A PERFECT summer refresher? Look no further than the Gin Spritz at Pho. Infused with mint, cucumber, lime and a splash of green tea lemonade. It slipped down easier than the Mekong in full spate as we awaited starters at the Corn Exchange Vietnamese eaterie.
Their new summer menu is barely more than a twist on the regular offering but the gin-fuelled cocktail range and salads (low calorie, if that ticks your personal box) just hit the sunny spot.
We sat out the fresh rice bowl range, a choice of marinated chicken thigh, crispy beef or chargrilled pork, in favour of a couple of those salads.
The fragrant banana blossom one with beef, starfruit and peanuts (above) was dry and strangely earthy, only coming to life in partnership with Pho’s take on the Bloody Mary (£7.25), Sriracha sauce giving the spice kick, Ha Noi Vietnamese vodka the booze (there are coconut waters and the like for those seeking non-alcoholic refreshment).
The Gỏi gà salad (£7.25) is a lovely, light tangle of shredded chicken with Asian herbs, shoots and peppers in a ginger and chilli dressing that spicewise, like much of the menu, goes easy on heat levels, compared, say with My Thai on John Dalton Street.
We had started with a selection of spring and summer rolls with dips that were almost a meal in themselves. Pick was Nem hải sản, a chunky crispy spring roll of tiger prawn, crab & pork with nước chấm sauce (£4.50). Sorbets and a delicate cheesecake capped our summery lunch break.
Pho, largest of the national chain with 240 covers over three industrial floors yet feeling strangely intimate, remains one of the cheeriest places to eat in the Corn Exchange. `perfetc place to shelter when the warm summer rain sets in. A good introduction is the the £9.95 two course lunch deal, available between 12 noon and 5pm Monday to Friday. Menu here.
Pho Manchester, Unit 15, The Corn Exchange, 37 Hanging Ditch, Manchester, M4 3TR. 0161 464 9779.