TV21 Bar & Grill @ Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester

By Dean Wilkins

Feisty. Flavoursome.  Filling. Three words that tie up TV21’s exceptional Thursday menu offer in no-nonsense fashion.

With a starter/pudding, main course and charismatic cocktail available for the dainty price of just £9.95, this rock ‘n’ roll haven in Manchester is taking Northern Quarter by the guitar string and doing the mashed potato all over the city.

Its relaxed atmosphere is immediately obvious as the amiable staff members serve up a lungful of Carpe Diem and Orange Daiquiri – no orange? No problem! The easy-going server whips up a strawberry counterpart instead and what a substitute it turns out to be.

The new creation is the fitting menu-looking accompany as the palate is eased in with berry’s bite, caressed into the rum and sealed off with a superb zing of lime – it’s moreish to say the least.

And the freshness of the Carpe Diem is simply lovely – there’s a fruity explosion on first appearance but the depth and adventure of the strawberry and cherry liqueur soon appears before a punch of gin knocks the taste buds into a sensation of get-me-another-one.

Perfect start.

Not having much of a sweet tooth, the starter/main course choice was given the nod and before having chance to swig another mouthful of the Carpe Diem the kitchen doors stormed open and a stack of Mexican Nachos and Pan Fresco landed beside the cocktails.

The flavours are firing up the hunger pains and the knife and fork are ready – begin. The Pan Fresco topped off with salsa and chorizo is escorted along with a splash of balsamic vinegar and is simple yet brilliant. The fewer ingredients the better and it’s a well crafted starter that sets the bar for the evening.

Balsamic vinegar is a dish winner nine times out of ten and it helps to tie everything together – the toppings are boisterous and bold while the bed of bread is a crunch to remember.

The Mexican Nachos could feed a family of eight but they were wolfed down by one. It’s a pleasure to see that the dish comes without thrills and frills and remains true to its roots – the salsa is crisp and the jalapeños are ballsy. It needs nothing more.

The American diner-esc hub of Manchester is living up to its popular vibe of film culture and popular TV of the past. Its Pulp Fiction homage runs through from the decor, to the milkshakes, to the pinnacle of any bar and grill – the signature burger.

Just a whiff of the Big Kahuna Burger’s hearty spirit is enough to start loosening the belt buckle. Suddenly it creeps into view and the belt buckle might as well take early retirement.

Coined from the gangster film’s classic menu, the Big Kahuna Burger is half a cow’s rump, side saddled by two rashers of bacon, grilled pineapple, cheese, relish, lettuce, tomato and a houseful of TLC. It’s a Tarantino tower of meaty might. It’s a signature dish of glorious beating chests and grizzled chins. Superb. Again and again and again.

But if the classic American way is not your way then the Texan BBQ Fajitas are a powerful sidekick that blossoms from a patch of rightly-spiced sauce and cutely cooked chicken.

The sizzling bowl is just delicious. The flavours are adventurous and enough to keep your knife and fork – or scooper – occupied until the end. The meat is exquisitely tender and the BBQ vigour is superior.

TV21 have cemented themselves where they belong – in the heart of the city’s passion and flare. Their Thursday offering is a faultless adaptable adventure that suits post-work something-to-dos or a pre-night out platform.

TASTY STUFF: TV21’s Big Kahuna Burger is a mouth-watering affair of balls, meat and sauce

The staff are enjoyable and courteous, the menu is excellent, the price is unbeatable and the Big Kahuna Burger will stay with you long after your TV21 voyage.

The review started with three simple words to illustrate the bar’s personality and it ends the same. If you’re into your American-style diners, this is: Must-try. Must-try. Must-try. (Okay that’s arguably six.)

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