Festive dining – VIVA checks out what’s on offer for the holidays
Emma Chadwick | 1st December 2022
Festive dining : Christmas has landed in the city’s eateries as they go to town with festive treats however you celebrate the holidays.
VIVA had a manic week checking out launches from festive bakes at Gregg’s to The Ivy’s sparkling offering, showing whatever your budget, you can still celebrate and tuck into some banging food.
There’s even a new bottomless meat feast from Red True Barbecue and MUSU finally opened its doors, showcasing its finished eatery to Southside in Withington, continuing to offer its £1 tacos as well as some of the best tequila around.
Here’s our round up of the launches and what you can expect if you’re dining out in the next few weeks.
Manchester Rocks at The Ivy Spinningfields
The Ivy Spinningfields’ has launched an extravagant lighting display for the Christmas season with an eye-catching installation featuring an oversized Manchester Rocks! slogan, a neon tiger and lightning bolts, dazzling guests on arrival.
Inside the brasserie is serving a limited-edition cocktail menu created in collaboration with Chivas XV Gold Whisky, delicious festive a la carte dishes, Afternoon Tea and lavish set menus designed for larger parties.
Featuring six celebratory cocktails, The Ivy Spinningfields’ drinks offering for the Christmas season includes The Midas Cup (£12.25), a refreshing serve featuring Chivas XV Gold Whisky, Briottet Crème de Myrtille Liqueur, Monin sugar syrup muddled with mint leaves and garnished with a mint sprig, a fresh raspberry and cinnamon powder. The Black & Gold (£11.75) is a concoction of Chivas XV Gold Whisky, Mozart dark chocolate, Tosolini Expré Espresso Liqueur, espresso and orgeat syrup adorned with golden coffee beans. , garnished with candy floss and popping candy, and The Ivy’s Golden Lemonade (£12.25) is a refreshing mix of Chivas XV Gold Whisky, lemon sherbet, lemon juice, Fever Tree White Grape and Apricot Soda and Pernod Absinthe, adorned with a mint bouquet, lime wedge and a sprinkling of nutmeg.
Diners can enjoy a seasonal twist on The Ivy’s iconic Shepherd’s Pie (£18.95) with confit goose and turkey, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce, while starters include a Venison Tartare (£11.95) – seared and hand-cut venison loin with pickled beetroot, hazelnut mayonnaise and granary toast. To finish, guests will be able to delight in a limited-edition Santa’s on His Way (£9.95) dessert, perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Featuring a red velvet sponge, cream cheese frosting and dark chocolate, this exclusive, playful dish is sure to be a firm Instagram favourite this Christmas. For larger group bookings, Christmas set menus are available from £55 per person for three courses, while a premium menu is also available from £60 per person.
VIVA tucked in and enjoyed every minute.
Greggs festive bake – now available as vegan as well!
You know it’s beginning to feel like Christmas when Greggs festive bake land in the stores and to mark the launch the bakery’s Festive Bake Brunch.
There was a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of pastry accompanied by prosecco and delicious handcrafted cocktails with a seasonal twist: Sausage Roll Sour, Greggspresso Martini, Sugar Strand Daiquiri, Greggs No-Aperol Spritz and Festive Fizz.
In store now, there’s the OG festive bake, melting crumb top pastry, filled with pieces of cooked chicken, sage and onion stuffing and cooked sweetcured bacon, covered in a creamy sage and cranberry sauce. Simply yummy.
For vegans an equally scrumptious pastry filled with savoury flavour Quorn mycoprotein pieces, sage and onion stuffing balls and a vegan bacon crumb, wonderfully finished with a mouth-watering sage and cranberry sauce.
There’s loads more festive treats from vegan turkey free baguettes, Christmas soup to mince pies and hot Christmas drinks.
Prices vary depending on your store, but you can get a full festive meal for under a fiver.
Joining traders on King Street, the Michelin-Listed restaurant is serving city goers looking to get into the Christmas mood with a selection of the restaurant’s signature seasonal dishes.
Guests popping down to the covered market, located directly outside sister restaurant El Gato Negro, can choose from one of three savoury dishes – Moroccan Style Chicken Tagine Curry (£8); Moroccan Style Vegetable Tagine Curry (£8); and Chargrilled Lamb Merguez Burger in Pitta (£8).
Habas’s signature batata hara, spiced potatoes served with a dill sour cream, are also available (£6.50).
Keeping with tradition, mugs of spiced mulled wine (£6) will be flowing at the pop-up restaurant with guests that purchase one of the iconic market mugs gifted with a special token inviting them to enjoy a complimentary top-up at the bar in Habas (T&Cs apply).
Gather Round in The Refuge
Christmas at The Refuge is all about feasting with family and friends. The Gather Round bar menu features festive plates designed for sharing, such as a cheese and charcuterie plate or mouth-watering cranberry lamb shawarma toastie bites. A mince pie menu will feature three Refuge takes on the classic mince pie, including one celebrating the flavours of a traditional Eccles cake. Welcome in the Christmas spirit with beer growlers, as well as sharing punches with Olmeca Blanco tequila or Beefeater gin.
Christmas is also a time for giving back, so The Refuge is supporting the Wood Street Mission this festive season, a local Manchester charity supporting low-income families. Choose the Gather Round and Give option on the menu to offer a donation of £5, £10 or £20 to the charity.
Red's True Barbecue's Bottomless Christmas Feast
Red's True Barbecue's Bottomless Christmas Feast
Red’s True Barbecue’s Bottomless Christmas Feast has also landed offering a festive banquet like no other, with a Meat Lover and Meat Free menu, plus a dedicated bottomless cocktail menu.
Come hungry for a trash can loaded with a stunning barbecue feast, to be washed down with bottomless festive cocktails, wine, prosecco, lager or cider. Guests can indulge for 90 minutes for £48.95 per person, or two hours for £59.95pp. If you want to drink your own way, the feast itself is £29.95pp. Booking is essential, for two people minimum, and a £10 deposit is required per head.
VIVA went down to try out the Meat Lovers monster feast which includes pork ribs painted in barbecue sauce, wrapped and twice basted for extra juiciness, then smoked for three hours to maximise flavour before grilling and serving. We also Indulged in meaty pit beans, which are loaded with pork and brisket smoked for over 10 hours, as well as supersize succulent unholy BBQ xxxl wings, and smoked chicken.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the staples, so the feast also features turkey breast and pulled pork stuffing balls, where the pork is laid in the smoker for up to 10 hours till deliciously tender, before shredding and mixing with sage and onion stuffing to create the perfect bitesize balls. cheese and jalapeño sausage make for a wonderful Southern substitution for pigs in blankets – spicy, creamy oozing in flavour, you won’t be disappointed. Sides include, mash, gravy infused with turkey drippings, onion rings, fries and festive cornbread that’s baked in-house daily.
Our VIVA verdict? We loved it. The meat was tasty and succulent and plentiful.
And don’t worry as there’s also a The Meat Free feast includes which includes pulled jackfruit smothered in their signature barbecue sauce, buffalo wings which take hefty chunks of cauliflower, battered, deep-fried and coated in a tangy, sweet and spicy buffalo sauce. Alongside this, smoked vegan sausage, garlic chilli greens, and crispy onions.
Red’s True Barbecue’s Bottomless Christmas Feast is the perfect way to bring in some festive cheer and is available now.
Vegan app launches in time for the festive season
A new app to help those who want a plant-based diet has launched just in time for the festivities.
Research by Meetfreed found that less than one in 10 can commit to a fully plant-based diet, despite nearly 70% wanting to, with two out of five Manc students finding cost is the barrier to embracing a plant-based diet and nearly all wanting more plant-based options when dining out.
MeatFreed, is a plant-based community offering plant-based discounts, offers and even just the insider lowdown on where to go to find the best plant-based burger.
They say they teach, not preach and are about making sustainable choices with no judgement and no pressure.
The MeatFreed app connects the plant-based community as well as anyone who wants to explore new plant-based dishes and earn rewards for choosing more sustainable meal choices. Download their app for everything you need to know.
Southside Tequila Joint
Take a walk on the Southside - VIVA checks out the new taco & tequila joint in town!
And finally, if you’re looking for some fun that won’t break the bank and isn’t too ‘Christmassy’, VIVA loves Southside in Withington. They’ve got seriously tasty tacos for a quid, happy hours from 9pm to 11pm where you can get ‘buy one get one free cocktails’ (they have to be the same ones) and Mix n Match Mexican bottle beers and tequilas.