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Mrs Woman

Restaurants outside London & SE

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Yes I know there has been a similar thread and I know the topic has been discussed as to why restaurants don't get acknowledged/are any good, etc. I'd like this topic to discuss anything north of the Watford Gap (speaking metaphorically). I can't believe no one has had a decent meal in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham and so on. I am sick to death of reading 'has anyone been to Nahm/Gordon Ramsay/etc?'! Yes I know the quality is mostly in the capital and that fine dining doesn't tend to work as well in the cities of the north but please can we discuss some none Southern places???? I live nowhere near London and I'm sure there are some other E-Gulleters who don't either.

Otherwise I love this site and this is my first post, eek!

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Hello Mrs Woman - I completely agree with you. I have had many great meals in the UK including Rascasse (when Simon Gueller was there) Teatro and Leodis in Leeds, Juniper  in Altrincham (hoping to go back soon, Paul Kitchen is a mad genius) the superb Aldards in Norwich, The Merchant House in Ludlow (one of the best meals of 2001, Shuan Hill is the best chef in the UK bar none now Marco has retired) Rhodes and Co in Edinburgh, Nairns in Glasgow, Shu and Cayenne in Belfast, Le Poussin in Brockenhurst, La Gousse Dail in Oxford etc etc etc. Virtually none of these meals however have been since the launch of eGullet. Those not mentioned here are reviewed on my own site, or are now too far in the past to be relevant.

I would welcome a broader coverage of the UK on these boards, but many of our users are SE and London based. So please kick things off with some places you have visited recently.

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Unfortunately I haven't been able eat anywhere recently I suppose 'you lot' (and I mean that in a nice way!) would consider fine dining, as I'm saving up for both a house and a wedding!

However, last December I had the good fortune to eat at Palmiro, which is just outside Manchester. Fantastic Italian food and they adhere to the Slow Food premise, which meant for a wonderful cheeseboard. They also do inventive veggie stuff, rather than goats cheese , like butternut squash lasagnette with fonduta & amaretti crumbs (I'm not veggie but the mood takes me sometimes).

Oh yes, about a year or so ago, or when it first opened I went to the River Room in the Lowry Hotel for lunch. What a disaster! Despite being almost empty, all the dishes took ages to arrive and when they did they were all lukewarm or just plain cold. The many staff were very nice but seemed to faff an awful lot (are all MPW places like that???). Once my dish had been reheated , the Aberdeen Angus en daube was delicious, but I could have done without the wait.

So to answer your question Yvonne, I'm 'eating' in the NW but I do hope to broaden my horizons on my travels.

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I'm glad the point has been made about 'restaurants outside London'. Although there are high points throughout the country, it is a fact that the vast majority of truely top class restaurants are in London.

That said, there are a plethora of fantastic and enjoyable eating experiences to be had throughout the UK, but the lack of media coverage means the majority are often missed by travellers and tourists, reinforcing the 'few good restaurants in the provinces' shctick.

As a proud Mancunian, and a voracious diner, I thought I would kick of the whole 'good eating experiences outside London' thing by making a few recomendations (and a few warnings) for my home town. The levels of service or quality of tableware may not always match Ramseys latest, but it should guantee some very enjoyable meals. Which is what its all about really.

Lets see who agrees or disagrees with these:

Stephen Saunders at The Lowry

Has a 'tidal' system of atmosphere, depending on the timing of the performances at the surrounding theatres. Busy before, dead during. good though inconsistent food - with well executed fish deserving a mention - and sharp service. River view will shortly include Libeskind's Imperial War Museum,  though some areas of the dining space feel isolated

Restaurant Bar and Grill (Yes I could have a vested interest, but trust me on this...)

'Raised the bar' in Manchester dining standards. An excellent space, with a genuinely impressive glazed  'conservatory'. Service is at a standard seldom found at such reasonably priced locations. Grill dishes are notable, as are the Asian tinged starters. Busy most evenings and more so at lunchtime, the only time when service levels slip

Croma

Pizza Express Mark II. Crisp clean interior, with art deco windows, as well as white walls and ceiling fans that hint at warmer climes. Pizzas are competent - good bases and creative toppings - and good value, with helpful service. Some incongruous details - such as 'hotel style' foil wrapped butter portions - spoil the overall effect.

Palmiro

A pioneering and refreshing venue. Stuck in the middle of Whalley Range, 5 mins from the bright lights of bohemian Chorlton, this restaurant was a risk. The quality and authenticity of the food - both cooking and ingredients, chattery intimate atmosphere and pleasing if bare styling ensure it is still with us. Good.

Samsi Yakitori

The first city centre Japanese to ignore the crowd pleasing teppanyaki antics. A cavernous and seldom buzzing atmosphere houses excellent chefs, outstanding food as well as (understandably) attentive service. Extensive sushi, sashimi and grill menus and some of the best Japanese cooking outside the capital. A recent visit to Nobu NY only reinforced its comparative quality.

Love Saves the Day

An absolute stormer. Part cafe, part deli, part coffee shop, this bustling operation bears comparison with the NY delis it is so obviously in awe of. The excellent though 'gappy' selection of deli products drives the menu, competent Mediterranean cuisine along with the cities best coffee. A quirky though intelligent list of wines and beers tops of an immensely pleasing experience.

Livebait

Seafood comes to Manchester at last, all wrapped up in a respected brand name (bar the recently deceased Chelsea flagship). The space is enticing, though the building itself has a history of failed food and drink ventures. Style and menu as per London, though as always the North suffers with problems of consistency. Initial Mancunian griping about the price has led to noticeably bigger portions, so you now feel either sick or wasteful, as well as poor.

Earth

Morality, religion and food. Earth forms part of the accompanying Buddhist Centre, and sits in the cosmopolitan 'Northern Quarter'. Food is organic, seasonal, vegetarian, cruelty free and fairly traded. The end result is wholesome and refreshing fare, that leaves you feeling well fed, and as if you've done some good in the world. The airy space is peaceful, and a satisfying contrast to the hubbub outside.

Bridgewater Stalls

A Similar clientele to Stephen Saunders crowd this unsung hero. Inventive modern British menu (with a Northern slant), reasonable prices, pleasing views, waterside location, and all the benefits of hearing great (albeit muffled) orchestral music for free. Bound to become more frantic with the opening of the nearby conference centre and various hotels, get in while you can.

Piccolino (Again, I could have a vested interest, but its true...)

On the main strip in Knutsford, and sister to Manchester's 'Restaurant', the wonderful Piccolino couldn't seem less related if it tried. A modern rustic feel - with scrubbed tables, and soothing blues and terracotta's, is enhanced by a fantastic modern Mediterranean menu. Service is relaxed and efficient, fish, meat, pasta and pizza are all excellent, and the panna cotta has to be tasted to be believed.

(Edited by thom at 5:04 pm on Jan. 11, 2002)

(Edited by thom at 5:05 pm on Jan. 11, 2002)

(Edited by thom at 5:07 pm on Jan. 11, 2002)

(Edited by thom at 5:12 pm on Jan. 11, 2002)


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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Yes Thom, forgotten about Restaurant Bar & Grill. Only had the 'bar snacks' but very good and very filling, especially the Middle Eastern platter. However duck spring rolls were a bit fatty, maybe a one off... Will try main restaurant once I can actually get a table!

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Livebait...NO NO NO NO NO chain dining at its most rip off and disgusting.  You would be better off stuffing your head in the Manchester Ship canal

That being said ( in a very nasular and manc way) Manchester does have the finest Chinese Restaurant in the spectacular Yang Sing(sp!)

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Yes. You must excuse the mention of Livebait. The reviews were orginally written for someone who wanted chains included and for the sake of getting this thread going I thought I would throw them into the mix regardless.

My post merely scratches the surface of Manchesters culinary landscape, with the aforementioned Yang Sing, The Market Restaurant and Juniper all still to be found by intrepid diners.


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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ah yes, the Yang Sing. The only restaurant in manc ever to get reviewed in the national press. Sometimes I wish they would get off their high horse and venture out of Chinatown.

Unfortunately we do have a plethora of chain restaurants in Manc. Chester is even worse with only a handful of independents, with chain delights such as  the dreaded Est Est Est, which has gone increasingly downhill in the past year, and the Mongolian bloody Barbecue.

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Thom ,have you eaten at Juniper recently. I read that he's come over all Heston-ish serving Weetabix (I think) sauces and such and gives about 12 courses.

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Being a snobby Londoner, I am always not only pleased but surprised when I get a nice meal out there in the provinces.  I had to go to a wedding in Kings Lynn about a year ago.  Arriving the evening before, I had a very pleasant dinner at a place called Rococo.  They made the most of a great local ingredient, fresh Cromer crab.

One more:  on a cold, windy night in Liverpool last year, I stumbled out of the Philharmonia pub and accidentally found a very cheerful, modern, new (or new-looking) bistro called 60 Hope Street (the address, of course).  Nothing to travel miles for, just good, professionally prepared and served food, in an area where I'd have settled for chips with curry sauce ten years ago.

(Edited by Wilfrid at 2:14 pm on Jan. 11, 2002)

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Mrs Woman, good Yang Sing comment.

Yvonne, The Restaurant Bar and Grill is owned by the sister company of The Restaurant Game (publishers of Restaurant Magazine) for whom I am Marketing Director. The same Applies to Piccolino and the Knutsford Wine Bar (both in Knutsford), and The Alderley Bar and Grill (Alderley Edge, strangley enough).

Andy. I haven't been to Juniper for over two years. I found it similar to - but fussier and less technically adept -  than a typical Shaun Hill menu, whom I believe Paul Kitching worked with. The business side of the restaurant has recentally changed, and dining space has increased. The menu has changed, and a move in a 'Heston-thal' direction is believable. I'm intrigued by the Weetabix thing, and feel compelled to give it another go.

Wilfrid. Well done for finding the Phil, a fantastic pub, with the most ornate toilets in Britain (quite a claim I know). Hope St is decent, but if in Liverpool again (it could happen, even for a self confessed snobby Londoner), try Bechers Brook (also on Hope St), No 7 cafe (just around the corner) or ZIBA (inbetween Bold St and Chinatown).


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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Paul Kitchin worked with Shuan Hill at Gidleigh for a few years and also with Ian McAndrew at his Canterbury restaurant I think. I really enjoyed my meal at Juniper but can't remember exactly what I had, but it was a little on the fussy side. He had just got his star so was perhaps trying a little too hard. I read in caterer that he is working towards a second, hence the change in direction.    

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Quote: from thom on 4:58 am on Jan. 14, 2002

Wilfrid. Well done for finding the Phil, a fantastic pub, with the most ornate toilets in Britain.

I was introduced to it as long ago as 1978  by my girlfriend at Liverpool University.  Very fine pub, and I was pleased to see it (including the lavs) largely unchanged.  Thanks for the other tips.  I am fond of Liverpool, so I try to get up there every two or three years.

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