Food profile - The Mancunian, Manchester City Etihad Stadium

Half time @ The Mancunian
Credit: Jonty Wilde

Half time @ The Mancunian Credit: Jonty Wilde - Credit: Photograph © Jonty Wilde

The Manucunian at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium offers an extraordinary matchday experience

Ready for the fans @ The Mancunian
Credit: Jonty Wilde

Ready for the fans @ The Mancunian Credit: Jonty Wilde - Credit: Photograph © Jonty Wilde

The days of match day hospitality catering consisting of a pie and a pint at half time are long gone, but Manchester City has taken the experience to whole new heights at their Etihad Stadium, and while football might be at the heart of what they do, the whole experience has become so much more than just its constituent parts.

The hospitality team at Manchester City have established a number of hospitality options at the stadium, which each offering something slightly different, from five-course fine dining in the Chairman’s Club to the vibrant Tunnel Club (where you can see the players arrive for the game) to the more relaxed atmosphere of The Mancunian.

A booth in The Mancunian, Christmas 2017

A booth in The Mancunian, Christmas 2017 - Credit: Archant

From the moment you arrive, you are made to feel very special. Entry to the hospitality area is via a blue carpet, roped off walkway that the players traverse when they arrive – which results in a happy gathering of fans, hoping to catch sight of their heroes before the game – hours before the game! Smiling staff greet you and lead you to your chosen restaurant, from where the day just gets better. The Mancunian has been designed to reflect the football and the music that sit at the heart of Manchester life and history. Live music creates a relaxed ambience and the décor is contemporary clever – a curtain of beads recreates the soundwave of a stadium of fans singing Blue Moon, for example.

And the food…well, this is fabulous. A three course a la carte menu and an extensive wine list, not to mention fully stocked bar, starts the occasion in style. I enjoyed a simply beautiful Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Black Truffle Oil, followed by soft chicken breast with gnocchi, cauliflower puree, almond pangritata and sorrel pesto, all accompanied by a delicious Merlot. Arriving two hours before kick-off allows for a stress-free jouney and a warm and happy self – before the pressure of the game itself begins. Pressure that is if your team is playing… At this point I have to make a confession. I don’t really do football. It’s something that happens in our house on a weekly basis, causing screams and yells and cheers and tears and is generally to be avoided, by me, at all costs in case I say something stupid. Anyway, I put on my best face and told myself it was only 45 minutes (ish) till I could have my coffee and pudding (or a hot mini pie indeed) at half time.

Seated in the seriously plush padded chairs, above the half way line, while two Premier League teams line up to do battle does give one a rather different perspective though and for the first time I can see why people get so very intense about the beautiful game. Every movement of the ball is greeted with cheers or joy or derision and the noise…well! A constant rolling roar of sound pouring from fans of both teams lifts you along with it and when a goal is scored…flipping heck, it’s HUGE! That first 45 minutes flew past, I have to say. Half time puds were delicious, then it was back outside to watch the home team win, quite convincingly, as they have done all season. It was a late game, and in the lights of the stadium we could see tendrils of a Manchester fog spill over the top of the far stand, creating quite a magical feel. Well, it was fog or City had switched on their smoke machines…and if it was the former, they should seriously consider investing in the latter.

A leisurely coffee and some home made fudge finished the occasion before we headed home. A brilliant experience, so completely thought through by the Club that even had they lost, the day would not have been.

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