Luckily the meal at The Cornerhouse was of the latter variety - life that followed the meal was unfortunately of the former; but that's not a story for this blog.
The Cornerhouse has been a constant staple in the twelve years I have called Manchester home - a cosy, reliable friend that I'm prone to forget about, only to catch up with and then feel like I've never been away. It's been almost a year since we last caught up and in that time it's obvious that we've both done some growing up.
Eating there last month I expected the usual homely cooking and slightly-rough-around-the-edges-but-always-tasty-food that's been the staple of The Cornerhouse kitchen for a long time. Scanning the menu, out jumped the usual favourites - lamb burgers, dips and pitta, pizzas - but this time, there were a few unknown dishes thrown into the mix. Intrigued. Like finding out your other half leads a double life. Unnerving/fascinating/exciting.
Had to have the dips to start - I know they're good here and this time was even better. A gorgeously smokey, creamy borani badejman (bit like baba ganoush) and some sweet, earthy roasted garlic and beetroot hummus, all topped off with a pile of pitta shards - I ordered the small version, there was enough to feed three of us to start. Bargain and beautiful with it.
Arty shot for an arty venue - tremendous trio of dips
Never having seen fish on the menu at The Cornerhouse (or maybe never noticed it?), I jumped on the special of sea bass and was bloody glad I did. Cooked perfectly and accompanied by the lightest, yet complementary tasty caper and shrimp sauce. Lip smacking and only a tenner? What?
Look at how pretty this is! And perfectly cooked! And a tenner!
And so we had to have a pudding, doing that girly thing where we pretend that we're really fat and that we shouldn't, but it's ok 'cos we only had soup for lunch' and then giggling insanely about how terribly naughty we are. Yep, I really do conform to my gender stereotype sometime and in that sentence have just reinforced some patronising, misogynistic view of the female race - but hey, I'm writing a food blog, is anyone really taking this seriously?
Pudding - this tart was so chocolaty - yup, female stereotyping again...
As per usual The Cornerhouse was filled to bursting; with windows foggy, cosseting us from another wet Manchester night. The warm fug of a million conversations hung around us; couples, groups and the odd singleton all enjoying the friendly atmosphere exuded form each other and the attentive staff.
We were there to relax; the mood and food at The Cornerhouse suited this perfectly, however the one small glitch was the wait on food - we were warned by staff that there was a slight slowness to the kitchen, but the wait between courses (and even between ordering and starting) was more than mediterranean. Needs work.
The Cornerhouse has grown up a good 'un and I'm glad we caught up once again - there's an educated nuance to the food; the balance between relaxed and well executed spot on. And the price? Anywhere else and that sea bass dish would have another fiver chucked (at least) on the price. Get there and get well fed by a dear old friend and wonder why you haven't seen them for so long.
Ps The Cornerhouse has started making all their bread and cakes in-house. Another reason to love this friend.
Price for one starter, two mains and two puddings - £30 give or take a few pence.
Food - 8/10
Atmosphere - 9/10
Service - 6/10 (for slowness, otherwise 8 for affability)
Value for money - 9/10
Total - 32/40
Go again? Of course, and I shan't leave it so long for a catch up next time.
The Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 5NH - 0161 228 7621 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note I was invited by The Cornerhouse and my meal was free - however you know what a grump I am and how much I like lambasting establishments, so if it was shit I would have said so.