Menagerie is a scene. It’s unashamedly glam, sexy and as a friend so succinctly put it: “Hun, it’s ghetto bouji to the max.”
Located in the upmarket Spinningfields area of Manchester, this is the place for your highest heels, red lipstick and all the bling you can find. Naturally, it’s awash with Instagrammable opportunities including an empty bathtub that has its own professional studio lighting — no filters needed here.
Everything at Menagerie is a spectacle – from the cocktails afloat with sparklers to the entertainers strutting down the central runway – it’s a beautiful combination of food, art and performance.
Menagerie’s concept of being “an experience beyond simply dining and drinking” was created by entrepreneur Karina Jadhav and early on a Saturday evening, the place was already buzzing. The vibe was anticipatory as if there was a lot more debauchery to come.
It’s also a bit of a celebrity haunt so if that’s your thing, bingo. Menagerie is a favourite of the cast of “Real Housewives of Cheshire”, “Geordie Shore” as well as premiership footballers and Little Mix. Embrace it.
The space is industrial chic sprinkled with glitter and the open kitchen is a nice reminder that there’s lots of delicious food to be had, not just saucy cocktails.
Indeed, Menagerie isn’t just smoke and mirrors — the food is decent. A lot of high concept restaurants forget that’s what people are primarily there for – to eat – and get carried away with theatrics. The fare here was generous, innovative and very tasty.
The menu is a mix of sharing plates and main meals, with a few brunch classics thrown in. We started on a Latino feel, with perfectly salted Padron peppers and a tequila cocktail. Though each table has a two-hour time slot, you don’t feel rushed at all and the staff were happy to let us order as we went along – a really fun and relaxed way to enjoy tapas.
We went for chicken and waffles with maple syrup, duck croquettes with honey and truffle – which were a definite highlight – tuna sushi tacos and enormous, juicy tempura prawns. Then a main of cauliflower mille-feuille which was hearty but with a surprisingly spicy little kick.
The cocktail menu is super fun and we loved trying the more outrageous concoctions like the Candyman but if you are too full for pudding, sugared out from fruity drinks and don’t fancy the caffeine hit from an espresso martini, I’d recommend the salted caramel Tom Collins. Smooth as anything and even comes in its own gold padded Chanel-inspired jacket.
As the night drew in, the energy of the place became more risque and daring. We wished we could have stayed longer – who knows where the night would have ended up…
All photos courtesy of Menagerie