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kutsu

Manchester City Center

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I'm loking for the 'best' chinese in the city centre. I've received suggestions of Wings or Yang Sing. Looking for somethng fairly standard foodwise with maybe a view slightly different dishes. Any views or other suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks

Andrew

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Red Chilli gets rave reviews from my other half.

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Andrew

Had an underwhelming meal at the Yang Sing last year (see upthread) and wouldnt really recommend it. Wings is fine but if you can stretch your definition of "city centre" to the town end of Oldham Road, you'd be able to include "Glamorous" which, IMO, is the best Cantonese in the area (it's above the Wing Yip supermarket).

If you're wanting a bash at Sichuan, then Red Chilli certainly works, although my preferance is for Red & Hot, just round the corner on Faulkner Street.


John Hartley

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Thanks. I've had some really good meals at Yang Sing but the last time I went there (2 years ago) it was dreadful so not inclined to go back unless someone says it has gone back to how it was many years ago!

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Yang Sing is 'fine', but nothing more, and is widely acknowledged to be trading on long-distant glories. Wings is also 'fine', but has ideas and prices above it's station. Red Chilli is arse-kickingly good if you stick to the authentic Sichaun stuff (hot poached mutton, French beans with minced pork, Beijing dumplings, spring onion bread are all great dishes.) Some also like the Sichuan Red and Hot, but for me it didn't quite match up, and the Hunan place in Chinatown (possibly called Hunan but I might be wrong?)

Glamorous restaurant is pretty good, though Jay Rayner was underwhelmed on his last trip. It's probably on a par with the Tai Pan which is also above a cash and carry, this time on Upper Brook Steet. The place next to the McDonalds on Oxford Road (Tai Wu?) does the best dim sum in town but I have to say it's not great, good dim sum is currently a rariety in Manchester. Final choice is the Handmade Noodle King in Chinatown which, as it's name suggests, does very good noodle soups etc, and also has an addictive Korean BBQ element to the menu.

Enjoy!


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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THE FRENCH AT THE MIDLAND HOTEL

There’s a sense of occasion in having dinner at the Midland French. It’s about the setting – the knowledge that the restaurant has been around since 1903 when the hotel was built. It’s the oval room, still decorated in a Belle Epoque style that looks sort of old-fashioned but yet is entirely right. I can visualise my grandfather eating

here in the early part of the last century – doing the deals with American cotton traders that brought such wealth to the city. Not for nothing was Manchester known as Cottonopolis. Probably in his day, a string quartet played in the lounge bar. Now the background strings music comes by way of CD proving that nothing stands still except, possibly, the entirely formal style of service. In itself, that adds to the occasion. You know you’re being treated well. The restaurant was the first in the UK to hold a Michelin star but that’s some considerable years ago. But, don’t get me wrong, there’s some very good food here (far better than the Good Food Guide’s miserly score of 2 might indicate)

As for the food, there’s a good looking set price menu offered midweek – three courses for £35. But, you’re here for an occasion. You want the carte – even though some dishes are priced to induce a sharp intake of breath. Once seated, you’re offered bread. It’s served from a trolley, perhaps a dozen choices, all made in the kitchen daily. There’s a garlic & rosemary, a cheese & onion and, perhaps best of all, a lemon & thyme. It’s something to nibble on till the amuse arrives – a sliver of duck breast, another of duck foie, half a quails egg, a little micro leaf. Perfect – even a little grating of bitter chocolate seemed to work (although only just)

The food has its roots in French cuisine but is entirely at home in north west England. One starter brought what looked like three almost perfectly cooked scallops. Two had the usual charring from their brief time in the pan. But the third was pale and it was only when it was cut into that the cleverness was revealed. This was scallop mousse shaped like the real thing – a delicate yet flavoursome mousse. Other contrasts from some shreds of long cooked pork, an almost ubiquitous cauliflower puree and a drizzle of cumin infused oil.

The menu is written in that modern style of almost single word description. And my eye was immediately dragged to the item marked “Pie”. Well, of course it was – I’m a man and northern. It promised pork, prune, egg and pickle. I wondered what cheffy twist might be played here. But, no, I was served a slice of pork pie. A superb pork pie – full of flavour, with little dots of pistachio and a perfectly crisp pastry. Alongside, more quails egg, the pickle resembling Branston but lighter in texture and with sweet vinegary notes, the prune forming a dab of thick sauce which reminded me of the tomato ketchup I might have at home with a pie. This was a good plate – not a WOW plate but WOW isn’t what the Midland French is about.

We’d have happily ordered any of the seven main courses on offer. But, for such a classic setting, there was only one for us. A classic Chateaubriand for two. It’s probably been on the French’s menu since Grandad’s time. There’s some theatre in this dish. It‘s brought from the kitchen and presented for inspection before being carved tableside for us. Bang-on at medium rare and a generous portion at that. The plates have already been dressed with an array of vegetables – turned carrots, cubed beetroot and turnip, wilted spinach, fried mushrooms and a rich and, possibly just too sweet, onion marmalade. And there’s chips of course – because we’re in Manchester. But only four “fat chips” each, because this is the Midland French. There’s a light red wine sauce poured over to coat the beef and a big dollop of a superb béarnaise, heavy with a tarragon zing. This is a proper plate of food in my book – good ingredients, cooked with finesse.

We needed to wait for desserts to be prepared but they were both well worth waiting for. A light treacle soufflé was a perfect consistency and came accompanied by malted milk ice cream. The other plate brought a chocolate fondant, oozing with a rich sauce which contrasted well with slightly salted caramel and a pistachio ice cream. Absolutely the sort of desserts you want to eat at a place like this.

It had been three years since we’d last eaten here. It isn’t somewhere you’d want to come very regularly but three years is far too long. This really is good cooking.


John Hartley

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Sounds good John,surprised they let you in I bet your grandfather had to wear a jacket and tie, no jeans in those days.


Sid the Pig

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I think possibly still no jeans. We did see four people, wearing jeans, come to the desk but then went away after a conversation with staff. May have been something totally different of course.

It's a still a place where most men were wearing jackets but I never feel out of place in shirt and chinos, which is as formal as I ever get.


John Hartley

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SAN CARLO, KING STREET WEST

The city may well have had a significant Italian community for 150 years, but they have had minimal impact on the local restaurant scene. San Carlo is an import – one of the branches of the Birmingham based mini-chain – and it’s now certainly one of the fashionable destinations in the city. The place was packed with Manc glitterati. There were a couple of famous faces. And a goodly number of footballers’ wives – either real or wannabe. It was noisy – this is not a place for an intimate dinner for two, not least as you’d have to keep saying “Eh?” to each other. Conversation for a group larger than two might be really difficult.

In the way of many Italian places, the menu is long. Perhaps overly long for them to pull off really good food all the time. But they manage pretty well.

There was a starter of mozzarella en carozza – a fried cheese sandwich by any other name. Good flavours, good texture, although the anchovy sauce was a mere arty drizzle across the plate. There needed to be more. Much more – but then it wouldn’t have looked so pretty. I’d ordered sausages – well, of course I had. Two big meaty ones; a decent coating of a tomato sauce, flavoursome with a little kick of chilli in there. And a dainty square of fried polenta – a bit too thin and crispy, to my mind.

Mozzarella cropped up again in my main course – veal parmigiana. Thin pieces of veal, briefly fried and interleaved on the plate with cheese and ham. Herself had ordered what proved to be the better of the two dishes. Slices of very decent fillet steak sat on a heap of rocket, dressed with a brandy and balsamic reduction. Dead simple; dead good. We shared some green beans which were nicely slightly underdone and some sauté potatoes which were not nicely slightly underdone.

No dessert. Coffee was fine and was served with some lovely shards of sweet pastry dusted with icing sugar.

Service had been spot-on and the only criticism was a billing fault. They had charged us for each having two starters. Quickly rectified with an apology. Call me suspicious but I wonder how often this occurs?

Certainly pleased to have eaten at San Carlo (even though its baby brother Chiccetti, on the opposite side of the road, is getting all the current play). However, this isn’t my sort of preferred gaff and I’d be in no rush to return. Wannabe glitterati will love it.


John Hartley

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North West Caterer reports that mini-chain Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote (which is more than a mouthful in itself) is to open on King Street. Apparently, it is no choice - offering only a salad starter, followed by steak frites.

Priced at £21, that sounds OK for London but pricy for round here. Unless, of course, someone tells me quality makes it worthwhile. Presumably it'll compete with the almost adjacent Jamie's Italian.


John Hartley

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be interested how it fares, the london one was under my old office and was constantly rammed at lunchtime, less so in the evening. they do fit them out nicely and the house wine is perfectly drinkable.

service is authentically stroppy french , if usually performed by eastern european staff.


you don't win friends with salad

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MICHAEL CAINES AT ABODE

Lunch at Abode comes via its “Amazing Graze” menu (geddit?) – a mini-tasting menu, if you will, where you pick your 3, 4 or 5 courses from the list of six savoury and three sweet dishes. A bit of discussion between us meant we were able to sample all six savouries (in the event, passing on dessert). That meant we were on four courses at the very reasonable price of just £19 – a bargain for this quality of food. My partner took them up on the offer to match a wine to each course – small 75cl glasses of pretty good stuff, adding a further twelve quid.

There was a very good bread selection, followed by a pumpkin and parmesan soup – the cheese perhaps overpowering the sweetness of the pumpkin. A few pumpkin seeds and small dice of the veg gave some texture.

Ham hock terrine was a decent example of this almost ubiquitous starter. A couple of bits of soused carrot and onion again gave texture and might have benefitted from a tad more sharpness – not for nothing does this dish often come with piccalilli.

A millefeuille of smoked eel was lovely. The leaves coming as thin Parmesan crisps which worked really well with the very smoky, very delicious, eel. There were a few lentils offering an earthiness. A dab of indeterminate herb puree didn’t contribute too much, but a quails egg and horseradish foam brought some welcome moistness. I really liked this a lot.

There was a ballotine of chicken leg, which managed a good crisp skin and was stuffed with a little duck liver mousse. Boulangere potatoes were excellent. Another belter of a plate.

Roasted Pollock was the least successful dish. Slight underdone and with an underwhelming parsley risotto, it just didn’t seem to work as well as everything else.

Our final dish, which we both ordered, was an open raviolo of roasted root vegetables. Well prepared pasta, with a slice each of parsnip, courgette and something else now forgotten. This was never going to set the world alight but, with another light foam forming the dressing, was nice enough.

We then had good strong espresso and OK petit fours.


John Hartley

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JAMIE'S ITALIAN

Yes, it’s a chain restaurant. But it’s been the most touted new city centre opening for some while, so we had to go and suss it out. The building has always been a stunner – designed by Edwin Lutyens in the 1920s for the Midland Bank, it’s now Grade 2 listed. The exterior is very Art Deco, the interior much more traditional banking hall. There’s been a very thoughtful conversion and it now takes its place among the “great rooms” at this end of King Street – along with Rosso and Room.

Truth be told, the room was probably the most successful part of the evening. Although our young Canadian waitress was full on for giggly efficiency. Or, perhaps, efficient giggling.

There wasn’t a great start. Drinks took forever to arrive. Then the first three items we tried to order were “off”. So, it was all a bit second best. A starter of arancini seemed promising stuffed with smoked mozzarella and porcini and might have been good if only they had tasted of smoked cheese and mushroom. As it was, there were a couple of fairly solid balls of rice in crisp coating, that were bland and under-seasoned. A tomato based dipping sauce did little to lift the dish. The menu makes a “big thing” of their planks of antipasto dishes. Yes, it arrives on a piece of wood and, for reasons inexplicable, the plank is set in front of you on two tins of tomatoes. This particular plank had char-grilled vegetables which were pleasant enough.

For mains, I’d originally fancied osso bucco only to be told it was “off” as it was out of season. Never realised that restaurants had seasons for veal but there you go. So it was on to a quickly decided second choice of chicken liver ravioli. I’d expect this to have been quite a rich dish but, oh no, another bland offering. And the pasta wasn’t so much “al dente” as plain old under-cooked. Oh, and the cream sauce seemed to be very much just thin cream with no other flavourings, except a couple of shards of bacon. In other circumstances, I would have considered sending this back but it was neither the time or place as the decision to eat here had been made by others in the party. Much, much better was the thin slice of feather steak, cooking the work of moments and with the meat packed full of flavour. There was a little rocket salad and a good, pokey tomato salsa. And good chips – none of your fat chips or fries, these were proper chip-sized chips.

Perhaps the disappointment was a matter of poor choice but this isn’t somewhere I’m in a rush to return to.


John Hartley

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Anybody tried Australasia yet? Menu and pics look good. Reports on Trip Advisor seem to mostly allow that the food is great but the atmos, service, etc is not so good.

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Australasia

This is a big restaurant, built entirely underground as a part of the new Spinningfields development. The entrance is a simple glass prism standing proud of the paved area. Steps lead down to a huge, almost entirely white dining room. The whiteness is presumably intended to evoke the sun bleached Australian interior. The staircase is long and straight. The whole arrangement reminded me of those astronomical observatories so beloved of Asian emperors and scientists. In fact it is totally possible that on one day of the year, for a fleeting minute, the azimuth and elevation of the sun are such that its rays pour down the stairs and flood the place with light. Yesterday was not that day.

Australasia is one of Living Ventures' latest projects. They describe the cuisine as Pacific Rim. This is only part of the story. The menu is divided into two: traditional 3-course dining from a mainly south-east Asian list and small plate dining from a menu primarily Japanese in make-up. We went small plate.

Californian Rolls had themselves been rolled in tiny fish eggs each individually injected with a citrus preparation. This was interesting but caused the rolls to be awkwardly sticky. Roasted scallops were large and complemented nicely by a carrot and orange purée and seaweed. Although we were advised that dishes might arrive in random order, these both preceded the chicken and beef skewers, in what seemed like a completely unrandom and right-minded order of succession. The sambal that came with the chicken had a pleasingly bitter length, possibly from the coconut which was one of its ingredients. Steak was served rare with a rub that was a little heavy on the salt, though an oversalted rub is what I would call a 'good error'. I don't remember why we ordered edamame beans. Desserts were not 'oriental' - they may have been Australian. They were very well done and generous: an intense vanilla-y butterscotch sauce and miso ice cream were highlights.

Each dish was neatly presented, generous and, for me, did a good job of translating south east Asian food into a western format. Tables were laid with cutlery on the left and chopsticks on the right. Scallops and skewers all came in threes and since these dishes are 'designed for sharing' it might be advisable to bring along a gooseberry. There's a short wine list and seven sakes. We drank Lao beer - it was OK. There is a proper bar here but very little seating for it. There are booths the whole length of one wall for footballers.

The concept seems to cry out for replication elsewhere, so much so that we asked: it seems the idea has been considered and rejected. Hmm.

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MIDDLE KINGDOM

A year on from Northern Food's review and we finally got round to eating here.

This is, I think, the latest addition to the city centre’s small list of “not Cantonese” Chinese restaurants. It’s on the southern fringes of the centre, at the end of Princess Street. And, as with many such places, it’s in the basement of one of the old Edwardian cotton trading buildings. These days, we’re used to being older than other diners at a restaurant but, here, folk were less than half our age with many perhaps being students. Certainly the very reasonable pricing would make it attractive to students. And, for what it’s worth, all the other customers appeared to be Chinese – not always a guarantee of good food but at least a possible good indicator.

With experience of the other Sichuan places, like Red Chilli and Red & Hot, we correctly made the assumption that portions would be vast, so decided to skip starters. It was straight into the food mountain that was fish fragrant shredded pork . Well, this was a new one for us and a very successful one. Shredded pork is always going to be a winner, whether it’s American pulled pork or, as here, mixed with lots of strips of ginger, sliced garlic and a couple of different (although unknown) greens. And it’s ginger, Sichuan pepper and the inevitable chilli that are the predominant flavourings. No fish, of course, they do like their bit of fun, don’t they. Apparently it’s only called “fish fragrant” as it uses the same seasonings as used for fish.

The other vast mountain was the Sichuan standard of gong bao chicken. Well, standard for me. It’s one of those dishes which you know so well, you can judge a place by how it is. And how it was, was damn good. For me, the right balance of flavours and textures, with the crunchy nuts, the slightly sweet, slightly more vinegary sauce. And there’s the dried chilli lending something of a smoky kick to it all. Even my partner, usually no fan of chicken outside our own kitchen, tried it and declared it a winner.

Upto now, I’ve reckoned Red & Hot to be my first choice for Sichuan. I think they’ve just been overtaken.


John Hartley

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ZOUK

By all accounts, I should hate Zouk. It was hyped when it arrived in the city, from Bradford, three years ago. Its PR manages to maintain it a high profile on local websites. It’s loud – which, no doubt, suits the generally young customer base (I am used to going to places where I’m old enough to be most people’s father but here it was more like grandfather). The bogs are up a flight of stairs, which doesn’t half do my knees in. And the menu is frankly odd. Oh, sure, there’s an air of authenticity – dishes are “Punjabi this” and “traditional Lahore that”. And then, without any hint of irony, they also have dishes like lobster thermidor and an array of desserts that wouldn’t look out of place at your local Beefeater. Yet, cut all that away and you’ve a kitchen that’s turning out very enjoyable food. And it’s clearly very popular amongst the younger folk of the local South Asian community.

Alloo paratha provided a nice light starter; the potato slightly spiced; the bread soft and buttery, without being greasy. A cumin flavoured raita matched it well. I had no real idea what might arrive as Chicken Imlee. What did arrive was a decent portion of well cooked chicken tikka. The Imlee bit comes in the form of a hot tamarind and plum sauce. It was fine but I guess I expected something more – not quite sure what, but something.

I’m a fan of minced lamb in most cuisines I can think of, and South Asian is no exception. And particularly in my main course of Gurda Keema. No, I hadn’t come across that one before either but anything that matches lamb mince with chunks of lamb kidney has to be worth a bash. And it was. Well cooked and well spiced. Really good.

My partner’s “gold standard” for lamb handi is the offering at Akbar’s. And I can see why. Akbar’s really does do a cracker but, I’m told, there might just be a new kid on the block. I got to taste and certainly agree this is good stuff but, perhaps, a tad too much chilli almost overpowering the other, pleasanter, major spice of ginger.

There was good rice and very good tandoori roti – just as we like it, nice and crispy round the edges.


John Hartley

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BOLLYWOOD MASALA

We’d gone into town with the intention of eating at Akbar’s. However, the place was heaving with folk waiting for a table and we decided to knock that idea on the head. We’d passed Bollywood a few doors down and thought “Sod it. It’ll do”.

This may not have been our best ever decision. The signs were there as soon as we looked at the menu. Every main course dish seemed to be named after a Bollywood star. Hmmmm, I’ll have a nice plate of Dileep Kumar, then.

Poppadums came quickly, along with a tray of overly sweet chutneys. But that was the only thing that came quickly until we asked for the bill. Twenty minutes must have passed before orders were taken and easily that before starters arrived. Chicken chaat was pleasantly spiced and with a nice zing from coriander but the bread on which they sat was soggy and oily. Vegetable samosa was pretty much a high street curry house offering – crisp pastry but unremarkable.

An age then passed before the crockery was taken away and a further age passed before main courses arrived.

The Dileep Kumar – no, I wasn’t kidding about the names of the dishes – was their version of a lamb handi. Good tender lamb with fairly interesting spicing of which ginger was very much to the fore. Google tells me that Shahrukh Khan has won more Best Actor awards than any other Bollywood star. But I’m not sure that the dish they name after him would even be in the running for a nomination for Best anything. The same tender lamb, and green peppers, came in a thickish sauce in which the only discernible spice was chilli. It didn’t feel that it was at all a balanced dish.

Rice was good, but tandoori roti were poor with no hint of crispness or charring to them – just big chapattis really.

So, no it wasn’t that good. Better than schlepping to Rusholme, of course, but there’s a reason why Akbars was heaving and Bollywood Masala wasn’t.


John Hartley

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BEM BRASIL

Bem Brasil is a churrascaria serving in the rodizio style. Which, in my book, means it’s a posh all you can eat buffet.

When these places are done well, they can be a fine experience. A good variety of fresh salads to start. An equally good array of vegetable dishes to go with your meats. And it’s the meats that should be the stars. Servers moving round the room carving off long skewers direct to your plate.

However, Bem Brasil doesn’t do it well. Yes, there’s a limited range of albeit good salads. And a limited range of albeit good vegetable dishes.

But it’s the meats that let it down. You have to have servers constantly patrolling the room with the various cuts. Here, minutes go by before someone comes to your table. It means the veg you got to accompany the meat has gone cold. Or your meat has gone cold if you’ve tried the alternative method of waiting until its been served to you before braving the veg buffet queue. And then you find the meat quality is quite poor and pretty flavourless. For example, beef fillet was absolutely nothing of the sort. Oh, and at £24, I don’t think that’s the best value for money meal in the city centre. Not by a long way. Not by the whole length of Princess Parkway.

I’m not a pathfinder when it comes to deciding where to eat and, almost invariably, rely on reviews I’ve seen written by amateurs or professionals in the print or online media. Because I’m only going to places that have been well tipped, I rarely come across a duffer. This was one.


John Hartley

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WINGS

The original Wings was in Cheadle Hulme and I remember good Cantonese food there. But, in spite of it moving to the city centre some years ago, this is the first time we’ve been to the new place. They didn’t get off to the best of starts with me – the website describes them as being “one of the very few 5 star restaurants in Manchester”. Without any attribution, this can only be their own bit of meaningless puffery. However, once you get yourself past that, you find that you’ve got a very elegant restaurant, with excellent staff and a good looking menu that, unlike the identikit places in Chinatown, manages to keep the offerings down to only few pages. Oh, yes, and the food’s bloody good.

There’s prawn crackers to nibble on with an aperitif and a couple of nice things to dip them into – one a sweet soy mix and the other a very poky thick chilli affair.

We kicked off with a couple of mixed dim sum platters. One offering steamed items – the more obvious har kau and sui mai along with a lovely scallop dumpling and chei chow fun kor ( I had to look that one up afterwards to find it’s a meat and nut dumpling). The other plate was more suited to my partner’s vegetarian leanings whenever she’s in an east asian place – and was the better of the two. There was a mix of steamed dumplings with a couple of fried items so texture was more interesting.

Unusually, she chose a meat main course – crispy chilli shredded fillet steak. A lovely dish with thin strips of steak and a touch of a sweetish, chilli sauce clinging to the meat, much as a toffee apple gets its crispness from the sweet coating.

I was intrigued by the Hakka yam and belly pork hotpot, apparently a well known traditional dish of the Hakka people in Guangdong. Truth be told, I wasn’t that keen on it. Certainly the pork was good and the sauce was good. But it was the yam that let it down for – somewhat bland and a very soft texture that easily fell off the chop sticks and ended up dissolving into the sauce, turning it into something of a sludge,. Maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen.

We took a side order of vegetables in garlic sauce. Nice crisp pak choy but insufficient garlic sauce to make it zing. Needless to say, rice was good.

Unlike many of the places in Chinatown, there were no Chinese folk eating. I guess ethnic diners are not what Wings is about. Doesnt mean that there isn’t good food there. Doesn’t mean that at all. I reckon this is probably the best Cantonese in the city centre – in my opinion, of course.


John Hartley

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SAN CARLO CICCHETTI

Other than knowing that cicchetti are from Venice and are best described as “Italian tapas”, we weren’t too sure exactly what to expect from this place. It’s in a slightly odd location, tucked away in the side of the House of Fraser store and, with tables in the windows, you’re not instantly sure if you’re looking at punters or window dressing dummies.

There’s a fairly extensive menu and it’s pointed out that everything is tapas sized and presented for sharing. And it’s recommended that you start off with 5 or 6 dishes between two of you. It’s just about right – we came away satisfied but not stuffed. Had we gone in with our greedy heads on, a couple more wouldn’t have gone astray.

There’s no strict order of eating and dishes come as and when they are ready. It means you’re juggling the food to make sure you eat the hot things before they become cold things. It’s not a style that we particularly like but the quality of the food far outweighs that niggle.

There was a pizza fritta – although it seemed more like a standard calzone. A good bread dough stuffed with mozzarella and ham. There was a bruschetta selection – again good bread. In fact, very good bread. A variety of toppings - including artichokes, aubergines and a simple tomato. Straightforward, clear flavours.

Sardine fillets also came as a topping for bread and were, perhaps, the star of the show. Although that was a close call – perfectly al dente orecchiette came in a lovely tomato sauce, enhanced with the Sicilian spreadable sausage of nduja and a hefty hit of chilli. You might happily order a second portion of the pasta.

Our final dish was another winner – three slices of porchetta (I won the battle for the “seconds”) – a really nice porky flavour, a good layer of fat and very pronounced flavourings of garlic and rosemary. A couple of roast potatoes added to our carb intake.

We passed on dessert but did have an indifferent and lukewarm espresso.

San Carlo isn’t “fast food” but it is food fast. We were in and out within 45 minutes. It’s also very reasonably priced food – dishes average around seven quid.


John Hartley

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SAN CARLO CICCHETTI

Other than knowing that cicchetti are from Venice and are best described as “Italian tapas”, we weren’t too sure exactly what to expect from this place. It’s in a slightly odd location, tucked away in the side of the House of Fraser store and, with tables in the windows, you’re not instantly sure if you’re looking at punters or window dressing dummies.

...

San Carlo isn’t “fast food” but it is food fast. We were in and out within 45 minutes. It’s also very reasonably priced food – dishes average around seven quid.

I, too, very much enjoyed a recent visit here. In the same way that the mothership San Carlo on the opposite corner has rolled its brand out across the country, I would hope and expect to see them add to the existing 2 Cicchetti's (Manchester and London).

One thing I would add that could be taken as a good or a bad thing: intensely busy. I don't think I can remember eating in such a hectic restaurant.

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