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Saturday, 20 September 2008

Special Offers at The Didsbury Pub, Didsbury

Maybe it's the threat of a credit crunch, or perhaps the prospect of the entire population of Didsbury retreating into hibernation, but The Didsbury pub has wheeled out a selection of pretty good food offers for September.

The (ironically?) inappropriately named Summer Menu offers good value at £9.95 for two courses and a glass of house wine. The menu offers a decent selection of options, none of which is remotely summery - I had the rump steak burger followed by a cheese plate so generous even I couldn't finish it, and Mr Liz had gammon, egg and chips followed by steamed treacle pudding and custard (summer menu indeed). This offer runs from Mondays to Thursdays until the end of September and requires a voucher.

Another tempting prospect runs next week only - two main courses for £10. Again, a voucher is required - these can be obtained from the pub's website.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Art of Tea, Didsbury

Every so often, you come across a venue that is so perfect you feel slightly embarrassed never to have been there before, as well as grumpy at the thought of so many missed opportunities. The Art of Tea is such a place: an independent cafe and cake shop, tucked away on Barlow Moor Road just off the main Didsbury drag, just on the right side of scruffy with its polished floorboards and mismatched 70s-style chinaware. The menu is small but tempting: breakfast options include toasted tea-cakes, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon bagels, although these are thankfully available all day. There is also a decent range of sandwiches as well as a daily soup option; I had the sausage and red onion marmalade sandwich on toasted ciabatta (£3.80), while the husband had a bagel off the specials list, stuffed with salami, cheese and gerkins (£4.20).

The selection of teas is not as extensive as the name of the cafe suggests, but there's a good selection of coffees and smoothies as well. The home-made cakes are particularly delicious: we shared a triple-chocolate brownie and quite frankly wished we'd had one each. Then , just as you've wiped the crumbs from your mouth and have paid your modest bill, and you're thinking the place couldn't really be much better, you notice that at the back of the cafe lurks a second-hand bookshop, occupied by possibly the friendliest and most helpful man in existence. I feel ashamed I have not been here before and will attempt to rectify this error by coming here every Saturday for the rest of my life.
  • The Art of Tea is at 47 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6TW, and is open Monday - Saturday from 9 till 6, and from 10 till 5 on a Sunday.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Restaurant Review: Gusto, Didsbury

Well, clearly being back at college and expected to teach people things is really quite tiring after 6 weeks off, and it is unreasonable to expect me to come home and cook my own supper. Thus I found myself in Gusto last night, eating food that I could probably have made much better myself, had I not been grappling with Wuthering Heights all day.

Gusto is the current guise of the Italian chain formerly known as Est Est Est, and is really rather disappointing, particularly as Est Est Est had improved no end in the months leading up to its disappearance. The menu remains pretty much the same, and the venue still has the same buzzy feel, with friendly staff and a great view into the kitchen area with its traditional wood oven. However, the food all arrived suspiciously quickly, and my starter of calamari was on the greasy side as well as being pretty chewy.

Main course was better: risotto served with prawns, mussels and yet more calamari was well flavoured with saffron and of a satisfyingly gloopy consistency to bring comfort on a dismally wet night. The dish was mussel-heavy, however, with few prawns in evidence, and the portion was far too large for such a rich dish. My husband's Diavolo pizza disappeared quickly and with no complaints other than it caused him to get flour on his wine glass.

The wine list is the real disappointment. All the Italian reds on offer seem over-priced; indeed, the £13 Syrah blend we went for was the only sub-£15 red on the menu.

All in all, OK but not great: next time I'll go to Felicini's, just across the road.

  • Gusto is at 756 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester M20 2DW, tel. 0161 445 8209.