1761 is Manchester’s newest fine dining restaurant, located in what was formerly Avalanche restaurant; sandwiched between the the bustling Albert Square and the popular King Street. I was invited to the launch night to sample some of the menu and take a look at the new restaurant, as well as Lily’s Bar downstairs, a secret drinking den designed to take us a step back in time.
We were welcomed with champagne, and shown downstairs to Lily’s Bar. The venue looked gorgeous and the interiors felt super cosy and luxurious. We took a seat on the large couches and admired our surroundings whilst our table was being prepared. The staff were all very friendly and welcoming, and the cocktail bar in Lily’s is definitely something I will be back to sample.
We were seated shortly afterwards and handed the menu – the restaurant were serving two lots of small starters to showcase the full menu, followed by our choice of main and dessert. We also selected red or white wine to accompany the meal; I went for white and Jonathan opted for the red – of course I tried them both, and they were equally delicious (I just had my eye on the fish and chips so white was the perfect match!)
The starters were delicious; a great start to the meal and no better way to sample what 1761 will have to offer on their full menu. The first round consisted of three small sharing dishes – marinated olives, popcorn cockles and pork scratchings. The popcorn cockles were definitely my faves; they were almost calamari like, tiny morsels of flavour with each mouthful. The pork scratchings were super light and had a prawn cracker like texture, and the olives were marinated in a lovely light dressing of lemon, garlic and chilli.
The second course was a canapé style selection of some of the sandwiches 1761 will be serving on the menu. We each had a cured salmon with lime yogurt and grapefruit on rye bread, an aubergine puree and chopped egg with roasted vine tomato and cress on sourdough, and a smoked duck breast with honey and goats cheese mousse and chestnuts, delicately presented on a large white plate. I couldn’t actually choose a favourite from these – they were all little explosions of flavour on the tongue, each very different but so tasty.
We then selected our main courses – it was a tough decision but I always go for seafood in restaurants, so I had to try the Three Rivers battered haddock, with beef dripping chips and Manchester caviar. Jonathan went for the Lamb Shank, served with polenta, lime pesto and toasted almonds. We did a bit of swapsy with these to try each others, and they were both great. As a seafood lover I definitely preferred the fish and chips – the fish was super flaky, the chips golden and crips on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside, and the peas and tartare sauce finished the dish beautifully. The lamb shank meat was incredibly tender and fell right off the bone, and the flavours in the dish really complimented the meat.
Although the desserts sounded like heaven, we were both really full after the mains, and decided not to push it over the edge with a sweet treat (though I’m sure we will be back to sample them!)
One of the most amazing parts of the evening was that 1761 were actually raising money for the We Love Manchester and Centrepoint charities, which was such a lovely gesture. Diners were provided with a discreet envelope on the table, for if they chose to donate on the evening.
We finished our meals and headed back down to the bar to finish our drinks and evening with some beautiful live music. The evening was just great from start to end – the staff were all amazing, the restaurant was busy but everything went smoothly, and the food was a compliment to the chefs at the restaurant. It was an absolute pleasure for both of us to try out the menu, and we will definitely be booking in to try out the rest of the menu in the new year. Lily’s are also housing a huge aquarium, which wasn’t yet finished but we are dying to go and check out as soon as it is open!
*Our evening at 1761 and Lily’s Bar was complimentary – as ever, all opinions are my own.