City Inn’s new menu puts a spring in my step

We were invited to test out the City Inn’s new spring menu a couple of weeks ago on a similarly sunny evening, which led to a cocktail binge round the Northern Quarter with Mr Manchester Is Ace.

The City Inn is a place that has really developed in the last few years – in fact who can remember what was there before it appeared? Its surroundings are ultra-modern offices and an swanky apartment block, completely tranforming the previously grotty Piccadilly approach area. The new footbridge, which takes you over to Piccadilly station, means that the outdoor terrace is great for attracting passers by.

CIty Inn Manchester cocktails

The terrace was packed with office workers and tourists, with a guitarist singing and strumming away to add to that Friday feeling. After rifling through the cocktail menu, I decided that the Basil Cherry Blush (£7.85) was my favourite cocktail EVER! This is a beautiful fusing of Wisinowka cherry vodka, crushed raspberries, fresh basil, lemon, raspberry liquer and cranberry juice. An overwhelmingly juicy cherry flavour was rounded off by a lovely herby basil taste which stopped it from being to sweet.

I am actually putting together a cocktail guide to Manchester, and so far this is my number one. Please leave a comment with your favourite cocktail and I’ll be sure to test it out!

Mr Manchester Is Ace likes his whisky so the Honey Mash Macallan (£7.95), with Macallan ten year Scotch with pear cognac, and Drambuie with griottine cherry was perfect for him, and even as a non-whisky drinker it was smooth, and not to overwhelming.

I’ve eaten at the City Inn many times since it opened, and I think this is the best menu I’ve seen in the past four years. It really was lovely and summery, with a concise collection of dishes which manage to tread that fine line between appealing to your generic business traveller but at the same time being imaginative and very modern.

New head chef Scott McDonald came out for a chat with us and he has previously cooked with both Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey and has also worked at Selfridges.

The choice of bread at the City Inn is exquisite and I could quite happily eat it for my starter, and it come with options such as onion bread and wholewheat . The starters menu has some great light dishes on it such as White crab and mango salad or clear vegetable broth. My cray fish bisque (£4.95) was beautifully presented but the flavour was a tad overwhelming and a slight hint of bitter taste (pictured above).

pan fried quail breast City Inn Manchester
The Pan fried breast of quail (£6.50) was a definite winner. The cutesy sized meat treat was flavoured with honey and five spice, and perched upon a pea and mint risotto cake and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. It ticked all the starter boxes in that it was full of different flavours to really whet the appetite.

Both of our main courses were meat-loving dishes, each featuring a hat trick of animal parts. The trio of Middle White pork brought together confit belly, roast fillet and pork sausage in a porcine frenzy, while the lamb dish presented tender pink rump, sweet rolled lamb belly and delicate kidney.

City Inn spring menu

City inn spring menu

I’d recently had lamb at Thomas and belly pork at Bulb and the quality, flavour and overall preparation was far superior in Scott’s kitchen. The quality of meat was exceptional – all juicy and succulent. This indelicate intaking of food was washed down with a Quinta do Alqueve 2006 Portuguese red, which the waiter thought was a fabulous choice because he was Portuguese. We also shared a side order of greens to avoid getting gout.

I was impressed with the well-stocked cheese trolley, but we both went for proper desserts. The treacle tart (£5.50) was a moist sticky cake, and I think I maybe prefer the diabetes-inducing old-school tart that is quite literally filled with treacle. The other half went for a pasty-shaped dessert filled with smooth almond paste, that was really unusual but very tasty and came with vanilla ice cream.

Hotel dining rooms are always tricky ones to get right because they aren’t intimate little basement rooms and have to serve breakfast in the morning. The City Inn is one of the better ones. It’s a bit too posh for me to take my rowdy group of mates, but it’s definitely somewhere I’d take my family for a meal and lunch after shopping.

The Market Menu changes weekly and has a two course evening meal for £14 .95 and three courses for £16.50, and is fantastic value for the quality of the food. I would definitely recommend the a la carte menu for the full experience, which is £16.95 for two courses and £21.95 for three courses.

City Inn Manchester, 
One Piccadilly Place, 
1 Auburn Street
, Manchester, 
M1 3DG

T: 0161 242 1000

Disclaimer: This was a complementary meal from City Inn but I think they were pretty confident about their new chef and new menu to stand up to an honest review.

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