Categories
Events Food and Drink News Restaurants

News: Croma to treat Manchester to 2000 prices to celebrate 20th year in the city

Gourmet pizza restaurant Croma and I have two things in common.

The first is that pizza is an incredibly important part of our lives.

The second is that this year marks our 20th year living in Manchester!

To celebrate, I’ll be justifying ever single trip out and drink drunk with ‘it’s my 20th anniversary’.

For Croma, with November seeing 20 years since it moved into their central Manchester location on Clarence Street, the restaurant kick-starts celebrations this month by turning back time and releasing a menu with our favourite dishes sold at prices like it’s 2000.

‘The Croma Chonicle’ will take us lucky diners through the history of the restaurant with a generous serving of nostalgia in the shape of some tasty retro prices.

The restaurant was founded by Andrew Bullock, Kirsty Marshall and Bob Dunn and has since opened further restaurants in Didsbury (check), Chorlton (on to do list) and Prestwich (ditto).

Andrew Bullock said,

20 years has flown by, we feel lucky and proud to have been in at the beginning of the flowering of our city’s restaurant and bar culture…

(Me too, Andrew, me too…)

…and we can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring to ourselves and our extraordinary birthplace.

Back to the menu, I’ve flirted and developed a deep passion for the Garstang Blue and Goats Cheese pizza in recent times, but my first love from 2000 onwards will always be the Inglese which is basically a full English breakfast pizza and as brilliant as it sounds. £5 flipping 80 pence for that little delight under this offer.

With pasta dishes from £5.45 and garlic balls at £1.45 (you literally can’t buy anything from £1.45 anymore. Well not literally but almost), an excuse was never needed to dine at Croma. But if one was needed, this is it.

Head to cromapizza.co.uk and marvel.

Categories
Food and Drink Manchester preview Preview/review Restaurants

The Fisherman’s Table – pull up a seat as Marple favourite introduces sister restaurant to Poulton-le-Fylde

It probably won’t have escaped your notice that I wasn’t born and bred in Manchester (and surrounding areas).

I mean, the clue’s in the name.

Growing up on the Fylde Coast until moving to Manchester in 2000, I was excited to find my two worlds colliding in the form of a fabulous fish restaurant.

Marple has hosted The Fisherman’s Table since late last year and the restaurant, offering all locally sourced produce, has enjoyed high praise in the short time it’s been open.

img_6606-2

And so, like little old me (because this and everything else is about me), the restaurant is straddling the two counties and has opened its second in Lancashire’s Poulton-le-Fylde. Like my good self once upon a time (all about me), owner and fishmonger, Jamie Barrett, lives in the area and couldn’t wait to bring his fine fare back home.

img_6600-1

Throwing its doors open proper tonight, Saturday 7 September, I attended last night’s launch to test out the fixtures, fittings, fizz and, most importantly, the fish.

img_6584img_6591-1

The stylish space is classically furnished in dark wood, with open brick walls adorned with photography, paintings and sculptures depicting the restaurant’s raison d’etre; the sea and all who stem from it.

img_6608-1

The assembled Fylde Coastians , a title I’m still entitled to, were treated to (and it was a treat) a selection of teaser canapés and starters from the menu to salivate over. I was going to say ‘and salivate we did’, but this is starting to conjure up a bizarre and frankly unpalatable image.

They were delicious, is what I’m clumsily saying.

We first tried the smoked haddock croquettes with tartare sauce…

Deliciously seasoned, these almost little fishcakes were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and with a smoky heat beautifully offset by the fresh, light tartare sauce. I could have popped them all night.

Also on offer was the crispy chilli calamari with harissa aoili. With a light batter, the chilli didn’t overpower and provided a tang to the melt in the mouth squid rings.

img_6586-1

A new canape on me was the crispy haddock skin with oyster mayonnaise. At the risk of doing it a disservice, it was like a lovely fishy crisp (and I love crisps, to the point of disgrace), with a delicate dip to boot and touches like this are a strong indicator of a kitchen and restaurant which is keen to mix the traditional with the innovative whilst staying faithful to everything that is wonderful about fish and seafood.

4d9f3d2d-fee9-44bf-a1f5-76057048c239

Oysters and fizz are one of those classic combinations like cod and lemon, cockles and mussels erm…Vic and Bob. Whilst in the early 19th century, oysters were actually cheap and seen as one of the almost staple foods of the working classes, they are now a sign of decadence and never more so when taken with a glass of sparkling wine. The selection of Pacific Rock Oysters on offer last night typified the establishment’s approach to dining – classic, stylish but, most of all, delicious.

img_6602-2

A launch is intended to provide a taster, a suggestion, a spoiler, even, of what’s to come from something new be it a restaurant, bar, festival or hotel. And from my couple of hours spent at The Fisherman’s Table, they have me hooked.

Pun, fully intended but heartfelt.

img_6587img_6588

The menu proper is select but a perfectly balanced deep dive into all the glories to be found in our seas. Importantly, step forward one Irish Sea, from which local Fleetwood fish is rightly represented in dishes such as Fleetwood Smoked Haddock and Clam Chowder on the starters and Seared Fleetwood  Skate Wing with Clams, Samphire and Capers on the mains.

The menu also draws on neighbour Morecambe, as the Bay’s famous Brown Shrimps make an appearance in the selection of sides.

I look forward to drawing up a seat at The Fisherman’s Table proper and for those in Greater Manchester, hotfoot it into Marple quick smart.

For those on the Fylde Coast and surrounding areas, head over to the gastronomic stretch that is Breck Road, to this fantastic addition to the area’s dining scene.

For me? I like to think of myself as having dual citizenship to the two counties, something I now have in common with The Fisherman’s Table. Whilst I would never dare suggest I’m an asset to either, I would venture that to Greater Manchester and Lancashire, The Fisherman’s Table is a great catch.

img_6600-1

To be one of the first to book in at The Fisherman’s Table in Poulton and to see full details of the menu, head to https://www.thefishermanstable.co.uk/poulton/.

You can also book at the inaugural Marple restaurant here, and see why in 10 short months, the Fisherman’s Table has been nominated for two awards at the http://foodanddrinkfestival.com/awards/

 

Categories
Food and Drink Manchester preview Preview/review Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Sapporo Teppanyaki

It is here where I would love to show off about my travels around Japan, the food I’ve eaten, the sights I’ve seen, the cherry blossom I’ve been beguiled by…

But I have not been.

But I have this, and it’s mine…

My late father was a musician and musical director. Amongst those he musically directed were The Nolans.

I’m getting to my tenuous link.

As a youth I used to weep in butchers’ shops  dwell in West Yorkshire. And so we get to it. I was 3 the day that I went with my mum to little Batley train station to wave off my father.

where’s Daddy going?

asked that little girl, on that lowly platform, in that small, Yorkshire town…

Daddy is going to Japan

And so he was. To musically direct the Nolans in a music festival (of course). And this is all I have (I also have two child-size kimonos and a pair of wooden clogs).

So that’s Japan.

I was invited to Sapporo Teppanyaki which can be found on Liverpool Road, Manchester, and find it, I recommend.

The experience is akin to theatre, and fear not, the food does not rest on a gimmick. In fact I can wait no longer. The egg fried rice is the finest I’ve ever tasted.

Each communal table seated round two cooking stations, orders are taken and drinks delivered.

Small aside on the drinks menu – there is  champagne on there for £7 a glass – and it is a lovely champagne. Fellow fizz fanatics, take note.

The menu features sashimi, maki, omakase, soups and salads, yakisoba noodles, small plates and of course Teppanyaki. Whilst small plates emerge from a kitchen via a friendly server, the Teppanyaki is cooked right there in front of you.

And guess what? It’s not awkward!

Now it might just be me who loves/loathes a chef’s table. I love to watch the magic of cookery, but I’m beyond scared of whether I’m supposed to talk, not supposed to talk, is it rude to ask questions, is it rude to not ask questions? What do I do with my face? Do I make mmmm noises?

No, it was all fine. It’s a form of theatre to go to Sapporo Teppanyaki.

Now, I’m dying to get to the main event but I can’t overlook the starters enjoyed by myself and my plus 1.

I had the smoked chicken rolls – oak smoked chicken, beansprouts and mixed vegetables wrapped in a light pastry.

I do enjoy a vertical food. I can’t think of any other examples – oh does a hanging kebab count? But regardless of the attractive presentation, smoked chicken is a rare offered thing and it’s a shame. Because each roll was delicious.

My plus 1 chose the Black Pepper Akami – seared tuna loin served with a chilli sauce.

Another attractive dish, matched by the flavours. Now, I’m not a tuna fan. I pretty much abhor it. I tried this dish as I’m nothing if not dedicated to the cause of food-tasting in the name of Manchester and all those who sail in it. I liked it. This is high praise, given my tuna issues.My plus 1 loved it. The dish gave off heat but without masking the flavours.

Now, to the teppanyaki theatre.

When I describe this, know that I’m one of the most socially awkward beings on earth – I spent the entire evening at an event last year in Manchester ( Theatre Review – Now or Never by Circa Tsuica – aka what did I just see?) making myself as small as possible to avoid being picked to go up. The word ‘immersive’ sends chills to my very bones.

Now listen how I found myself trying to catch a sauteed potato in my mouth like an over-zealous seal, at one Sapporo Teppanyaki.

It’s that kind of place – happy diners laughing, eating, ‘ooohing’, ‘ahhing’ – and I don’t mean in a terrible way. As two chefs stood in front of us chopping, flipping, setting things on fire, it was truly an enjoyable experience to watch them work.

I chose the lamb rump teppanyaki, my plus 1 choosing the beef fillet. Each comes with stir fry vegetables, egg fried rice, sauteed potato, a sauce of choice and a ring-side seat at their realisation. Yes, realisation.

The chef will take the time to talk to you about how you would like your meat cooked so fear not, it’s not one for all and all for one. Your dish is still being prepared for you, to your specifications.

That’s all very well, but what does it taste like?

Well, imaginary voice/reader/subscriber, truly delicious. Remember the egg fried rice? Well everything was cooked to perfection. My lamb succulent and plentiful, the beef fillet pink where it should be (as requested), seared, seasoned and cooked with fresh garlic and chilli.

I have a thing for my food being piping hot (my drinks, erm, piping cold?). Served straight to your plate in front of you, I was in temperature obsession heaven.

It’s basically a really happy place. Everyone seated round the grills in a kind of horse shoe (but one with sharp edges – I literally can’t think how to describe the shape), you’re akin to each other’s evenings but without ever feeling like your evening is compromised by a lack of privacy. If someone’s having a birthday, you’ll, again, have a ring side seat without having to strain your neck (I do this), but it’s ok. I promise.

And so I will be going once more to Sapporo Teppanyaki. And whilst sadly I won’t be hopping on a train to Japan as quickly as I’d like (I should point out an airport did get involved further down the line), this will do me for now.

www.sapporo.co.uk

 

Categories
Events Food and Drink Manchester Preview/review

And the winner of the best Wine Awards is…

‘Twas a Monday in October when a woman who was still recovering from her (cough)th birthday party two nights before, did approach a table laden with 30 wines.

30.

What craziness is this?

I hear you cry.

Get this woman an intervention. Or Graham from Jeremy Kyle. Or…just something.

But you see it was ok. This was all in the name of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, I had been given the prestigious honour of being a Round 1 judge, and I (mostly) gracefully spat each and every single one. Ok there were two I swallowed – one by mistake, and one champagne very much on purpose.

Were they all horrid then?

Oh you, you…imaginary person, you.

No, you see myself and my fellow tasters were doing this properly, there was a lot of contenders in the room and we all wanted to live to see Christmas.

In its second year, the People’s Choice Wine Awards is unique in that it’s the only wine awards that are dedicated to, and judged, by wine consumers. And the whole process takes part in our lovely city of Manchester.

I consume wine. Therefore I am.

This first round is a blind judging test where all tasting measures are poured from a covered bottle and so judges literally rely on their senses to select their favourites and mark them accordingly.

The full list of categories can be found here on the People’s Choice Wine Awards website but the ones I was involved with included Girls Night In, Out of the Ordinary, War of the Roses and Sweets for my Sweet.

I was admittedly out of my comfort zone. My preference is for sparkling and reds. Here was a plethora of whites, roses and dessert wines waiting for me to sniff, swirl and spit.

That evening I entered territory less visited and, reader, it was good for me to push my own boundaries. Now I know we’re not talking sky dives, organ donation or Everest, but we’re all creatures of habit and it’s good to have those challenged.

(Plus wine is really massively important, k?)

Now I’ll never really know which my favourites were from that evening, but I hope the finalists and indeed the winners included some of those I marked highly.

Because although wines we chose in Round 1 went through to the next judging round which brings in a little more official ‘expertise’, a little wine birdy told me that there is an extremely high correlation between the wine preferences from the ‘on the ground’ consumers and the ‘expert’ consumers.

My theory is that the only difference is that some of us may not know exactly why we like a wine, just that we do.

Oh how we do.

And so fast forward nearly 5 months and the shortlists have been further shortened and the finalists chosen. And my day’s leave approved as I schedule in a hangover for post-Awards Tuesday.

But a hangover produced from the best as chosen by The People.

And so on an unseasonably warm Monday in February (i.e. last night) – I mean I had a coat on but had I not, I wouldn’t have been too freezing – the great and the good gathered at The Comedy Store at Deansgate Locks, to find out just who would take away the coveted title from their categories.

The scene that met us as we entered the ‘Store was one of wine lover paradise.

For lined up on the bar was every finalist wine, each proudly wearing their nominated category on a little tag round their necks.

And these bottles were uncorked, unscrewed, popped, erm punctured and twisted (there’s a ‘bag in a box’ category). And there was a cacophony of empty glasses.

And there was this sign:

(No YOUR pic is blurred).

Anyway it basically said to have some.

And we did.

And it was fine. Not as in

Yeah, it’s ok

But fine.

At this point, I must declare my favourite. Wine is not like children. You can pick and choose. But admittedly whilst not trying every single wine on offer (I’ve only take one day’s annual leave for recovery – and my spitting days are over), a favourite from my Fizz Festival going (also run by the fabulous Cracking Wine ) was up for an award and waving at me from the bar.

Honorary Manc! It’s me! You love me and buy me and love me and things!

Hello lovely Lyme Bay Winery and your sparkling rose (as nominated in the Fabulous Fizz: Best Sparkling Wine UK category.

However, my love affair for Lyme Bay aside, there was a whole host of exemplary wines available last night and many that may have never caught your attention before. Which is why I urge you to

  • Apply to be a Round 1 judge next year; and
  • Attend the Awards night.

Speaking of which, Fizz in hand, we all entered the theatre at the ‘Store and took our seats, all sharing two thoughts…

At what point shall we take the Ellen-esque awards crowd selfie to break the internet…

And

What’s the etiquette on drinking more wine during this ‘bit’.

For those wondering, leave and fill up your glass when the mood takes you.

Although, timing is key. I’m looking at you – winner who was absent when their name was called.

And you – lovely lady who we all applauded as you rose from your seat as the category winner was announced, only for you to carry on walking past the stage and through the exit.

You daft articles.

Hosted by local wine heroes Reserve’s own Kate Goodman and TV presenter Amelia Singer from The Wine Show, it was great to see my experience through right to the end, as the fabulous winners took to the stage to receive both their titles and their very own Tony Husband specially commissioned artwork.

The full list of people winning at wine can be found here.

I don’t profess to be an expert but I know what I like, I’ve learned how to realise what I like (tasting techniques) and even why it might be that I like it. And this is the message that the People’s Choice Wine Awards is sending.

Wherever you sit on the scale, wine consumers are wine consumers are wine consumers. We all share a passion for wine and our preferences all hold equal validity.

And so as I hang up my frock (I didn’t stumble in and leave it scrunched up on the floor – you stumbled in and left it scrunched up on the floor) and revisit the list of winners, I make it my vow to continue on my wine-drinking ‘journey’ and try every last lovely one of them.

Cheers!

Get involved at https://peopleschoicewineawards.com/

Categories
Bars Events Food and Drink Manchester preview Preview/review Restaurants

School for Scandal hits First Street

It was back to school for me this week.

I wish I was young enough for that to be true in the traditional sense but for every realisation that you’re not getting any younger, there is a silver lining.

To be over the age of 18 is to have your name on a more important register – that which granted me access to new bar and bistro, School for Scandal on First Street.

Whilst resisting the urge to lean on the obvious links to education and squeeze everything out of this analogy, I’ll introduce a direct link – that of it sharing its name with the Richard Brinsley Sheridan play, first performed in 1777. The play ‘satirised the behaviour and customs of the upper classes through witty dialogue and an intricate plot, with comic situations that expose characters’ shortcomings’.

And just like the play, this dining spot satirises the behaviour and customs of the…

Just kidding.

To the crux of matters.

I attended the launch of this bar last night and was educated (soz) in fine cocktails, sharp edgy décor and fine samples of its gastronomic fare.

Previews of their food included the tasty pulled pork tacos, the frankly fantastic margherita pizza (I always say there’s nowhere to hide with this classic and this went straight to the top of the class), tempura prawns and mini burgers in brioche.

To achieve the full experience, I shall return, but for now, my assignment is to share the news that this latest addition to First Street, and indeed Manchester, is smart and sassy, and I predict that the future is bright…

Click here for more details and to enrol…

School for Scandal, 13 Jack Rosenthal Street, First St, M15 4FN

Categories
Food and Drink Hotels Manchester preview Preview/review Restaurants

New menu, same high quality from Malmaison – gastro gallery

To get an invitation to try the new menu at Malmaison Manchester is to be filled with trepidation and anticipation.

Trepidation because how could it match up to previous experiences:

Fall fork first into autumn at Malmaison

Malmaison brings the Millennial touch to Afternoon Tea 

It did and it was fabulous.

Tried and tested for organic mancs, honorary mancs, visitors to manc, new additions to this summer menu at Malmaison include the rather wonderful…

Pan fried sea scallops, red pepper puree, tapenade, samphire and sauce vierge…

Seared soy glazed salmon, crunchy hot and sour salad, toasted cashew nuts, red chilli, pousse and crisp gem lettuce (shhh my favourite and I’m not even a big salmon eater)…

Summer stew of grilled Merguez sausages, cannellini beans tomatoes, parsley, garlic and grilled Altamura bread (those sausages pack a punch – spicy, hot but nothing heavy about that dish)…

Burgers on offer are –

  • Ayrshire bacon and gruyere cheese
  • Chez Mal breaded buttermilk chicken, tangy tomato chutney, melted Reblochon cheese and pomme frites
  • Mushroom chestnut and field mushroom, grilled Romano pepper, pommes frites and mushroom jalapeno marmalade.
  • Selection, slider-style below:
  • Steaks from the josper grill:

    Chez Mal’s exclusive UK 28 day aged beef, all served with whole baked vine tomato, onion rings and green salad:

    450g T bone

    450g Bone in sirloin

    450g prime rib (tried, tested and pictured below)…

    Chez Mal still brings afternoon tea to the table, the sweet side bringing seasonal cheesecake, salted caramel chocolate brownie, Bakewell tart, double chocolate cupcake & seasonal fruit shake, along with fruit or plain scones, clotted cream & strawberry jam

    For all details including menus and reservations, please visit the Malmaison Manchester website.

    Categories
    Bars Culture Fitness Food and Drink Manchester Photography Preview/review

    Manchester plays host to Fizz Club – cava load of this! (sorry)

    I’ve been a member of a number of clubs in my life.

    Chess club, book club, netball club,

    Never has my enthusiasm been so strong, my interest piqued so much, my commitment been so absolute than for this particular club I’m proud to be a member of.

    That of course is Fizz Club, as brought to us by the people from the fantastically popular The Fizz Festival

    Imagine, if you will, a place you can go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.

    Actually on that point, I’m pretty sure only the lovely ladies who run the club know my name and that’s because I’m like an excited puppy when it hears the tell-tale jangle of its lead – my ears pricking sharply up at the pop of a cork.

    To use another canine analogy (and why wouldn’t you), I’m like Pavlov’s dog. The cork is my bell, and at the mere POP I’m salivating, flute in hand.

    That’s a bit gross, but you get the general idea.

    Anyway, I basically love fizz, sparkling wine, whatever you want to call it.

    Actually we need to call it fizz – it’s what the club’s called, after all.

    And whilst my favourite is and always will be champagne, I thought that to be educated in all things fizz would be serve me well in two respects:

    • I would have the opportunity to expand my mind as to all of the different varieties and types of sparkling wines there are out there, as well as tasting and learning about different champagnes on the market; and
    • It would hugely justify my obsession with fizz it I placed it within an educational context.

    I can drink it because I know a bit about it and I’m in a club and I need to be a good club member. So there.

    And so duly did I join Fizz Club as did my husband (men, go join!) and I haven’t looked back since.

    Up until this year, Fizz Club evenings had taken part in the suburbs, with tasting events in locations such as Hale and Knutsford.

    However, this year Fizz Club is sharing the love further and taking their tastings into central Manchester as well. Perfect for anyone living in, working in, visiting, basically anything-ing Manchester.

    Event are open to non-members too but at this point I shall link to all the deets of the advantages of what it means to be a member:

    Become a Fizz Club member

    Last week I attended the inaugural city centre event. Originally planned to be held at Kiehl’s on King Street, the Beast from the East and Storm Emma put paid to that, causing the store to close and matters in hand relocate next door to the wonderful El Gato Negro Tapas, with a chance to check out their top floor bar and dining space (that of the rather marvellous and infamous retractable roof better utilised in summer).

    And so the Spanish theme was no coincidence (El Gato Negro Tapas had already been on board to provide us with delicious canapés to accompany our tasting), Cava was on the menu, with five different wines to taste and pour over.

    I personally have a penchant for Cava over Prosecco as it’s made in the traditional method, in the same way as Champagne (note how I capitalise the drink types – fizz is that important) and is generally more dry than its sweeter Italian counterpart.

    From the Catalonia region and the area of El Penedes, Cava traditionally brings together three grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada.

    • Bodegas Sumarroca Cava Brut Reserva

    The first was brought to us by the lovely people at El Gato Negro Tapas themselves and on their menu at a cost of £6 a glass.

    Decidedly toasty and very bubbly I would happily and unashamedly drink this as a session Cava. That is not to insult it by saying it can be knocked back without due care and attention. It’s to save it was lovely and light and I could drink lots and lots and lots of it…

    The next four were brought to us by Codorniu.

    I say brought to us – the poor rep and guest speaker joined Kiehl’s as a victim of the weather, and held hostage in Aberdeen. So more accurate is to say the next four were sent to us by the lovely man from Cordoniu and presented to us and poured by the equally lovely Janet who runs the whole lovely fizzy affair.

    Incidentally Cordoniu is pronounced

    COD-ON-YOU

    Got that? Good on you.

    My mind is blown nearly as much as a few years ago when my brother-in-law returned from his honeymoon in the Champagne region with news that Moët is pronounced with a hard t.

    Yep.

    Cordoniu is the second biggest Cava producer, the first being (I’ll whisper it out of respect to our lovely friends at the former), Freixenet (pronounced FRESH – EN – NAY).

    • Codorniu Brut NV

    This was described as a Brut non-vintage entry level Cava. Perfect as an aperitif, it was very fresh and again light.

    Whilst it had an earth aroma, its taste was the opposite and for me quite fragrant.

    • Codorniu Zero

    This next Cava came with a quiz question

    What do you think has been removed, thus resulting in its name?

    I had already decided that sugar had been removed because I am currently obsessed with a certain slimming club and trying to see how much wine I can squeeze out of my syns allowance. So without even tasting it properly, I declared sugar and whilst desperate to love it as it could be my go to ‘skinny’ cava, I was saddened to learn I didn’t really.

    Just why I didn’t like it became embarrassingly clear when the answer was revealed to be

    Alcohol. It has no alcohol.

    Oops. I’d genuinely rather have a vimto as my alcohol free drink of choice. Having said that, this is personal taste on my part and there were others who liked it.

    • Codorniu Vitcultura Ecologically Brut

    The next tasted came with another revelation. Introduced as an organic cava, I immediately thought

    Marvellous, no hangover. I shall strive to enjoy this come what may.

    However our esteemed host told us that whilst sulphur can indeed provide people with something of a reaction, it isn’t what causes hangovers. Drinking lots of alcohol itself causes lots of hangovers. Nothing to do with sulphur content and so organic whilst a good thing in many respects, isn’t the answer to a hangover free drinking session.

    I can hear a pin drop.

    This wine is aged between 9 – 12 months and had a distinctly apple-y aroma and flavour. A good Cava to enjoy with traditional tapas and a little bolder (some might say ‘funky’. Just like Mark’s 90s ‘bunch’).

    • Codorniu Reina Ma Cristina Blanc de Noirs Vintage

    Last but not least was the 2013 produced Vintage which was actually made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.

    Aged for 15 months, I was expecting not to enjoy this as much (yes I appear to run firmly with pre-conceived ideas in life, must stop this) as I tend not to like champagne on the more vintage side which I think is a contradiction to my liking my reds robust and full-bodied), this was not as complex and heavy as I expected it to taste and I liked it.

    Advised it was a good food wine, particularly fish, I could see how it could hold its own whilst not taking over the show.

    And so the inaugural city centre Fizz Club night was drawn to a close. But not before we were asked if we would like to enjoy more of what what was left from what we’d tasted and liked beforehand…

    As mentioned earlier, Fizz Club is affiliated with and run by the same lovely people who treat us all to the annual event that is The Fizz Festival, held in South Manchester.

    If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Handily, though, I have and am happy to provide you with a run down of what goes on here:

    An A in Fizzical Education

    So what are you waiting for?

    The next city centre event is at Randall and Aubin on 25 April 2018 but if you can’t wait that long, head along back to the ‘burbs to Didsbury on 21 March 2018!

    Details of these and all events can be found right here!

    Cheers and see you at the next one 🥂

    Categories
    Bars Food and Drink Hotels Manchester Photography preview Preview/review Restaurants

    eXchange Food and Drink Lounge – call me ☎️

    It’s a rare day I pick up when my phone rings. It’s a hell freezes over day I call someone else.

    I’m not a monster, a social pariah, arrogance personified. I guess you could call me the ultimate screener. But it’s not through a sense of selecting who I want to talk to. It’s more blanket than that – I don’t want to talk to anyone. On the telephone that is.

    What is this sorcery? You can hear them, you can speak to them, but you can’t see their facial expressions.

    I’m a face reader, ready to add all sorts of dramatic interpretation to your expression in response to my ‘hello, it’s (insert real name here)’. How can I apply a wild assumption without a face to go on?

    The telephone ☎️📞. Not my best friend.

    But why the random, slightly odd confession? Why it’s my not totally tenuous link to the location of my latest Manchester dining experience: eXchange Food and Drink Lounge. Built on the location of what was a telephone exchange back in the 1890s, I love a nod to the past and eXchange Food and Drink Lounge on Portland Street does this well – not only in its name but in its interior decor.

    Whilst I may have a deep neurotic suspicion of the telephone, I do enjoy a tasteful telephone aesthetic.

    And so, with no danger of having to use any of pictured receivers, it was a relaxed honorary manc who settled down for an early Friday evening dinner.

    There were lots of different groups in – families, couples, friends, dads and their lads (my Manchester United supporting plus 1 (other good clubs available) using his powers of deduction to dramatically declare…

    United are at home tomorrow).

    And at a glance, the menu caters for all and is what you might categorise as ‘good grub’, offering staple sections of salads, burgers, pizzas and mains including dishes such as rib eye steak, Pieminister pie, mash and gravy, and sweet potato and spinach curry.

    And whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with good honest grub, as it were, I actually think to call it only this would be doing eXchange a disservice because our experience there was that it was much more.

    The thing that caught my eye immediately on the starters menu was ‘croquette of the week’.

    The ‘of the week’ concept rarely stretching beyond sausages and pies, (and the croquette being a rare sight on any menu), it was a no brainer. I was having croquette of the week, no matter what filled its breadcrumby exterior (mixed seafood).

    It was everything I hoped for and more. Or, to be more accurate, they were. Three (count them) beautifully golden crunchy croquettes filled with a fluffy, warm potato seafood mix, accompanied by a lovely tartare sauce dip.

    Comfort on a plate.

    My ‘actual manc plus 1’ diner dived into the fish tacos and declared them delicious.

    I ‘dove’ in too and concurred.

    Again this isn’t something you’d often see on a menu and, as with all dishes at eXchange, whilst at first sight they are the staples you’d expect, there’s originality and a level of freshness injected to some of its offerings, whilst keeping it simple enough to cater to a wide dining demographic.

    Without particular intention (although I did declare I’d start the year vegetarian until I ate a sausage roll by mistake), I kept to a meat-free theme and chose the haddock and chips for my main.

    You (I) want to see golden batter, soft white flaky fish and big, bold, ‘crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside’ chips, when I order such a dish. I got it.

    The batter was light and the flavours ran through to the chips underneath. A self-declare connoisseur, I really need to write a Top 10 Manchester chips blog at some point, if only to give myself an excuse to indulge. Anyway, I’d put these thick cut chips in that list.

    ‘Actual manc plus 1’ chose the ‘Good Vibes’ burger and good vibes indeed were experienced from the cajun chicken breast with slaw, jerk mayo and mango salsa.

    He also had the good fortune to choose the thick cut chips which also worked for me, as I didn’t have to share a single one of mine.

    Before our puddings, our lovely server, recommended a delicious drink. In fact I’m going to halt here just to say what great service we had from our server from start to finish and whose name I wish I’d asked (not in a creepy way) – he was friendly, lovely, polite, infectiously smiley and his recommendations were spot on – thank you.

    Anyway, speaking of which we both enjoyed (we being my fellow diner and I, not our server although I would have happily bought him a drink had he not been working – again not in a creepy way) a beautifully presented Original Manchester Gin with elderflower tonic, which was like summer (remember that?) in a glass.

    You might be bold enough to question the timing of my gin, given that I had wine with my starter and main. Well, to quote Tony Wilson,

    This is Manchester. We do things differently.

    And so it was into pudding and what a treat. Admittedly there was something of a wait between these two courses but I didn’t mind this – time to enjoy your drinks, you don’t feel rushed and some waiting time removes the danger of feeling too full and unable to enjoy your next course. Which we absolutely did.

    We chose the trio of creme brulee, the trio being chocolate, coffee and vanilla…

    and ‘Chef Chris’s’ chocolate brownie, served with chocolate sauce and amazing salted caramel ice cream – Chef Chris? Our compliments…

    Throwing myself head first back into the telephone analogy (and putting aside my own personal aversion to telephone calls – it’s important we ignore that for a moment), allow me to liken our experience to such –

    eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, we’ve added you to our friends and family.

    Sorry that was terrible, wasn’t it?

    Let’s keep it simple,

    eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, if you called, we’d always pick up.

    Not much better.

    Just basically go and try their great food in relaxed surroundings – you won’t be disappointed.

    Telephones etc.

    All the deets

    Categories
    Events Food and Drink News Photography Popular culture

    *MCR Event* Burns Night in style – Chivas Regal with Paul Smith

    Dear old Rabbi Burns

    Chivas Regal celebrated Burns Night at Paul Smith on Cathedral Street this year.

    Whisky never tasted so stylish…

    Categories
    Culture Food and Drink Manchester Marathon People Photography Popular culture The Arts Travel Uncategorized

    My Manchester in 2017 – in pictures

    The highs, the lows and the love that stemmed. Beautiful Manchester.

    .