Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Neighbourhood - Manchester

Neighbourhood has been on my ‘to visit’ list for some time now, securing a place through good reviews and some shameless self-promotion (restaurants, please do not retweet every tweet people make about hanging out with you, thanks); but each time I have ventured near, the overspill of leopard print, shiny suits and false nails pushes me on elsewhere.

Neighbourhood - with thanks to Likerish Split
A few weeks back I was taken there; wasn't my choice, but my new personal development challenge is to stop being a dining control freak – NEWS FLASH – I am letting other people choose where we  go to eat (sometimes) (and not making bitchy comments before we have, at least, eaten there). I can't say I still don't get sweaty palms doing this, but if the meal is a disaster I am no longer crushed by catholic levels of guilt for weeks after.

Neighbourhood is located on the outer edges of the corporate world of Spinningfields. Owned by those chaps at Southern Eleven (all meat, stripped wood and Americana), Neighbourhood has been designed to recreate the feel of a Manhattan neighbourhood bar; unfortunately, like Spinningfields itself, it's all a little too clean cut, carefully constructed and image conscious.

Underwhelming shrimps
Dining on a Tuesday night didn't feel very neighbourly, in fact we didn't have any neighbours at all; our waiter made up for that, his customer service was spot on, he knew the menu inside out and wasn't afraid to describe the negatives as well as the positives of the dishes – this service, coupled with the good reviews and enjoying the food at Southern Eleven, initially promised good things from the night to come.

The buttermilk fried Chicken Lollipops we had to start were sweet, moist and salty - all my food cravings rolled into one great little dish; I am underlining the word LITTLE here. We'd ordered the Shrimp, Crackle and Pop because it sounded fun, a case of 'shucks you are so cool for putting rice crispies in a dish' – what actually came to the table was not fun; an overly reduced bisque with a cloying, metallic taste (that tainted my mouth for the rest of the evening), two chewy prawns and some very soggy rice crispies. For £9.

Baked Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese has been the one dish receiving constant rave reviews, my twitter feed is littered with it, however our experience of it was anything other than rave. How Neighbourhood managed to create a dish of pasta that was simultaneously dry and chewy on top, whilst soggy and swimming in pasta water on the bottom, I have no idea. There was little sauce, any to be found was watery and under-seasoned; there was no hint of cheese and very little of lobster (two, chewy, tiny pieces) - at £15 the dish left a hole in both stomachs and wallets.

Rubbish picture, not much better dish
The Grilled Rock Bass with clams and spinach was the best dish of the evening, but don't take that as a ringing endorsement. The fish and clams were well cooked, obviously lobster mac chef didn't cook this one, but that was the only thing going for the dish. The accompanying sauce was so insipid it may have been better to leave it off as it was so unnoticeable, the spinach was limp, the taste akin to eating solidified dishwater and I doubt any salt had even been near the dish, let alone added to it.

Sweet tooth pizza - £15
For some reason we decided to stay for pudding; maybe it was hunger, maybe we wanted to find a saving grace, maybe I have such a dazzling personality (definitely not the latter – ed). We picked the Sweet Tooth Pizza to share; a car crash of brownies, marshmallows, pecans and caramel loaded onto a sweet pizza base. The base was overly chewy, the brownies overly dry - the marshmallow was nice and that's about it. At least this dish was big enough to fill us up.

Neighbourhood's menu promises taste, comfort and competent cooking - but just like Spinningfield itself and Neighbourhood's usual punters, the food is all about show rather than substance.

Price for two starters, two mains, a pudding and two glasses of wine: £71.50

Food - 4/10
Atmosphere - 5/10
Service - 7/10
Value for money - 3/10

Total 19/40

Go again? - No thanks, I'll stick to somewhere that knows money/looks aren't everything.

Neighbourhood, The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester – M3 3JE – 0161 832 6334 - Twitter

Neighbourhood on Urbanspoon


  1. Any restaurant that has a "small town club in the 90s" dress code just isn't for me.

    1. Having grown up in a small town in the 90s, I think this is why I try to avoid these places!

  2. I know it's cheap thrill but I do love a bad review by a good blogger. Your wit is as dry as a Neighbourhood brownie and when you're on form, well you just crackle. More please.

    1. Dear anon,

      I'm glad someone else shares the same thrill as me ;) And thanks for the compliments, I'll through out some more wit for you later. Promise.

  3. I'm glad somebody agrees with me about the Baked Lobster Mac 'n' cheese, the lobster was poor and just gets battered by the average cheese sauce. This place was a real letdown for the price.