Sam’s Chop House, Manchester

Monday, March 10th, 2008

If you want to dine in a beautifully preserved piece of British Victorian architecture.  If you want to eat traditional English grub like fish ‘n’ chips, corned beef hash and steak and kidney pudding.  If you want to be served by professional, traditionally dressed, polite and informed waiting staff.  And if you want to do this with a cracking fine wine list to choose from, there is only one place to go.  Sam’s Chop House in Manchester.

Sam’s - fine wines and proper food….for some reason


Bibi’s – the Wolseley of the North?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

If the Wolseley is the best restaurant in London, then what about the provinces?  Leeds, for example, has a proud tradition of brewing beer, staffing call centres, building the world’s first Dalek shaped skyscraper, and breeding people who say “eeh bah gum!”.  So surely not a place for fine dining then?

Is it a bar?  Is it a Ristorante?  Is it a car park?


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.


Ivy Gestapo hound me out

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

I went to The Ivy for lunch yesterday and whilst the food and service was impeccable, we were hounded off our table.

Arriving 11:55 for our 12:0pm table we had to queue outside whilst the staff were briefed. Eventually by 12:10 we were seated and ordered as quickly as allowed. We ate as quickly as one could reasonably be expected to eat without incurring indigestion.

At 1:20pm the Ivy Gestapo kindly permitted us to order a “quick” dessert or coffee, and leave.  The Obergruppenführer waiter tried to look suitably embarassed but failed miserably.  We were then encouraged, cajoled, and finally pressed to make our exit.

It’s a shame really when this sort of place leaves a slight tinge on an otherwise superb experience.  But I don’t want to be rude to my hosts so I won’t complain any further.

The oysters were legendary.  The Ivy Hamburger perfectly rare.  The Grüner Veltliner extremely competent, and the coffee (macchiato of course) not bad, despite the rush.

Brasserie Bavaria, Lausanne

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I am thinking of nominating Lausanne as the most boring city in Europe.  Before you ask, yes, I have been to Brussels, but I think Lausanne is to European city life, what Accrington Stanley is to the English Premier League.  Lausanne was so boring that our two night stay necessitated a lot of public transport – a train to Morges for the afternoon, a day trip on the ferry to Evian, an evening train to Montreux before waking on the final day and taking the early train to Geneva.

So why stay in Lausanne then?  It’s a fair question, thanks for asking.  On a previous holiday we had stayed in Evian and done the ferry trip the other way.  In doing so, we found a resto in Lausanne which did the most fabulous rosti ever tasted.  As I was not running this blog in those days, I had no record of the name or location of this establishment.

So we asked around for the best rosti shop in town and a random camera retailer recommended Brasserie Bavaria.

Bavaria, er Lausanne actually


Dimitris – my first encounter with Greek wine

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Greek food, on the whole, is well known to be incredibly healthy, especially when compared to typical English and American diets.  Greek wine by contrast is just not well known at all.  So when I saw a bottle on the wine list of Dimitris in Manchester, I had to give it a try.

Dimitris from Deansgate

Every table had a “reserved” sign, the day we visited Dimitris for Sunday lunch.  Fortunately these were not real reserved signs, but merely little Hellenic white lies, so we sat down.


The Wolseley – best restaurant in London?

Friday, September 7th, 2007

I have never been to the Ritz.  This maybe because I can’t afford it, or it could equally be because, to enjoy the Ritz fayre, I would have to bypass The Wolseley, right next door at 160 Piccadilly.  This is something I have not yet achieved.

Old car showroom?  I prefer eating to driving.


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.


Fifteen Degrees East of Eden

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Somewhere roughly east of the Eden Project in Cornwall you may stumble across Newquay and Watergate Bay.  Here you will find another highly commendable charity establishment.  Fifteen Cornwall is Jamie Oliver’s project to give young (and often disadvantaged) young people the opportunity to make something of their lives, by learning how to cook very very expensive food.

As it was the first anniversary of the opening of Fifteen Cornwall and this marked the graduation of the first batch of trainees we thought it would be rude to turn down the opportunity to try the highly popular place.  OK then it wasn’t exactly a personal invite from Jamie but it was nice to be there.

Birthday Tasting Menu.