but will go again.

AlisonJuly 29th 2011.

Keep up the good work Australasia-Amazing food and atmosphere. This restaurant will put manchester on the map. Had the belly pork and pineapple curry recommended by my daughter - sounded strange combo but it hit all the right spots - flavour was ammmaaazzziinngg! Atmophere great and loved the comfy seating - didnt want to leave.

Steve POctober 11th 2011.

Been a couple of times, have been impressed with the food, the wine and service... Pity about the prices mind you, but I suppose you get what you pay for.

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