The one Stock bucking the market trend

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Whilst bears everywhere are majestically prowling and growling to everybody that they told them so, stocks around the world continue their downward spiral.  This does not affect Manchester as much as it used to, as the Stock Exchange here is now an Italian restaurant.

Stock market? cube? pot? ing leg?


La Cucina, Kenilworth

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I’ve been sent to Coventry. Not in the metaphorical, but literal sense. On business to be precise. I have a 9:0am meeting in the morning with Barclays Bank and to travel down to get there reliably from Leeds would require me to rise and shine at 5:0am. No self-respecting wino does that.

The marvels of modern technology mean that my laptop simply connects via a 3G card to the internet, and using something called “VPN” (nothing to do with panty lines, no) I can work as if in the office, from anywhere in the world, although at 10% of the speed.  All of this means that instead of finishing work at about 7pm, I am still at it at 9:30.  Fortunately, La Cucina is still open on a Monday night and most of the remaining customers are Italian, which is encouraging.

Coochie, coochie, Cucina, you’re my coo-ca-chooooooo


Cocotoo, Sistine Chapel of Manchester

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Have you ever slept under the railway arches?  It’s not typically a pleasant place.  Certainly not a place you would choose to sleep.  But if it’s raining and you have no fixed abode, well, everything is relative.

I nodded off under the arches near Oxford Road station on Whitworth Street in Manchester.  Thankfully, someone had been thoughtful enough to build an Italian restaurant around me that was warm and welcoming (not that I would have noticed given the amount of alcohol canoeing through my veins).

Manchester by night - Cocotoo


Prezzo, Thame….is somewhat tame

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Prezzo, the Italian restaurant chain whose only USP seems to be weird artwork has opened a branch in Thame, Oxfordshire.

Prezzo but at what price?


Gio Gio, so good they named it twice!

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I went to see Private Lives, the excellent Noël Coward play, at the equally excellent Library Theatre, St Peter’s Square, Manchester.  So needing sustenance to prevent my guests having to suffer the slings and arrows of my outrageous belly rumbles, we pulled in to Gio’s on Lower Mosley St, opposite the Midland Hotel.

Gio boxers - full at 6:30pm????

There is a brilliant pre-theatre menu at £8.95 for two courses.  I picked the Insalata Caprese and the Penne Tagliatelli alla Francesca.

Here’s a tip.  When you order a pasta dish, always mix and match the pasta with the sauce.


San Carlo – Ivy of the North….for some reason

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

The somewhat entertaining, but supercilious and frequently AWOL Sunday Times restaurant critic, AA Gill, rarely extends his gastronomic tentacles beyond central London.  So I was surprised to see that he had, according to a poster at Piccadilly rail station, nominated San Carlo in MANCHESTER as the best Italian restaurant outside the capital.  Surprised not only because he had ventured so far north as to get the apocryphal nosebleed, but also because San Carlo is far from the best resto of any type anywhere.

San Carlo - no entry for minor celebs


Valentino but no Rudolph

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

I used to live in Bingley, West Yorkshire and frequented Valentino’s many a Friday night.  One of my favourite places for friendly and rustic, if slightly over garlicked and over-buttered fayre.

So when invited back for a birthday party recently, I was interested to see if the old fella was still there.  The welcome was as warm as ever and Valentino remembered me (that’s the thing about an Italian welcome – they are great at pretending they know you, I’m sure he must have wondered who the hell I was.)

Valentino’s was founded in MCMXCV which sounds like a long time ago, but by my reckoning is 1995.  I double checked my Roman maths by going to Google and typing “MCMXCV in Arabic” and the answer was duly computed.  Isn’t Google totally awesome (say this out loud in a nasal teenage American twang).


Charlotte, Bertie and Gérard too

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Cacophony.  That’s the only word to describe the number and range of restaurants on Charlotte Street.  This bustling part of London seems to be the very epicentre of eating out.  I was dining with someone who knew the area and we agreed on Italian so he suggested Bertorelli’s which I learnt had been founded by the Bertorelli family some 90 years ago.

So I was, frankly, bloody annoyed to find that Chez Gérard Group now owned the restaurant and had turned it into yet another one of their chains.  I’ve always considered Chez Gérard to be high on price and low on quality and you may remember my Livebait experience…  I find most chains, in any case, are a triumph of formula over inspiration, of laziness over perspiration.


Zucchini – The final frontier

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Loose end on a Friday night in Batley, West Yorkshire?  Why not try the world famous Frontier Club?  Many a famous name has played the place – even the Grumbleweeds!

Nothing on the particular Friday I was there, so decided to try the restaurant next door – Zucchini.  I heard it is run by the same people as the excellent but smoky (well, used to be before 1 July 07 English smoking ban) Dolce Vita in Birstall, so we expected great things.

I won’t be going back.  The staff were surly, the wine was too warm and the food was average.


Quanto Costa Pesto?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

(With apologies to anyone who speaks proper Italian out there….)

I was mooching around Deansgate in Manchester looking for a quick bite on my own.  I decided to try Pesto (website under construction at the time of writing).  As best I can make out, this is an Italian take on tapas.  Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought!

Oh my darling tell me when…..Pesto, pesto, pesto, pesto?