By Jo Cooksey
Spending a short break away from home is always an enticing proposition, especially as a Mum, with two dogs and two full time jobs. So, when my pal, M-Dog, he of the Manchester Dining Offers Guide, asked if I wanted to join him for a night at Abode, with cocktails, dinner and breakfast thrown in, I nearly bit his paw off.
Abode is part of the Brownsword Hotel Group, which comprises of beautiful country house hotels and exceptional city centre ones. The flagship of the chain is the world famous, 2 Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park in Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor. All the Brownsword hotels are chosen for their uniqueness and heritage and each is individual in its design
The Abode in Manchester is housed in a former Victorian textile factory, a short stroll from Piccadilly train station. The façade is typically 19th Century but the interior is anything but. The rooms are quite urban and on trend, whilst still being welcoming and comfortable. I hear on the grapevine they are due for a refurb soon too so I can’t wait to see the treatment they get.
I met my friend in the newly revamped Brasserie Abode bar. It hasn’t changed massively but the lines and the colour scheme are much cleaner and more contemporary, with a nod towards Art Deco style. They also have a DJ playing until the wee small hours every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, making it a great late night cocktail and dance choice. The plan was to have a couple of cocktails and then sample Brasserie Abode’s Sunday Lunch, before retiring to one of the bedrooms for the night and then round off with breakfast the following morning.
Cocktail wise, the menu has been re-vamped and upgraded and it has a really good offering of classic drinks. In the end, I actually went off-piste and had the mojito with a twist that the lovely waiter, Andrew, recommended. This version was made with spiced rum and ginger beer instead of white rum and soda. It went down very well, in fact, several of them did. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere in the bar that we completely forgot the time and ended up going downstairs for our ‘lunch’ about 6.30pm.
Fortunately, Sunday Lunch is served until 7pm so we made it in time. Prices start at £9.95 for a main course, with a choice of traditional roasts; shoulder of lamb, beef and pork. Or the vegetarian options of wild mushroom, spinach and Jersey curd tart or puy lentil shepherd’s pie. All lunches come with plenty of trimmings.
Feeling hungry? Then you can have the Sunday Lunch as part of the Prix Fixe menu, £12.50 for two courses or £16 for three courses. Cocktails give you an appetite so we went for the latter and for starters I had French onion soup and my little furry friend chose the classic Caesar salad. The soup was lovely; sweet, slow cooked, caramelised onions topped with stringy, melted cheese. The salad was good but boy was it a generous portion. Those of a more delicate appetite would probably only need that for their lunch.
For mains it had to be roast beef for me and pork for t’other one. The plates were delivered with the meat and a large Yorkshire and…I can hardly bring myself to say this…the gravy already poured on. Sharp intake of breath. The only place up North where it is permissible for someone to pre-pour your gravy is in the chippy. Anyway, a small transgression, which we will forgive them for this time, especially as they bought us an extra pot of it when we asked. The sides come in individual, little copper saucepans, which is quite a sweet and we had roast potatoes, red cabbage, cauliflower cheese, green beans and mashed carrot and swede. The meat was lovely and tender and even though it was nearly the end of service still moist. It was an all-round, damn good Sunday roast.
We still had a little, teeny, tiny bit of room for dessert, or as my Dad would say, eyes bigger than our bellies, so I ordered my all-time fave of Crème Brulee and the mutt had Chocolat Liegeois, which combines chocolate ice-cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. He declared it totally delicious and himself about ready to burst. My Brulee had a really good crack to the caramelised top and the custard was a good consistency but I would have liked a little more vanilla please.
At this point, we retired upstairs to our room rubbing our very full tummies. The room we had was great; really high ceilings, wooden floors, Paul Smith’esque rug and a modern, loft apartment feel to them. The beds and pillows were very comfy and we both had a good night’s sleep.
The following morning, we were up early for work but obviously we made time to sample the breakfast before we headed off. We ate downstairs in the Brasseries where you work your way around the cold section, choosing from cereals in cute brown paper bags, sliced fruits, Bircher or Berry & Oatmeal breakfast pots. There are also pastries, sourdough toast, a choice of breads and a large selection of preserves. One thing I loved was a quirky, mini chest of drawers that house things like chia seeds, acai berries, nuts and coconut shavings, to sprinkle on top of your brekkie. If that isn’t enough there is also a hot menu to choose from, with such delights as Omelette Arnold Bennett, baked eggs & chorizo or field mushroom, Jersey curd and soft baked eggs, as well as the usual full English, Eggs Benedict and smoked salmon & scrambled eggs. Everything was perfect and to be honest I didn’t need to eat again until I got home in the evening.
I’ve always liked the food and the vibe at Abode and I confess I was a little worried how they would fare when Executive Chef, Michael Caines left but I’m happy to report all is well. The vibe is better than before and the food, whilst being more relaxed is still done to a very high standard. It’s always worth check out M-Dog’s site because they have some cracking dining deals on and look on Abode’s site for overnight stay deals. I’d like to book in every Sunday please.