Firefly by Foodwell, Manchester Review

I’ve been eager to visit the stylish new late night bar in town – Firefly – ever since it launched at Foodwell, Manchester, esrlier this year. I’ve attended a number of influencer and blogger events at Foodwell during the day, but as Firefly is an evening concept, I was yet to try it out.

So at the end of November, I finally got myself down to the new Californian-inspired night-time restaurant and bar concept. Launched by the founders of FoodWell, the New Bailey development switches up from it’s healthy eating, healthy lifestyle daytime place when the sun sets, transforming into a smarter drinks and dining destination complete with an extensive food menu, impressive array of cocktails, and a raised DJ booth to set the vibe.

Firefly takes place every evening, making it the permanent ‘home’ at Foodwell when the evening approaches. So if you prefer a cosier atmosphere with a nod towards sophisticated dining and drinks, you might prefer heading down to Foodwell for it’s evening transformation. The menu will completely differ to that of the daytime, so I guess it’s worth treating Firefly and Foodwell as two completely different concepts – they just happen to be housed in the one place.

The idea behind this is so that customers can experience the ‘night out’ feeling during the evening, yet getting to still enjoy the healthy and balanced lifestyle approach Foodwell offers during the day. They say that the split venue has come about from customer demand. So with that in mind – what did I think of it?

I headed here for a 6.30pm booking with two friends, exploring the stylish 130-cover restaurant. Of course, the yoga studio and heated terrace gets a transformation during the evening, adding to the hip destination feel.

After ordering a round of drinks, we browsed the late night dining menu which is primarily made up of Californian tapas. It encourages small plates to share along with a list of nibbles, or, you can opt for something from the large plate list. If there had been more of uis, I would have jumped at ordering an array of nibbles and small plates for us all to dig in and share. Each food choice is inspired by cuisine from around the world, so you get a real variety.

However, the 3 of us decided to get a couple of nibbles and small plates to start, and then each have a large plate for our main. We skipped on dessert because… well… no excuse really, we were just absolutley full up although looking back I feel we really missed a trick!

I was also driving, meaning I couldn’t explore the opportunity to sink a few of the elegant Espresso Martini’s I’ve spied all over the Firefly instagram page. Next time, I’m going to town on that cocktail menu. And the desserts!

We placed our orders as the waiting staff kindly kept coming along and bringing us huge jugs of still water to sip on. It felt like a lovely place to just sit and chat while waiting for food, with the array of glittering fairy lights and a buzzing atmosphere.

It felt relaxed, yet warming and cosy. It’s much more dimly lit than the bright airy Foodwell by day. making it ideal for date nights.

We began by getting stuck into a couple of small plate tapas style sharers, including sourdough bread with a serving of whipped humous, popcorn halloumi and a serving of olives.

Then for our mains, I opted for the Coconut chicken katsu curry (£14), while my friends went for the Sticky Gazed Balde of Beef with an umami soy & maple glaze, roast Roscoff onion, kale chimichurri, Aspen truffle & parmesan fries (£18.50) and the Blackened Monkfish, cooked with a Tandoori twist with yellow pea & turmeric dahl, purple potatoes,charred cauliflower, mint & coconut riata & crushed rose poppadum (£18.50).

Other tempting large plates included white miso grilled chicken (£13) and the roast Gressingham duck served with blueberry amaretto jus (£18). I’ve already deciced that next time I come, I’m going for the duck, a dessert, and a fair few Espresso Martinis (just sayin’).

Saying that, I would recommend the Coconut Chicken Katsu Curry and rice to anyone thinking of dining here. The portion was huge, and the chicken so tender with a slight crispy to it, without tasting deep-friend or ‘naughty’. The katsu sauce was incredibly delicious. It was slightly lighter and thinner in texture than others I’ve had, with perhaps more of a fruitier twist.

As the large plates are mainly priced at £16- £18.50, it’s priced more on the steep side yet every dish seems real quality, with exceptional attention to detail.

I’d say that Firefly is a refreshing new addition to Manchester’s nightlife, working well with the existing healthy lifestyle inspired restaurant and wellness venue that is Foodwell. As Firefly opens until 3am, it makes a brilliant destination for those who want to let their hair down and party a little later.

You can find Foodwell and Firefly situated at One New Bailey, New Bailey Street, Salford M3 5JL.

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