Hello there! I’m Charlie from Gin Fuelled Bluestocking. My blog is a lifestyle blog, based in Manchester, with the occasional foray further afield. I love food and drink, so a lot of my posts are related to bars and restaurants in Manchester – this is another one, a visit to Avalanche, in the city centre.
Italian restaurants in Manchester seem a bit of a contentious issue. There are those who are seen to do it well and others… less so.
I do wonder sometimes if we don’t allow them the same flexibility we do other venues. We expect authenticity, but wouldn’t baulk at another style of restaurant using local ingredients as opposed to original. Is it because it’s so close to home? Is it because it’s the style of restaurant we’ve all been to? That’s a debate for another day perhaps. But it does raise its head in this review.
A few weeks ago, my friend Keeley and I headed to Avalanche for dinner. We’d both heard mixed reviews (generally more to do with the service than the food), but still we went in a little more braced than normal.
On arrival we were greeted by the manager, who briskly whisked away my gym bag (so far so good) and ushered us to our table. The wide front windows are eye catching to passers-by and, were the street outside a little busier, would allow me to indulge in my favourite pastime of people watching. But the inside it seems divided into two, though elegantly decorated in classic black and white, I found the split personality a little confusing.
As both myself and Keeley were rather hungry, we dove straight in with our orders and had made our choices in no time. I opted for the Grigliata di Verdure Assortite (image at the top of the post) – marinated grilled vegetables breads and cheeses. The selection was great, alongside the traditional shavings of Parmesan were softly griddled aubergine and courgette, a soft ball of mozzarella and my personal favourite, artichoke hearts. A thick slice of toasted bread was turned into bruschetta with plenty of tomatoes and olive oil, and rocket liberally scattered across the plate. Though the presentation was a little haphazard and, for £10.95 I’d expect a little more selection that just two cheeses, it was still a good starter nonetheless.
Keeley opted for Scottish smoked salmon with Atlantic prawns and orange salad, Salmone Affumicato. As alluded to above, this uses traditionally British ingredients, but given the Italian treatment. It was a light, fresh dish, that worked well with the peppery rocket and citrus.
Onto mains, and I went for one of my personal favourites, Linguine con Vongole – pasta with fresh clams, white wine, garlic, chilli, parsley and cherry tomatoes. In a grill restaurant, it’s the steak that’s the test, in an Italian restaurant, it’s the pasta, or indeed the risotto. Thankfully this was delicious. Both Keeley and I were impressed with the perfect bite to the pasta and the sauce was light, but with a kick, and the tomatoes burst on the tongue, flooding my mouth with flavour.
Keeley had opted for a meat dish, the Vitello con Choriz, a pan fried veal escalope with chorizo sausage, sage and onions and jus. I have to be honest, not the prettiest plate in the world, as you’ll see, and I do have an issue with restaurants still covering dishes with balsamic glaze. It’s unnecessary and often downright unpleasant. For me it oversweetened this dish when it really didn’t need it. There was enough flavour from the chorizo and the accompaniments, the glaze was a step too far. However, Keeley, with her sweeter tooth, was happy and so perhaps it’s a case of horses for courses.
For dessert, we opted for a platter selection – giving us a little bit of everything. And this was where everything definitely went downhill. The tiramisu was great, as you’d expect – thick creamy, with a good kick, this was a definite pick me up. The ice cream, was ok, relatively standard. The chocolate cake not only smacked of being bought, but also was dry and unpleasant, though the American style cheesecake, also bought we suspected, was much more pleasant and didn’t taste stale, unlike the cake.
All in all, Avalanche is still a bit hit and miss. The service issues appear to have been rectified, but it was a quiet night, so I’d like to see it busier and gauge again. When the food was good, it was very good, but the desserts leave a lot to be desired.
And please? Can we lose the balsamic glaze?