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Blackfriars Lounge is the restaurant and bar on the ground floor of Renaissance Hotel Manchester. We swung by on the Saturday of Pride, after the parade, to check out the menu and sample the cocktails.
We started off with a Jaffa Cake cocktail and the Lancashire Kickass Rarebits – actually made with Lancashire Kickass cheese. These were so good we had to Instagram them! This was on the light bites menu, which also featured enticing dishes such as Anna’s Happy Trotters Crispy Pork Ribs with apple sauce and fried whitebait with lemon mayonnaise. The light bites menu would be great for appetisers or as nibbles for a group of friends over drinks.
Then we tried the grilled wood pigeon with honey roasted pear, gooseberries and walnut salad, along with the Leagram’s goat curd cheese and beetroot panna cotta with granary croutons. Honestly, if you’ve never had savoury panna cotta before, this is a great choice. It’s a blend of slightly sweet cheese and slightly sweet beetroot, with a bit of tang and a bit of creaminess.
You can also enjoy starters such as Bury black pudding sausage roll (again with apple sauce), courgette and broad bean fritters with green chilli and yoghurt dip, and dressed crab with sourdough croutons and chard.
For our mains we tried the pulled Lancashire lamb sliders with minted onion and watercress, and the crispy polenta monkfish with warm heritage potatoes, and quail egg and watercress salad with a tartare dressing.
You can also try the fish and chips with JW Lees beer batter and mushy peas, a 10oz 35-day aged Hereford rump steak with beef tomato, peppercorn sauce and chips or salad. Those looking for something lighter can choose the sticky Yorkshire beef salad with peppers and spring onion, or a baby gem, cherry tomato and quinoa salad with radish, red onion and sweet pepper vinaigrette (with chicken, if desired).
Sides include spiced potato wedges with pepper and onion, sugarsnap peas with crispy bacon and steamed green veg with garlic.
By this point we were full, so enjoyed a liqueur coffee instead of dessert (made, I should add, with Starbucks coffee). However, the dessert options looked delicious too. They had an intriguingly named Strawberry Surprise with strawberry jelly and sorbet, a Manchester mess with Goosnargh cake, Duerr’s orange marmalade baked cheesecake and an espresso brownie with amaretto ice cream. If you want cheese, they also have a selection of local cheeses with fig chutney and biscuits.
The Blackfriars Lounge is a laidback and stylish place to eat or enjoy cocktails before a night on the town. The staff are friendly and well informed. We recommend you pop in next time you fancy either light bites or a tasty local dinner in the city centre.
Although part of the Marriott group, Renaissance Hotel offers a more contemporary, stylish offering, perfectly suited for urban retreats and weekends of shopping and clubbing. Over Pride, the hotel also had local drag star Anna Phylactic working as concierge and directing people to the proudest party spots in town.
For more information visit the Blackfriars Lounge website. The Renaissance has a #PRIDESELF package that includes bed and breakfast, with a late 2pm checkout, which runs until 30 September, from £135 per night.