Trying to stamp it’s place on the Manchester food scene is a newcomer, The eXchange Lounge. Sadly because of the house move I’ve been able to head up north myself recently. So I sent Dr C to check out the menu and restaurant for me!
Over to Dr C… The eXchange Lounge is the restaurant and bar attached to the Novohotel on Portland street in Manchester. Admittedly I didn’t know this restaurant was here before being asked to come down and check out their new menu. I have to say that spoiler alert, I was very pleasantly surprised!
I’d initially booked an evening reservation, but had to change to a lunch booking very last minute. The restaurant staff had absolutely no problems in switching the reservation and making us feel very welcome. It also meant that I had the chance to have a long lazy (3 course lunch) with mine and Miss Pond’s friend who’s recently become a dad to adorable twins. I was actually quite impressed with the look of the restaurant. Its casual, but also quite cool looking. We both remarked that if we were in this area of town we’d easily pop back in for some afternoon drinks. I also liked that it felt very open thanks to the large glass windows, perfect if like me you like to people watch and watch the world go by.
(Sorry for the lack of pictures – we were too busy drinking to take any!) We started off with a drink each to whet the appetite. I was actually really impressed with the gin selection on offer. My friend was equally impressed with the craft beer offerings. We both stuck to keeping it local – I went with the Zymurgorium Manchester gin and my friend went with a craft offering from cloudwater brewery. Through the course of the day I also sampled the Zymurgorium marmalade and sloe gins. We both agreed that the sloe gin was a dangerously moreish and easy to drink gin – one which I think I’ll be adding to my collection soon.
We had absolutely no idea what to have for your starters so we went with our servers suggestions and went with the croquettes and the fish tacos. The filling in the croquettes changes weekly. The ones we had were cheese and ham and were served with a ranch dip. The dip wasn’t needed, the croquettes were so cheese filled and gooey. We both agreed we could’ve eaten more of them! The fish tacos were nicely spiced and tasted really zingy and fresh. They’re not my go to on a menu, but I’d order them again.
For our main courses I decided to be a touch extravagant, we were having a three course lunch, so why not go all the way! I ordered the steak, whilst my friend went with the fish and chips. My steak was a rib eye, not my normal cut of steak, and I’d asked for it be cooked rare. It arrived and it was perfectly cooked and was packed fool of flavour. It was one of the better steaks I’ve had recently and left me pretty impressed. It was served with skinny fries, which were delicious, but I left most of them to save space for dessert. The fish and chips was a thankfully hearty northern portion, served with lemon and tartare sauce. While I didn’t try any, I’m assured that the fish was delicious and the batter was wonderfully crispy and light. I did feel a slight pang of jealously over the chunky chips that were served with the fish!
After making short work of our main courses we decided to rest a little, have a drink and deliberate over our dessert options. Again, we couldn’t make up our minds, so we asked for advice on what to have. The resounding answer was to go with Chef Chris’s chocolate brownie and the trio of crème brulee. And here in comes the only downpoint of the meal. Two of our crème brulees, the vanilla and coffee, had separated. It was a real shame as the chocolate was properly delicious. What we both agreed on was the standout of the meal, and that was the brownie. It was served with a chocolate sauce and salted caramel ice cream. It was so gooey and moreish that we were fighting over the last bite – it was a perfect way to end our meal and a lovely lunch.
We had a great afternoon with lovely food on our visit to eXchange lounge. It’s nice to see something good in an area of town that I don’t normally visit, or associate with restaurants. Given that they have a great gin and craft beer menu, and that the food we had was delicious its definitely somewhere I’d like to return to, especially to have another lazy lunch and share the “Taste of the North” sharing board. Hopefully they’ll nail the creme brulee next time!
Have you checked out eXchange Lounge? What would you order? Let me know in the comments,
P.S. Dr C’s visit to eXchange Lounge was complimentary in turn for an honest review. As ever all words, photos and opinions are her own.
P.P.S. eXchange Lounge is open from 11am -midnight everyday and is located at 102 Portland Street, Manchester.