The Grill on the Alley

THE first date. Choosing the restaurant – not too intimate but not too bright and bustling, does he/she eat seafood? Will he/she think I’m a lush if I order a bottle instead of a glass? What if he/she doesn’t eat meat/vegetables? And of course – what to wear?
While these concerns are things of yesteryear for us forever married types, it seemed that every other couple in the Grill on the Alley was on a first date. Lots of tables for two, even more gooey eye-gazing, nervous menu selecting and dressing to impress going on around us as we plumped for our “don’t-give-a-damm-what-you-think” options.
The grill, which moved into the former Est, Est Est premises last year, is now pulling plenty of people in if our Friday night visit was typical. The menu can only be described as straightforward – it’s a grill – but there’s plenty of variety. The most daring choice would have been the Kobe beef served either as a steak (£50 for the well-heeled) or a burger (£16.95 for the wannabe well-heeled) but we weren’t there for the bling bling impress your potential partner meal.
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I started with the baked Camembert which came with celery and a cranberry sauce (£5.95) refreshingly not bread crumbed and suitably soggy hearted while Himself tucked into some well-cooked asparagus spears(£5.75) with a Bearnaise sauce which was never gluppy. (A grumble about the square plates really should be dismissed as grumpy-old-manness coming on early).
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Keeping it real, Himself went for an 8oz fillet steak (£14.50) and was impressed that it came cooked properly medium. alley2.jpg
I have to confess I wasn’t sure what he expected as I hardly think it’s beyond the wit of a grill restaurant to cook a steak properly – but at least he was happy.
My seared tuna(£14.95) was equally cooked as ordered – still plenty of pink in the middle, just as I like it.
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The various side dishes (which had to be paid for separately at more than £2 a dish) were equally straightforward – chips – chunky, crispy with skins on; horseradish mash – smooth and creamy.
We accompanied this with the restaurant’s “wine of the month” – a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 for £24. Here again the choices are made easy with a wine list that’s uncomplicated to the extent they’ll even pick out a safe option for you!
Dessert was always going to be a challenge so we shared the most unusual thing on the menu – called ristretto ice its basically a coffee which you the pour over a dish of ice-cream.Strange idea but it works in the way those Artic Roll frozen desserts caught on.
With the companionable setting and contemporary furnishing, the Grill on the Alley is the ideal start to an evening out with it’s honest food in a fashionable setting.
Perfect for that first date in fact.
The Grill on the Alley is on 5 Ridgefield, Manchester. Call 0161 833 34365.

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