Last month, we told you about Neon Tiger, a new Thai BBQ ‘concept’ opening in the former Grindsmith unit on Bridge Street. Now it’s had a few weeks to settle in, we thought we’d give it a try.
Firstly, it’s a lot more relaxed than we were expecting. ‘Concepts’ can be a little precious, but this venue was totally relaxed from the get-go. Although Neon Tiger have put a lot of effort into the food offering, they’re not ashamed to be known as a bar - although they refer to themselves as 'an urban drinking space'.
There are four or five good beers on tap including Heverlee, a handful of cocktails and a great selection of natural and low intervention wines available by glass or bottle and supplied by local independent Ad Hoc in the Northern Quarter and wholesale suppliers Bibendum.
Sit at high tables for drinks by the front window, overlooking Bridge Street, or at the bar (where you’re sure to get talking to someone.) There’s also a second room behind, leading on to the kitchen if you prefer a little more privacy.
There’s another dining area with larger tables in the back room, next to the open kitchen where guests can watch the chefs at work. A charcoal grill is central to the food offering here which is based on Baan Yang, or grill house cooking.
Primarily designed for grazing with drinks, these are small plates packed with flavour. Just order as, when and if you want to – there’s no obligation to have a full-on meal. We loved the turmeric and lemongrass smoked sausage that came with pickled mustard greens and roast peanuts, but a few items on skewers are not to be missed.
Chargrilled beef skewers are good but king oyster mushroom stems came with a spicy sesame soy dipping sauce so good we wanted to down like a shot. Coal-roasted aubergine with soft boiled egg and sweet soy dressing was another meat free dish packed with flavour, but we did have to search for that under an avalanche of mint and coriander leaves.
We could happily return on our own for their signature noodle bowl (with hand-pulled crispy and soft noodles made locally in Manchester by Komuji Noodles) with a rich coconut Thai curry and marinated grilled chicken thigh. It arrives looking neat and Instagram ready and you’re supposed to give it a squeeze of lime and then smash it around a bit. No airs and graces here.
Neon Tiger has been designed to be a relaxed, informal and fun venue where you pop in if you’re passing and end up staying because you want to. Owner Ben told us they leave 50% of the tables available for walk-ins and they’re genuinely following the popular Continental idea of small plates, drinks and no obligations. There’s a mixture of high and low tables for drinking, grazing or dining and there are no expectations on the customer. It’s not about them turning over as many tables as possible and suggesting add-ons, they’re simply genuinely happy to welcome you in.
Neon Tiger, 62 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BW
Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 12am
Friday to Sunday from 12pm to 12am
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