The Astronomer, 35th floor Vita Living North, 7 Symphony Park, Oxford Rd, Manchester , M1 7GB – Visit Now
It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since Circle Square Apartments opened their doors to Oxford Road. Based right in the city centre, on the former site of the BBC, the group of luxury apartments is really starting to come into its own as a community. You may already be aware of the steady stream of exciting new independent restaurants, shops and bars opening to the public around the development. Perhaps you have even read our review of the delightful restaurant Canvas – just across the road from The Dancehouse Theatre.
Tonight, we’re dining at The Astronomer in the Vita Living North building. From its lofty position on the 35th floor, this stunning space has 300-degree views of Manchester, a huge lounge, bar, kitchen and a private terrace. After a rum cocktail or two at the bar, we are treated to a fascinating virtual tour of the Milky Way galaxy and its environs by University of Manchester astrophysicist, Dr Eamonn Kerrins. Meanwhile, we can see up-and-coming Brazilian superstar chef Caroline Martins of São Paulo Project quietly bustling away in the kitchen, which is specially designed to allow residents to hire in external caterers.
Beneath the statement drop-lighting of the ten-seater dining table, it’s time for the astronomy-themed menu and paired cocktails. A cheesy gougère fresh from the oven whets our appetite for the starter, one of Caroline’s signature dishes: beautifully cooked hand-dived scallops served with hearts of palm and creamy cassava mousseline in a scallop shell.
The main, entitled ‘Astronaut Dinner’ arrives looking just as you’d imagine – a mysterious collection of silver tins and packets. Thankfully the packaging concealed no space food; but a rather more earthly meal of finest quality rib-eye steak cooked to perfection, truffle fries, deeply flavoursome açaí berry braised beans, and an eye-poppingly hot dressing spiked with fruity yellow cumari chilli peppers. If you’ve never encountered a Brazilian cumari pepper, they’re tiny, sweet and pack a real punch – a wonderful contrast with the earthy flavours of the dish. We’re pretty sure Tim Peake doesn’t eat like this on the ISS.
Dessert, named ‘A Trip Around the Solar System’, has its star ingredient produced right here in Manchester – Dormouse Chocolate. An ethereal, dome-shaped confection of frozen chocolate mousse is filled with salted caramel sauce, then surrounded by a ring of basil-infused custard and coconut yoghurt topped with coconut granola, dotted with pieces of meringue. The dish draws inspiration from South America yet champions a local producer, and can only be described as heavenly.
The final course, a petit four called ‘Numb Mouth’, is an aptly named São Paulo Project classic. First, you experience the alien, slippery feeling of biting into a delicious frozen coconut marshmallow. Then you realise that the yellow dried jambu flower on top is no mere decoration – as advertised it makes you lose feeling in your mouth for a few seconds, leaving a tangy aftertaste.
If you can enjoy this calibre of event without even leaving your own building, then as a Circle Square resident you’re certainly living the high life.
Vita Living profile: This anniversary event gave a sneak peek into the charmed life of Circle Square denizens. Upon arrival at the welcoming yet secure 24-hour staffed reception area, a tour by the ever-helpful on-site team reveals quiet, spacious corridors leading to supremely comfortable apartments. Ranging from studio to three-bedroom, the apartments are not only fully furnished with contemporary décor and fantastic views of the city, but also pet friendly and come with free high-speed WiFi. However, it’s not only about getting comfy on your tastefully designed sofa. Along with complimentary 24/7 gym access, residents have the run of a wealth of communal or bookable, private spaces.
The communal areas include the wonderful rooftop terraces looking out over the Manchester skyline, co-working spaces with free tea and coffee; and the brand new Symphony Park outside. Fully-equipped conference rooms are available; but should you wish to have an online meeting or take a private call away from the distractions of your flat, there are even one-person meeting rooms. For this visit, we spent our evening enjoying the newest of Circle Square’s popular themed lounges and dining rooms, The Astronomer.