Now that’s a fish supper! VIVA indulges its passion for poison at Randall & Aubin
There’s always something a bit festive about Randall & Aubin with its glittering, gleaming lights, art deco vibe, velvet sink-in half-booths and soft-house soundtrack.
Its counters of ice-packed fish and bustling open kitchen with framed posters of artistic fish ads, declare its commitment to providing the best of all things from the waters and as this is VIVA’s kind of food, we’re here a lot.
I also love the bar for a filthy martini and a side of oysters (oysters from £14 for six) if you’re just passing through (house wine from £22 for a bottle and cocktails from £10.50) and they also do four oysters and a drink for £10 between 3-7pm.
Randall & Aubin does the best calamari in town, so you must go in for that alone and you’ll see what we mean. Its menu offers a choice of whether to spend and splurge with caviar, oysters, lobsters and fruits de mer, or if you’re watching the pennies a menu rapide for £12.50 until 7pm that throws in a glass of vino too.
We started (starters from £4) with the Dorset crab & smoked salmon, zingy, fresh and a light delight with a hidden avocado layer and a side of warm blinis, just bliss. While a braised beef shin (they do do meat) with marrow was a blast of flavours that hit the carnivore’s mark full throttle.
Mains (from £12.50) were a hearty portion of garlic prawns all doe-eyed and blushing pink that come with gorgeous salty fries. They were juicy, fully fleshed and a messy treat.
The service btw is top notch – staff are charming, wine is refilled without a murmur, even finger bowls are refreshed, and they know the menu too – ripping prawns apart can get messy but like L’Oréal they’re worth it.
A fish and lobster pie was everything it should be, piping hot mash with a gorgeous, creamy inner giving up the treasures of the sea in salty-fishmeaty mouthfuls.
Sides of mac cheese and lobster and broccoli with hollandaise held there own against the mains and if you want, you can go a DIY sharing route at Randall’s mixing, matching and sharing everything from the fruits de mer to pints of prawns and of course that calamari.
Desserts start from £2 for scoops of sorbets or ice-creams and a raspberry sorbet (epically described as cold by my companion, thanks) gave ‘a bit of sweet’ that hit the spot, whilst cheese was served with warm raison and walnut bread and fabulous cheese sticks (an unexpected treat) and again was VIVA’s kind of thing, creamy brie, shock and awe blue and crumbly Cheshire.
VIVA verdict: You can go big or stay on budget but do go to Randall & Aubin as this is a great restaurant that offers beautiful fish dishes and we need that in Manchester.