The dining scene in Manchester is mercurial and fast changing. Blink and you’ll miss another opening, which is why my list of ‘Must Visit Places’ is steadily mushrooming. One such place I had earmarked from a while ago was Banyan Bar & Kitchen. It was a balmy evening as we wove our way through the cutesy al fresco dining area, and after being greeted by the warm smiles of Andy and Julian (our servers for the evening), we planted on the comfortable, cushioned banquette.
It’s an easy space to be in, and after leisurely perusing the diverse menu (there really is something for everyone) I kicked off with crispy calamari (wasabi sour cream). The calamari was cooked well. However the exterior seemed to have semolina in the breadcrumb mixture, rendering the mix grainy, gritty and reminiscent of sand. As you can imagine, this wasn’t great, but I was looking forward to the second starter (we were sharing, before you cast aspersions I’m a greedy foodie).
I’m a sucker for melted cheese, which is why the deep fried brie wedges (Japanese bread crumbs, caramelised onion chutney) seemed like a good idea. I would have liked to see more “ooze” upon slicing open the breaded brie cube. I was a little disappointed when the semi-solid brie decided not to budge, despite my coaxing knife trying to encourage some movement.
I had more luck with my teriyaki salmon (marinated salmon fillet, fragrant rice, pak choi, coriander crème fraiche). The fish was succulent, the sauce sweet and tasty in all its soy glory. The rice was good swiped through the generous swirl of sauce, and the steamed pak choi added texture and crunch.
My dining partner had the rib eye steak (onion rings, gastro chips). I was told it was quite fatty and not as flavoursome as was expected for this particular cut of meat. The seasonal greens (broccoli, mange tout) were decent. I tasted a gastro-chip, which I found to be tasty and moreish, especially when dunked into the pepper sauce.
Being cursed with a sweet tooth, I was really looking forward to dessert. We both ordered Bakewell tart (raspberry ice-cream), which was another disappointment. The tart seemed to be overcooked, the presentation of the tart messy (it was falling apart on my plate), and the sponge was sunken and a little hard. It had a very thick base, and the pastry wasn’t the best I had eaten either.
There is no denying that the food needs attention. With more low points than high (that Bakewell tart was really not good, I had to send it back), I have to say that Banyan didn’t really deliver. I did like the presentation and taste of the main. Would I go again? Not just yet – I’d like to give Banyan time to address areas for development, namely their dessert trashing. But superb service coupled with the comfortable easy vibe makes me want to return.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 6
Rate or Slate? Rate. (Just about. Great service pulled this review back from the edge of ‘slate’.)
Address: Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Exchange Square, Manchester M4 3TR. Tel: 0161 832 4798
*Image courtesy of Manchester Evening News*