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#31 Harters

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 04:02 PM

I think possibly Isinglass reads egullet. Or, perhaps, it's me grassing them to Michelin.

Either way, their website has now been amended and simply reads that they are recommended in the current Michelin Guide. Which is certainly accurate and, in my view, a worthy entry.
John Hartley

#32 Harters

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 03:33 AM

I think possibly Isinglass reads egullet. Or, perhaps, it's me grassing them to Michelin.

Me grassing them - according to an email this morning from Michelin.

Now, go there folks and have a nice dinner.
John Hartley

#33 Harters

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:26 PM

GRENACHE, WALKDEN

OK, so Walkden is in Salford whch is not "south" of the city but it fits in my quest for restaurant suburbia.

We’d had Grenache on our “to do” list for a while and were interested to see it pick up the “Manchester” award in the Hi-Life Diners Club awards the other week. However, once inside the restaurant, I found myself getting peeved quite quickly. Nothing about the place. Nothing about the food. It was the owner. He’s just one of those blokes who irritate me just by existing. But he got off to a really bad start with me. In the middle of taking our order, his mobile phone went off. Did he ignore it? Nope, he checked it and answered. “Hello, Mum” ....and picked up the menus and walked off to have his chat, leaving us with wine unordered. Now the situation was rescued by his excellent young waitress who must have realised what had happened and swiftly came over to take the order. In due course, he came back to apologise saying Mum was more important than customers. Yes, he really meant that as an apology. Tosser.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s talk about the place. Decoration and furniture is very modern – there’s a few quid been spent here. They style themselves as “decadent dining” – for sure that’s the owner’s take on his menu which, in reality, has nothing of the decadent about it. But it’s a well constructed Modern Brit bistro affair offering a fixed price three course menu at a bargain £16.95 (although a couple of dishes will add a few quid supplement) or a more extensive, but well-priced, carte.

My partner went for the fixed price but choosing both the dishes with the supplement. A starter of accurately cooked scallops sat on little discs of black pudding. There was a little sharp apple puree and a smoked cheddar cream (the latter just bland and white). She followed this with a sirloin steak, red wine and pancetta jus, chips and some perfectly cooked cabbage. Pretty standard bistro food and none the worse for that.

Meanwhile I’d started with a smoked haddock risotto, topped with a poached egg. Good concept, except for the risotto being a bit too claggy in the way it often is in Britain. But it tasted good. I followed that with pork fillet, simply pan-fried, a fairly rich fondant potato (I’d have happily eaten another), some just wilted spinach and a few blobs of an overly sweet berry sauce.

Grenache doesn’t offer half bottles of wine but does have a good selection of above average offerings by the glass, including a champagne.

It’s the sort of food a reasonably competent home cook could handle but, some nights, I’m happy to let someone else do that cooking. They’re certainly getting things right with their customer base – place was busy.
John Hartley

#34 David Naylor

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:00 AM

You really should have got up and left once he came to "apologise". Mind you there is nothing else for miles around.
Mobile phones....WHY?

Edited by David Naylor, 25 February 2011 - 06:01 AM.


#35 Harters

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:41 AM

Definitely an attitude problem, David - I suspect wanting to act the "Big Man in his Restaurant". And, indeed, we heard him speak to customers on a couple of occasions mentioning that it was "his restaurant, so things are done as he wants them". Another party, as they were leaving, accidentally knocked a napkin on the floor - chummy picked it up and went after them clearly to "have words" (although we couldnt hear what was said). I can't recall similar rudeness towards folk - all very Basil Fawlty.

On the other hand, his wife/partner is lovely with excellent customer skills and, as I've mentioned, the young lass serving.
John Hartley

#36 Harters

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 03:03 PM

JEM & I, DIDSBURY

Less than ten minutes from home, this is pretty much my neighbourhood restaurant (although it’s a couple of years since we were last here). And it really does have pretty much everything I want from a neighbourhood restaurant – a short, well priced menu of interesting sounding “modern European” dishes; smiley staff who know what they’re doing, an attractive room, modern comfortable furniture (even if the tables for two are a whisker too small for everything you want to put on them), a decent wine list (although no half bottles and nothing really interesting by the glass). Oh, and a kitchen that’s bloody good at its job. Jem & I has, in the past, held a Michelin Bib Gourmand and still appears in the Guide. It also appears in Hardens although, somewhat gob-smackingly, not in the Good Food Guide.

The menu kicks off with a couple of nibbles – breads and olives. But what jumped off the page was “fish and chips”. Oh, yeah, we’re having some of that. A single fillet each – cod, of course, because this is Manchester. Delicious fish, light crisp batter. And shoestring fries – served in a newspaper cone. A real newspaper cone. Like chips used to come in. I am now fully, totally, absolutely, on this restaurant’s bus.

There’s nothing wussy about the flavours here. So, one starter of Bang Bang Chicken was punchy with chilli, vinegar and peanut sauce – the meat just cooked through and still juicy. The other, a generous portion of king prawns cooked in olive oil, garlic, chilli and parsley with some rocket leaves on the side. Both these plates were emptied as quickly as though food was going out of fashion.

The prawn dish seemed very Iberian and the main that followed had its roots in the same part of the world. Grilled sea bass, sat on a pile of spinach and chorizo – the sausage a fine example of the chorizo making art – porky and with a whack from pimenton and chilli, fried to a crispy loveliness. Some salad leaves to mop things up and, separately, a bowl of patatas bravas. To quote wossisname, these were deep and savoury flavourings – the sweetness of the fish counterpointed with the heat of the chorizo and potato, yet not overpowered by them.

I’d gone with a dish much happier in northern Europe. Fillet and loin of lamb – bang on cooking – delicious meat. Crisp rosti potato, some sautéed green beans and spring onions, surrounded by a wine and rosemary jus. Separately, a little gratin dish of sweet butternut squash. Exactly my sort of grub.

Too full for dessert, we just got the bill. It was just shy of £80, food making up about £50 and drinks the rest. Best meal we’ve had in many weeks. Bar none.

It's a "jem" of a place [groans]

Edited by Harters, 28 February 2011 - 03:04 PM.

John Hartley

#37 Northern Food

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:20 PM

Went back to Dosa Express in Withington to try a dosa.

A madras masala dosa was pleasant enough, the dosa was fairly light and crispy and the potato filling wasn't stodgy but was a touch bland. The accompanying chutney's and sambar were fresh and distinctively spiced. I couldn't resist a couple of mutton rolls on the side too. These were excellent. Crisp and greaseless with an intensely spiced (loads of chilli & black pepper) mutton and potato filling.
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#38 Harters

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 04:20 PM

KOSMOS, FALLOWFIELD

There was a time when Loulla Astin seemed to be never off the TV screens – at least here in the North West. There was a time when Kosmos appeared in the Good Food Guide. Of course, these times are some 30 years ago but Kosmos is still doing what it does – serving up a pretty standard set of Greek Cypriot dishes at very reasonable prices to a mainly student customer base.

We’d been in Cyprus last year and were interested to see how Kosmos’ set mezze meal compared to the four meals we’d had “over there”. Well, truth be told, not as good as even the most touristy of the four. Now, that’s not to say that the food was bad or that we didn’t have a pleasant evening. It wasn’t and we did. But it lacked a “something”. Or maybe “somethings” – a lack of assertive seasoning and spicing, a loss of absolutely ripe tomatoes and other salad ingredients, a sense that quality was just lacking a tad.

First up, a selection of bog standard dips – houmous, tzatziki, taramosalata – tabbouleh and a mixed feta salad. Served with just about enough bread. Nothing offensive here but nothing to interest either – the sort of food you can easily make at home and, most likely, do a better job. Certainly we could.

Then the hot “second course” items. A very decent stifado, rich with onions. Rethivia – chickpeas in what was probably the best spicing of the evening – a tomato sauce flavoured heavily with cumin and a punch from chilli and coriander. Another plate of standard mezze fayre – grilled halloumi, a spicy sausage, tender and very tasty lamb meatballs, dolmades (as my partner suggested – not as good as Marks & Sparks), spanakopita (sp?) – crisp non-greasy pastry encasing spinach and a salty feta – and the most enjoyable thing on that plate

And the final course – lamb kebabs and rice. Good rice, nicely flavoured with a hint of cinnamon. The kebabs a bit of the curate’s egg – one perfectly cooked and meltingly tender; the other a bit overdone and quite chewy.

The mezze costs £18 which is probably not bad value for Manchester but we recalled the far better quality we’d eaten in Cyprus for less than that in euros.
John Hartley

#39 Harters

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 02:07 PM

LIME TREE, WEST DIDSBURY

There are some folk who would flag the Lime Tree as South Manchester’s “best”. I wouldn’t be one of them. Yes, it’s been there for donkey’s years. And, yes, it continues to produce reasonably good mid-range food. And, yes, it was packed. But, it misses out on the big flavours and accurate cooking of, say, the nearby Jem & I.

There’s welcoming and efficient service; a menu that’s good to read and well priced for the area (starters at £6 – 7, and mains around the sixteen quid mark) and a wine list packed with stuff by the glass or half bottle which is always a plus point as we are a one drinking person couple.

Moules mariniere were a good offering. Plump, juicy mussels and a tasty classic broth (although this was little more than a moistening of the bottom of the bowl). It came with bread and a thoughtful finger bowl.

The following main was well thought out and executed. A fillet of sea bass managed to get right the combination of moist flakes of flesh and crispy skin. A salmon fishcake provided a tasty carb and there was just cooked, and very seasonal, asparagus, along with a tomato and basil butter sauce. Good dish.

Meanwhile, I ordered my own meat feast and was not about to have got the better of the ordering. The starter was described as “breast of wood pigeon, confit pork belly and Bury black pudding” and was exactly that. Big breast of pigeon cooked rare and then sliced lengthways in two to serve. A lengthways slice of pudding had been briefly fried and was a good meaty, earthy example of Lancashire’s finest. A small slice of the pork belly was similar in texture to the rather slippery version you get in Chinese restaurants. This is a good thing, of course. The meats sat on a little heap of spinach and a light, if overly salty jus.

Calves liver with bubble & squeak could have been a belter of dish. It’d have needed a more precise preparation of the liver to remove sinew but was otherwise nicely “just cooked”. It’d have needed the bubble & squeak to be bubble & squeak. But this was really just mashed potato with a little bit of greenery stirred through with no real sign of seeing any crust-inducing heat from the pan. There was a different thin and overly salty jus. Well, of course, I cleared my plate but it was not with any great enjoyment.
John Hartley

#40 Harters

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 01:31 PM

PERSIA GRILL, BARLOW MOOR ROAD, CHORLTON

I think there's a local by-law that requires anyone going along Barlow Moor Road to look over at Southern Cemetery and make some remark about it being the "dead centre of Manchester". Laugh, I nearly pissed myself.

If memory serves, the last time I was in these premises was getting on for 20 years ago when it was called Zorbas - a kebab takeaway with a few tables. We had a couple of cracking mezze meals there. Well, times have changed although not necessarily always for the better.

As the name implies, the cuisine is now Iranian – that interesting point somewhere between the better known Middle Eastern food and the Mogul dishes of the north of the Indian sub-continent. It’s a pleasant enough room – stripped floorboards, a mismatch of furniture, heavy iconic decoration on the walls. Good service was delivered by the lone waitress. The menu is encouragingly short for this sort of place – a dozen or so starters, maybe a few more mains. Mains are mainly kebabs and stews.

Halim Bademjan was an interesting starter – mashing together aubergine, long cooked lamb and lentils into a thick, almost paste like consistency. In fact, a consistency very like the soundalike Indian haleem. Also good were some nicely vinegared torshi – a good mix of carrot, courgette and cauliflower. Less interesting was a salad shirazi – finely diced cucumber, onion and tomato. I’ve had this before and it’s usually punchy with a hefty use of herbs and lemon but, here, herbs were absent and there was little citrus zing. There were really excellent crisp flatbreads (again, like an Indian tandoori roti)

Mains were disappointing. Fesenjan is a chicken stew which should be a wake-up call – the sauce, sweet/sour with pomegranate molasses and considerably thickened with crushed walnuts. I've eaten it a couple of times and it can be lovely. This was a thin utterly boring gravy that might, possibly, have been shown the bottle of pomegranate and been told what a walnut looked like. The chicken itself was OK and there was good basmati rice. I’d looked forward to eating this and have to confess that I sulked a bit when I realised how poor an example it was.

I reckon my partner had ordered better although, unfortunately, she was also underwhelmed with her choice of barg. Lamb fillet, beaten out to a flat steak, marinated in saffron and grilled. It should have been simple and brilliant. But it wasn’t. Nothing wrong with it – except that it wasn’t particularly good lamb and, shall we say, a restrained seasoning of the marinade meant that it wasn’t much lifted.

Of course, this isn’t high level cooking. It’s a casual, very inexpensive, neighbourhood restaurant that’s been around for a few years and is cooking sufficiently well to keep it in business for a few more. If they just tweaked the dishes then I might just want to go back in less than 20 years. Although, by then, I might be making a much more long term visit across the road to the Cemetery.
John Hartley

#41 Harters

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 01:59 PM

PETRA, UPPER BROOK STREET

My favourite local place for my favourite “foreign” food. Under Syrian ownership, there’s a fairly generic middle eastern menu. Situated on Upper Brook Street, just south of the city centre, behind the Infirmary, it’s in a bit of an odd location. And there’s not much parking round about. But that doesn’t stop folk from coming here and it was quite busy on this weekday evening. No doubt, it’s because it’s a nice casual place, serving good food at very reasonable prices.

There was a good selection of freebie pickles – salty turnip, cabbage, courgette, fiery chillis and some decent olives. Along with pitta, this kept the three of us going until the mezze starters arrived. There were three of us but we’d been fairly restrained in ordering.

Kibbeh were lovely – well seasoned moist lamb encased in crisp wheat. Falafel were also pretty good – although a tad too long in the fryer meant they were overcrisp (OK, burnt). Better were the sujok – good spicing in the sausages here. Fattoush was spot-on – crisp cucumber and radish, toasted pitta, tomato, onion and a dressing really tangy with lemon and sumac. There was more pitta along with tahini sauce and a very pokey tomato based chilli sauce.

There’s a few stew type dishes on the menu but, like most other plates I saw going past, we were having kebabs for a main course. A generous serving of chicken, marinated in the ubiquitous Lebanese garlic “white sauce” which is often served alongside chicken but here now baked on. The other two were having lamb. Good lamb but, like the falafel, a little overcooked for perfection. There was a new chilli sauce served – fruity and with a little less of a kick but no less tasty. And perfectly cooked mixed rice and vermicelli.

Petra is unlicensed but does permit you to bring your own, for which they make a nominal £1 corkage charge. We’d stuck to a couple of soft drinks, mint tea and Arabic coffee. Bill was still under sixty quid.
John Hartley

#42 Harters

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 02:00 PM

PUNJAB TANDOORI, RUSHOLME

Rusholme’s “Curry Mile” has changed over the years. For one, it’s only in comparatively recent years that it’s been known as the Curry Mile. For another, the whole feel of the area has changed. One thing hasn’t changed – it’s never been a mile. Perhaps half that but still, allegedly, with Europe’s greatest concentration of Indian restaurants. Oh, another thing – it’s still very tacky with the bright lights of the restaurants and the even brighter lights from the gold bangle shops.

I’m long enough in the tooth to remember that the only time you visited was after the pub closing time with a good few pints inside of you. As Indian food became more popular, it became a place to go for dinner for the more adventurous eater. Now, with a curry house in every neighbourhood, Rusholme is reinventing itself. The new restaurants are middle eastern once again bringing a different cuisine to Manchester diners. And it’s no longer just Anglos sitting in the restaurants and ambling along Wilmslow Road deciding where to eat. In fact, Anglos are now very much in a minority.

So, whilst some things have changed about the food, others havn’t. The Indian restaurants still serve their generic “any protein with any sauce” gloop and, whilst folk may claim that they favour one place above another, there is really nothing to choose about the food. Same menu, same gloop, same threadbare carpets leading to the bogs.

Except for the Punjab Tandoori. In spite of its north Indian name, until very recently it was the only place for miles around where you could get some south Indian dishes. Dishes like dosas and bhel puri. And a selection of vegetarian main courses that went well beyond “mixed vegetables rogan josh”. So, that’s why we ate there again instead of going to Jaffa, Beirut or one of the other middle easterners.

Knowing the size of the thing, we ordered one masala dosa to share between the two of us. Enormous. Lovely crisp pancake. Well spiced potato filling. A little dish of coconut chutney to soften. A much pokier sambar to perk it up.

It seems to be my current lot in life to eat in restaurants where there are inordinate delays between courses and the Punjab was no exception. Inexplicable as we know that much of Indian cooking at this level is already pretty much cooked and just needs warming through. What need warming through for us was aloo gobi – big chunks of potato and cauliflower, perhaps a little underseasoned, underspiced and underwhelming. Better was a dahl makhani, perhaps almost the classic Punjabi dish – a rich cream sauce, lentils just nicely al dente, good chilli kick.

We had it with some rice and a missi roti. This was a new bread for us – like a standard roti but with garam masala, turmeric, garlic and a heavy hit from fenugreek added to the dough. Crisp, properly scorched round the edges, simply delicious.

And then we went for a wander along the road. I love the Curry Mile. Even after all these years. And we spotted a new Afghani place. And a Yemeni. Now they’ve gotta be worth a punt.
John Hartley

#43 Harters

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 03:34 AM

I see from its website that South Manchester's "faded star", the Moss Nook, is to close in the near future, with the retirement of the Harrisons.

In the 1980's, it was the dog's danglies of places to go for the celebration birthday or anniversary meal. But, when we last there, a year or so back, it seemed horribly dated. I was pushing 60 on that visit and felt like a spring chicken in comparision with the rest of customers.Gob-smackingly, it still retains a Good Food Guide score of 3 (which I rather think reflects also on how erratically the GFG scores places in this neck of the woods)

Wont be missed by me at least in its present guise. Hopefully new owners can breath some life into the twitching body.
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#44 Harters

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 02:18 PM

RHUBARB, BURTON ROAD, WEST DIDSBURY

Oh, yes, we got a good ‘un tonight. Firstly because we had a really nice time. And, second, because their “early doors” menu runs till 9.30 on Sunday and Monday nights. So, three courses of items lifted from their carte for a bargain £15.95. And not pared down in quantity either. West Didsbury’s a bit of foody area – there are several places within a couple of hundred yards where I’m more than happy to eat – Greens, Azzurro, Lime Tree and so on. Rhubarb has been here some years – my partner has eaten there a couple of times but it was my first time.

A choice of four things at each course – all straightforward bistro affairs. Modern European, if you will, with a little nod towards Italy running through some of the offerings. Good bread – a garlic foccacia – to kick off. A simple tomato soup – fresh tasting from ripe tomatoes, drizzled with a little truffle oil - was the better of the two starters. My own, a fillet of smoked haddock sat on shredded fennel, surrounded by orange segments. I could see what the chef was getting at – haddock/fennel works; fennel/orange works – but I wasn’t so keen on haddock/orange.

For mains, we both went with rump steak. A generous 10oz portion, cooked bang-on as requested, topped with a little maite d' butter. A few green beans. And the finest restaurant chips we can recall in a long, long, time – potatoey, crispy, lovely. Worth the trip just for the chips - trust me on this one.

Whereas my starter had perhaps too much citrus, the opposite was true with dessert. A lemon polenta cake was lightness itself. Really good. But where was the lemon? A quenelle of mascarpone and a scattering of pecans worked well for taste and texture.

Opposite, cheese was being scoffed. A pick of three from their menu of about eight. All clearly well kept and, thanks upon thanks, not fridge cold. Appleby’s smoked Cheshire, a tangy Butler’s Cheddar, and a creamy blue Perl Las. Served with biscuits and what we reckon must have been homemade chutney.

Service from the two young women was very Didsbury. Chatty, a bit studenty, but well done. Good selection of well priced wines by the glass.

We’re going to be regulars – on Sunday and Mondays.

Edited by Harters, 17 July 2011 - 02:20 PM.

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#45 Harters

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 01:51 PM

SEVEN SPICES, CHEADLE HULME

We’re not that well endowed with decent South Asian restaurants in North Cheshire – places with a “proper” menu and not serving up the “any protein with any sauce” of your standard high street curry house. There’s Dilli in Altrincham, there’s Sindhoor in Burnage, there’s Seven Spices and there’s.......well, that’s really about it.

And even here, the meal was very much a game of two halves.

There were some nice mini-pappads to start, with three decent chutneys – thinnish mango which managed not to be the lurid colours of the curryhouse, a soft yoghurt one and pokey one of mint, chilli & lime. Liked the last one a lot.

Aloo papri chaat was a good follow-on. A nice mix of chickpea, potato, onion and crisp pastry dressed with a very zingy yoghurt and tamarind sauce. Perhaps a bit oversauced and a bit too wet – but it was well seasoned.

Aloo tikki was the restaurant’s take on potato croquette, with the addition of the odd pea. It was just bland and very underwhelming and was barely lifted by a mint and tamarind sauce.

Distinctly not bland was a special of Rajasthani lamb. I asked what it was and was told that it was like a standard rogan josh but hotter due to the use of roasted red chillis. OK, so having been warned about the heat, it is probably churlish to comment that it was too hot. But it was. There was none of the fragrance and rounded spicing of a well made rogan josh. This was raw chilli heat – the sort that caught at the back of your throat. It could have been so much better and it should have been so much better. Such a shame.

There were much better goings-on on the other side of the table. Gosht Do Piaza brought the same tender lamb as my dish but, also, a cleverer, more subtle use of spicing and, in particular, chilli. Yes, of course, there was heat in there, but it wasn’t dominating the sauce’s masala.

For carbs, a generous bowl of perfectly cooked fluffy basmati rice and a similarly bang-on tandoori roti, charred round the edges but not so much that it snapped.

Service is attentive and smiley. The room is decorated and furnished in a modern style and there's table linen and a decent wine list. So efforts are certainly made here. It’s only just up the road, so we’ll obviously be back but must remember to choose more wisely next time.
John Hartley

#46 PassionateChefsDie

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 07:09 AM

My neck of the woods...

Interesting one about Persian Grill there is one in Stockport called Rayhoon, St. Petersgate, Stockport I've had a few bits but I mainly go for the Hummus, but Lamb is of a good enough quality. Had a little hiccup last time I went but full marks for Service. I generally eat with vegetarians thankfully my brother already had decided to double up on Falafel(Starter), but 2 no shows for the other Main course. Thankfully the other vegetarian is really a pescatarian so all ended up good. They even removed the salmon main course and both owners(Chef and front of house) couldn't of been more apologetic. Again not really a must go to, but a good cheapish night, with a nice relaxed ambience, (even a bit of live music on main nights) for a posh kebab is how I think of it.

The one possibly missing for me would be Damson, Heaton Moor got to say it's up there for me a little expensive but having eaten at Ramsons very recently and tbh thoroughly enjoyed it. With some fantastic recommendations for wines to go along side a vegetarian and meat 10 course taster menu. I felt Damson pipped it for food it just had a little more yummy to it. It had it's flaws and was still quite expensive, not to mention wine recommendation was non-existent leaving the unknowledgable(Me) to try and get something to fit a vegetarian and meat meals respectively. So I reckon a review here would be very worthy.

As for Asian cuisine you've certainly given me some more new ones to try I keep trying but yet to find one that is exceptional, but then I think I'm perhaps comparing too highly having eaten at Prashad, Bradford, and Maharaja, Liverpool recent'ish. So hopefully one of these you've mentioned will tickle my fancy. I have to say Mughli, Rusholme is the one that has one favour at the moment having had a few good meals and some sound recommendations for dish choices.
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#47 Harters

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:25 AM

Much as I'd love to hope otherwise, there simply isnt anywhere I know in the metro area that's even close to the quality of Prashad.

Good call on Damson. It's a while since I've been.
Damson link

Have you tried Steve Pilling's pub in High Lane? I keep thinking of popping there for lunch but always sem to get deflected.
John Hartley

#48 PassionateChefsDie

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:57 AM

Not tried it now that could be well worth a try(Now will I be let down by the corn beef hash or do we have a recommendation), I was tempted by a meal out tonight though ruined my plans slightly. I was quite intrigued by Punjab Tandoori as generally if eating Indian with my brother I'd rather choice over one, so as he won't eat meat I have to give it up.

As for as good as Prashad I have to say if you're in Liverpool that is well worth going to, not really comparable. As where as I thought of Prashad as really, really good street fare(Not that I've ever been to India) Mahajara left me spinning(Chicken Butter fry absolutely divine, Beet Cheera Pachadi(Spinach and Beetroot, I still think about the flavours)) if I could only think of another reason to go to Liverpool.. But alas I'm now derailing the South Manchester Thread... But just in case Maharaja
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#49 Harters

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 02:03 PM

LOTUS, NORTHENDEN

We’d gone to Northenden intending to eat at Persian restaurant, Shiraz, only to find it shut, perhaps permanently.

So, it was on to Plan B. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of fusion cuisine but, at least, Lotus keeps the two strands of its menu separate. So, a full Malaysian menu on the first couple of pages, followed by a couple of South Indian. We stuck with the latter and will return to try the Malaysian side of things in a few weeks.

Mutton chukka is a Tamil dish. Almost dry with curry leaves very present and a powerful chilli kick. This was certainly a wake-up starter. Truth be told, it was a bit chewy although whether this was because it was mutton or because it needed longer cooking, I’m not sure (although my bet is on the latter).

Chilli and curry leaf, along with coriander, formed the major flavourings of the first of my partner’s starters. Methu vadai were a couple of well fried, erm, doughnuts. These were really lovely and were, perhaps, the best thing either of us ate. Alongside, a little bowl of a coconut sambar and another of sweet chilli sauce.

Her second starter filled most of the table. Served on a large stainless compartmentalised platter (that’s probably used elsewhere for thali type meals), there were four steamed idli. We’d not had these before and wouldn’t necessarily be in rush to order them again. Apparently, rice and lentils are ground to a paste and left for several hours, by which time the mixture ferments and sets somewhat. The steaming turns it into a soft ball of bland gloop. Yes, I know I’m not selling this to you but it wasn’t as bad as it reads. What perks things up considerably are the four chutneys provided for dipping – coriander, a spicy tomato, tamarind and the coconut sambar.

This was followed by a masala dosa. Not the finest ever experienced. A well flavoured filling of potato which still had some texture but the dosa itself was soggy in parts.

My own main, the Tamil classic of chicken chettinad was also OK. Offered the option of having it medium or spicy, I’d gone for spicy and was glad I had as the thin sauce remained restrained in use of spices and, in particular, of chilli.

We did have some issues with service. My starter had to be chased up, for example. There was a gap between each main course arriving and then a further gap before rice appeared. It was almost as if whoever was cooking wasn’t really experienced in the restaurant business.
John Hartley

#50 PassionateChefsDie

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 02:23 PM

Red Lion, High Lane So did go mmm not sure had a quite reasonable refurb will it really be a Robinson flagship first impression is it is well and truly in the wrong location. Well first lets get the ahhh's! out, first why oh why do people keeping persisting with these micro leaves when they offer nothing to the dish then my other one I'm really getting a bit of tired of brown boutique chic.

So went have to say a good pint of Guinness, on to the food not sure what to say but part of me thinks I'd of enjoyed my money spent better in curry mile. So ate from both al a carte and tdh, I had goat cheese fritters, beetroot, Asian pear and walnuts. With so much acidity from the pear, beetroot not sure what the vinaigrette offered. Also a little greasy also seemed a waste of a good goats cheese not really sure which one but it was a small log. As for the micro watercress this offered nothing to the dish and even clashed slightly. My brother had creamed mushrooms on toasted sour dough this time of year always seems a shame when you don't see chanterelles nothing really to say nothing really to go wrong can't say I tasted them as I already expected what they'd taste like.

Onto main course well did have corn beef hash and crikey what protein overdose not sure what to say here I suspect it is as the chophouses(Does Pilling still run them). Just for me I expect some potato and veg but I suspect I'm in the minority and most want beef eggs and bacon, so I suspect I've not quite killed the vegetarian in me yet. My brother had macaroni gratin, cauliflower polonaise, and something tomato nothing to comment really it is what it is though I did suspect de cecco macaroni(Always a win in my book). One bonus the bread was pretty damn good. Didn't get to desserts.

Left really unsure I suspect the fans of the chophouses will be happy, as for will I be back have to say maybe for Sunday lunch not often you see a roast rib. Just came away with I'd of enjoyed it more for less and the adding of a 10% gratuity is a pet hate of me not to mention a loss for the servers as I rarely tip less than £10(probably closer to £15) under £100.
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#51 Harters

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 02:56 PM

GURKHA GRILL, WEST DIDSBURY

This Nepalese restaurant seems to have been there for donkeys years. Certainly I’ve walked past it many times but this is the first time we’ve been.

Much of the menu is the bog standard offerings from any number of north Indian places – the “any protein with any sauce” type of meal. But there are some more interesting things to be had.

We passed on the usual poppadums offer but were pleasantly surprised to receive a freebie salad – tomato, onion, pepper, chickpeas – brought together with the zing of lime juice and a hefty chilli kick.

My partner enjoyed her chana chaat – the same ingredients as the freebie salad but a less intense flavouring and with a good sourness from tamarind. I’d ordered a very Nepalese dish of momo – minced chicken dumplings, very similar to Chinese dim sum, but served in a very spicy tomato sauce. Although interesting in itself, it wasn’t a dish I’d be in a rush to return to – the sauce overpowered what was probably a delicately spiced dumpling.

We both went with lamb mains from the Gurkha specialities menu. First up was Khasi Ko Bhutwa – the meat had been cooked first long and slow, so that was very tender and then finished in the pan to crisp the exterior with ginger, garlic and cumin. It is served dry with the spices just forming the crisp coating. It was lovely and such a change from the very wet dishes you often come across from this part of the world.

Speaking of very wet dishes, I’d ordered Aduwa Khasi. A fragrant dish of, again, excellent tender lamb; the sauce with lots of sliced ginger and “al dente” green pepper and finished with fresh coriander. It worked very well with the pilau rice that we had to accompany the mains.

Unfortunately, the pretty good food was let down by less than stellar service. My main course had to go back as they’d prepared it with chicken rather than the lamb as ordered. And a side order of tarka daal had to be chased and didn’t arrive until we’d all but finished.
John Hartley

#52 Harters

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 03:29 AM

PICCOLO, GATLEY

A new place near home , so it had to be tried. I’d always hope that the food at an independently owned Italian restaurant would be better than the chains – like Ask and Piccolino. And usually it is. But, I’m afraid to say, not here.

I like the way the conversion of the building has been done. And service was pretty good. That said, when there’s only one table occupied, you’d expect service to be pretty good.

A tomato bruschetta was much as you’d expect in northern Europe in December. Decent crisp bread but the tomatoes were under ripe. And straight out the fridge so whatever taste they might have had was pretty much destroyed. Yep, a bit of a mistake ordering it.

Frito misto was decent. Some salad leaves, topped with whitebait and squid rings with a blob of mayo on the side. Now, on first bite of the squid, there was a pleasant crunch from the very crisp batter. But the squid itself was chewy. I’d risk a fiver that this was frozen battered squid rather than anything freshly made from scratch in the kitchen.

A vegetable pizza came without its advertised black olives and cherry tomatoes. They would have perked up an otherwise quite boring offering. An accompanying salad was OK but had no dressing, nor was oil and vinegar brought until we asked for it.

Penne diavolo was fine but nothing to shout from the rooftops about. Al dente pasta and a creamy sauce with a few chunks of spicy salami stirred through. There was, shall we say, a lack of generosity in the portion size of both pasta and sauce.

We finished with coffee. It would have been nice if these had been served with sugar and a spoon, without us having to ask for them.
John Hartley

#53 Harters

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:41 AM

I’d risk a fiver that this was frozen battered squid rather than anything freshly made from scratch in the kitchen.

I first posted this review on a local board and the site owners assured me that I had lost my bet. Well, even though I remain absolutely gob-smacked that this wasnt frozen, the fiver has winged its way to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for East Africa. Coz I'm an "Honest John". Innit.
John Hartley

#54 Sidney

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:47 AM

A tip here John to avoid litigation not unusual even in this country always say an item tasted like not was so and so,then nobody can touch you. :sad:
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#55 Infrasonic

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:32 PM

Just put allegedly before anything critical... :wink:

Edited by Infrasonic, 10 December 2011 - 05:32 PM.

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#56 Harters

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 11:41 AM

PICCOLO - again

Went back to try their "crunch lunch" menu. A handful of pizzas, couple of pasta and a risotto - all priced at £3.50. Absolute freaking bargain. Perhaps only matched for value for money in the metro area by the "rice & three" at the Northern Quarter curry cafes.
John Hartley

#57 Harters

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:28 PM

LOTUS - again

So, we went back to sample the Malaysian menu. I think it’s better than the South Indian.

Google tells me that “Rojak” is the Malay word for “mixture”, so it’s no surprise that this is exactly what the dish was. A mix of soft fried tofu, bean sprouts, egg (and other stuff I couldnt identify) in a thick sweet chilli sauce, topped with peanut sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This was good – very good.

The other starter was roti canai. A couple of delicious flaky roti – just as we had a few months back in a Cape Malay restaurant in South Africa. The daal perfectly flavoursome and well seasoned but very thin in texture. Perhaps that’s how it’s supposed to be but it wasn’t a massive success – not least as it was so thin it ran off the bread.

Nasi Goreng Kampong Style was a very generous serving of rice, chicken, king prawn, vegetables, topped with anchovies. The prawns were obviously previously frozen and were served still with their tails on – but cooking managed to avoid the usual turn to rubber. Good dish – but not as good as my partner’s lamb rendang. This was a portion that would happily have fed both of us. This was good quality meat, cooked for a long, long time, so it was exceptionally tender. The sauce had all but gone and there was just enough clinging to the meat. I managed to get a couple of tastes (well, “tastes” undervalues the greed with which I attacked the leftovers). This was a star dish and I’d go back just to eat it.
John Hartley

#58 Harters

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 07:57 AM

NUMBER 4, DIDSBURY


This little modern bistro is tucked away down a cobbled side street, just away from the ghetto of chain places that infest this end of Didsbury. My partner had been before but today’s lunch was a first time experience for me.

As you might expect, there’s nothing adventurous about No. 4 – just decent offerings of Brit bistro food. Like a cheddar cheese soufflé, which was light and cheesy and came with a splodge of tomato & chilli sauce. Like a goodly sized portion of four king scallops, just cooked through, and thankfully, still with the coral attached. They sat on a slice of crisply fried prosciutto, some pea puree and a sprinkling of pea shoots.

This bit of spot-on cooking preceded another spot-on bit of cooking in the form of calves liver. I’d been asked how I wanted it cooked and I’d replied that I’d like it how the chef would like it. Thankfully, he doesn’t like overdone liver. The thin slices must have been in the pan only a matter of seconds to come out as pink and delicious as they did. There were a couple of slices of back bacon, a dollop of spinach, a bigger dollop of none too sloppy mashed spuds and a well seasoned light sauce. And, for a bit of texture contrast a few battered onion rings. It was the sort of plate that I reckon to be a nigh on perfect lunch dish. Oh, and they offer this in large or small portions and, yes, of course I went large.

Another dish offered in two sizes was my partner’s fish and chips. Small in this case but certainly sufficient that she wasn’t about to go away hungry. Fish comes as haddock goujons, in a very light, very crisp tempura batter which makes it a very different dish than you get at Fosters Chippy at the other end of the village. Not necessarily better – but different; more refined; more elegant. Good chips – proper chips, not fries or “fat” chips. Mushy peas, of course. And tartare sauce that was probably out of jar.

Desserts kept up the decent standard. A salty caramel cheesecake did everything you’d expect by way of a rich dessert. Apple and rhubarb pie was in lovely crisp pastry with the tartness of the fruit softened by a good sprinkling of sugar and clotted cream.

No, Number 4 is not going to set the food world alight. Not even the South Manchester food world. But it’s enjoyable food. And it must disappoint them that, on a Friday lunchtime, ours was the only table occupied.

Edited by Harters, 08 June 2012 - 07:58 AM.

John Hartley

#59 Harters

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 01:49 PM

SHIRAZ, NORTHENDEN


We went to eat at this Persian place some months back, only to find it shut (seemingly permanently). Passing it a couple of weeks ago, we spotted it had reopened with new owners. And what a little cracker of a place it turned out to be.

There’s a fairly short menu – none of the page upon page of mezze items that you sometimes come across – but certainly enough to be of interest. What sparked the particular interest was a mezze choice of four items from the starter menu. However, the very lovely Iranian woman who was our server warned us off it, suggesting that the dishes were large and the mezze would easily feed four. So, we just ordered a couple of starters. First up, halim bademjan. I’ve had this before. A mix of aubergine, lentils, garlic and herbs, mashed together into not quite a dipping puree, then topped with yogurt. This was a belter of a version and the only sensible way to eat it was to dollop big spoonfuls onto the excellent flatbread. The other starter, hummus, was perfectly fine – but then hummus is hummus is hummus. We also ordered a bowl of very good torshi – nothing particularly exotic about the veg but all very nicely vinegared.

For mains, fesanjan was excellent. Long cooked, but still moist chicken. A big enough portion that would have fed two not very hungry people. The sauce sweetish from the pomegranate but not too sweet, and with little nibs of walnut offering a little texture change. The other plate, ghormeh sabzi – long cooked diced lamb and kidney beans with a restrained use of parsley, coriander, chive and fenugreek. Perhaps too restrained a use, it was like eating the Persian equivalent of shepherd’s pie. And, as with shepherd’s pie, it was good thing to eat.

But the gob-smackingly wonderful thing on both plates was the rice. Long grains, that we later found out was patna rice, beautifully cooked. Absolutely delicious – and we told the waitress so. Next minute, she’s explaining how it’s cooked and, yes, they’d be happy to sell us a kilo. That sorted, chef is the next person to arrive to tell us a simpler way to cook (basically just steam it, rather than a combination of boil and steam). Can’t recall ever buying ingredients direct from a chef before – nor getting a cookery lesson while we waited to pay the bill.

If you’re in the area, please go and give these nice people some business.

Edited by Harters, 19 June 2012 - 01:50 PM.

John Hartley

#60 Harters

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 06:58 AM

RED LION, HIGH LANE, STOCKPORT

It may well be in a pub building, have a pub name, and have a small drinking area but by any usual standards, this is a restaurant. And, when you know that it’s owned by Steve Pilling, you spot the menu similarities from when he ran the two chop houses in Manchester. Straightforward food, cooked well, which nods considerably in the direction of traditional British dishes. Good stuff and it’d been on our “to try” list for far too long.

There’s little to say about potted shrimps, except that they were well seasoned with a little hint of spice. They came with a small handful of leaves and a couple of slices of toast. Smoked haddock kedgeree was the other starter – well cooked rice, lots of fish flakes, a judicious use of the curry spices and a perfectly poached egg, which sloshed over everything else when I cut into it. Really nice.

A burger is a burger is a burger. It’s the additions which can break or, in this case, make it. There was crisp smoked bacon, a punchy cheddar, sliced tomato and onion. And, probably because this is a Pilling gaff, there’s none of the soft pappy burger bun that falls apart in your lap when you first bite into it. Oh no, this one comes on a proper northern barm cake. Usually served medium to medium rare, my partner is funny about mince products and prefers them well done. It didn’t seem to harm it too much. There’s decent chips (albeit of the “fat” variety) and not so decent coleslaw, that was quite watery.

It’s years since I’ve had a steak and kidney pudding. A bad gristle experience with a Hollands one from the chippy put me right off them. But, it was time to overcome my blind prejudice. A thick and nicely solid suet pastry packed with long cooked steak and a little (too little) kidney. A jug of gravy moistened it all up. Mushy peas and the same fat chips on the side. This was a main course plate that shouted to me that I’d need a nap afterwards.

These four dishes were off the main menu. But there’s a stunner of a lunchtime bargain that we’re going back for. A table d’hote of starter, main course, glass of wine - £25 for two. They change the TdH every couple of weeks apparently.

You’ll have gathered I liked it here. But it reminded me that a return visit to Pilling’s Damson restaurant at the other end of town is well overdue.
John Hartley