As a rare treat for my birthday, three of us from the team at The Fermentation Vessel assembled in Manchester. The main event was in fact a Vintage Riesling tasting (stay tuned for that), however to whet our collective appetites we decided to make a trip out into Manchester for a spot of lunch.
Fazenda is situated in the heart of the city’s trendy Spinningfields area, its sleek black and glass frontage setting it out from the numerous other bars and restaurants in the area. Fazenda sets itself out as a traditional Brazilian Rodizio with a unique modern and classy flair. For those who have never experienced Rodizio dining, it is, in effect an all you can eat meat experience. Where Fazenda really makes its mark is in elevating this rather vulgar concept into something that oozes class.
The decor, making further use of plate glass and black just works. I’m no interior designer but they really hit the nail straight on the head there and from the moment you step foot inside you know this place means business. The restaurant employs a very simple red/green traffic light system to indicate whether you are ready for more meat. Passadores (Meat Chefs) tour tables dressed in smart red shirts, bearing delicious skewers of fine cuts of meat and offer each person a cut from their skewer. Being a lunchtime, they offer a cut down service of meat, however for us this was still ample, and by no means was the quality lacking. I particularly enjoyed their signature meat – the Picanha (cap of rump) – that was deliciously juicy. Other notable meats were the pork belly – something I often find too fatty, but in this instance was just perfect, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and the gammon – or perhaps more so the pineapple with it that was just superb. It was so good that just the mere thought of it makes me salivate!
Being wine enthusiasts we were delighted to find that in addition to Fazenda’s standard wine menu, was a cellar full of fine wines, something we were only too happy to take a look at! As soon as we made our intentions aware to the staff, we were greeted by a most knowledgeable sommelier, whose enthusiasm rivalled our own, and offered us plenty of interesting information about the wines they had on offer. It was really refreshing to find someone so knowledgeable in a restaurant outside of the Michelin guide. We were even able to sample some of the other wines in their collection, by means of a most excellent device – the Coravin (a portable device with a needle for sampling and an inert gas canister for keeping the wine fresh). Looking at Fazenda’s website they do frequent tasting events. This is something I will be looking into in the near future.
There is a clear and understandable bias towards South American wines at Fazenda. This provided us with some interesting wines that are otherwise not quite so well known. We finally settled on a great bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon by Catena Zapata from Argentina. I won’t go into too much detail here, however suffice to say it was a hard hitting full bodied wine that easily went down at 90 points. It isn’t the easiest wine to get hold of commercially, but I would recommend picking some up if you chance upon it!
To finish the meal I was brought a slice of birthday cake with a firework in it no less! It was a lovely little touch with which to finish an excellent meal. To quote Michael Broadbent: “Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.” I will most certainly be back to the restaurant in good time and I recommend you give it a try if you’re in and around.