There really is no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than over a long, drawn-out dinner.
We were kindly invited down to The Lowry’s £3 million new restaurant and bar, Pier Eight to try their seasonally inspired Valentine’s menu with wine pairing.
Pier Eight offer fine, contemporary British fare in an informal dining setting. A relaxed but clearly, well thought-through setting with cosy yellow booths which make intimate little hubs for you to enjoy each other’s company. Enormous windows looking out onto Salford Quays and the distant twinkling light of Media City add to the romantic ambiance.
Smiley staff greeted us and showed us to our booth. The place was packed with theatre-goers and loved-up couples, but soon thinned out as the show began, leaving us and a small number of tables to enjoy the romantic classics playlist.
After perusing the menu for some time, I plumped for the scallops with cauliflower puree, bacon, lentils and smoked red wine sauce, paired with an Australian Sauvignon Blanc, so tropical and fruity tasting, I could have happily drank that all evening.
The scallops were a delight. Plump, rare and crisp on the outside, their delicate flavour paired perfectly with a rich sauce, while the earthy lentils, bacon, and creamy puree brought more layers of flavour and texture.
My Valentine opted for the pressed ham, apple puree, pickled vegetables and beetroot dressing, married with a green fruit Pinot Grigio to mirror the apple puree.
The intensely meaty flavoured ham was a winner for Marc. The apple provided the freshness along with tart, crunchy pickled veg and jam-like beetroot dressing. Crunchy little toasts served on the side were a nice touch.
Our chipper waitress brought along a creamy, delicious Prosecco sorbet to cleanse our palettes…
Before swiftly replacing it with the main event. I had the Cheshire beef fillet, braised blade, bubble & squeak, artichoke purée, spinach and braising sauce. Or as I called it rich, beefy, heaven on a plate.
The beef fillet was perfectly pink inside and buttery soft, and the bubble and squeak patty was cut with fresh tarragon (much to my liking). Buttery, salty spinach and creamed artichoke were welcome flavours and textures, but the star of the show was most definitely the braised blade. It was fudgey soft and so rich, just wonderful.
This dish was paired with a spiced, deep red, the name of which I didn’t write down in time (too distracted by the beautiful presentation of my food when it was placed in front of me).
Marc ordered the chicken breast and confit thigh, served with sweet potato , sage stuffing, roasted parsnip, kale and chicken sauce.
A delicious, wintery dish with an array of textures; crispy chicken skin, crunchy sweet potato croquette, perfectly moist chicken, a stuffing ball that tasted like bread sauce (much to his liking) and the confit thigh was, in his words ‘a revelation’. This dish was matched with an earthy red wine.
We chatted away and polished off our wine before being presented with this beautiful sharing dessert and offered a choice of dessert wines. Here we have…
Salted caramel ice cream with salted biscuit crumb and a chocolate hat
Passionfruit curd topped with passionfruit jelly and a ginger crunchy top.
Rich chocolate tart with chili flakes.
We ooh’ed and ahh’ed as we made our way through the desserts, each one more delicious than the last, and perfectly paired with sweet, red wine.
We eventually moved onto espressos and our charming waitress brought us these little chocolate coconut kisses, and rosemary shortbreads.
We toasted to a great night (and three great years together) with a round of cocktails. Negroni for him…
…Peach Bellini for me.
We both have issues with looking into the camera.
Our servers really knew their stuff, especially when it came to wine pairing. The service was unobtrusive, smiley, professional but not stuffy. They’ve managed to hit every note on every course and the menus (both the Valentine’s and the normal) have plenty for everybody. Restaurant Manager Mike Lee and Executive Head Chef Oliver Thomas, clearly have a very talented team.
Pair a trip to the theatre with dinner at Pier Eight and you’ve got the perfect date night/Mother’s Day/ Birthday treat (delete as appropriate). The pre-theatre menu is two courses for £22 or three for £27 when booked and paid for in advance.
If you’re in the area, bypass Pizza Express, Wagamama’s and Prezzo, and head straight to Pier 8 for their lunch and early dinner menu.
If the plan is to draw people away from the big players in Manchester City Centre, perhaps a bottomless cocktail brunch or Sunday Roast offering would give it that extra draw. However, whether you’re going to the theatre or not, it’s well worth the trip for dinner. Find menus and booking info here, and follow Pier Eight on Twitter.
Huge thanks to Pier Eight for having us and their wonderful hospitality. We received a complimentary meal for the purpose of an honest review.
Ph. my own.