Category Archives: Food and Drink

Sex and the City cocktails at the City Inn

The nice people at the City Inn in Manchester invited me to bring three friends along to try out their Sex and the City-themed cocktails – and I was only too happy to oblige. Not only did I get to catch up with my friends, drink some fancy drinks, but we didn’t even have to watch the film (I can’t not speak and sit still for two and a half hours).

Thomas Ebs, bar manager City Inn

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Choice Restaurant in Castlefield

On the balmy summer evening when I posted all these Castlefield photos, we decided to check out Choice Restaurant. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be good, but when you get off the bus at Piccadilly it’s a right hike to get out to Castlefield so had never tried it out.

Anyway, we were there and we were hungry AND they had a two courses for £12.95 offer on. The modern British menu definitely tempted our tastebuds so onwards we went. Showing its raw original brick arches to their full potential, the decor was understated, with a clean finish. So far, so good.

Chicken liver pate Choice

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City Inn’s new menu puts a spring in my step


We were invited to test out the City Inn’s new spring menu a couple of weeks ago on a similarly sunny evening, which led to a cocktail binge round the Northern Quarter with Mr Manchester Is Ace.

The City Inn is a place that has really developed in the last few years – in fact who can remember what was there before it appeared? Its surroundings are ultra-modern offices and an swanky apartment block, completely tranforming the previously grotty Piccadilly approach area. The new footbridge, which takes you over to Piccadilly station, means that the outdoor terrace is great for attracting passers by.

CIty Inn Manchester cocktails

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Manchester’s first Food Summit kicks off

Manchester is playing host to its first Food Summit tomorrow (Monday, May 24, 2010) to create a new forum for the food and drink industry to discuss important issues affecting them at the moment.

There is an impressive line up of events, with a key note speech from Matthew Fort. The Guardian food reviewer is a hero of mine since I read his book about travelling around Sicily while I was there on my honeymoon, and marvelled at the sheer amount of food that one human can consume.

The event is organised by Edge Street Events, who also run Manchester Food and Drink Festival and takes place at the Ramada Manchester Piccadilly.

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Artisan du Chocolat launches in Selfridges Manchester

It’s exciting times, people of Manchester! For Artisan du Chocolat has landed in Selfridges. The divine chocolate company has finally branched out of the Big Smoke and made it’s way up North. And that’s because we all know that Manchester is Ace!

We’ve not had a gourmet chocolate maker (although I’m sure someone can correct me) in Manchester, since Plasir du Chocolat in the Royal Exchange and Harvey Nichols closed down and sadly went into administration. Obviously the Chocolate Cafe in Ramsbottom does amazing things, but it’s not on my walk home after work.

Artisan du chocolat manchester

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Red Chilli made me sneeze

Red Chilli, I’ve been told by many, is one of the best restaurants in Manchester. And this is by people who’ve actually been to London (unlike my provincial self).

And since I started going about a month ago, it’s now my favourite restaurant in Manchester too. Actually I’d like it better if it wasn’t a chain, but that’s food snobbery for you.

And I didn’t even let my first terrible experience put me off.

I knew it was going to be spicy but I didn’t really consider how spicy it would be. SO I merrily ordered the mixed meat and seafood clay pot and happily drunk my house sauvignon blanc (which is not bad for a ‘housey’).

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Grazing lunch at Abode

The other week, I was freelancing in an office for the morning and on the way home accidentally went for a three course meal on my own. Well, it’s not my fault that my bus stop is RIGHT outside Abode. But after an intensive morning and no food in my belly, it was really nice to relax in some luxurious surroundings, and get my notepad out for some planning work.

AND their lunchtime offer won the Best Set Menu in the Good Food Guide 2010. Jay Rayner says this about it: “Right now, at lunchtime, Michael Caines at ABode Manchester is offering what must be one of the best bargains in the world of serious cooking available in Britain today.”

The super lunchtime offer is £12 for three courses, between 12noon and 2.30pm. They are mini taster portions, but three of them is still more than enough for a really filling lunch.

I’ve also been to review Abode in the evening for Taste of Manchester, when fellow food writer Lisa Higginson and I ate enough food for our extended families, and three generations in the future for the next 50 years. However, this visit was a little more restrained.

The menu changes regularly, so the current offering is this. Full marks to Abode for bringing me a massive bread basket, and don’t tell Dr Atkins but I ate it all. All three pieces. And it was good.

Out of the three starters – scallops; duck confit and parsnip soup – the Pan fried scallops appealed the most.  They came out on a fancy little black plate, they were dressed with caramelised cauliflower puree and sweet raisin vinaigrette. The taste of cauliflower didn’t really come through and certainly didn’t stick in my mind, but the sweetness of the raisin juice was a good choice to fight with the smoky taste of them scallops. I liked the little baby leaves because they looked cute and miniature things are always good.

The main course was pretty tiny, but good because it just one part of four very tasty things (am including the bread here). The roast fillet of pollock was a plump cheeky little piece of white fish. I don’t usually like the taste of pollock because it’s a bland, but more eco-friendly version of cod. But if I’m going to eat it, it may as well be cooked by the best chefs. The leeks, wild mushrooms and herb butter sauce gave the whole dish a massive umph with the buttery creaminess making sure it was satisfying.

Not in the mood for a sweet treat, I went for the cheese and biscuits, with delicate homemade biscuits (mine are always thick, clonky and crumbly), and three cheeses. One was a blue, one a smoked Cheddar and one a goats cheese, I think. The onion chutney and grapes gave it all some zing.

You have to remember that a 12% service charge is added onto the bill at the end, so along with my Appletizer I think my bill came to about £16. Quite a lot for a lunch, but it was worth it, even though I’m now eating home-made sarnies for the rest of the month.

This is one of the best restaurants in Manchester, so if you want to taste the handiwork of MFDF chef of the year Ian Matfin, but can’t afford the full on evening experience – this is the one to go for.

107 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2DB
T: 0161 247 7744
W: www.michaelcaines.com/restaurants/manchester

The Flat White Experience: Bringing an extra kick to Manchester.

This week I was invited to attend a special preview at the Starbucks coffeehouse on Oxford Road, to premier a new coffee coming to Manchester. The Flat White, which is originally from Australasia, comes as a response from Manchester coffee drinkers asking for an extra shot or a different syrup in their coffee.

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Man Con’s food and drink decade round up

Check out Manchester Confidential’s Food and Drink decade roundup. They’ve named Ramsons as Greater Manchester Restaurant of the Decade, and as I STILL haven’t been I’m naming it as my must-eat restaurant of January 2010. Interestingly, Gordo has given his Greater Manchester Restaurant of the Decade to Piccolino, which although isn’t amazingly exquisite food, it is consistent and the manager Ettore completely makes the restaurant what it is.

They have also named the Most Over-Used Phenomenon of the Decade as foam, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Who wants their beautifully prepared meal topped off with a bit of flavoured washing up liquid. Let’s consign this trend to 2009. Goodbye!

Festival Finale Weekend at Albert Square

Paul heathcote MFDF
Paul Heathcote, who was giving a chef demo at St Ann’s Square.

We’re now in the middle of Manchester Food and Drink Festival ,
after it launched last week with a glitzy bash at Manchester Art Gallery.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m doing some freelance PR work for the
festival so I’ve been watching all the behind the scenes action and can really
appreciate how much work goes into putting an event like this on.

And I’m starting to realise the occupational hazard of
working with (and consuming lots of) food and drink is a strong possibility of gout.
But, hey, I’m not complaining!

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