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Room, Manchester

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Manchester is somewhere I very rarely but occasionally visit so I am largely unfamiliar with where to eat in the evening.

I know there's a thread covering Manchester and I have tried reading a few reviews over on Manchester Confidential but places seem to rise and fall, standards and chefs change and it becomes a bit unclear where I might choose to eat.

Since we need to be in Manchester on Monday, my girlfriend and I will be celebrating her birthday there on Sunday and I'm looking round for a nice place to eat. Where is making good food right now? Mainly looking for a nice setting - doesn't necessarily have to be romantic but somewhere comfortable and with a bit of character. She isn't massive on Asian food, but if it's especially good, she can be persuaded. I notice there's a place called Room - it has a couple of rosettes so the food might be pretty good, prices look okay but the place from what I can tell looking at pictures doesn't look too great. But maybe that has grabbed my attention most so far - what's it like?

Also, we're in our early/mid twenties - still studying and I think she'd feel a bit awkward in a really formal place and would be happier somewhere she felt we could relax. Not my issue or criteria but I should mention!

Edited by SaladFingers (log)
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I've never been to Room. Not that I've heard anything against it - just never fancied it.

Other options for decent food in an informal, but nice, setting, might be Grill on the Alley or the recently acquired (from the Paul Heathcote empire) the Grill on New York Street. San Carlo will do you glitzy Italian - sighting of Premier League footie player all but guaranteed. Round the corner, decent steaks at Gaucho. And, possibly best for "character" Sams Chop House.





John Hartley

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Have been pleasantly surprised with how good Rosso is, it's Rio Ferdinand's place near King Street. Great interior and decent, good value food. Loved Sams Chophouse when I went there for the first time in about 5 years last week - we were a party of twenty eight but they managed to bring us all perfectly medium rare rib eyes within a five minute window, very impressive.

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Room is not bad, but also not great. On a recent judging visit I was also dismayed to see dirty heavily marked tableware throughout the meal and an assiette of desserts where the knife wasn't clean between slicing each element into portions leading to cross-contamination - not a world-ending disaster but an unfortunate indication of slack kitchen habits...

San Carlo is fine, but to be honest I've never found the food above acceptable (likewise for Rosso, which has previously been accused by those in the trade of buying in sauces and desserts). Personally, on the basis of much too much personal experimentation, I'd say Cicchetti (also owned by San Carlo group) knocks them all into a cocked hat. It's slick, bustling, and yes it has plenty of "dressed up" folk but I feel equally comfortable piling in post-football in scruffs. The pasta and meat dishes are pretty good, and the pizzas are probably the best in town. The fact the menu is based on a Cicchetti small plates concept means lots of opportunity to try different dishes, mix and match or share.

Otherwise as noted Grill on the Alley (or sister restaurant Grill on New York St) are safe bets for classy but accessible crowd-pleasing steaks and seafood with almost unfailingly friendly and professional service, and Gaucho isn't cheap but is great for steaks (and the divine cheese-bread). Also great for steaks is the Malmaison's rebranded restaurant Smoak, which has a slightly weird kitsch Americana fit-out but also has one of the famous Josper charcoal grills which means it's grill dishes can be fantastic (the cheap bavette/skirt steak frites with peppercorn sauce is a winner).

The Chophouses, Sams and Mr Thomas's, are good too if you like pubbier pubs. Proper hearty rib-sticking fair, some decent beers and a kick-arse wine-list. The classic dishes are the home-corned corned beef hash or the home-made steak and kidney pudding (proper suet pudding - heaven!) which comes with tons of chips, fresh peas and a little jug of gravy. If you fancy a wild-card a new French restaurant has opened in the Light apartment building on Church St. First reports are good, and the menu sounded like it ticked the boxes of classic peasant cuisine.

If you decide to try Asian then Red Chilli for spicy Sichuan dishes tends to get the eGullet vote, with plenty of fans for Red and Hot too. Also in Chinatown is Phetpalin which for my money is the best and most authentic Thai in town at the moment. No shortage of good Indian or at least Pakistani restaurants too - EastZEast and Akbars tend to draw most plaudits but personally I'd wonder down towards the University quarter and go for Zouk in the Quadrangle. Don't be put off by the madness of chips and bloody omelette on the menu, it has some seriously authentic dishes (like brain!)

Based on recent city centre eating experiences I'd also flag up Vertigo of worthy of explanation, and Australasia offers a beautiful setting and although the pacific rim cooking/sushi isn't as knockout as at launch it's still pretty good (though Jay Rayner didn't approve). That said both offer more formal eating experiences than you may be looking for...

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any more interest in specific areas.



It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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