The Ski Club is the newest (although pretty old now, hey? – ed) pop-up concept from Heart Soul Rock & Roll; those people behind Spinningfield's summer pop-up, Yacht Club. Being canny to the fact that Manchester's inclement climate isn't conducive to high sales of booze in an outside, barely covered venue, they've moved indoors to Quay House and recreated the high life on the ski slopes a la 1972.
Ski Club - vintage slopes luxury, apparently - thanks to City Life
Wood clad, with leather seats and faux fur throws, coupled with dim lighting and vintage pictures of the slopes, the decor is meant to invoke the snug hillside cabins of St Moritz; unfortunately none of the styling perks up the rather cold and soulless space that Ski Club seems to be. Maybe I visited on the wrong night (seriously PR people, you're going to have a press night? Please make sure there’s some ambiance in the place you're trying desperately to sell us), or maybe it’s just soulless; but three cocktails in and I was still shivering under my blanket.
Those aforementioned PR people had kindly invited a bunch of press/blogger types to come together for a tasting of the Ski Club’s fare in the hope we'd get busy writing gushing prose about. Bad move. What we were served at Ski Club can only be described as vile.
As you readers are aware, if I’m invited somewhere to eat, then I’ll judge that place harsher than somewhere I just rock up to and actually pay for my food at (yeah, I do pay for food you know...); if you know someone is there to review, you make damn sure everything is tip top standard. If you invite a whole crowd of reviewers (a la the Ski Club night), then you make sure the food and service is so damn hot I’m burning my fingers on it and talking about it for years to come.
Porcini arancini balls were massive, almost snowball sized dusty abominations that tasted of gravel. Sundried tomato, mozzarella and pesto on a stick – meh, I could get that at Pesto and that’s not saying much. Some sort of sausage roll had greasy pastry as thick as rhino skin and the fondue? Well I've already discussed that before - but let's get it off my chest again because it was so disappointing - claggy, cold, contemptible. The only edible eats were some cured meats - but if they'd fucked up opening the packet and plating it, then I'd be even more worried about what's happening in the kitchen than I already am.
Oh and a note to the Ski Club staff - if someone asks you if the food served is gluten free, and that person is sitting in the group of press you invited to see how amazing this place is, please have the decency to get back to that person whilst the food is still on the table and not after it has been cleared and they've gone hungry. Thanks.
If the food's not up to scratch then at least you can rely on the drinks right? There's a good choice of spirits and beers, plus some quirky cocktail concoctions; even a blue coconut thing (Tiffany and Coco) - stylish to look at, yes, but the flavours in all the drinks fell somewhat flat and were smothered by an overabundance of sweetness. Great if you have a sweet tooth - I prefer something a bit bitter, with a kick (says a lot for you personality - ed), rather than the nursery soothers served, but they seemed to go down well with others in the party.
Blue drink - no advisable to drink off or on the slopes
The ski club will be hanging around in Spinningfields (above Artzu Gallery) until March if you fancy warming your cockles after a day on out the slopes of Manchester's shopping streets - however I'll take my apres-ski elsewhere.
Ps The bar staff, in contrast to the waiting staff, were exceptional.
Food - 2/10
Atmosphere - 5/10
Service - 6/10 (score greatly increased by the bar staff)
Value for money - n/a
Total - 13/30
Go again? No thanks. I'll be interested to see what Heart Soul Rock & Roll dream up next, as Yacht Club was pretty decent. Let's hope this is a seasonal blip for them.
The Ski Club, Quay House, Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3JE - Facebook - Twitter - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note I was invited to Ski Club as part of a press night and was given my food and drink for free. I am under no obligation to say anything nice in return for this - as is pretty evident from this review!