Last week we were invited to try out Manchester’s latest smokehouse and grill offering, 3 Twenty One. Actually, we were originally invited on the previous Saturday night but couldn’t make it so had to wait an extra five days of seeing juicy steaks and crisp chips on Twitter before eventually getting in on the act.
Anyway, we got there on a rainy Thursday evening and the place wasn’t too busy but it did show the diversity of the venue as whilst couples were enjoying the dining experience a group of ladies were having cocktails made for them at the bar before ordering up a round of burgers. Nice.
We were greeted warmly and promptly by the staff who were fantastic and looked after us all evening – as well as the chefs who are keen to come out from behind their pass and interact with the customers. Some might find this a little odd but it all felt really relaxed and I enjoyed it.
To start with I ordered the prawns and Chris had the Manchester Egg which has been a popular choice and my god I can see why. My prawns with smoked garlic butter were delicious but after I tasted the perfectly runny egg boiled coated in black pudding I was gutted I hadn’t gone for that option! And don’t even get my started on the candied maple bacon – simply delicious; a sweet and salty slice of heaven!
On to the hard stuff and I opted for the Sirloin Steak with chimichurri sauce, I’ve never had chimichurri sauce with steak before and it was lovely, not too rich like sometimes blue cheese or peppercorn sauce can be but light and zingy with my perfectly cooked steak.
Chris went for the lamb with garlic butter, he didn’t get asked how he wanted his lamb cooked but I did overhear the chef say “if they don’t state otherwise it gets cooked pink”, which suited us just fine and he wolfed it down, making the bold statement that it was possibly the best lamb he’s ever had. High praise indeed.
One positive thing about the five day Twitter-stalking wait was that we got a steer on what was good, well, the feedback was that pretty much everything was good but we had to narrow down some of the more popular choices, one of which was the onion rings. Similarly with the chips, they were crispy, crunchy, tasty, seasoned perfectly and dusted with smoked paprika. There was salt and pepper on the table but I didn’t touch it.
We were drinking the house wine and the Spanish house red is very drinkable and went really well with the meat and the house white was fresh and light on the palate to begin with. I think the house wines are a good measure of standards and these were pleasant and complimented the big juicy meat on offer really well.
In the interest of balance we managed to put away dessert too, come on, I had to bring you a full report. I had the Oreo Mud Pie with white chocolate ice cream and Chris the apple pie with vanilla sauce. The mud pie was obviously massively rich, indulgent and borderline sickening but I wolfed the lot and bloody well enjoyed it too! Not much of an ice-cream person myself but the white chocolate Cheshire farm ice-cream was seriously to die for and had lovely little morsels of white chocolate through it.
On the other hand, the apple pie didn’t do it for Chris, he complained that there was too much cinnamon (not possible, I said) and that the pastry was slightly undercooked (I thought it was ok), and it was cold but, he didn’t mind that. My main issue with this dessert is that it had raisins/sultanas in, which is fine, but it didn’t state this on the menu. Now, for someone like me, who HATES dried fruit, this is a sin and I would be disappointed if I’d ordered it.
The service was great all evening and the staff were lovely, attentive and knowledgeable about most of the dishes (I think I threw the front of house though when I asked her exactly what was in the chimichurri sauce!) but the chef was on hand to recall every single ingredient. Being above the Deansgate Pub it’s not the easiest to spot, I’m thinking in terms of visitors coming out of the Hilton and looking for someplace to eat, so word needs to spread. I’ll certainly be heading back soon to try out some more of the menu and I suggest you do too.
3twentyone, 321 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ Phone: 0161 839 5215