I was invited to a complimentary three-course meal on Saturday at eXchange Food & Drink Lounge, which is located in Novotel on Dickinson St. I took along my housemate Deborah as my +1 ? she loves food just as much as I do!
We caught an Uber to the restaurant because it was raining, but you can easily get the bus or Metro into town and it’s only a short walk. It’s just off Portland Street, which has a lot of lovely bars and restaurants- a great selection of food and drink options if you are in town.
I didn’t get the name of the member of staff who initially served us, but he was really friendly and accommodating- showed us to our table and gave us excellent food and drink recommendations. Most of the people about were watching the Man U match that day and the bar was pretty busy, but it wasn’t a terribly long wait for food.
We ordered three cocktails in total: a tequila-based cocktail for Deb and two gin ones for me that I really enjoyed. Ask for the Pink Lady! It’s delicious 🙂
I feel like the food portion will dominate most of the review so I must stress that the pictures honestly do not do them justice! I personally was very impressed by the drinks- they’ve got the balance of flavours right and I’ve not had nicer ones elsewhere!
The prices are pretty reasonable (around £7-8 for most cocktails) and I’ll definitely be back for more ? not sure if they do a happy hour promotion but that would be perfect.
Exhibit A of why I am not a fashion blogger- I can’t pose to save my life. Deb was coaching me through poses and I couldn’t do any. Ah well.
Food-wise, we picked out a few small plates, which are £5 individually and £12 for three.
Our choices: Salt & Pepper Calamari, Garlic Mushrooms with Parmesan Crust, Batter Halloumi Fingers, and the Superfood Salad. The staff member recommended the Chorizo and Potato and the Korean BBQ Wings, which we did order but never arrived.
We left it since we had enough food, but I do want to come back to try them next time!
The superfood salad was pretty different from generic salads- avocado, baby gem lettuce, beets, blueberries, seeds, sugar snap peas, quinoa- lives up to its name indeed! I didn’t expect to like it when it was recommended to us, but I really did.
I would suggest upsizing the salad if you are sharing it- it wasn’t quite enough for the both of us. Having it upsized to a main will be £10, which I’m not quite sure I’d get if I were eating out- but for the quality of ingredients in it I think it’s worth paying £5/10 for. I wouldn’t get the other salads here individually.
I really liked the calamari and the garlic mushrooms. The halloumi is nice but the batter was quite salty on top of the cheese and after it went cold it wasn’t very nice to eat. Get in there while it’s still hot, folks.
We had a Florentine pizza as our main (£12). All the pizzas are 12-inch. It was a great pizza and I liked the egg in the centre (huge weakness for eggs here). It came hot and crispy and really filled us up! I think getting three small plates and a main will be a perfect amount of food for two people with large appetites, or you could get some add-on sides like chips or other finger food with a main.
I think we ate a lot ? there was a lady at the table behind us rolling her eyes and giving us very judgemental stares. Sorry lady, you must be jealous ?
We had a really nice chat with Rich, the other staff member that served us- Deb picked up on his accent and asked if he was from the Philippines! I’m from Singapore, as you guys know, and Deb is from Malaysia. We’re all neighbours!
We talked about some of the hidden bars in Manchester and other potential haunts as well, and he told us a bit about his family and his time in the UK (over ten years!). I don’t really want to go into detail for his privacy but it was nice hearing him speak so fondly of his country and his experiences living here.
He tried to offer us more drinks and dessert but we felt like we had our fill and didn’t want to impose (ah, Asian mentality back again), so we hung about for a bit, chatting and taking a couple of pictures before leaving.
All in all, I think it was a really wonderful experience and if you’re lost with the amount of options available, just ask a member of staff for help. I think some dishes may be a bit pricier if you don’t purchase them in a set but I think you have to consider the location and convenience- the drink prices are reasonable and I’ll definitely be back for those.
Make a stop during your bar crawls- it’s a little off the long stretch on Portland Street, but well worth going! It’s open 24 hours which is a plus. Drop by anytime or ring them on 0161 235 2200 to book.
+ Bonus videos of us messing about with the Snow app, because there’s no such thing as too many pics. #awww