Who doesn’t daydream now and again about a New York way of life? Everything about that buzzing city vibe appeals to my inner Carrie Bradshaw…
…so imagine my delight to hear whispers on the grapevine that a slice of the Big Apple had landed in the heart of Headingley. I couldn’t wait to experience a taste of America, but I was mostly excited to find out how the brainchild of Arc Inspirations would present the third dose of Manahatta, Leeds.
The saying is, “go big or go home” and this venue certainly delivers on size and splendour. Boasting an impressive corner plot in the very heart of studentville, you can spot the trademark gold-fronted Manahatta lettering from down the street, yet the real magic actually happens when you step inside.
Set over two levels, no detail has been spared; the walls are graced with delights such as a neon-crowned Lady Liberty and vibrant word art that would certainly be at home on the streets of downtown Manhattan. In fact, the whole venue offers various subtle nods to the city that never sleeps; a cleverly created take on the NYC light-up pedestrian ‘Walk/Don’t Walk’ sign is a feature all on its own.
On the ground floor the bar itself takes centre stage, whilst sharply-dressed staff members await; ready and willing to shake up the scene with a cocktail or two. The open floor space is scattered with tall tables and chic leather chairs, but if you’re looking for a more intimate experience, you may hide away in cool, turquoise blue corner booths or opt for those that overlook the grounds of the Manahatta entrance. There’s room enough for everyone here, whether its a romantic date day for two, a girly brunch or a lads night out.
This new kid on the block boasts big screens for the sport lovers, a designated shuffleboard corner for the competitive socialisers and a striking DJ booth to entertain Leeds’ movers and shakers. If you head upstairs to the loft you’ll find another well-stocked bar and two impressive outdoor spaces to enjoy, both adorned with warm, festoon-style lighting and flamboyant seating.
It isn’t just the décor that wows, either. There’s a real sense of sophistication, which is a welcome change from the student scene. Not only that, it’s also evident Manahatta prides itself on its mixology and as such the drinks menu is eclectic enough to sell itself. With offerings such as an Opal Fruit Fling, which promises saccharine sweetness and pink prettiness when vodka meets white peach and cordial, it’s hard to say no. If that’s a bit too candy shop for your palate, you can opt for a classy English Garden Fizz — which is all about the prosecco — or a decadent Vanilla and Hazelnut Martini, which offers exactly the right mix of coffee and chocolate. Truth is, there’s something on the menu to entice even the fussiest of cocktail connoisseurs.
A well-executed theme and an upmarket drinks menu begets the unspoken responsibility of delivering equally good food, and guess what? Manahatta delivers here, too.
Leave your diet at the door because you’re spoiled for choice and it would almost be rude not to indulge. The burgers are ridiculously good, but what’s not to love about hand-formed beef or crispy chicken that’s been lovingly sandwiched between brioche buns and stacked with fillings such as bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, roasted red peppers, and bourbon BBQ sauce? If meat doesn’t tickle your taste buds, the selection of Neapolitan style pizzas is sure to do the trick. Go classic for lunch with a Margherita, turn up the heat on dinner with the Red Devil; both are packed with flavour aplenty.
For those, like myself, who have a weakness for the sweeter things in life, I say to hell with conventional; dive straight in for dessert and couple that with a cocktail for a winning combination. I fell in love with the Red Velvet Doughnut — because what isn’t to love about a classic sweet treat that’s been smothered in cream cheese frosting, chocolate ice cream, squirty cream and popping candy? The best part about it all is that the kitchen will deliver your culinary delights up until 9pm, seven days a week, so whatever you choose, you’re in no rush at all to be anywhere but exactly where you are with exactly who you’re with.
Manahatta injects just the right amount of cosmopolitan New York City to this part of Leeds, serving up pizazz by the bucket-load.