Located in the heart of Deansgate, MOTLEY stands out with its graphic interior and lively atmosphere. On entering, you can’t help but admire the living walls and fun LEDs that make it the perfect backdrop for an Instagram post. Its upbeat playlist brought an exciting mood matched by our lovely server Connor, who sat us in a beautiful booth looking out upon the restaurant’s terrace. The outside area looked ideal for summer drinks and small plates with its reclining chairs and flower arch. Sadly we had typical English weather, however, the interior did not disappoint with an impressive cocktail bar in perfect eye-line to watch my cocktail being prepared.
Given the wide variety of tasty cocktails on offer, it was only fair that we began the meal with a round of drinks. The menu had some exciting takes on the classics with coco-pop espresso martinis and pink pornstars. However, I could not turn down the Manchester Tart calling my name.
Made with Didsbury tart gin and raspberry syrup, I thought I’d stay local and it paid off. It had the perfect sweetness (although I have a sweet tooth) and a generous amount of alcohol – so I would highly recommend it! If you’re looking for something less sugary, the spicy ginger whiskey bramble was a surprising favourite. I am less than a fan of whiskey and I was won over, so if you’re looking for a new cocktail bar Motley has got you covered.
Moving onto the food, we were again spoilt for choice – with cuisines from Mexican to Thai. The small plates all sounded amazing and the perfect pairing with a couple of cocktails. After a lot of deciding, we went for the hoisin mushroom bao buns and harissa-baked cauliflower tostadas. Both lived up to expectations and while the portions weren’t massive, they were a great pairing with our main course.
The larger plates also offered a great international selection with the same fun Manchester twists. The sweet potato and butterbean bunny chow was a warm hearty stew in a hollowed-out loaf; well-spiced, it was the perfect choice for the rainy weather outside. We also could not turn down the chicken schnitzel katsu curry which proved a fun fusion of German and Japanese flavours.
Despite feeling particularly full at this point, we decided to power on through to the desserts. Coming to a decision this time round proved even harder, with the Manchester tart and chocolate brownie sundae only just losing out to the white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. But we were more than happy with our choice. The cheesecake was rich and indulgent and the raspberry gave a sharp balance to the sweetness of the chocolate.
We could not help but stay at the bar after our meal: it is the perfect place to go with friends but could also make a fancy date spot. Our service was unmatched, as the staff here really go beyond to ensure you’re enjoying yourself. While the prices aren’t particularly student budget-friendly, they are typical of Manchester center and worth it if you feel like treating yourself.
Overall, the new menu at MOTLEY is one to try and their outside terrace is definitely a location to remember for summer!
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