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Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester
Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester Reviews
61%
AddressThe Corn Exchange, Manchester M4 3TR
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Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester Review
Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester Reviews

The Corn Exchange has changed a lot since I was a kid.  Back then I'd go in to forage around rough and ready independent market stalls and try to get my hands on video games that were either dodgy, or imported from the far east.  Perhaps both on occasion.  Then the IRA decided that closing down that side of the city would be clever, and so The Corn Exchange also shut up shop for a little while. 

It then became a second rate shopping centre under the guise of 'The Triangle', housing only a single decent shop, selling bras exclusively for busty ladies.  I loved the waiting room in that shop, and so did the other patient blokes in there, most of whom had a smug look on their face for some reason? 

Anyway, a short time passed and everything started to move out, so the building became a bit of a wasteland in truth.  In order to remedy that a ton of new, relatively unknown-to-Manchester small foodie chains started to move in.  New is always good in food terms.  Suddenly the Corn Exchange, with its name restored, had everything from Italian, to Vietnamese, to Mexican, to Indian, to Brazilian. 

 
Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review

Now from the off, one of our favourites of the bunch was always Banyan, boasting an eclectic menu from all corners of the world, which solves problems if you're torn between cuisines on such a varied site. They also serve quality drinks, in a lovely dining area to kick back in.  Also, the views over the adjoining square are some the best in Corn Exchange too.  What wasn’t to like? 

Anyway, on the same evening that we called in, a few of my colleagues decided to pay a visit to a 'cutting edge' new place around the corner, whilst I opted for something a bit more easy to digest.  Whilst going over the menu in Banyan with a couple of cocktails, I started to receive photos of dehydrated rabbit's ears on my phone.  Each to their own I say.

 
Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review
Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review
 

Our cocktails; The Banyan Colada (£7.75), a twist on the Pina variety was superb, containing  Koko Kanu spirit amongst other quality liquors, along with all the usuals.  The very suave and well balanced Sinatra Select (£8.50); a Gentleman Jack, orange liqueur and chocolate flavour fused creation, was more manly so less embarrassing for me to admit enjoying.  I was impressed by the cocktails.  Everywhere who shouldn’t serve cocktails does these days, hence usually not very well either, with things just thrown into a glass.  These were good though, genuinely good.  Some nicer, more delicate glassware would have lifted them, but I'm just doing what food writers do there; making suggestions just to make myself sound clued up. 

Onto the food for starters; Duck Spring Rolls (£6.95) were plated well, with a piece of banana leaf to fill a gap on the plate, and an 'Oriental' dipping sauce, which Id describe as being tasty.  One roll was lovely and crisp, with juicy duck inside, but one was a bit soggy on the outside sadly.  Still, the flavours were all there.  My accomplice went in for the Tempura Prawns and Pak Choi (£7.95).  Now it was one of those occasions that as soon as the food lands, you feel an instant rush of jealousy.  They were stunning prawns, cooked to semi translucent perfection, in a light, properly seasoned batter.  They didn’t really need the zingy chilli and lime dip due to their succulence, as nice as it was.  Rather than the 3 massive prawns in the portion, you could put a single one in the middle of a black mottled plate, charge the same £7.95, garnish it with a few unpronounceable things, swirl some sauce on the plate, and the quality would be passable in many of the city's top 10 dining rooms. 

They really were that good.  I kind of wished that I'd ordered two portions as my main.  The pak choi was also cooked in tempura batter, but had been dried first to prevent the infamous soggy bottom, leaving you with a crispy slice of lettucy goodness, and a novel twist on eating lettuce too. This was the stand out dish of the evening.  Superb.  By this point, photos of astronaut statues and octopus tentacles had started to pester me via Whatsapp, which I think were supposed to induce some envy.  It wasn’t working and I was ready for the mains.

 
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The Banyan Burger (£12.95) was a fine stack of goodness.  Lovely brioche bun, with nice crispy bacon, and a juicy, thick patty.  A touch tricky to eat due to its notable size, but these are first world problems.  The mustard mayo and BBQ sauce added a nice moisture to the burger, but  the tomato was thickly cut. A rabbit ear loving colleague recently pointed out how pointless raw tomato is on a burger, serving no real purpose other than to bulk it out and in the process water down all that meaty goodness with an often insipid British tomato slab.  Ever since her wisdom was bestowed I've accepted that she was right, and that I've been eating burgers wrong for decades.  I kicked myself for forgetting to ask for a tomato omission on this occasion.  Mainly because I'm greedy and once it comes, I'll eat anyway.  Still, it was a fine burger and wholly enjoyable. 

Fillet steak (£25.95) was my sidekick's choice of tea, and why not?  Id question the reality of the stated 225g portion size, but it was cooked well, with nice grill marks, and tasted cracking, albeit looked a bit lost on the plate.  The portion of chips was way bigger than the one which came with the burger too.  We were sharing though so it wasn’t an issue.

By the time puddings came around I was still pining for those prawns to come back into my life.  The Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tarte (£5.95) looked impressive.  Plated nicely with a rich chocolate ganache filling. The honeycomb on top was a touch bitter/overcooked, but still, chocolate heals most things, as did the great ice cream that it came with.  Our Baileys Eton Mess (£5.95) was a much lighter and more sensible option to end a big meal on, but lacked texture and oomph really, not to mention much Baileys flavour.  Still, it was a nice fresh way to end the meal.  I reckon that those prawns set the bar too highly at the start.

 
Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review Banyan Bar & Kitchen Manchester  Review
   

We paid the bill, and disappeared into the night to hit the sack late on.  I woke up this morning thinking about tempura prawns, which were no doubt in my mind as I dozed off.  A visit to Banyan is justified for these alone, and the menu should be changed to just refer to them as 'Those Prawns'.  Who needs rabbit's ears anyway? ~ Chris Handley, Restaurants Of Manchester Trusted Reviewer (Wednesday 08th March 2017)

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3 stars 61%


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