Alston Bar & Beef, Cathedral Street, Manchester, M4 3TR – Visit Now
Review by Dominic Fung: As Veganuary comes to a close, perhaps you want to ease yourself back into your carnivorous ways. And what better way to enter the arena of meat again than with a meal at Alston Bar & Beef? Coming straight from the John Gilmore family butcher in Scotland, all of the beef here is 35-day dry-aged and cooked with skill. In contrast to others that might use a flame grill or skillet, steaks at Alston are prepared on ceramic plates that are heated to 350˚C. So, take the steps down to the quaint dining area for a relaxed candle-lit atmosphere with the kitchen in plain view as each delicious dish of their new menu is prepared.
Steaks at Alston are prepared on ceramic plates that are heated to 350˚C
To start, an in-house made gin and tonic might be the right choice. All are made with a base of juniper, followed by the addition of fresh flavours ranging from classic raspberry to exotic pineapple and coconut. The pineapple and coconut gin with tonic is highly recommended, reminiscent of a Malibu and pineapple with a touch of class to it.
As starters go, Alston stay on brand without wasting a single morsel of their beef. The head-turner at the table will be the deep-fried braised oxtail balls. These bite-sized bombs of flavour are made of tender oxtail that falls apart with the slightest touch of a fork, seasoned for a hint of spiciness at the end. Served with them is a helping of pickled red onions whose sweetness tones down the spice along with a creamy celeriac purée. For the vegetarian, there’s the innovative option of a mediumly spiced pakora made with mango and turmeric yoghurt.
Following the starters comes the main event; a cut of your choice from the top 1% of beef. Whether your preference lies in a tender fillet or juicy sirloin, all of the beef served at Alston is sourced from Angus-Limousin cattle in Scotland. These cattle have the ideal combination of marbling from the Angus breed and the firm muscle of Limousins, resulting in a perfect experience on your plate. With your steak comes two choices of sauce and side. The options of sauces include the usual suspects of peppercorn, garlic butter and more. One of which stands out is their red wine jus sauce which hits the right balance of jus-saltiness and wine’s acidity. All of these are served in miniature copper pots for easy pouring and dipping. In terms of sides, pick from thick-cut chips (sweet potato or otherwise), mash so fluffy you’d want to lie on it or a side salad for some leafy goodness.
Mash so fluffy you’d want to lie on it
As far as desserts are concerned, Alston does not disappoint on that front either. There is something for everyone, from a classic cheeseboard which is constantly changing to a trio of crème brûlées, not to mention their indulgent chocolate brownie and sorbet. A surprisingly satisfying option that is available is their pineapple carpaccio though. Typically a starter made with meat or fish, this dessert puts an interesting spin on the “carpaccio”. Thinly sliced rings of pineapple are topped with crumble, raspberry coulis and a ball of sorbet in the centre. A perk of finishing with this light dessert is that you’ll still hopefully be able to move afterwards. The same cannot be said after the decadent brownie and ice cream, although admittedly worth it.