The Guardian’s food critic Jay Rayner has headed back up north for his latest restaurant review, with his sights set on Manchester’s swankiest new opening, Fenix.
The two-storey restaurant was one of the hottest newcomers of last year, thanks in no small part to its lavish and luxurious interiors.
The modern Greek-Mediterranean concept comes from the same team behind Tattu, and opened on the edge of Spinningfields in mid-November.
Fenix’s much-talked about interior features details like fake flames above the bar, a ceiling covered in golden grasses, and huge stonewashed arches, along with cutting-edge lighting that transforms it from Mykonos beach bar to moonlit Greek restaurant.
Jay Rayner wrote that he would usually ‘hate such places at first sight’ because so much attention to aesthetics can come at the downfall of the food offering – but his review of Fenix was nothing short of glowing.
He described the interior as being ‘like the cantina from the original Star Wars, only with added hummus’, and said the wheat ceiling allowed you to ‘imagine yourself either as Russell Crowe in Gladiator or Theresa May in her wild years’.
Rayner’s Guardian review said: “The food here, courtesy of Greek head chef Ippokratis Anagnostelis, is delightful. Yes, it can be mannered. And no, this isn’t the place for taverna classics. But it really is all sorts of delicious and, in its own way, thoroughly comforting.”
He raved about the moussaka (‘not so much deconstructed as reupholstered’, but ‘it works’); the taramasalata and ‘hot and blistered’ pitta, the sea bass tartare and the roasted aubergine.
Rayner then hailed the seafood orzo as ‘fabulous’, the creme brulee as ‘accomplished’ and heaped praise on the ‘two thumbs thick’ spiced tiger prawns.
He wrote: “Larger dishes include a leg of slow-roasted lamb for four priced at £95. It must be ordered 24 hours ahead. You’re invited to do so when you book, along with the bottles of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Brut at £125. Well, that just sounds like a spanking night out to me. What do you mean, cost-of-living crisis? Never heard of it.
Jay Rayner has raved about Fenix in his latest food review for The Guardian. Credit: The Manc GroupInside Fenix’s lavish bar area. Credit: The Manc Group
“Clearly, I have now very much given myself to this place, with its priestesses, fake foliage and hanging wheat.”
He signed off his review writing: “You have to give yourself to Fenix, much as you might to Disneyland or a cruise of the Norwegian fjords or a Soho torture garden. Perhaps you didn’t think this was your scene. But now you’re here it turns out to have a lot to recommend it.
“Yes, some of Fenix is very silly indeed. The cocktail list includes the vodka-based Apollo’s Lemonade. The description explains that Apollo was damn pretty and good at things like archery and a little light soothsaying. “Our alcoholic version of lemonade is equally vibrant.” That’s good enough for me.
“Like a night in that Soho torture garden, eating here will also prove punishing, especially if you rage through the bargain-free wine list. Then again, that 15ft fake olive tree isn’t going to pay for itself and dancing around one of those like you’ve become your very own Greek god can be fun.
“The other customers here this lunchtime have clearly accepted the cost, for this is Manchester suited and booted and that’s a crowd that knows how to have fun. But even if none of that appeals, even if you don’t want to eat on the sunkissed set of Mamma Mia!, do come for the food. It’s terrific.”
Fenix has described their glowing review in The Guardian as ‘an incredibly proud moment’ for the team.
They posted today: “They have worked tirelessly to deliver a unique experience combining beautiful surroundings with ‘exceptional’ Greek cuisine served with passion. Seeing their efforts recognised by the esteemed @jayrayner1 is a landmark moment so early in our journey. We are humbled.”
The Failsworth pizzeria with queues of delivery drivers and mac and cheese pizza
There are a lot of contenders vying for the title of the best pizza in Greater Manchester – but judging by the endless stream of delivery drivers traipsing up to Failsworth, Corner Slice might be up there…
This little pizzeria has carved out a niche for itself serving Detroit-style pizzas, and though some have attempted the same, no one comes close to this quality.
These deep-dish rectangular pizzas are made with a lighter, spongier dough than the sort of chewy Neapolitan you see a lot of these days.
They’re baked in a dish so that the edges crisp up perfectly, and with toppings and cheese spread right to the edges, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Corner Slice has just raised the bar again with its menu of creative toppings, including – and brace yourself here – mac and cheese pizza.
The Lord Lane local clearly looked at its normal thick-based pizzas and went ‘hmm, no, not enough carb. Add pasta’.
The result is their oozy, gooey mac and cheese pizza called Mr Mac – a béchamel base with macaroni, smoked mozzarella, a cheese blend, and a pesto crumb. Oh lordy.
Corner Slice’s Mr Mac pizza dipped in fermented hot sauceThe cheese pull on that…Pasta on pizza
Other menu highlights include the Red Wing (nduja, jalapeños, pepperoni and hot honey) and Sunrise (Korean BBQ cauliflower, gochujang mayo, kimchi onions and pickled cucumber) – the former leaving you with streaks of bright red chilli honey up your arms, the latter so packed with flavour that you find yourself staring down at your slice in amazement after each bite.
And if you just can’t decide, you can always go half-and-half on your pizza topping.
It’s not just about the pizzas either.
Half-and-half Detroit-style pizza at Corner SliceParmesan waffle fries and buffalo chicken
Corner Slice also has incredible sides, like Korean BBQ popcorn chicken, parmesan waffle fries, and garlic dough rolls with rotating flavours.
There are dips too, made on-site, like the fermented hot sauce that’s probably most closely related to Buffalo sauce (but infinitely more interesting) and BBQ ranch.
The whole time we’re there (which is midday on a Friday) there’s a constant stream of delivery drivers coming to collect orders. The phone never stops ringing.
At one point, they take an order that’s fit to feed an entire American football team.
It looks like the future is bright for Corner Slice. And thank god – we’re already lusting after those crusts.
Corner Slice in FailsworthA spread of pizzas and sides at Corner Slice in Failsworth