Review: Ibérica, Manchester

Ibérica Spinningfields, Manchester

Out Of Office Magazine visits Ibérica, a Spanish metropolis in Manchester’s Spinningfields

Who doesn’t like tapas? A small selection of tasty plates accompanied by great wine (or cocktails) enables you to try a great variety of dishes. And, if the restaurant is happy to take you on guided tour through their best cuisine – as our fantastic waitress at Ibérica was – it gives you all the more time to enjoy chatting with your guests.

We certainly felt safe in our waitress’ care as she brought us a selection of the restaurants’ top dishes. Our Ibérica journey started modestly with manzanilla olives and toasted bread with tomato washed down with a gin cocktail. The croquettes, mini secreto pork loin burgers, chorizo lollipops and Galician octopus were all delicious. The red berry gazpacho provided a palette cleanse but not much else.

All of us were in agreement that the pluma Iberian pork loin was the main event – the meat had a sweet nuttiness, was delicate and so tender it barely needed chewing. (My guests were carnivores but there are a reasonable number of options for vegetarians too.)

On to dessert and after grazing at a leisurely pace (which is great to combat over eating) we actually felt rather full. So, we opted for a liquid treat in the form of the Happy Ending, which consisted of Amaretto, midori, cream and cinnamon.

Where? Ibérica is centrally located; walking it’s around eight minutes from Salford Central and 16 from Manchester Victoria. The area, Spinningfields, is between Deansgate and the River Irwell, and was developed in the late 2000s – Iberica itself opened in 2015.

One of my guests went to Manchester Metropolitan University and was pleasantly surprised by how “fresh and new” the area looked, and by how much it had changed since she studied there years ago.

Ambience? Ibérica’s decor is in keeping with the crisp feel of its location. Leather seats, shutters, tiles, high ceilings and claret tassels give it a Spanish feel with a modern edge.

Should we go? Yes. We would certainly recommend trying it and taking a good few guests along to justify ordering more dishes!

Cost: ££

The Avenue, Manchester, M3 3HF
0161 358 1350
http://www.ibericarestaurants.com

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Review: Gaucho Piccadilly

Gaucho
Out Of Office reviews Gaucho Piccadilly – one of London’s best steak restaurants for any occasion

Walking into Gaucho, it’s dark, sleek, chic and stylish. You’re greeted by friendly and professional receptionists, and as they take your coats and point you to the restaurant upstairs they are super apologetic about the current state of affairs. The restaurant may be undergoing a major  refurbishment downstairs, but it doesn’t impact the experience.

Like all the Gaucho restaurants the decor is a mixture of black, chrome and cow skin. The music is muted and cool, and and the chandeliers and bottles of booze make the place shine. It feels like a special location and, when the wine and dishes come out, it only gets better.

We kicked off our Gaucho experience with two gin cocktails – a Yerba 10 and an Alvear Royal – before embarking on a journey through the wine.

Oh the wine, well where do we begin? The wine list itself is an impressive booklet and one my guest was tempted to take away as bedtime reading. It’s detailed, informative and rather large because every Gaucho offers a bespoke range of Argentinian wine. From the crisp white Torrentés to the full bodied Malbec – you will find a superb mix, all hand-picked and many unavailable anywhere else. It’ not surprise that Gaucho offer a case service so that you can enjoy your new favourite wine at home.

On to the food. For starters we had a crab tostada and a tuna ceviche, each trying a different Torrentés as recommended by our seasoned waitress.

Followed by this was the main event, the steak. We had 300g of Lomo (fillet) and 300g of Ancho (rib eye), both cooked perfectly to our liking (medium rare, of course). Accompanying the beef were beef dripping chips, spinach and flat mushrooms finished with peppercorn sauce. The steak was so tender and juicy, and the sides so moreish we never wanted it to end. (In fact, my guest had a tear in his eye when his plate was cleared!)

Feeling blissfully content and yet too curious to pass up on having something sweet, we opted for the chocolate truffles and another glass of Malbec to round things off.

What? An Argentinian steakhouse around 5-10 minutes walk form Piccadilly Station. There are also locations across London, Dubai and Hong Kong. There are vegetarian options on the menu to, but the most extensive choices exist for wine and steak.

Why choose Gaucho Piccadilly? This is Gaucho’s flagship restaurant in London. The venue is welcoming, stylish and historical – it was once the home of a Spanish Ambassador and the small private dining room (perfect for meetings or small celebrations) has an impressive tiled wall.  A relatively new introduction to the menu is the business lunch, which our readers should certainly sample.

Also every Gaucho venue is perfect for private functions, whether it’s a standing reception or a formal awards ceremony the team are adept at tailoring and creating a bespoke service for clients.

While the venue is undergoing a nip and tuck (new downstairs to be unveiled soon) the experience is not interrupted. However, we are looking forward to being invited back and reporting an update once the work is finished…

Cost: £££

25 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4QR
020 7734 4040
www.gauchorestaurants.com

 

Review: Amantia, Birmingham

calamari
Ben Paddock reviews Amantia, a family run restaurant serving Spanish cuisine in the heart of Birmingham

A short walk up from New Street Station on Bennetts Hill, you’ll find  Amantia. This Spanish restaurant has been open for over a year serving authentic tapas and paella among other dishes.

To start we chose a mixture of tapas – Manchego cheese with fried almonds, potato and onion omelette and dates wrapped in pancetta. This turned out to be a great selection, the cheese was creamy and the sweetness of the dates combined with the pancetta was a great combo. There are enough options on this menu that you could easily have a well-varied meal on tapas alone.

For the main, we shared a seafood paella – each dish is easily enough between two. It came out in the pan and the waiter offered to serve it for us. This was a good hearty dish – plenty of rice and a good mix of mussels, salmon, prawns and calamari. We chose a red and white rioja from the wine list which was a ideal match for this dish.

Somehow we found room for dessert and opted for a traditional Spanish almond cake and chocolate torte. The almond cake was moist and had a great texture and the chocolate torte had the right level of richness. All in all this perfectly rounded off an enjoyable evening.

What? A friendly, family-run restaurant showcasing a great selection of original Spanish dishes, wine and sangria. They also have an extensive list of gin & tonic, as well as regular cocktails.

Why choose Amantia? You’ll be served by a team of people keen to show off Spain’s best dishes. You can enjoy a quick tapas lunch or take in the full works for dinner.

Cost: ££

9-10 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
0121 643 3647 /  info@amantia.co.uk
www.amantiarestaurant.co.uk

Review: Counter Vauxhall Arches

Counter entrance

Out Of Office reviews Counter an all day bar and brasserie serving French and American inspired dishes

Seconds from Vauxhall Station tucked under the railways arches is Counter, a modern brasserie serving an interesting mix of French and American style plates, from starters such as mac and cheese balls and pâté de campagne, to mains like Parisian gnocchi with oxtail and the Counter burger.

We opted for the mac and cheese balls and the tostada with stone bass fillet and avocado, followed by the halibut and hanger steak; everything was deliciously cooked and well seasoned. The menu proves the chefs are not afraid to use a host of different flavours and ingredients from around the globe.

To finish our meal we shared the cheese board with a full bodied glass of red each, recommended by our waiter.

There are three vegetarian options on the menu, but don’t be afraid to ask the staff to make a change for you – they all seem very happy to help.

Housed in a 200-foot long railway arch, the building is quite… airy – so our only caution would be to bring along a jumper in the winter as it can get rather chilly!

What? An independent restaurant serving  flavoursome food, a wide selections of wine and cocktails. They also have cabaret shows here if you’re looking to treat clients or staff to something a bit different.

Why choose Counter? Those who appreciate architecture and good food will feel at home here. To try a bit of everything (meat eaters) select the sharing menu for four for £120, complete with a bottle of Malbec.

Cost: ££

Arch 50, 7-11 South Lambeth Place, London SW8 1SP
020 3693 9600
www.counterrestaurants.com

 

Review: Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Sports Plaza Exterior WO June 2014 08

Out Of Office Magazine visits Center Parcs Woburn Forest to review the tailor-made delegate packages on offer 

A holiday village may be somewhere usually resigned to family holidays, and yet the corporate facilities on offer at Center Parcs’ fifth and newest UK destination are truly outstanding.

It’s only an hour away from London and nestled in 365 acres of woodland, which makes it both easy to get to, and a metropolis away from the busy city and surrounding towns.

The village opened in June 2014 to leisure guests, while the conference and event facility entitled The Venue followed closely in October. Since opening its doors, it has welcomed over 6,000 delegates to events, and hosted well-known brands including Virgin Atlantic, The Body Shop and TPRG (Theo Paphitis Retail Group).

As well as tailored events and conferences, the Woburn team are particularly focused on team building, maximising the use of activities available on site.

The event space

The Venue offers theatre-style seating for up to 400 delegates, and comprises of eight individual and adaptable event suites with full vehicle access.

What is really striking about the space is the rooms are totally flexible. Whether you’re looking to hold one big award event or three medium dinners, the Woburn team can cater for your needs.

Even if your total number of attendees is higher than the maximum, they can utilise the other restaurants and spaces on site, such as the Indian Rajinda Pradesh.

No task is too big (or unusual/unique) for the team and they are very enthusiastic when it comes to working with a client to create what they want.

The accommodation

On site there are 675 forest lodges and a 75-bedroom luxury hotel.

We stayed in a lodge which was comfortable, with a good amount of space and decorated in a stylish way with modern fixtures an fittings. Those looking for indoor entertainment can upgrade to lodges with saunas, hot tubs and games rooms too.

Whether it’s a quiet, early night after a long management away day, or a more eventful evening in after a team building getaway, there is an accommodation option for all.

The activities

One of the most brilliant things about Woburn Forest is the long list of activities on offer – from rock climbing and archery, to segways and kayaking.

If you like swimming the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is a large swimming complex, with slides, a wave machine and outdoor rapids. It’s certainly not your average pool for lengths and perhaps typically more popular among the younger folk, or families.

For the less adventurous types the luxury spa Aqua Sana will give you the chance to relax and revitalise. The World of Spa features six spas with sensory rooms and will take you on a journey through fire and ice, botanic blossom, herbal infusions and more. It is regarded as one of the best spas in Europe and has a number of luxury treatments available. For us, the foot spas and the mini infinity pool were particular highlights.

The food

There is a range of food and drink available at Woburn, including well-known chains such as Strada, Café Rouge and Starbucks, plus Center Parcs’ own Huck’s American Bar and Grill, The Sports Café and The Pancake House.

For us, the highlights were the on-site Indian Rajinda Pradesh for dinner and The Shearing House for a casual lunchtime meal with homemade fish finger sandwiches.

The tried and tested comment

Hearing-aid specialist Amplifon held an all employee conference at Woburn in January. The Village was chosen for its ability to host over 350 delegates, and featured a day of presentations, workshops, a gala dinner and a team building programme.

Steve Fleming, CEO UK & Ireland, Amplifon said: “We liked the newness of Woburn Forest from an accommodation and conference facility point of view, especially as it offered more conference space than our previous venue.”

Why choose Woburn?

Whether it’s a gala dinner, an annual award ceremony, a whole company or particular department team building away day or a more formal management meeting, Woburn really can cater for your needs.

For the more formal meetings the facilities on offer mean delegates can let off some steam and go and take part in an activity, or perhaps the day after an award ceremony attendees can enjoy the spa.

For team building, the setting is perfect. It does have that holiday feel to it and will have everyone smiling and having fun.

Cost:

From £55 per person (inc. VAT) for a day delegate

Includes: Meeting room hire for the day, two-course fork buffet lunch, refreshments, access to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, car parking and wifi.

Contact: Hermione Gingell

Business Development Manager

The Venue

Center Parcs Woburn ForestFordfield Rd, MillbrookBedfordshireMK45 2HZ

01525 842928

07841 912 504

hermione.gingell@centerparcs.co.uk

www.events.centerparcs.co.uk/woburn-forest-overview