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  • 2 weeks later...

Popped into Glamorous for some dim sum on Saturday. Sui Mai was rather good as were the prawn and chinese leek dumplings. Paper wrapped prawns was not a very adventurous choice but enjoyable nonetheles and we both enjoyed the pork and prawn dumplings, with a quail's egg perched above it.Steamed ribs were delicious, redolent with heaps of garlic and sweet lord did it repeat- but it was worth it. Star of the show was a broth of pig's skin, turnip and fish balls. The skin had become very gelatinous but gave a nice porky hit of flavour. A bit of a mistake as we didn't realise it was a soup. With some rice for the little one, one beer and chinese tea we paid just £26.

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Late lunch at Harvey Nichols tomorrow. Anyone been recently? The sample menu looked a little odd for my liking and the seem to be still trading on Alison Seagrave's name, eventhough she left to set up a Patisserie some time ago.

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Interesting!

Firstly I stick by my judgement, I find Sweet Manderin mediocre (especially when judged, possibly unfairly, against Red Chilli). The sister's who run it are supreme PR merchants (they've self-published books and are often in the papers and seem to enter every awards going!) and good luck to them for that, but it doesn't make it good food.

RDB, I shall post my thoughts on "Ramsey" (an on purpose mistake to check we're awake at the back?!) and his hunt for the finest local restaurant at a later and more appropriate date...

Interesting you namecheck Glamourous, Bapi, it's only two mins from my office and has become a bit of a regular haunt. I'm a big fan of their baby squid in satay (well worth a go) and they nail all the usual dim sum too. On my last visit I laboured through goose-feet (wrapped with a chunk of pork belly and some horrible granular vegetable block), a dish that earned shock and disgust from a Chinese family on the adjacent table, the waitress, and the restaurant manager (he can't eat them because they look like baby feet apparently).

And as for Harvey Nichols under the new chap I'm in the dark in terms of personal experience, but people I know who have eaten there seem to feel it has dipped since it's heyday under Alison.

Cheers

Thom

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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Going for dinner to Harvey Nicks next week. Since Mrs H & I are now both retired we are regarding this meal as the "office christmas party". Will report back.

I'm also a big fan of Glamorous - probably the current best of the Cantonese in the city centre?

John Hartley

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I see Matthew Norman has given the Modern a poor review. Is his comment on the dessert "As for my pud, warm parkin – "A northern kind of treacle tart," explained the incongruously warm and expert waitress – struck me more as McVitie's Jamaica Ginger Cake swimming in treacle" a negative? Or am I a bit odd for thinking this sounds wonderful, a restaurant version of one of my favourite cakes.

On a serious note: Matthew's reviews do seem to be getting a little of the wall, I first noticed it when he gave a glowing review to Mat Folas' (Masterchef winner) very pedestrian "Wild Garlic". Is he trying to emulate others style of criticism i.e. content light?

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Weirdly, for someone regularly accused of being over-defensive about his organization, I read that with some equanimity. Its not only a close to sentence-for-sentence re-run of his review of London Road (down to the car trouble, the professed love for Manchester and the worst-EVAH wine), but so over-the-top as to be silly. Something a little more nuanced would probably have been more effective.

Still, with Jay having been nice about us, there is a gap in the market for northern-restaurant hating reviewer...

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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Is it the same guy that writes for the Independent?

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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2ND FLOOR RESTAURANT, HARVEY NICHOLLS

Sometimes, you know a place is trying hard but it just isn’t hitting the mark. This is one such.

The room, which has a good view of the cathedral, is one of those “hard-landscaped” modern rooms – all tiles and high ceilings – that can look the epitome of chic or just cold and hard. It isn’t chic.

The service is generally good and formal – the sort of formality that whisks away your wine bottle to be kept somewhere at the opposite end of the room from your table. This is fine if the staff are on the ball and regularly bring the bottle. Not fine if you have to ask for it to be brought. This was not fine.

Aperitifs are a fine example of up-selling. There’s no “would you like a drink”. But a trolley is brought with four bottles on it and two glasses – “would you like a glass of champagne”. My wife would. Eleven quid for a glass of non-vintage own label, we found out later.

Food’s none too shabby but again, doesn’t quite hit the mark really anywhere.

Bread was so-so. A roasted onion one was nice, a seeded one more the sort of thing you might get in Greggs. Roasted onion popped up again in the amuse –a “spuma” of the onion with pickled apple and Lancashire cheese. This was actually rather good – with the sweetness of the onion and the sweet/sharp of the apple.

My starter was cured halibut, soused mackerel and potato salad. A few slivers of halibut and a couple of bits of mackerel were tasty enough and a pleasant light start but nothing to shout from the rooftops about.

The other starter saw the return of apple and Lancashire cheese. This was in a cauliflower soup, which had a dice of apple and a cheese beignet. My wife declared it to be “OK”.

She followed that with Morecambe brill, ham ravioli (in fact a single raviolo) and lightly pickled red cabbage. Each element was pretty good – the fish perfectly cooked; good rich ham in the raviolo and the cabbage presumably intended as contrast. The problem here was that it just didn’t come together as an integrated dish.

My main worked much better – rabbit, wrapped in Palma ham. There was some good choucroute; a smear of fig puree and a couple of tiny pieces of something white which must have been the advertised celeriac but which had no discernable taste.

There was also a lack of discernable flavour in an Earl Grey panna cotta, which just tasted of “sweet”. It was lifted a little by a couple of slices of mandarin. The other starter was rich and a good finish – roasted peanut parfait, rice crispy crunch , Guanaja chocolate. Basically the parfait sandwiched between triangles of chocolate.

Coffee was good. Petits fours average.

So, a not too bad meal. And one that would be particulary fine if you have only a small appetite. For those of us with more normal demands, it’s the sort of place that has you wondering if you should stop for a bag of chips on the way home. You don’t, of course, but you probably wish you had.

John Hartley

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  • 2 weeks later...

SHIMLA PINKS, DOLEFIELD, CROWN SQUARE

I usually think of Shimla Pinks as being the bronze medallist of city centre Indians – the runner-up after EastzEast and Akbars. We went along with every intention of eating from the main menu but, like everyone else on this Sunday evening, ended up taking the good looking buffet at £10.95 a head.

There was the usual poppadums, and accompaniments, together with some bowls of appetising looking salads. Hot starters were the least successful – a kebab and a chickpea dish were fine but a vegetable bhaji and aloo tikki both suffered from having hung about too long in the warming tray.

Mains all looked good – three meat and three veggie. Between the two of us, we sampled four – Harrey Massaley Gosht the most enjoyed. Very tender lamb in a thick spinachy sauce. Well spiced, with a hint of sweetness and a background hit of chilli. Butter chicken was pretty much as expected. Tarka daal was good. Least successful was dish of lamb keema and chicken which didn’t really come together.

Steamed basmati rice was fragrant and a good texture; a pilau rice less so. A deep-fried bread was greasy, soggy and just not nice at all.

Finally there was an array of desserts. Seemingly, never a strong point in Indian places, it was cheap looking cheesecake, fruit salad and gulab jumun. The waiter was very keen for me to try the latter, telling me that although it looked a very simple affair, much work went into it. It's a dessert I usually enjoy and this version was none too shabby.

Service was good with drinks coming quickly. The staff were constantly clearing crockery from tables as well as topping up the serving dishes.

No complaints from me about a good value meal

John Hartley

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TOPKAPI PALACE, DEANSGATE - BARGAIN LUNCH @ £7.50

£7.50 gets you two courses and a soft drink.

Place has been there for donkeys years - certainly back to the 70s when I worked at the College of Building on Hardman Street and the Topkapi was round the corner on Peter Street.

A goodly selection of starters from which I picked falafel. Came with "kebab shop salad", pitta and a mayo & yoghurt dip.

Equally good selection of good,if simple, mains. Two large kofta kebabs - spicy with a good chilli hit - which sat on rice. More salad. Another pitta, sliced and "artfully" presented on top. The only downside - everything then given a good dousing with that slightly sweet tomato sauce gloop that you seem to get on so many dishes in Turkish restaurants. Always makes me think they've just heated up a tin of Heinz soup. It's a minor irritation for a really good value for money city centre lunch.

John Hartley

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  • 2 weeks later...

What with Marc from Fraiche cooking at Harvey Nicks later this month, I thought I should mention that a few of us a had a very enjoyable tasting menu lunch at the Second Floor last month. Food was very good on the whole, actually surpassing meals at Abode I have had in the past. A brill dish was perfect in executon, with spot on saucing the only slight aberration on the plate was the addition of "squeaky" baby leeks. But hey- that's a minor infraction. Service was spot on (Abode take note), being both genial and informative. Especially a star of a chap named Felix, who guided us through some unusual, but splendid wine choices.

One minor quibble- leanings towards pretentious language should be stamped out. One dish was described as a "compression" of foie gras. Er, that would be a terrine then. That aside, a very pleasant lunch and much, much better than I expected.

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Hey, i want to eat some good food at a reasonable price in manchester city centre. any suggestions other than Abode and Harvey nic's. cheers. Paul

Are you looking for classic English/French? or will Thai or Chinese be of interest?

If you would consider Thai, I think Chaophraya is excellent and decent value.

For Chinese, well, Red Chilli is a must, and I highly rate Red N Hot also

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Hey, i want to eat some good food at a reasonable price in manchester city centre. any suggestions other than Abode and Harvey nic's. cheers. Paul

Are you looking for classic English/French? or will Thai or Chinese be of interest?

If you would consider Thai, I think Chaophraya is excellent and decent value.

For Chinese, well, Red Chilli is a must, and I highly rate Red N Hot also

thanks David. i'm looking for something english/french in cuisine. will have to try Red Chilli when i get the time. on a completly different subject. have you eaten at Paul Kitchings restaurant yet? cheers Paul.

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Hey, i want to eat some good food at a reasonable price in manchester city centre. any suggestions other than Abode and Harvey nic's. cheers. Paul

Are you looking for classic English/French? or will Thai or Chinese be of interest?

If you would consider Thai, I think Chaophraya is excellent and decent value.

For Chinese, well, Red Chilli is a must, and I highly rate Red N Hot also

thanks David. i'm looking for something english/french in cuisine. will have to try Red Chilli when i get the time. on a completly different subject. have you eaten at Paul Kitchings restaurant yet? cheers Paul.

I'm assuming you mean 21212?

Hoping you will be pleased to read not only mine but quite a few other reports on this link

Enjoy :biggrin:

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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As always it depends exactly what you're after (casual/fine dining, city centre/suburbs, traditional/modern etc) but as I hear it the most interesting new place doing seriously good French/English cooking is a neighbourhood place Aumbry in Prestwich (about 15 mins on the tram out of town, two mins walk from there).

Chefs are ex Fat Duck, and reviews and word of mouth to date are excellent. I'm due there for lunch in the next week or so.

Otherwise The Modern keeps getting fine reviews (Matthew Normal apart...).

Cheers

Thom

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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cheers mate.il have a butchers of that later. did you have a think on any other restaurants french/english style for me mate?? thanks paul.

As its not my locale, others on here will give you a better idea.

I have had a meal at the River Restaurant at The Lowry and enjoyed it, and if your into footie some of the Man U players dine their. (Ryan Giggs was at the table next to us.)

You may find this link very helpful for reviews as they have their fingers on the pulse of Manchester.

http://www.manchesterconfidential.com/index.asp?Sessionx=IaqiNwB6IHqiNwEjNwEiIHqi

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Aumbry

2 Church Lane

Manchester,

M25 1DB

0161 798 5841

(No website as yet)

Ok first caveat. Katie on FOH duties is a long time friend (20yrs +), ex next door neighbour/employee of mine. So in the interests of transparency I'll get that out of the way first!

Secondly. Although it's not strictly city center, it is only ten minutes drive up Bury New Road and the tram stop is five minutes walk away. So I'm posting it here as it will get more viewing traffic.

Table for four booked for 7pm last night, bit of a combined birthday bash for my sister and I. My mum had rung ahead to discuss veggie options/dietry needs/position of the moon etc. and generally fuss as only mums can. She was very happy with their responses. :rolleyes:

After entering we were shown upstairs for drinkies and nibbles, and a menu peruse. Although that should be menu(s) as there were ALC, tasting (£45),and veggie tasting (which I didn't get to see, so can't comment on). Phew.

So sis. and I decided to have the house italian white as drinkies @ £12ish a bottle. Very nice. They also do all the usual suspects, Chablis, SB, Viognier,etc.

I can't do red wine any more so I didn't look at the list.

My mum had a nice ginger beer and the driving non drinker had a mineral water.

The tasting menu was an amalgamation of all the ALC dishes, additional amuse (Braised Cheshire beef & Ale w Thyme dumpling), and the fish main swapped out for Poached fillet of wild Sea Bass w truffle creamed potatoes & chive broth (instead of ALC Plaice).

ALC options on the night were (it changes daily);

Starters

Celeriac soup w toasted chestnuts £4.50

Potted Lyme Park Venison w pickled cucumber and grilled wholemeal sourdough (toast to everyone else!). £6.50

Bury Black Pudding Scotch Egg w Mushroom relish & tomato ketchup. £6.00

Seared Mackerel w Fennel & cranberry. £5.00

Mains

Cheshire Rib Eye Steak w buttered curly kale,chips and bone marrow sauce. £18.50

Roast Mallard w Pumpkin purée, savoy cabbage, and braised leg meat parcel. £15.50

Pan fried whole Plaice w chive creamed potatoes, spinach and caper butter. £13.50

Winter Vegetable Hotpot w onion purée & pickled cabbage. £11.50

Deserts

Pedro Ximenez Sherry Trifle. £6.00

Treacle tart w lemon jelly & Earl Grey cream. £5.50

Hot chocolate pudding w rosemary & hazlenut. £6.50

British & Irish cheeses. £6.00

So ordered, seated downstairs in the small light cream dining room, 28 covers. Open kitchen (tiny) with three chefs looking very focused. (More of that later). 2 FOH staff.

First an amuse arrived. 3 beef/dumpling from the tasting and 1 veggie thing (toasty/cheesy?) that I have forgotten from the V. tasting. Very full flavoured beef 'n ale underneath the thyme dumpling, ate with a teaspoon, mmmm gorgeous. Sis' was very happy with her v.amuse.

Starters were 1 celeriac soup, 2 venison, 1 mackerel.

Very good presentation on all dishes, soup was a decent portion (no thimble stuff here). Venison was in a small ramekin with three bits of very acutely angled toast triangles. Small amount of pickled cucumber.

Mackerel was a good sized fillet, no postage stamp pretensions. (Although I'm sure the tasting menu would be cut down portions).

All the starters were quite delicate in their flavouring (bearing in mind how strong they could have been), the exception being the cucumber pickle which had a real lemony kick. Fantastic, unlike any pickle I've had before. Fish was very moist, just cooked, flaked instantly. All 'n all very good. Smiles all round.

Mains were 2 steak, 1 Plaice, 1 vegetable hotpot.

Again, presentation was spot on and I noted that my steak had a very fillet looking quality to it. This extended to the eating as it literally fell apart, the fat content was pretty minimal, but bags of rib eye flavour accentuated by the bone marrow sauce. Best steak in a long long time. I've got a feeling there may have been some slow cooking shenanigans going on initially as it was unlike any pan fried steak I've ever had. Curly Kale was nice, no bitterness. Tried the Plaice, very delicate again, capers and butter complimented nicely. Sis' was very happy with her veg hotpot.

Deserts were 2 trifles, 2 chocolate puddings.

15 minute wait for the chocolate puddings (cooked to order), so I amused myself with a glass of Pedro Ximenez NV (£3.95 for 50ml.) Very glad I did.

Trifles came in a tumbler style glass, chocolate puddings were small and round (I know my descriptive powers are amazing aren't they :raz: )

Trifle was extremely good, quite light and loose, biscuit base at bottom of the glass. Could have eaten several. Didn't get to try the chocolate pudding but asked about the rosemary. Sister could taste it very subtly and the other diner couldn't, so go figure. It wasn't overpowering which was my main concern.

A few observations. Mary Ellen in the kitchen has that serious chef aura about her. Every time I looked up she had an intense focus thing going on, and she's not afraid to communicate to the others what she wants. (no shouty stuff, but some firm banter). I can see why Bertie raved about her upthread. She has star quality.

The house mineral water is.....HILDON....aaargh. I moaned about this to katie, the excuse is it's British. So no Pellegrino then. I'm sure there is a better UK water than HILDON!! Even tap water... :biggrin:

Service is pretty spot on. No hand behind the back Michelin star nonsense, but friendly and informative. I suppose if they really want to go for the star they'll have to tweek a few things. But basically it's ninety percent there. All the diners in my party have done various 1 stars a few times and we agreed Aumbry was up there.

We all left very happy and can't wait to return, which is about as good as it gets really.

Edited by Infrasonic (log)
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The house mineral water is.....HILDON....aaargh. I moaned about this to katie, the excuse is it's British. So no Pellegrino then. I'm sure there is a better UK water than HILDON!! Even tap water... :biggrin:

You're Michael Winner in disguise, aren't you?

Must get meself round the M60 for a nosy at Aumbry.

John Hartley

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I went last night and did the tasting menu. I won't re-hash too much of the above.

The food is superb and well above the quality of nearly everywhere in the locality. Mary-Ellen is a major talent and the place feels homely and welcoming.

A good (if not quite as dry as I like) martini set the night off well. Home made crisps accompanying. The wine list is very fairly priced. We had a very good viognier that was £19.

As it was a belated birthday present, we decided that it would only be right to do the tasting.

Braised Cheshire beef and Ale was rich and warming; ideal given the weather.

The mackerel was a change from the previous night. This was home-smoked and came with fennel and cranberry. The smoking was subtle and delicate. Really did love it. The only criticism was the cranberry which I still feel have no taste whatsoever and are pointless.

Next was the Bury Black Pudding Scotch Egg. I'm of the firm belief that black pudding is one of the great foodstuffs of the world. It's combination with egg is divine. These were 2 very softly boiled quails eggs, rolled in black pudding that was then breadcrumbed. Served with mushroom relish and ketchup on a fried mushroom and grilled tomato. The eggs were perfect - soft yolks and firm white and I would have eaten about 20 of them.

Celeriac soup was well made, if not the most exciting thing in the world.

Poached fillet of sea bass was served with truffled mash and chive broth. This was an exercise in fish cooking par excellence. The mash had just the right amount of truffle oil to scent but not overpower.

The roast mallard was the pan-fried breast served with the leg that had been slowly cooked and served chou farci style. The meat was pink and rich. Balanced with a pumpkin puree.

Cheese was a set selection - berkswell, Kidderton Ash, Montgomery cheddar, a smoked hard cheese, a blue goats and Cropwell Bishop stilton. Not the most exciting cheeseboard, but all served at the right temperature and decent size pieces. Served with quince jelly, a too-sweet tomato chutney and a spiced chutney.

Lemon posset was served with olive oil biscuits and woke the palate up again. Simple but very good indeed.

Last was the hot chocolate pudding with rosemary and hazlenut. These were top-notch fondants. I couldn't get the rosemary until later as the initial heat killed it slightly. As it cooled, it was detectable and worked. I too went with the PX which worked beautifully.

I really love this place. It feels right in almost every way. It is very early to be talking about stars, but the kitchen produces food of a quality that equals a lot of the 1* places in the UK. We had a long chat after dinner with Katie who runs a very friendly front of house team. As it's 10 minutes tram-ride from my flat, I can see me spending a disproportionate amount of time in this place.

Manchester's been crying out for somewhere this good for a very, very long time.

Adam

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