Despite being open for over a month now, the ‘official’ launch party happened just over a week ago.
A star studded event, with free flowing champagne, Tik Tok videos, take home Negroni Glass sets and even the man himself. I myself had fallen out of favour for this one, as I am just not ‘bougie’ enough and I don’t do the Tik Tok vibe, and lets be honest, this launch had absolutely nothing to do with that actual restaurant and food anyway.
Now before I start chatting about the stunning building its based in, the opulent high ceiling of this ex banking hall, or before I start discussing the upcoming use of the fabulous basement space known as ‘The Vault’, you’ve heard it all before.
This is a stunning building, but this restaurant is just a spruced up version of what was there before – the very ordinary and always doomed Jamies Italian!
The room is the same, the bar is the same, ‘the vault’ it’s the same, although having said that, the seating has changed and is now designed in a luxurious booth style, both downstairs and around the balcony area, which is a vast improvement on some of the awful table choices that were used here previously.
I wish I could tell you more about these booths, but when I arrived on a Saturday, just after lunch, I was told that all tables were booked, but I could sit at the bar.
I have no issue with sitting at a bar, but for the hour that I was there, there were at least 7 tables unused in the balcony area, so i feel it was more that they were hoping for larger parties, rather than just little old me, which I cant blame them for.
I was shown to a seat at the bar and was then waiting almost 10 minutes for someone to come and offer a drink. I asked what wine they had available, to which he started to real off ‘erm Merlot, Malbec we have loads to be honest’, to keep things simple, I asked for a Merlot and off he trotted.
A few moments later, he returns and says ‘We don’t do Merlot by the glass, we can do a Malbec or a Bordeaux?’ To which I ask, ‘Is there an actual wine list I could see?’
The start of my visit is already feeling anything but higher-end, but I persevere and order my wine along with a few dishes from the menu.
The menu is made up of sharing plates, which as is often the case, come as and when they are ready. I have no problem with this concept, its worked wonders in Spanish Tapas restaurants for years, although I sometimes feel it can spoil the overall experience when dishes you want to combine, come out ages apart, but more of that to come.
The first two dishes actually came out together, with the first of which being their ‘JFC’ (£14). Small pieces of chicken, coated and fried, topped with a sweet hot Korean miso and sesame seed sauce. The sauce was actually delicious and I enjoyed eating these. I even used the chopsticks that had been lovingly held by a little lucky cat ornament next to my plate.
Served at the same time, was the Bonito Fried Duck Leg Bao (£32.50). This came with 6 Bao Buns, all stamped with the Lucky Cat logo.
The duck itself had been coated and fried and when served was shredded by the server. The coating was crispy and didn’t really shred, so you had to pick away with it.Unfortunately the coating was very fatty and as it wasn’t hot, gave a really unpleasant feeling in the mouth.
The duck meat from the centre was fine however, although not really anything special about it and actually only had enough decent meat to fill 2 of the 6 Bao Buns. The spicy hoisin was actually the best part of this dish and for me I could have done without the gherkins on the plate and would have loved some finely shredded veg of some sort.
Overall for the cost, this dish was a major let down, although I did use one of the remaining Bao Buns to finish off the JFC.
My last dish was a special of ‘Small Chicken’ in what I think was going to be a Yuzu sauce. I say ‘was going to be’ as I never actually got this dish. Going back to my initial point of ‘Served as and when ready’ concept, I waited 34 mins between my last dish and finally calling someone over and asking for the bill.
Those 34 mins were me, on my own, staring at the plates, with not one member of staff making eye contact with me. This place is not cheap and it is definitely going to live off its hype for a short while to come, but without an element of ‘experience’, I see very few people making this somewhere they will return.
London is full of places ‘to be seen’, and it also lives off both national and international tourists, whereas I firmly believe that Manchester survives on repeat business and loyal customers.
For me Lucky Cat was not warm and welcoming, it portrayed ‘higher-end’ but the food was pretty forgettable (The ones I received), if you’re going to charge these prices, then you need to deliver a dining experience that matches, and for me, there are so many alternatives in Manchester that offer up so much more.