The croquettes in Manchester that rival Spain's best...
When eXchange lounge has been pretty much popping up all over Instagram the last few months & you're invited to go and try their new menu you can't really turn down the offer right? In all honesty we'd never heard of eXchange lounge until recently but the pictures that had been emerging all over social media had us drooling over our phone screens.
The location is pretty hidden away on Portland street which for us feels more like Manchester for the tourists, it's a haven of big hotels like the Mercure, Ibis & Novotel, the latter being the home of eXchange lounge which is probably why we'd never discovered it until now. It's a shame because the interiors wouldn't look out of place in the NQ but you'd never be able to find empty table in the place if they did move. Due to the location (especially with it living inside a hotel) the bar is a place for so many people, on the Saturday we visited you'd find groups watching the football, couples enjoying a drink while they waited to check in, parents enjoying the peace & quiet while their children played on games provided, some enjoying a pint of craft beer and others grabbing a bite to eat while out for a day of shopping. It really is a place for everyone!
The bar has a good mix of drinks with local craft beers on draft & in cans from Manchesters own ShinDigger and Cloudwater, cocktails, soft drinks and a good selection of spirits including more local delights, this time with gin from Manchester. We enjoyed our favourite tipple, ShinDigger Mango Unchained (everytime we find this beer we have to get it!) and Everything's Peachy one we'd never seen before but was equally as tasty - those guys just know how to nail a good beer.
As far as the menu goes, the selection is on the smaller side but yet seems to cover every base from pizza & burgers to salads & soups. Starters are HUGE and really tasty, we'll be in for these again and will probably pick 3 between us for a good size lunch.
We'd opted for the fish tacos and croquettes of the day which happened to be seafood served up with tartare sauce and were ridiculously creamy without a puréed potato in sight - these are hands down the best croquettes we've tried in the UK and rival those that we've had in Madrid. We've also seen rumours of black pudding croquettes on Instagram too so we'd go back just to chance upon them! For mains we went down a more traditional route picking fish & chips and an indian spiced veggie burger topped with mango chutney - unfortunately we forgot to order chips with the burger but the fish came with so many that we still had a few we couldn't finish after sharing them between two! Desserts were another highlight of this place with warm chocolate walnut brownie served with salted caramel ice cream & strawberries and a selection of creme brûlées made up of coffee, chocolate & vanilla.
We'll definitely be in again for more ShinDigger, croquettes and those fish tacos...