Fine Dining Back On The Manchester Menu As Grafene Opens Its Doors

Emma Chadwick | 2nd August 2016


They say as one door closes another door opens and Grafene is the latest fine dining offer to open in the city taking over what was the Petit Blanc premises on a street with no name (it literally has no name but basically turn left at Whistles).

It’s been given a lovely make over by owner Paul and Kathryn Roden, all greys with bursts of mustards, squishy booths, nice terrace, smart bar and two private dining rooms.

The menu is ‘Modern British’ fine dining and the chef comes from Room and you can tell as we went to the tasting session for Manchester’s foodies, gaining a lovely new Viva Girl as our guest in Janette.

As we all know, the Mancunian food scene has had a bit of post-Brexit battering as Quill, the other fine dining eatery that opened with such a fanfare last year, has closed its doors and a handful of other restaurants have gone to the wall.

This is a much bigger space, there’s a huge emphasis on the bar and the food is reasonably priced with a tasting menu at just short of £50 per head, showing perhaps that lessons have been learned.

There’s lots of deconstruction, splodges and smears with this type of cooking all designed to delight the pallet and it did the job but it all felt a little seen-it-all-before, probably across the road at Room before it shut.

It is good and competent, there’s a nice buzz and the well-trained staff are friendly and efficient.

Highlights for me were  English pea mousse which was fantastic and also standing out was the quality of the meat as the  ribeye – it’s full official name is something of a mouthful:  ‘Himalayan salt aged ribeye cooked pink over charcoal, oxtail terrine, grelot, smoked Winchester custard ‘, which gives you an insight into the offering  – and was excellent.

VivaEms was ecstatic over her cutlet of lamb which was truly divine while the only bum note was fillet of brill, which seemed a little bland given then it was served with a bisque and lacked that intense infusion of fishiness you would expect.

Desserts were fantastic. Again an awful lot of splodges which seemed miles away from each other on the plate but came together to create wonderful tastes.

A dark caramel delice with salt caramel was just up my street and fantastic as spoonfuls of the offerings (I’m not going to type their full names but basically lime and strawberry cheesecake and an apple tart) were also delicious.

Viva verdict: Great vibe and good food. Decently priced for fine dining so give it a whirl or drop by for cockies.

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