It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here, partly because I haven’t been anywhere new recently, partly because the new places I have visited haven’t been anything to write home about and partly because I’ve been lazy. But I’ve spent the last 48 hours or so up north, Manchester specifically, celebrating my boyfriends birthday and I’ve finally got some new material to talk about. I spent a while researching and planning where I was going to take him on the Saturday night and after speaking to a few Mancunian friends and skimming some menu’s it seemed that it absolutely HAD to be Neighborhood. I don’t think I’ve got that excited over a menu since the first time I ever went to Meat Liquor so I made sure there were enough options for the birthday boy and then put to use my powers of persuasion so get him just as excited about it. I’d heard and read mixed reviews about the place and was prepared for it to be pretentious, snobby and expensive but with a menu that interesting I didn’t really care. A place with a dress code isn’t usually my thing but I talked Joe around the ‘no trainers’ rule and promised him a good night. The people I spoke to via email to make a reservation were lovely and really got me dribbling in anticipation for my visit.
Unfortunately when it got to the Saturday night, Joe and I were unbearably hungover from the night before and very nearly didn’t make it to the restaurant. It took a hell of a lot of persuading, kisses and some tears but eventually, after changing the table from 8pm to 9pm and turning up 15 minutes late, we were there, glad rags on and all. It turns out that my idea of glad rags is not Manchester’s idea of glad rags what so ever. To say I felt under-dressed is an understatement. I felt like a dressed down lesbian on a bad day in comparison to Manchester’s finest in their Saturday best. The staff were very pleasant though and took us to our seats, a little out the way of the main bar area. To describe the restaurant as noisy would be putting it lightly. The music was obscenely loud and the people were on another level. Even though we were seated away from the main bar area – which was the loudest place on earth – we still had trouble hearing each other speak over the screeching girls and ridiculous music levels. I put it down to us being tired and hungover but even though the decor and atmosphere was absolutely amazing, couldn’t really appreciate it. I think under different circumstances I would have been unbelievably impressed, the place looks amazing and is clearly THE place to be and be seen in Manchester at the moment. Unless that’s just how girls in Manchester dress for dinner I can only assume that most people use it as a start base for a night out, the place is absolutely buzzing and the vibe seems really fun. I was on soda and limes though, and I just wanted a nice meal and some light conversation. Which we couldn’t really have.
Joe ordered what I knew he would order – Chicken Lollipops to start and a fillet steak and fries for main. I got the Shrimp, Crackle & Pop and the Lobster Mac’n’cheese with a side of corn. It all sounded delicious and we waited in anticipation for it to arrive. We waited for a long time. Half an hour for our starters and another half an hour for our mains. Now this would have been fine if we were drinking, but we weren’t and we just wanted to eat and go home to bed! People all around us were complaining about where their food was but we didn’t bother, given how busy the place was we did expect to wait a while and our waiter was nothing but nice so we were patient. When our starters arrived they did look impressive. Unfortunately the idea was great but the execution not so great. Mine was nice, I’d recommend it because it was really cool but it wasn’t the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. The rice krispies popping in my mouth was a weird but pleasant experience, the jumbo shrimp was good but not the best, the shellfish bisque was a bit tasteless and the shrimp chips were non existent and replaced with plain rice. I ate it all and I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t order it again. Joe was less impressed with his starter, 2/3 pieces of chicken were slightly slimey and 1 of them was pink. He ate half of it and we told the waiter why when he collected our plates.
By the time our second half an hour wait was over we were not exactly over the moon about our visit but luckily, the main courses pulled it back. Joe’s steak was absolutely perfect, the piece of meat was incredible and even though he asked for it medium well (aka ruined) it still came out pink but not bloody and was an absolute dream. The fries were rustic and delicious and the pepper sauce was spot on. My Lobster Mac’n’cheese was amazing, as was the roast corn with chili onions and melted cheese. It didn’t matter that our waiter forgot to put the corn on our order because he managed to get them out to me before I was even halfway through my meal. I can’t complain about our mains, they were yummy and if it wasn’t for the waiting and the disappointing starters I’d probably have really loved the place. The desserts looked unbelievable but we just didn’t have it in us to wait another half an hour so we got the bill and decided to just stick to birthday cake back in the hotel room. When the bill came they had left on the under cooked chicken and added £3 onto Joe’s steak for no reason. When we asked they said it was for the sauce but this wasn’t on the menu and when I said that they took it off and removed Joe’s starter from the bill. They did it with no hesitation and were actually really good about it, I cannot fault the staff, they were all lovely, it was just a shame that a few things let the experience down. I would definitely recommend the place but I just think you need to be prepared to wait a while for your food and I definitely think a few drinks are necessary to enjoy it to it’s full potential!