I first reviewed Zinc shortly after it opened in August 2000. Cold and clinical, with a menu and pricing structure imported from London, it was hardly surprising that it failed to set Manchester alight. The 12 and a half per cent service charge, levied in those days, did nothing to help matters!
Seven years later and how things have changed. Now under the I.R.C banner, Zinc has been stylishly refurbed, with a re-launch a few weeks ago, and now features a new menu that borrows heavily from the companyâs Restaurant Bar and Grill venues.
We sat and studied the specials list, enjoying cocktails (Â£6.50 each) of exceptional quality from what is actually a pretty small bar. Prepared under extreme pressure (the place was packed, a Sugarbabes Arena date the likely cause) my classic Martini was as good as it gets and my wifeâs Hylantree proved to be a nicely balanced combination; a refreshing mix of Tanqueray, pomme verte, elderflower and lime.
Choosing the Tapas (Â£9.00) sharing option for openers, it arrived on a wooden board; the largely Spanish style morsels went down well, although a simple white platter would have improved presentation. Stars of the show were the Boquerones served on crostini, Albondigas and a nicely textured wedge of Tortilla. Given the Spanish connection we had opted for a bottle of Vina albina barrel fermented viura 2004 (Â£17.50) and discussed our choice with our waitress. Service proved to be knowledgeable and attentive, without being intrusive, and I was particularly impressed by the managementâs control of all aspects of what really was a very busy night.
Rib eye steaks (Â£12.50) are often fatty and stringy, but my wifeâs main course choice was a nice piece of meat, served perfectly medium as requested, and accompanied by a cracking BÃ©arnaise sauce, the tangy tarragon really showing through. For once I won the battle of the Mains; crispy duck with Chinese greens (Â£12.50) turned out to be one of the more memorable dishes that I have enjoyed so far this year. Judicious use of sesame oil and honey added a delicious dimension to the confit duck rather than overpowering the dish. A portion of fat chips (Â£2.95), fluffy and light, and a crisp, well-presented mixed salad (Â£2.95) were both excellent, however a bowl of âseasonalâ? new potatoes (Â£2.95) were disappointing in their distinct lack of flavour.
To round off our meal we shared the cheeseboard (Â£9.95) and were pleased to find the selection of Mrs Kirkhamâs creamy Lancashire, cachel blue and golden cross varieties served at near room temperature. By this time things were a little quieter in the bar so we descended the stairs to join the throng, still standing room only though, to finish our drinks and soak up the terrific atmosphere.
Eating out so often Iâm fortunate in being able to sample a wide range of the best and worst that restaurants and bars have to offer. Zinc provided one of the better experiences: an excellent overall package and a thoroughly enjoyable evening out.
0161 827 4200
Mon-Thu 10am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-Midnight, Sun 10am-10.30pm