On Sunday, Mr K and I were invited with my parents and some friends to the pre-opening test run of Joseph Holts’ new development, The Griffin. Without spoiling the review, I can say with confidence that they don’t need to do any more testing. It’s ready.
The first thing that struck me was how fresh and modern the building felt, but while maintaining the homely feel that myself and pretty much every other Mancunian associates with pub dining, in particular Joseph Holts’.
The designer, Alex, has done a grand job – the whole building feels spacious and open, but with lovely finishing touches that just make you go “ooh” – like super fluffy cushions on every seat, clusters of photographs on the walls and other homely nicknacks.
Just as you walk in you see the Deli bar – stuffed with delicious looking chorizo, pastrami, olives, cheeses… all those obscenely mouthwatering things you’d expect to find in backstreet Italy.
You can take all of this away, a sign says. I think I just might.
Right behind the deli counter is a pizza oven – neon sign, chrome front – which gives the area a proper 1950s retro vibe, but its completely in keeping with the rest of the place. It also makes you want to eat an ice cream sundae while wearing a huge puffy skirt adorned with poodles (that’s a good thing).
We ordered our drinks before being seated and were given loads of information about the cask ale selection (Holts’ are well known for their own ales and guest ales alike, and the gents of the group enjoyed this touch).
I’m a rum drinker, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the wide selection, and decided to try a tot of Kraken.
For Whisky lovers, the selection was pretty intense too, and if that’s your bag, its worth a visit on the strength of that alone.
We took our seats by the front window – a bench and some beautifully comfy bucket chairs. I usually hate bucket chairs because they’re too tall to tuck under the table, or too low to feel comfy. These are just the right height.
From our seats you had an amazing view of the planes coming in to land at MCR, which is enough of a feature to make The Griffin a potential family favourite for those with young budding pilots (or just kids prone to boredom at mealtimes).
The Menu is pretty extensive, but its not presented in that overwhelming way that you usually find. It’s well sectioned, and the selections within each area aren’t too plentiful.
Between us we ordered Mussels, Soup, Meatballs and Sauteed Mushrooms to start, and Sirloin, Sunday Dinner, Haddock Fishcake (the replacement for my beloved Thermidor) and Gammon for mains.
Everyone reported that their dishes were fantastic, and the menu developer Ron has definitely done a brilliant job of honing this menu for differing tastebuds.
I had the Cheddar & Onion soup and I can’t wait to meet Ron again so I can get the recipe….
Chef Wayne also did a great job on the day – our food was all brilliantly cooked and, let me tell you, it wasn’t a quiet day, so you can rest assured that even at the busiest times you’ll be getting pretty good service.
The portions were huge, and even my brother (who has a fear of not being full after a meal) would have struggled to finish both courses. We all struggled to finish, but also struggled to not finish since the food was literally too good to leave on the plate with a clean conscience.
Needless to say, I saved room for dessert.
The dessert menu is also pretty impressive – a large but not too large selection of hot and cold cakes/puddings plus a luxury ice cream sundae bar (which I forgot to take a photo of) that would blow the socks off anybody with even an ounce of childlike wonder left in them.
The table went for 2x sundaes, a lemon meringue pie, apple & rhubarb crumble with toffee apple ice cream and a pecan cheesecake.
I had the apple crumble, which is normally served with just vanilla ice cream, but the toffee apple ice cream is insane. I wish I could have taken home a tub.
I also sneaked a taste of the Vanilla & Bourbon ice cream, and Mr K’s Pecan cheesecake – all delicious, all items I’d gladly drive another 20 minutes back to The Griffin for.
Our whole table bill, including drinks, pudding and coffees would have come to around £150 which is only about £25 each, so it’s really reasonable, and I probably wouldn’t have been annoyed if it had come to £40 each.
We finished up with a couple of coffees (illy) and sat outside on the terrace (pictured) for a while to let our food settle.
Watching a few more planes pass over, we all agreed the development was a success, and the food was definitely worth a repeat visit – and I’m already trying to decide whether I’ll order the Salt & Pepper Pork or the Carbonara.
In short (although I know this post has been stupendously long) I’d say just go and try it.