Tucked away in the Hotel Novotel on Dickinson Street is the hidden gem that is eXchange Food and Drinks Lounge.
If you were to walk past it, you might not notice it, but it’s one to visit.
Offering a small bar menu that serves classic pub food, you have enough choice for to find something you like, but not too much that you cannot choose what you want to eat.
The atmosphere and interior is a mixture of pub and cocktail bar – high tables, large windows, and bright walls makes the venue look bright and welcoming.
For starters, I went for Franks hot sauce chicken wings, with a ranch dressing (£5). The spicy coating of the chicken wings was sticky and yummy, and the refreshing ranch dip was perfect to dunk the wing into.
My guest had the mini baked camembert, with celery and carrot sticks (£5). You can’t go wrong with camembert, and the dish certainly didn’t disappoint. A side of bread would have been nice though to dip into the gooey cheese.
For mains, I chose the harissa spiced salmon on top of a bed of tomato and tabbouleh salad (£15). The fish was a little bit overcooked, and a sauce alongside the dish would have been welcomed, as the tabbouleh was a bit dry. But the flavour was fantastic and rich.
My guest went for the big one and ordered the 10z rib eye steak, served with skinny fries and garlic butter (£19). The steak was cooked to perfection, and the juices oozed with every bite. A minimalistic and straightforward arrangement of the food has its pros and cons – the plate did look a bit empty apart from the steak and chips, but on a positive note, what you see is what you get, and there are no hidden surprises.
Even though we were pretty full from the starter and main, of course, there’s always space for a cheeky dessert.
I chose the trio of creme brulees – coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavour, served with shortbread biscuits (£6). The thought of the vanilla creme brulee leaves me weak at the knees and wanting more. Smooth, sweet and creamy – exactly what you expect and want from the much-loved dessert.
My guest chose the classic bread and butter pudding with custard and berries (£5). A portion slightly on the smaller side, but still creamy and sweet.
A simple but sophisticated menu with something for everyone. Fantastic service and a lovely experience. I shall be returning.
Exchange Lounge – 21 Dickinson St, Manchester M1 4LX