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5th May 2013

Our pick of graduation restaurants

We’ve compiled a list of restaurants where we’d love to take our parents


This renowned restaurant on Deansgate, although a notable WAG and Corrie star hot-spot, serves up some really elegant and opulent modern Australian food: a gem guaranteed to impress the parents on graduation day. This Asian infusion restaurant is the epitome of smart sophistication, which is nicely juxtaposed with the informal waiting staff and unexpected laid-back atmosphere.

To best sample the food, opt for ‘local style’ and choose a number of small plates to share as a table in a interactive tapas style. A few to try out include the fresh flavoured tuna tartare, the rather theatrical BBQ lamb cutlets and the extensive selection of exquisite sushi, particularly the smoked eel. Every dish is beautiful and you are sure to try something different.

If you’re drinking, I recommend a cocktail or two, a lot of which are wittily named Asian twisted classics, as well as the understated and simple Manhattan and Old Fashioned options. Although it may cost a pretty penny, this place definitely isn’t your average Wagamama and will undoubtably be a memorable experience, perfect for celebration.

Alex Williams

The French

As of March 2013, this exciting restaurant is run by Simon Rogan; it’s a guaranteed winner. The French is part of The Midland Hotel, a beautiful building which will show your family that Manchester can do elegance.

There are three menus on offer: a three course, six course and ten course. The dishes are all very much in Rogan’s style, a modern British cuisine with focus on a few well matched ingredients, for example, ‘fresh crab and caramelised cabbage, horseradish, chicken skin with crow garlic’. I haven’t eaten here yet but, knowing how popular this restaurant is, I would definitely book as soon as possible.

Emily Clark

Red Chilli

Red Chilli is that perfectly situated Chinese restaurant on Oxford Road. I know my Dad is not to be made to wait when hungry, so I’ll be rushing the family off here at lunchtime to relieve them of exam ceremony bordeom. Red Chilli serves big portions and offers a three course lunch menu for only £9 a head. The lunch menu has a good selection of rice and noodle dishes, which you pair with one of eleven sauces. The starters include soup or dim sum. If you’re savvy, you could get two meals out in one day by heading here for lunch and somewhere a bit more upmarket for dinner.

But if you’re heading here in the evening, check out the a la carte menu which includes some pretty crazy dishes, like ‘crystal pig’s ear layers’ or ‘sliced ox heart, ox tongue, ox tripe in chilli sauce with crushed peanuts’, as well as jellyfish and other peculiarities. But all the normal Chinese dishes are served besides, and I think I’ll be sticking with my favourites of pork belly and fried eel.

Emily Clark

Grill on the Alley

If you’re in the mood for a quality steak, Grill on the Alley will not let you down. The cuts include ribeye, rump, sirloin, fillet, T-bone, as well as the coveted Wagyu (£55) and Chateaubriand. How could you say no?

There are burgers, seafood, salad and fajita options if not; a pretty wide selection of cuisines. Grill on the Alley markets luxury ingredients in an unintimidating way – there are inclusions of foie gras and carpaccio of beef sitting alongside lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Grill on the Alley prides itself on British craft beers and ales and offers several reasonable three course set menus, starting off at £20. There is also an extensive cocktail list, including a section just for martinis and nightcaps.

Grill on the Alley has received consistently high reviews and is known for its slickness. If you want a feeling of relaxed extravagance, this is the place to go.

Emily Clark

Albert Square Chop House

The Albert Square Chop House is lodged in the Memorial Hall, a beautiful Victorian building that exudes regal splendour before you’ve even entered the establishment. It is steeped in Mancunian history, making it a fittingly spectacular end to your university days.

The classic British menu is one that takes hearty food and dribbles over it a little finesse – not too much, but enough to make your meal celebratory. Expect nothing too innovative or flashy here, but instead traditional dishes done well. Think pork belly, but served in neat little squares, nestled amongst scallops and smearings of watercress puree; waiters in white shirts and waistcoats carrying towards you a plate of roast hogget. There is also a separate grilled chops and steaks menu to please even the most carnivorous of fathers.

The Albert Square Chop House is perfect for those who want the triumphant festivities of a graduation meal, but with the approachability and comfort of somewhere much more relaxed.

Jess Hardiman


Room will provide a bit of theatrics to your graduation meal: it’s the perfect place to pop open some fizz, clink glasses, and bask smugly in the sensation of your own astounding intelligence.

With giant red pendant lights casting a moody glow over dark wooden fixtures, the atmosphere is one of a slick, relaxed elegance – but the sheer size of the place means that you won’t feel oppressed or overwhelmed as you tuck into your turbot poached in red wine. The food is good and decently priced, but most importantly are the striking floor-to-ceiling windows that will allow you to look out fondly to the city that you have called home for the past few years.

Jess Hardiman

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