Posts Tagged ‘bar’

Kurt, Steven and Yelp are Close to my Heart

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Last night brought another delicious Yelp Elite Event into my life – this time we were welcomed by Bar 21 in the Northern Quarter to sample their wares and check out their disco-tastic dance floors. In recognition of Bar21‘s ‘Movie ‘n’ Music’ theme, the evening was to be focussed on all things famous. It was suggested that we dress up as something film-related. Considering my very poor effort at the previous Elite event where we were asked to dress in ‘Summer attire’ and I wore sunglasses, I decided to actually think about my outfit for this event. With the use of my office’s printing facilities, a pair of scissors and a box of safety pins, I transformed an average red dress into HOMAGE TO B-GRADE MALE ACTION MOVIE STARS THAT I LOVE.

So many handsome men have attached themselves to me.

So many handsome men have attached themselves to me.

Steven, Kurt, Chuck, Jean-Claude, Arnie and co were well received by my fellow Yelpers and there were some mighty fine film and music related tees worn on the night as well.

I had never been to Bar21 before and, to be honest, I had purposefully avoided it. From the outside it had always appeared a bit concrete and uncomfortable, so I was pleasantly surprised when I ventured inside and discovered a bright and cheery bar full of memorabilia. Anywhere with a giant photograph from Back From the Future on the wall is a winner in my world.

We were allowed to choose a drink from their extensive Happy Hour list and Hannah and I were particularly happy to see that Doom Bar ale was an option. An excellent start to the evening.

The super friendly staff made us feel very welcome and took us on a tour of their downstairs dance floor. I think I will need to return for some serious hot-stepping one evening. It has been a long time since my last dance session… too long.

Next was a cocktail master class where we were shown how to make two drinks and then allowed to sample the tasty concoctions. Unfortunately (although probably luckily for our brain cells) there were 30 Yelpers and 15 glasses of each drink so there were a few sharpened elbows pushing their way through to get their drink of choice. Humans + free alcohol = messy. Hannah and I decided sharing is caring and went halfsies. The cocktails were good although neither would be something I’d normally choose. One had a cream layer and the other tasted like liquid Haribo. SWEEEEEEEET.

Mixology madness

Mixology madness

After the cocktails we were all in need of some food and we were overwhelmed by the smorgasbord of dishes put out for us to gorge on. It was a meatlovers’ delight with chorizo, salami, ribs, burgers and more kinds of chicken wings than I’ve seen in a long time. And it was tasty! I wouldn’t normally have chosen to come to Bar21 for food but I was really impressed with what I ate. The beef burgers were served with proscuitto and blue cheese – so good. Sadly, they were also drenched in some sort of brown sauce that was far too strong and completely overpowered all of the flavours. After I had attempted to remove most of the sauce the burger was definitely a winner on my plate.

Food! Photo credit: Hannah's phone.

Food! Photo credit: Hannah’s phone.

Dessert came out as we were still stuffing our faces – lime curd or chocolate mousse tartlets were our choices. Surprisingly I went for the lime as the chocolate didn’t look dark enough for my liking. And the lime was good – nice and sharp and served in a deliciously buttery pastry. Yum.

If we hadn’t consumed enough, out came a birthday cake to celebrate Yelp Manchester’s 10th birthday. Marzipan covered red velvet cake anyone? Yes please. As we forced the cake into our mouths (ok, there was no force involved. It was delicious.) Bar21‘s Thursday night quiz began and in our teams of 4, 5 or 6, we competed to the death to win great prizes and ultimate glory. My team failed miserably and finished in third-last place. We were largely let down by the Australian on our team who didn’t know how many stars were on her own country’s flag. Yep. For shame.

As the evening came to a close and I headed home to bed like the Grandma I have become, I felt that great sense of pure satisfaction after you have had a great night out. Good food, good drinks, good friends, good times. Looking forward to Yelping it up once again in September.

P.S. My stupid phone died during the cocktail master class so I have a serious lack of photographs of food. Very disappointing.

Magical, Mystical, Marvellous Food

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

I have great news, boys and girls. Last week my dedication to writing restaurant and bar reviews on Yelp was rewarded. I, Jessica Davies, have officially become a member of the Yelp Elite Team, making me one of Manchester’s most Important People. Ok, that last bit is an exaggeration but I now have a little “Elite ’14” badge on my Yelp profile and I get to feel special. Coinciding with this promotion in Yelp status, I was lucky enough to be invited to my second Yelp Elite Event. Last month’s japanese saké and food extravaganza continues to sit fondly in my memory, occasionally bringing back taste-bud-memory hits of wasabi and soy, and so I was a wee bit excited when I received my invitation to March’s Magical Mystery Tour. Where we would go and what we would eat was kept a big secret from us all. Nobody knew. Let the tour begin.

Meet at Apotheca at 6.30pm

This was our only clue as to what the night would entail. Apotheca is one of the Northern Quarter’s hip and cool cocktail bars and somewhere I had been wanting to try. I once danced the night away there on a make-shift dance floor that my friend and I created but I had never sampled their cocktails. The Yelp Elite Team had the downstairs bar area to ourselves where we were greeted by our always-cheery host, Jonny, and a mojito. After standing around and meeting and greeting fellow Elite members, we were then treated to a variety of pizzas from Dough, the adjoining pizzeria. I had eaten at Dough once previously and while I enjoyed the slightly adventurous toppings, the bases were a little disappointing. Why can’t anywhere in Manchester make a decent pizza base? Once again I found the toppings delicious (the lamb with spices and sultanas was particularly tasty) but the bases were thin, cracking and far too perfectly shaped. They collapsed in our hands and had soggy bottoms.

While we were eating, we were invited to get behind the bar and have a cocktail making session with the mixologists. We could choose our drink of choice from their great range of drinks and then make them ourselves with the guidance of experts. I chose to make a cocktail called Just Beet It which contained vodka, beetroot juice, balsamic vinegar liqueur and basil. After adding all of the ingredients and giving it a good old shake, I was then allowed to drink my concoction. Amazingly good! I think my inner mixologist is bursting to come out.

Just Beet It

Just Beet It

I had to drink it fairly quickly though as our next destination awaited and it was time to move on.

Venue #2 – Pie & Ale

I had managed to get my friend and office-buddy, Hannah, to be invited to the Elite event so we were both a little concerned when we found ourselves walking back to the office. Pie & Ale is located next door to the office space we rent and we often get to enjoy the enticing smells of baking pies. Thankfully this time we were actually going to get to eat the pies – sixteen of them, to be precise. We were guided upstairs to a lofted seating area where we met the manager of Pie & Ale who explained what our next food and drink experience was going to involve. The chefs had prepared sixteen different pies for us to stick our forks into and sample and we would have three different beers to wash them down with. I tried to sample as many of the pies as I could – rabbit, wild bore, chickpea and, one of the highlights, crocodile. They were all very tasty although I think they could refine their pastry – it is very doughy and a bit excessive. And this is coming from someone who loves pastry and believes more is more.

Crocodile pie

Crocodile pie

The beers we tried were the Golden Arrow, Yippee Pie Ale and the 10 Storey Malt Bomb – basically golden, pale and dark. All very delicious with the dark ale coming out as my favourite. But who doesn’t like liquid caramel?

Our tour didn’t stop here – oh no. Why only go to two venues when you could go to three? Time to move on.

Venue #3 – Bakerie

We didn’t have far to walk to get to our next location. Bakerie is located next door to Pie & Ale and owned by the same company. Despite these connections, Bakerie is a bit more ooh-la-la and focuses on its wine. And cheese. You can imagine the delighted faces of us already happy Yelpers when we discovered we had free access to the “Wine Jukebox” – a glass fronted box containing approximately 12 wine bottles. Inserted into each wine bottle was a plastic tube. Above each bottle was a button. Push the button and wine is sucked up the tube and into your glass, giving you a taster-sized serving to enjoy. Glorious. Paris and all that I learnt about wine flooded back to me as I made a strategic decision about which wines I would try. My choices ended up being two of three most expensive wines in the jukebox – an Argentinian Malbec and the French Bourgogne. They were both amazing and the sort of wine I will drink when I am a world famous author. They were made even better by the cheese platters placed in front of us. Blue, smoked, goat, soft and squeaky (halloumi) – the cheese and wine combo made Jess a very happy girl.

This was the end of our mystery food tour and we all sat around rubbing our bellies, unable to believe just how much we had consumed and how wonderful the experience had been. The Yelp Elite are a great bunch of food-loving people and it was a really fun night out. It is nice to meet people who appreciate good food as much as I do and a huge treat to be able to be invited to such a gluttonous event. Bring on April!

Sitting High in Manchester

Monday, October 21st, 2013

In the seven and a half months that I have been living in Manchester, I have seen a lot of new cafes, restaurants and bars pop up around the city. While the UK is still going through economic difficulties, it seems the Brits will always have enough spare cash to go out for a drink or two. As a lover of food and drink, this all good with me and I have taken it upon myself to try as many of these new venues as possible. I am proud of my achievements to eat at as many of the BoBo-cool bistros of Paris and have brought this determination with me across the channel.

Two weeks ago, I met up with some of the girls that I worked with at Artisan. Our night’s plans included heading to one of Manchester’s latest additions that has some very high expectations weighing down on its shoulders. Set up by Living Ventures, the same company who owns Artisan and half of the restaurants in Manchester, Manchester House has been established as being THE RESTAURANT in Manchester that will earn a Michelin Star. High expectations mean high prices and while I would love to be able try the 10 course tasting menu, the £95 price tag (an extra £70 for wine) means it is a little out of my budget. That said, if anyone wants to demonstrate how much they love me… I’ll book the table.

Manchester House is spread out over two floors of a tall office block in Spinningfields – level 2 is the Potentially-Michelin-Starred restaurant, while high up on the 12th storey is the bar. Sarah, Ceri and I felt a little underdressed and lacking in gold credit cards as we walked into the ground floor foyer and were greeted by a host. She didn’t seem to notice our lack o’ cash and we were shown into a lift and whisked up to the 12th floor. Here we were  greeted by another smartly dressed and very good looking host. The handy thing about working for a company that owns every bar in the city is that you get to know the staff, so we were instantly made to feel comfortable. We were taken on a tour of the bar which has 360 degree views of the city – very cool. The layout of the bar has pockets of seats, benches and outdoor seating areas. The layout was great but the white leather couches were already getting dirty and parts of the ceiling appeared to detaching themselves and the bar hadn’t even had its official opening yet.

We made our way to the bar and started perusing the cocktail menu. The most ‘budget friendly’ drinks were around £10 each but when you include the whole experience of drinking high above Manchester it didn’t seem so bad. The guys behind the bar were friendly and helpful but both were clearly ‘learning’. Luckily they were serving three girls who know what it is like to still be coming to grips with a new menu.

Flame thrower.

Flame thrower.

I would like to go back to Manchester House when there are a few more people in it. We went before the official opening party and on a Tuesday night so not many people even knew it existed. That said, it was nice to have the place almost to ourselves and to be able to pretend that we were rich high flyers who always spend that much on drinks.

A drink with a view.

A drink with a view.

One last thing I would like to mention/whinge about is that the glassware in Manchester House reminded me of my Nanna’s crystal glasses that she gets out when she has guests. Clunky, old fashioned and not very cool.

Nerd Attack

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Yesterday afternoon I unwillingly witnessed one of the strangest phenomenons that I have seen in quite some time. Having travelled the world and experienced many different cultures, I am very accepting of new and different ways of living, eating and being. However, yesterday I met a friend of mine at the Broadway Basement tavern for a catch up drink and found myself in a completely and utterly baffling situation that I didn’t know how to explain or accept.

Imagine this. A girl (me) walks into a bar and discovers that of the 60-odd people drinking there, she is the only female who isn’t a member of staff. This she can accept as it is happy hour and pints are $6, however it isn’t until she sits down and notices a very large screen that she sees something is different. Expecting to see a football, cricket or rugby game, imagine her surprise/shock/horror when she realises the images being telecast are not your average sporting match but televised coverage of a World of Warcraft style computer game (apparently it is called Starcraft.)

Starcraft

Intense. *Image taken from www.perth.barcraft.tv

I could not believe my eyes – the room steadily filled with boys (they ranged in age from 18 to 25ish but would definitely still be categorised as boys, not men) wearing Nintendo or Mortal Combat tshirts who grabbed pints of beer and a seat and placed themselves in the best possible location to sit and watch two players compete for computerised victory. What really threw me was that there were commentators on the screen providing us with the latest statistics on who had won that battle and who had managed to steal the other person’s camp. To be honest, I don’t really know what happens in Starcraft and I don’t really care, but it seemed that the entire Computer Science faculty from UWA was there watching the action.

I would put this experience in the same bucket as when I had to watch Tom perform at heavy metal concerts when he was in a band. The long-haired, black-clothed metal heads had a similar nerdish quality to pimply, glasses-wearing Starcrafters. While they are hardly a threatening bunch, I can’t say I felt like I blended in. But for those of you who are currently jumping out of your seats at the exciting combination of beer + computer games, head to the Basement on Broadway in Nedlands every Tuesday at 5pm.

Starcraft schedule

Don't miss the action!

Fun Times Count Down

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

You may have realised by now that I enjoy counting down to things – moving to Paris, my birthday, Christmas. Things become even more exciting if you watch the time drop away and the thing that you are looking forward to moves steadily closer. Counting down to things that you are less excited about isn’t quite as good and so I have decided to forget about the days in January as my flight back to Perth inches closer and closer.

However, people around me have suggested it might be a good idea that I look at the bright side of going back to Perth (ie. sunshine, the beach, family, no French people) and so I have decided for the next however-many-days I have left in Paris I am going to make sure that I do (at least) one thing that is new, exciting, fun or delicious. That way, if the French government says I can’t come back to France then I can say, “Oh well, that’s your loss. I’ve already eaten ALL of your nutella crêpes.”

I will, of course, be informing you of my adventures over this count-down period so that you can either be pleased that I am enjoying myself or just plain jealous. Although I decided to do this last night while having a shower (it’s where I get all of my good ideas) I will include yesterday as my first day of Fun Times Count Down. Here is the fun thing that I did:

FUN TIMES COUNT DOWN #1

After spending most of the day at home, at 5.30pm Tom and I went and met our friend, Phillipa (she is also leaving Paris in a few weeks and is feeling as despondent about the whole ‘going back to Perth’ thing as I am), and we had a drink at a bar. It was a last minute decision that turned in a few hours of laughter, chatting, cocktails and tapas. It isn’t called Happy Hour for nothing. We were eventually kicked out so that a table of people who actually wanted to eat food could sit, and Tom and I walked home through the streets of Paris with a bright, potentially full moon guiding our way back. A simple yet enjoyable experience that will kick start my Fun Times Count Down.

Boating on the Canal

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Something that I love about Parisians is despite their snooty attitudes, strict style guides and general up-turned-nose at anything seemingly ‘different’, they still manage to celebrate strange, somewhat banal things with vigour and passion. Yesterday delivered a prime example of when I had to stop, shake my head and laugh at the ridiculous contradictions that were appearing before my eyes.

Tom and I went for a walk along the canal, heading to a show for regional produce from Provence. Along the way, we passed Point Ephémère – a hip and happening bar/club/restaurant full of bobo-Parisians hanging out and being seen. This all seemed normal except for the wooden boat floating in the canal, the folk music and the number of people dressed up in traditional costume. It was the Festival of Estonia (apparently) and for some reason they had set up a small exhibition with wood turning, music and general information about Estonia and viking boats for those who were interested.

Estonia festival

An impressive banner.

Tom and I joined the Bobos for a drink and as we sat by the canal, a group of well dress Parisians (most of them with children) jumped into the viking boat and took it for a spin along the canal while a ye-olde-Estonian played a horn-like instrument in the back.

The juxtaposition of snooty French people not daring to do anything out of the ordinary, and the fact that there was now a viking boat replica being paddled around with a group of ultra serious Parisians was really too much. I just sat and stared and wondered how on earth this could be happening and why it is ok for these Parisians to do something that dorky and yet me wearing a slightly old jumper is just SO INAPPROPRIATE.

It was fantastically entertaining. I also particularly liked the fact that kids were being allowed to use the wood turning machine with no eye protection and were getting bits of saw dust flung straight into their faces. What is health and safety?

Estonia Festival

Wood working at its best.

Madrid Part 4

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Free Tours

We went on two tours run by New Europe Tours while in Madrid – the first a free three-hour walking tour that was run by a hyperactive Pom called Colin. Col showed us around Madrid with much enthusiasm and told us about the endless number of kings who ruled Madrid. It was so informative that we decided to go on the Tapas Tour that took us to four tapas bars where we had beer or sangria and sampled tapas while learning about the Spanish eating habits. It was a great way to discover the city while learning a bit of history. I always feel like such a tourist sheep on guided tours but they’re usually very enjoyable. I am thinking of applying to be a guide in Paris. Lots of people’s names and random dates to learn!

Madrid Part 3

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The People

The staff in restaurants were always very friendly and helpful and joked about our lack of Spanish speaking abilities. The first night though I think we managed to find every single grumpy Madridian. No one seemed happy to serve the stupid tourists and we thought we’d be doomed for the entire trip. Until the next morning we had breakfast at the bar next to our hotel and were served by a welcoming and friendly young guy. His name was Junior and he spent time each morning teaching us Spanish. He was 27, worried about turning 28, married and showed us photos of his son. He started the trend for friendly Spanish people who looked after us, gave us good food and even gave us free drinks. I wanted to give everyone hugs.

Our hotel was run by a lovely, short Spanish lady who must have lived in the apartment block where the hotel was located. She spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish yet we managed to understand each other. She insisted on carrying our bag to our room before giving us a map, explaining the three different keys we needed to get into our room and then leaving us to enjoy the city. The hotel was great – Coup found it on Hostelbookers for just 20 Euros a night for private rooms with ensuites. The hotel was located in the centre of town, close to everything, and was situated in a dodgy looking apartment complex that had weird looking people living in it. The room was tiny but amazingly clean and despite having walls as thin as paper we managed to sleep like babies.

It’s Not So Green in the Garden

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I was quite pleased to see a new wine bar opening its doors in Leederville during the last summer. The Garden is located next to the Leederville hotel and is a fairly classy joint with an interesting mix of concrete, wood and metal aesthetics. This style of building always appeals to me and as a place to hang out for a relatively well priced glass of wine, I enjoy going to the Garden. However, the food is another matter. I have consumed edible substances at the Garden twice now. The first time I was with a group of six and we simply wanted something to nibble on until we went and ate dinner at Jus Burgers. One person made the decision to order a dip which arrived sans-dippers. There was no bread. There were no crackers. It was just dip. And so we bought bread to eat with the dip because it seemed more logical than us all sticking our fingers into the slop. It was tasty but that’s just stupid.
My second experience happened last Friday when I attended my friend’s birthday party. The plan was to have some drinks and then sit down for something to eat. I must say the service was excellent – we were a group of 10, wanting a table when the restaurant area was quite busy. We had a wheel chair AND a pram and they did what they could to get us a table. Our water glasses were topped up regularly (this is strangely very important to me. I hate not having water.) and they were a friendly group of waitstaff. Pity about the food. While not overly expensive, the food is fairly naff. I ordered a pancetta, zucchini and feta pizza which tasted like someone had smothered it in salt. I don’t generally add salt to my food so I have a low tolerance, but this was just ridiculous. Yes, pancetta and feta are both salty items, but there was that yellow salty cheesey stuff that you find on Jatz biscuits on the pizza base. Why? WHY?!?! I came away feeling like I had eaten the ocean. Plus, pieces of the pancetta were 10% meat 90% fat. I tried a slice of the mushroom and blue cheese pizza which was just as salty but had better flavours. My boyfriend had the fried calamari which he scoffed down but he was hungry and thinks everything he eats is the best thing ever. I tasted a bit of the lime-zested salad that came with it and maybe they just like knocking out your senses with salty and sour flavours. It was like eating a raw lime. Some dig it, I don’t.
Anyway, I still like their wine list and it is still an enjoyable place to go for a drink with friends. Just avoid the food like the plague and head to Jus Burgers or Little Caesars if you want to eat.

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