Bacon on a roll
Everybody in this business has their food heroes, usually chefs like Alain Ducasse, Ferran Adria or the adjectorially limited Gordon Ramsay, but mine have always tended away from purveyors of fine food and more to brave restaurant innovators for entrepreneurs.
In the past these have included Oliver Peyton – he of the incomperable Mash and Air – as well as masters of the mainstream such as Sir Terrance Conran. To this short but august list should now be added Tim Bacon, who for the last decade or so has been behind the founding and opening of various restaurants for Northern based Living Ventures.
Things started well with that Man Utd players favourite The Living Room and then continued with a host of others. For a while it looked like the company had lost its way but recent years have seen Tim re-assert his control and creativity with the opening of venues such as Manchester Spinningfields The Alchemist. That said, Tim’s magnum opus – and remember he is for all his strengths still an Auzzie - must be the recently opened Australasia, also in the same district of Manchester city centre.
Located in front of but ultimately underneath the Emporio Armani store, all that is visable at street level is a glass pyramid, reminiscent of I.M Pei’s underground entrance to the Louvre in Paris.
Go through this innocuous, but stylish, portal and you enter what is unquestionably one of the sexiest and most stylish eating environments in the North of England. Unlike cellar bars/restaurants of old it’s not dark, damp or dingy but is bright, light and airy with acres of blond wood, distressed mirrors and a sort of up to date take on the old Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The menu is a fusion - I know how boring that can be but here it actually works – with dishes from Tim’s home continent such as Wagyu beef and Barramundi as well as Japanese staples like sushi and sashimi alongside Polynesian and Indonesian dishes including soft shell crab and lobster.
This somewhat eulogicial blog, comes courtesy of someone who is yet to actually dine there and when I do, next week, I’ll tell you whether the food lives up to the concept.
Suffice to say my fingers are firmly crossed because this could be just the filip that the tired and rather jaded Manchester restaurant scene has been waiting for.
To hear me discuss Australasia and another new Manchester restaurant opening – Vertigo – with Matt White on BBC Radio Manchester click on the links below.