Named after Manchester University’s most recent material creation, the arrival of Grafene restaurant and champagne bar was intriguing…. so we went to pay it a visit.
Admittedly, we spent about five minutes scratching our heads as we wandered between 49 and 57 King Street. It turns out the actual entrance to number 55 – the new home of Grafene – actually sits on a thoroughfare between King Street and Chapel Walks... There was no secret, invisible building for witches and wizards only, but they can be forgiven for that. Grafene was immediately swish, with its outdoor tables and glistening décor as we walked in. The island bar was welcoming as the Maitre D checked our reservation and ushered us toward our pristine bar table, complete with the signature Grafene honeycomb motif. We were left to gaze around the place and witnessed a sommelier entertaining a wine-tasting group in one of the plush, private dining rooms. It was like looking through a window into someone’s home as they hosted a posh dinner party; there were framed paintings on the wall, a long table, shelves and even a dedicated refrigerator for the wine. Our dining table was at a lavish leather booth – complete with a sparkling marble table – by the panoramic window at the front of the restaurant.
The Food and Drink
If you’re ever at Grafene and can only order one cocktail, it should be this: the Grafene 55 (£9). Served in a small glass bottle, the cloudy drink is served overflowing with dry ice, but then miraculously transforms into a shimmering, lavender potion once poured into your martini glass. Magic. Undoubtedly. Another favourite was the Poppy Candy (£9), an elegant cocktail containing poppy liqueur and Pommery champagne, served with a pink rose. Libations in tow, we braved the 7-course tasting menu of the day (£49.50) with the accompanying wine flight (£35)… yep, that’s 7 glasses of wine, folks. Our banquet was divine. A particular favourite was the Pigeon breast with haggis and apricot, served with the same charming English Pinot Noir (Gusborne Estate, 2014) used to cook the meat. Desserts rarely come better than the sumptuous chocolate delice served with malt barley ice cream, malt meringue and a gratifying Australian Pink Moscato (Margaret River, 2014). There is also a fab a la carte menu if prefer 3-course meals, although you can also opt to have these as small dishes for a tapas-style dining experience.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
The atmosphere was relatively quiet on the Thursday evening, although we imagine that there would be a fair bit of frolicking and cash flashing come Friday evening. Grafene endeavours to provide top notch dining but in a relaxed way, and it has to be said, they certainly achieve this. Ashley, our server, explained the dishes in friendly detail and was very accommodating with our dietary requirements. Being located by King Street, this obviously isn’t the place for an off-the-cuff last minute meal, but is a stunning spot for celebratory cocktails and food. Suit and ties aren’t necessary, but I wouldn’t attend in trainers.
Grafene has earned its place amongst its King Street peers and will leave you stunned at the quality of the food and miraculous cocktails on offer.