Albert’s Schloss is one of the most recognisable, Instagrammable, and popular bars in Manchester, known for its seasonal decorations (hello wall of mini pumpkins!) and ever changing drinks offerings. For a bar which looks and feels like you’ve stepped into Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, it has a great big Mancunian heart. Owned by local entrepreneurs, Mission Mars, it showcases some of the best entertainment Manchester has to offer from DJ’s to drag queens. It’s a go-to for drinks but we were there to see if the food was up to the hype.
It was an absolutely freezing Monday night in Manchester so the open fires and decadent, alpine decor were welcome after a long day. This was the first time I’d been in for food and the first time I’d seen the venue anything other than jam-packed, but the atmosphere was still effervescent with a pleasant level of chatter. Our door host greeted us enthusiastically and led us to a cosy corner with the most inexplicably plump cushions. She chose the perfect spot away from the hustle and bustle for two pals in need of a good catch up. Bonus points for the coat hangers to peel all our layers off onto! There are a variety of seating areas from family sized booths and barstools by the fireside to bierhalle benches. The expert floor management means that Albert’s Schloss can host a bawdy work night out and a tentative first date without compromise…
Our waiter for the evening was friendly and unimposing, immediately informing us of the seasonal food and drinks specials and any items which were out of stock (the goulash, unfortunately). He gave us a choice of water which he quietly topped up throughout dinner and left us plenty of time to study the menus. As you’d expect, the drinks menu was expansive, well presented in short sections, but not leaving us in choice paralysis. Still, we sought recommendations and he flitted backwards and forwards through the menus providing us with personal choices, as well as noting popular options. Naturally, there was a very solid, high quality beer list featuring locally brewed ale alongside well known European brands. I sampled the Mancunian Saxe Coburg session ale but plumped for the comforting arms of a Paulaner Munich in the end..
For my main meal, I wanted a red wine which could handle a bit of spice and the fruity, floral Chateau de Belleverne, St Amour Beaujolais held its own. The cocktails were a combination of, classics with an ‘Albert’s Schloss’ twist and on-trend ‘High G and T’s ( a mixture of gins with liquer in a variety of serves).They were out of watermelon juice for the Watermelon Aperol Spritz so my friend had a traditional Aperol Spritz which still hit the spot. To complete my meal, I opted for the Dijon Whiskey sour – the bite of the Jamiesons and Dijon mustard warmed me up perfectly for a chilly walk back.
The food menu offers evergreen pub favourites like pizza, steak and burgers alongside traditional German dishes, there is something for everyone (yes, you too vegans!). For starters, I had three big, delicately cooked Scallops which smelled fantastic with lashings of garlic and a squeeze of grilled lemon. There was plenty of the creme fraiche, herb and parmesan crumb left to stack on my sourdough. My friend ate the ham and alpine cheese croquettes, there were only three, which at first seemed a bit small, but turned out to be plenty filling enough for a starter.
Crisp and cheesy with a fluffy centre they made ideal comfort food and could also work well as a bar snack. The food service was speedy and the waiter was intuitive, removing table obstructions and recognising when we were still picking.
For main course I had the Berliner spiced lamb kebab; pulled lamb with pomegranate, pickled fennel & apple, hummus, and yoghurt aioli on a charred flatbread. The balance between spice and sweet was good but although I would have preferred a little more tenderness in the lamb, the presentation and overall flavour was good. My friend ate the Halloween special ‘Halloweiner’ and I was left with serious food envy! She swapped out the sweet potato fries for regular and battled a tasty Keiser Wurst nestling in a sweet charcoal brioche bun with crispy shallots, the green Parmesan mayo adding just the right amount of novelty.
I’m pausing here to give the Sfromato side a paragraph of its own. Gratinated, baked truffle mash, melting alpine cheese – I am drooling just thinking about it! It didn’t really compliment either of our meals but was just so satisfying it didn’t matter. Perfectly cooked, a crispy crust, gooey cheese, smooth and heavy mash – carby comfort food at its finest.
Back to our usual programming…My friend persuaded me to share the baked Alaska for dessert although normally, I’m not a fan of meringues or sweets in general. On this occasion though, I was delighted to be proved wrong. Presented like a spiky white dragon fruit, the meringue was gravity defying light and the torching added a crisp texture, bringing the sweetness of the meringue down with an earthy flavour. The sorbet was fruit packed, tangy, almost sour, and woke my tastebuds up after a sleepy second course.
As a lovely touch we were invited to taste (and it was just a taste because I was so full at this point!) some of the bakery specials. I didn’t realise there was a bakery and it added extra appeal for me, seeing Albert’s Schloss as more than just a night-time venue. The raspberry glazed croissant stands in vivid contrast to its bland supermarket counterparts; rich, buttery, and sweet with a hint of berry. It was a perfect snack to grab for the commute home. The lime and black treacle cronut was super fun and, again, the right side of novelty. The pastry was soft and the gooey lime in the middle was sharp, complimenting the sugary black treacle frosting.
We left full, having had a proper catch up, and bringing all the warmth of Albert’s Schloss out with us into the cold northern night. Will we be back? Absolutely! I discovered a whole new daytime face to this Manchester institution and can’t wait to share with friends and family.