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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Cocktail Triumph at Harvey Nichols, Manchester

One of the best things about Twitter is that you can follow all sorts of lovely bars and restaurants, thereby finding out about tempting deals and irresistible offers. One of the worst things about Twitter is that you can follow all sorts of lovely bars and restaurants, thereby finding out about tempting deals and irresistible offers that cause your purse to start creaking wearily round the edges, threaten the beginnings of the dreaded muffin top, and prompt one's husband to raise a cynical eyebrow once every so often along with a comment such as "oh, so you're home this evening, are you?"

This was the case on Thursday, when I had planned to meet up with a lovely friend for a long-overdue catch-up. All sorts of ideas were mooted; perhaps I would drive up to the rural area where she lives, wearing sensible trainers so that a healthy pursuit such as walking her dog could be attempted. Oh no, wait; Harvey Nichols Second Floor Brasserie is doing three courses plus a Bellini for £20 - clearly we should do this instead.

It's always fun eating at Harvey Nichols; part of the joy, I suspect, comes from the slightly furtive feeling of getting into the secret lift that takes you up to the restaurant when the store itself is closed, particularly as said lift is decorated with Dr Who-esque silver circles that serve the dual function of allowing you to check your lipstick whilst also feeling a bit like Barbarella. Harvey Nicks always do decent summer offers - the current one seems to be this year's version of last year's dangerous "three courses plus unlimited wine for 90 minutes" shebang, an evening that culminated in a friend carefully and kindly helping an old man down the stairs in Sinclair's (much to his annoyance; he had not wished to go downstairs at that particular moment, and had to make his way back up once her back was turned.)

The Second Floor Brasserie shares its location with the rather posher Second Floor Restaurant, but that doesn't mean that the food here isn't lovely - it's just more casual, with tables closer together and minus the gorgeous view that the restaurant offers over Exchange Square. There was a lovely buzz about the Brasserie last night, which was busy without being crowded, and service was sleek and friendly (although more of this later, smirking barman.)

The menu for the £20 Supper Club deal changes every week, but offers five options for each course, and not a dud amongst them. My goats cheese salad starter (see? SALAD - physically losing weight whilst I eat) was simple and delicious, while my friend's mussels were plump and tasty (well, the lone one I managed to wrestle from her clutches was). For mains I chose the Moroccan lamb with couscous, and once again had to ponder one of life's mysteries - why is restaurant couscous nice, while when I make it at home it tastes of sand? The lamb wasn't terribly Moroccan, but it was nicely pink and generously portioned, while the herb-crusted chicken across the table was proclaimed a similar triumph.

We were slowing a little by pudding time, but it's worth noting that although we couldn't manage it, the £20 offer does include cheese as an option without the annoying extra supplement that so many places add on for it. I went for raspberry fool (see? FRUIT - physically losing weight etc etc) with beautiful crumbly shortbread (mmm, could just manage a piece of that now, actually...)

We spent nothing extra on drinks, as a Bellini magically appears at your table when you arrive, and then - terribly excitingly - we had a complimentary cocktail each that I'd won in a Twitter competition the day before. Nothing comes for free however, and to claim my prize I had to utter the following words: "My name is ....... and I'm your Twitter winner". Well, you try saying this with a straight face at the best of times, let alone when you've shared a cheeky bottle of wine in All Bar One already that evening; everyone (including the disloyal friend who was benefitting from said cocktail) seemed to find it most amusing.

The £20 deal runs Tuesday to Saturday until Saturday 28th August, and is well worth trying, as it offers the chance to eat high-quality restaurant food at a frankly ridiculous price. Keep an eye on their website at for further menu updates; I might just have to go again next week....

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