The Alston Bar & Beef Set Menu at Corn Exchange Review

Last week, I headed down to Alston Bar & Beef in Manchester’s Corn Exchange, to try out their new set menu offering,

Now sometimes when you hear the words ‘set menu’, you can often think of limited choices. Sure, you don’t get free range of the menu, and I’ve reviewed a few in the past where options have been real limited.

However, I was excited to put this post together because I genuinely loved the set menu option at Alston Bar & Beef, and felt it was completely worth the value, and wanted to come and rave about it…

So here goes: lets see what it’s all about.

First of all, I’ve shared a pic of the set menu below. You can see there is an option for 1 course, 2 courses and 3 courses. But when you study the price, you’ll see that it is waaaaay more cleverer to opt for the 3 courses for £18.

And who would ever refuse a third course? *looks around, see’s no one raises hands*

Let’s set the scene briefly here. Alston Bar & Beef is a gorgeous restaurant at the side of the Corn Exchange, which has the loveliest little downstairs bar/event area which people can use for private events.

It’s known for it’s brilliant beef and ribs, originating from Scotland, and finally opening up in Manchester a short while back. The beef for Alston is selected from the top 1% of the Scottish suckler herd and their butcher achieves this standard because his criteria is so refined.

To top it off, Alston is also known for its large selection on gins available in their bar, as well as a number of their own gin infusions, each individually garnished and served to perfection.

I started off with a lovely glass of Rioja, and quickly decided I was going to go for the 3 course for £18. I mean, I personally think that’s a great price for a starter, main and dessert. Especially when you look at the offerings:

Duck Liver Parfait, Four Cheese Croquettes and Salmon & Haddock Fish Cakes grace the starters list. I’d usually go for the salmon and haddock fishcake, but I decided to venture out a little differently this time.

So I went for the Duck Liver Parfait, with melba toast, orange jelly and beetroot.

The first thing I said when the waitress delivered this plate was ‘oh my – just look at that presentation!’. I would expect this presentation from the top hotels and luxury diners in Manchester, but I guess if you think about it, you should expect a little pride in plate presentation at most places.

And luckily, the taste was as good as it looked. Now I didn’t want this dish to be too toast heavy, but I thought it would be, with the majority of Duck Liver Parfait dishes heavily reliant on a large block of toast.

This one focused more on producing a unique orange jelly and duck liver pate, full of juicy flavour, with a twist of crunchy toast on the side. Much better…

Now believe me when I say I have never ordered Braised Ribs before as a main dish. I have eaten it before, mainly from other peoples plates, but it’s not usually an option for me.

As I said, on this visit I was aiming to be different, so out came the Braised Short Rib with White Bean and Thyme Cassolut, and Butternut Squash Puree and Jus. This beat the Grilled Sea Bass and the Goats Cheese Ravioli, and trust me, nothing usually beats a goats cheese pasta dish for me.

I just decided that if I was dining at a place loved for it’s meat, I had to embrace it.

The jus was delicious and bursting with rich flavours, but the most surprising thing was how melt-in-the-mouth the beef rib was. It literally pulled away from the bone at the touch of the fork, with the softest texture.

It was actually a real delicious main course, made complete with the generous portion of veggies. For someone who never orders a rib dish, I was super impressed.

Meat cooked to perfection…

Now nothing beats a good dessert. I toyed with the idea of choosing the Sticky Toffee Pudding, but the Mango Float sounded too good to ignore.

A bit of a fruity play on a cheesecake, slices of shaped Mango are placed like a rose above vanilla cheesecake and a crunchy chocolate crumb.You get this stunning little glass presentation, with layers of succulent mango sitting above the creamy cake layers.

The dessert was a real individual one in my opinion; you could tell that effort had gone into the styling of this. The sweet mango worked really well with the smooth yet rich vanilla and chocolate, and I have to say this works incredibly well.

I finished with a good old Gin & Tonic, and left feeling overly satisfied. £18 for a high quality three course meal in a stunning surrounding. Now you can’t grumble at that…

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