Category Archives: Eating Out

Kaleido Manchester

When we think of the combination of football and food I would imagine that the majority of us would conjure images of pies.

But stop right there……… this is definitely not another pie post.

Kaleido is perched atop the newly relocated National Football Museum on the 5th floor of the Urbis Building, with the attached cocktail bar nestling above on the 6th.

Kaleido has by no means generated the kind of fervent anticipation of other recent openings but the team of Executive Chef Paul Riley, General Manager Franco Caroleo and figurehead Frank Bordoni are keen to match the ambition of the museum beneath them.

So we thought we’d have a look.  We being The Hungry Mrs and me plus Mr B and his better half.

After being greeted on the ground floor and escorted via the lift to the 5th my initial thoughts were that the place looked good – a little bit 1980s – but good. All white leather and a feature wall reminiscent of one of those toys we all had as a kid………. you know that you looked into and twisted and…………. oh.  Decoration aside the name is a nod to the kaleidoscope of people who play, support or are involved in football.

I have to be honest and admit that at this point I was a little pessimistic. I am so much more at home in homely feeling restaurants so I began to feel that this may have been a case of style over substance or “all fur coat………” to pick  a more colourful expression.

However after a warm, if slightly nervous welcome from our waitress we got down to the business of deciding what to eat.  The first thing to grab our collective attention were the prices.  For a city centre restaurant sitting in a landmark building they seemed all too reasonable, again, creeping doubts.

I opted for the jellied ham hock terrine with (deconstructed)  piccalilli and sourdough while The Mrs went for the oak smoked salmon with gribiche and crispy capers. Both were beautifully presented and whilst I didn’t try the salmon, the terrine was delicious, the piccalilli lovely and tangy.

Mains were Hereford oxtail and kidney pudding with feather blade, cabbage and carrot puree for me and spring chicken with ravioli, truffle vinaigrette, baby leeks and smoked bacon for my better half.  Again there were no complaints about how well our eyes were being fed.  The pudding and it’s contents were delicious and moist, the small amount of kidney (a good thing in my opinion) just adding that lovely depth of flavour.  The feather blade fell apart, however was a little dry but when combined with the pudding gravy this was easily forgotten.  I didn’t sample the chicken but The Mrs commented that she’d have liked a stronger taste to the vinaigrette as the chicken, whilst wonderfully cooked came off a little bland.

Then came the desserts, caramel apple tart with tonka bean ice cream and a cheese board, both to share.

Gorgeous caramelized appley bits with a cool, smooth ice cream that had a hint of vanilla but also the faintest element of spice, perhaps cinnamon?  With regard to cheese, I’ll confess to being a bit of a luddite (more to come soon on this) but all were very tasty and set off beautifully by the quince jelly.

After dinner we also checked out the 6th floor bar, just, you know, because why not?  The Key West Cooler was a treat after a lovely meal.

So what of the overall impression of Kaleido? While there may not be the sea change that you may get in the images in that ubiquitous kids toy when it comes to the dishes on the menu, it is apparent that there is a dedication to create an experience.  Where, as each course is served, there are “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” from the assembled, reminiscent of a great fireworks display.  I think it is fair to say that this is no damp squib.  Vibrant but cool and with some fantastic views across our city this place is sure to go off like a rocket.

Football and food just got interesting.

THM


SoLIta

According to our hosts for the evening “Solita” in Italian means “The only thing” and in Spanish “The lonely lady”.

For the last few weeks the Manchester food Twitterati has been twitching with the name of SoLIta.  Pictures of drool enducing dishes have appeared, disappeared, changed and reappeared.  The grapevine hissed with whispers “When does it open?” “How’d they do that?” Deep fried what now?”. It murmured with rumours “Manchesters first Inka” “There’ll be bacon jam” “Italy meets America meets Manchester”

Well thanks to Dom Sotgiu, the force behind this new venture inviting a few of us down for a sneaky preview, some of these quetions can start to be answered.

In a humble building in one of the oldest residential streets in Manchester is where you will find this place.  Just south (So) of what used to be well known as Little (L) Italy (Ita).

But judging books by covers is as we know, foolhardy at best.  While the groundfloor dining room and kitchen are in keeping with the scale of the exterior of the building the two upper floors house private dining areas for larger groups and the large, soundproofed basement bar expands the capacity even further.  This final aspect being a great addition for those who just perhaps fancy a superb cocktail.

So tour complete it was time to get stuck into that menu (link at bottom of page).  Pictures being worth a thousand words and all that I shall let them do the talking for a minute while I drool. Again.

So after wiping my chin I’ll continue.  The food all tasted amazing.  Personally I would prefer a rougher texture to the Chuck Steak Burger but I’m odd when it comes to textures, taste-wise though it was awesome, the inclusion of bone marrow just adding a lovely sweetness to hit against the smokey Inka cooked meat.

Ah, the Inka grill.  In case you haven’t heard of them, it is essentially an enclosed indoor barbecue, this one burning coconut husks to reach temperatures of around 500C

And?

Well, it gives up a fantastic smokey quality to anything it even looks at.  Add to this the fact that it allows for brilliantly pink in the middle steaks with a charred outer (see hanger steak) and yours truly is seriously wondering how essential the washing machine actually is.

Oh and yes.  Currently this is the only Inka grill in the city.

Now unfortunately I had to leave early so I did not get a chance to sample the much discussed deep fried coke or the similarly treated mac ‘n’ cheese.  This however is not a major problem, serving only to provide an excuse for a revisit – as if I needed one.

So while SoLIta may be the only thing in the city serving up Inka cooked food I somehow doubt that they will remain the lonely lady for very long.  I predict a whole host of new friends very soon

Cheers

THM

SoLIta
Turner Street
Manchester
01618395600

Menu


Brighton

Ordinarily, and as you may be aware, I start my posts with a quote.  Whether it be historical or more contemporary I can generally find one that sums up the topic really quite well.  However it would appear that not a lot has been said about Brighton.  At least, not a lot that I would be happy to post.  So with no rudder to guide me off I go…..

Fishcakes at Giggling Squid

I’d never been to Brighton before so when The Hungry Chum informed me that we had to visit for work reasons I jumped at the chance.  But (and yes this was among my first thoughts) where should we eat?  Thankfully Twitter came to the rescue, as it often does, and a little note to @BreakfastBySea a couple of days before I visited sorted it all out.  Thank you again for the list.

Mussels at Giggling Squid

The first port of call (hello sailor) was The Giggling Squid, which had been described as a Sussex chain.  Now, I have nothing against restaurant chains at all but the word does conjure up a certain impression.  Not a negative one, more like – you know what you’re going to get.  However we were firstly pleasantly surprised to learn that it was Thai food and secondly that it didn’t really fit the impression that we’d both formed.  A quirky, old building with small rooms over three floors with the unmistakeable wafts of lemongrass, ginger, and chilli that accompany Thai food. THC tucked into a starter of Thai steamed mussels followed by honey roast duck with rice.  I opted for the fishcakes, followed by lamb shank massaman curry.  The food was delicious. The lamb fell off the bone, the sauce was just spicy enough but did not distract from the masses of flavour underneath.  Choice one on the list had been a sucess.

Breakfast at Recipease

Next, and not actually on the list of recommendations, we stumbled upon Jamie Oliver’s new venture – Recipease – while looking for somewhere to have breakfast. A sort of casual diner, come cook school, come shop to sell his wares.  I resisted the temptation to go for the full English, instead deciding on the creamy mushrooms on toast with tomatoes whilst THC went for smoked salmon, tortilla and a poached egg.  The food was prepared right in front of us in the island kitchen area.  Once again we were not let down.  Certainly the prettiest breakfast I’ve had in a while, filling and tasty to boot!!

Crispy Pork with Orange & Endive Salad

Back to the list.  Next stop was The Coal Shed to try their 2 course lunch menu (£12). Lovely little modern restaurant tucked away on Boyce’s Street, handily just by a cracking little pub, The Fiddler’s Elbow. A little predictably for me I overlooked the fantastic sounding fish dishes and opted for the crispy pork with orange and endive salad, to be followed by the minute steak with dripping cooked chips and bitter leaves.  THC went for the same. We had been joined by a couple of other colleagues who both opted for the celeriac and truffle oil soup. For me this was the knockout of the trip.  The saltiness of the pork, the sweetness of the orange and the bitterness of the endive all combined to make an absolutely cracking starter, followed up by lovely rare minute steak and chips like my mum used to make.  Our companions both commented on how nice the soup was and if they hadn’t had to rush off would have loved to have stayed to sample more. 

Main course at The Coal Shed

Lincoln Platter

And then to the final eatery.  Relaxing in The Cricketers after the final day of work we decided that on this night we would keep it simple and since they had made contact via Twitter we decided to head to Coast to Coast  at The Marina.  If you’ve ever been to the States this place will feel very familiar, big booths, efficient service and some good old favourites on the menu.  We opted for a Lincoln platter which was a combo of some of those favourites. Onion rings, two different varieties of chicken wings, loaded potato skins, garlic bread, some nachos, chicken tenders – you know the score.  We were nicely surprised by the eye-watering level of spice of some of the wings and the loaded potato skins were better than most.  Was it fine dining? – no.  Was it trying to be? – no.  Was it something nice and simple to finish the trip off? Absolutely. So Brighton, you have fed us well.  You know – we didn’t even have time to sample some of the top looking food that we saw getting dished out in the pubs.  It looks like there is only one thing for it – a return trip.

 As for the lack of quotes about Brighton – may be, just maybe, they are trying to keep this food loveliness all to themselves.

 Be back soon

 THM


Ribble Valley Inns

“He goes not out of his way that goes to a good inn”  Old Proverb

And these are right up there. Four refurbished Inns spanning the Ribble Valley, from Skipton in the East to Kirkby Lonsdale in the West. They are:

They are all character filled pubs owned and run by the Northcote Group, co-founded by Michelin Star Chef Nigel Haworth and leading wine expert Craig Bancroft.

I first discovered the Ribble Valley Inns after a pal of mine drove me up to The Three Fishes.  After meandering through the wonderful Lancashire countryside we turned up in Mitton.  A tiny little village but with two pubs and a large hotel, clearly somewhat of a draw. We had just missed the lunch service and so tucked in to the afternoon bites menu. After a portion of Morecambe Bay Shrimp with Blade Mace butter and toast and a selection of Three Lancashire Cheeses with bread and Fireside Chutney, we were convinced that we’d be back for a rather more substantial sample.  After leaving the Three Fishes we drove through the country roads to take a look at the next site for a Ribble Valley Inn – that of the Clog & Billycock. Not much to see at the time surrounded by scaffolding, but clearly another fine old pub to be given a new lease of life.

In the meantime, after a camping trip in the lakes and deciding that we should return to civilisation as quickly as possible, I persuaded a group of friends to stop off at Kirkby Lonsdale and visit The Highwayman. As with The Three Fishes we found a beautifully refurbished old inn that incorporated all the elements of the traditional with the best of the contemporary.  Although it is now sometime ago I can remember having the Rabbit Risotto and thoroughly enjoying it.

Next was a return to The Three Fishes with The Hungry Mrs. Now I should say that on this particular visit we had been out the evening before and may or may not have consumed a substantial amount of alcohol.  This being the case we both opted for the kind of food that sorts this kind of terrible affliction right out.  Burgers.  Or as the menu at the time said “Chargrilled Minced Rump” although I believe this has now changed to include the word burger – perhaps as a result of watching two poor hungover wretches desperately searching for salvation!!

The burger itself was delicious, served medium rare with proper dripping-cooked chips (not fries), a pickled cucumber and mustard mayo. Needless to say it fixed us right up.

Pork at The Clog & Billycock

And so on to the next…..

We recently had the pleasure of being invited out for dinner on a Friday evening.  And beggar me if the destination wasn’t The Clog & Billycock.  A starter of a Game Terrine followed by a pork dish (the description of which escapes me, but I did take a picture…) which was delicious with creamy mash and lovely salty gravy.  Now I happen to like salty food but I did wonder if the pork dish might not have been too salty for some. For dessert, well if you’ve read previous posts you’ll know my appetite for pancakes, so I decided to stick with these.  Sugar and Lemon – keep it simple.

A great spread – The Bull at Broughton

Finally I managed to take the trip over to the  furthest of the collection.  Just on the outskirts of Skipton sits The Bull at Broughton.  As I expected an old-fashioned pub from the outside with lots of lovely oak as you step through the door. The Hungry Mrs, TKA and I were all very warmly greeted and shown to our table.  In fact I’d have to say that the staff here at The Bull were probably the friendliest and most welcoming of the four.  Now this being the first time that TKA had accompanied us it was great to see that the littluns are both welcomed and looked after just as well as the adults.  He opted for the burger and chips and was not let down – I think I would’ve liked to have seen some peas or beans on the plate but what he had he ate up.  Us bigguns opted for a Cheese & Onion Pie for The Mrs, the Slow Cooked Dry Aged Cap of Angus Beef for yours truly and some Cauliflower Cheese and Onion Rings to share.  Once again the food was all delicious, the beef was slightly more cooked than I would have ideally liked but the sauce and accompanying tomatoes were fantastic.

So that is the set done.  My overall impression is s really good one.  A couple of tiny gripes about the cooking but all in all I have been very impressed.  Now some will say that this is all just “pub grub” “nothing special” but for me that is the point.  These Inns are all very friendly places where the food consists of traditional meals that you might expect to see on a pub menu anywhere but with great contemporary touches. Much like the buildings themselves. And as more and more pubs close it is fantastic to see proper old-fashioned examples re-invented and kept alive.

The final couple of things to say about these Inns is firstly and as I have mentioned, you might expect to see the items on the menu anywhere – and this is true in general terms – but the food served here is local, seasonal and some of the best produced in the Northwest and this for me makes it a winner.  And secondly, these are pubs, that serve proper food. In my opinion, not restaurants that happen to be in an old pub building. I would be happy sitting in any of the four with a decent pint without feeling  that I am obliged to eat. Although I wouldn’t need much convincing!!

“Champion”

THM


Aumbry – Prestwich

According to one definition I found an aumbry is “a wall safe or cupboard that holds blessed bread and wine”

Now, without wanting to cause any offence to the religiously minded and hopefully avoiding eternal damnation for blasphemy – this is kind of a perfect description for this little gem.

Tucked away just off the main drag in Prestwich this converted pair of terraced cottages holds within its walls some fantastic food and wine which, while it may just fall short of being blessed, is certainly heavenly.

No church like reverence or hushed tones as you open the door to a warm and friendly welcome from staff that seem genuinely pleased to be working there but also equally as excited about sharing the food with new visitors.

The intimate dining room allowed for attention to each table from any of the three-woman team that is very often not possible in larger restaurants.  However I suspect that in such cosy surroundings if there were a larger group of 8 or so diners on one table they may somewhat dominate the atmosphere in the room.

Having been seated we awaited our first taste from this newly emerging Manchester favourite.

At this point I should mention that there were no photos taken for this post.  I left my camera at home and my phone in my pocket.  In such an intimate environment it simply didn’t feel right to be snapping away.  Well that and the fact that The Hungry Mrs gave me “the look” at the mere mention.

Anyway, I digress.  Following a serving of cheese pastry puffs and homemade crisps came the bread.

I remember my mum telling me stories of dripping butties and how nice they were.  Now, I put this down to post-war rationing , I mean surely butter just ticks all the boxes here? However, when our waitress removed the lid from the warm pot and declared “….and this is beef dripping” I was immediately keen to try it.  It was like having the best roast beef sandwich without the need to chew!!  Just goes to show – mother knows best!

But “man cannot live on bread alone”

The amuse bouche of wild garlic and potato soup with English truffle oil did exactly what it should in leaving me wanting more.  Next came the beautifully presented starter of wild rabbit terrine with rabbit consomme. liver parfait and sloe jelly.  The taste and texture surpassing even the appearance.

With a pause before the main course we were able to enjoy the wine.  A Xarel.Lo DO Albet i Noya which was delicious, light and fruity, “I can taste apricots” exclaimed The Hungry Mrs but without being too poncey this was actually one of those wines where you could identify individual flavours.

So………

The main course………

Milk-fed Cumbrian lamb.  Now I will be honest. When I read milk-fed my immediate reaction was that there would be a lack of flavour.  However I was happy to be proved wrong.  Although not the strong taste of lamb that I am used to, both cuts were sweet and melt in the mouth tender.  They were also, in keeping with every other dish, wonderfully presented with spring vegetables, white onion puree and pink fir apple potatoes.

On to dessert.  What to try? We had both overheard our neighbouring table discussing with relish the grapefruit posset but when our waitress informed us that she had incorporated the treacle tart into her wedding cake we were sold.  I mean that had to be some tart and with accompaniments of Earl Grey cream and lemon jelly the sweetness of the tart was perfectly balanced.

Aumbry is now reasonably well established and I regret not having visited earlier.  However while chatting to the team we have almost certainly been convinced to return to try the 9 course taster menu.

As stunning as the food was/is, it is the warmth and enthusiasm of the of the staff at Aumbry that will remain with me. Afterall even the most blessed of food could not have me coming back if I did not feel welcome.

Thanks to all at Aumbry for a lovely meal.

THM