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Friday, 22 February 2008

The Best Cheese Burger in Britain?

My current and all-consuming obsession with Grinch Wine Bar & Restaurant continues - I am now physically unable to resist its lure when I go into central Manchester on a Saturday. And each time I go, I promise myself I will try something different - a pizza perhaps, or something healthy like the teriyaki salmon. And each time I go, I end up having the cheese burger because it's perfect, arriving at your table coyly pink in the middle and smothered with caramelised onions, double swiss cheese, dill pickles and fries. I must have it, and every week it seems. If you find a better burger, then I want that too.

Grinch Wine Bar, 5 -7 Chapel Walks, Manchester M2 1HN, tel. 0161 9073210, web address - go immediately.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Manchester University: Literature Live Events 2008

Some interesting events are scheduled at Manchester University over the next couple of months as part of their Creative Writing programme. These are all open to the public as well as students, and are mostly held at The Martin Harris Centre on the main campus on Oxford Road.

The first event was held last night, and featured readings from Jonathan Trigell and Clare Wigfall, two depressingly talented young writers who both studied Creative Writing at Manchester. Trigell read from his debut novel, Boy A, which was recently made into a film by Channel 4, as well as his new book Cham. Wigfall read a short story from her 2007 collection The Loudest Sound and Nothing. This was followed by a short Q & A session (including that awkward first half minute where no-one has a question) and then - best of all - a generously sized glass of red wine.

If the rest of the programme is as enjoyable as last night's event then there is much to look forward to, including Hanif Kureishi and Helen Dumore in future weeks. Most events cost only £3, or £2 for concessions.

More info at the University's website.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Restaurant Review: Jem&I, Didsbury

I'm not usually one to readily admit that I have been a fool, but in the case of Jem&I, I fear 'tis true. Despite the rave reviews this restaurant has garnered since opening, it has taken me several years to finally get through the doors.

There are three equally weak reasons for this:
1. I don't like its name
2. Before Jem&I, there was a really good caff here selling egg and bacon on toast at breakfast time, and I miss it
3. It is always, always phenomenally busy.

However, I finally overcame these (unreasonable) prejudices last Thursday. Admittedly, I was already weakened by a bottle of rose Moet which had been swiftly consumed in The Pitcher & Piano (January wine sale is remarkably still on), and the chances of me cooking my own dinner were small, so we made the very short journey to Jem&I to see what all the fuss was about.

The place was absolutely packed (see point 3 above), but we were given a charming little table located up above the main restaurant on a sort of mini-mezzanine level (beware if you are over about five feet tall - the sloping ceiling is very low up here). The waitresses couldn't have been nicer, and pretended stoically not to mind having to keep run up and down the stairs to us.

The food here is fairly traditional - we started with the chicken liver parfait (£6.50) and the squid (£7.25) - but beautifully done, and arrives in generously sized amounts. We followed this with duck breast served with duck spring roll and pak choi at £15.95 and a very tender rib-eye steak served with fat chips and sauce bearnaise at £16.95. Puddings were too nice to resist, so we also scoffed a sticky toffee pudding and a banana pavlova before our skirts became irredeemably tight.

The total bill, including a bottle of Bourisset Rose wine, came to £79.05, and I have already booked a return visit. Reviewing my three original objections, I find they are all still true, but I now feel ready to admit I was a fool not to come here sooner.

  • Cafe Jem&I is at 1C School Lane, Didsbury M20 6RD, Tel. 0161 445 3996.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Tragedy for the Residents of South Manchester

A deathly silence descended upon South Manchester this week as the shock news emerged that Mr Khandoker is closing his restaurant for refurbishment for 6 weeks. The popular local curry house, "recommended by celebrities", will shut its doors from Monday 4th Feb until Monday 17th March to allow for a complete overhaul and extension of existing facilities. One Didsbury resident, too upset to be named, commented: "Its an emotional time. Obviously as a community we must come together to survive this tragedy and start to rebuild our lives." Locals were provided slight comfort by the news that the takeaway Khandoker is to remain open through this dark period.

  • Readers who know the identity of these mysterious Khandoker-recommending "celebrities"are invited to enlighten us all by leaving a comment.