Food profile - Grand Pacific, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 June 2019
Copyright 2018 Lucas Smith Photography
Flavours of South East Asia bring culinary joy in dramatic surroundings
Grand Pacific, one of Living Ventures' dining venues, has been located in the glorious Grade II Listed Manchester Reform Club building. An enormous oak staircase leads to a grand landing, where deep windows give a view to King Street, before you are led into a dining room that must surely be one of the most Instagrammed in Manchester.
Interior designer Michelle Derbyshire has taken the colonial splendours of Singapore as her inspiration, enhancing the original wood panelled walls and ceiling with dark wood frames, dotted with golden lights and a vast bar, apparently based upon Raffles Hotel in Singapore in its heyday, lit by a golden palm chandelier. If all of this doesn't get you in the mood for some tasty bites, the menu will.
First, of course, the drinks list. The cocktail list is quite dazzling, with everything from a Singapore Sling (naturally) to a Golden Pinepple, which at £30 includes the fabulously cheesy golden pineapple in which it arrives (you get a refund of £20 if you choose not to keep said vessel). In the end, we decided on a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc - reliably crisp, this one brought notes of passion fruit and peach, the perfect counterpoint to a menu packed with flavours of South East Asia.
The new menu for SS19 has just been launched and, joy-of-joys, there's a sharing platter option, so no need to squabble over the choice of starters. It delivers a positive feast of flavours. Who doesn't love sweetly crunchy Sesame Chicken Wings or light-as-air Prawn Tempura? The Glazed Chicken Skewers are tender and perfect when dipped in a peanut sauce, the Bakwan Sayur (Indonesian vegetable fitters) went down extremely well with my husband, who loves a deep fried anything, and the Duck Gyoza was a major hit with both of us.
Mike chose diners' favourite (it's never off the menu) Lamb Massaman Curry for his main course. Oh my - it was good! Cooked overnight, the lamb was so, so soft yet maintained its form in the rich, flavour-packed sauce. Accompanied by Forbidden Fried Rice and a bowl of Gunpowder potatoes, it's just fabulous.
I don't actually know what Forbidden Fried Rice is, in terms of what else but the rice, but it's yum. It was also the accompaniment for my dish - the brand new Buri Bop Korean Hot Plate: a cast iron hot plate, with a pile of Forbidden Rice with a hen's egg yolk set in the centre and, for me, strips of raw beef, though you can choose prawns, salmon, asparagus or tofu. You cook the meat yourself on the hot plate, stir the egg yolk into the rice and enjoy. As the plate stays thermonuclear-hot, I found it easier to then spoon the whole lot onto a cool plate, before dipping it into a smoky-sweet BBQ sauce. I would definitely have that again, and now that I know how it works I shall be less likely to overcook my beef!
Feeling content, coffee and mint tea completed our dinner, while we sat quietly and admired the décor. It really is a very smart place, and the food delivers exactly against the expectations raised by the surroundings and the service.
Grand Pacific , Spring Gardens, Manchester grandpacific.uk.com