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Sunday, 25 January 2009

Saturday Night on Burton Road, West Didsbury

OK: I know Saturday nights are probably the busiest going out night of the week, but it was very cold last night, and we are (as of Friday) officially in the middle of a recession. So I felt confident in ringing the Lime Tree at 6pm to see if they could squeeze us in. They could. At 10.15. Never mind - the Lime Tree is the best restaurant in the area, after all - we would simply take a cab up to Burton Road and see what took our fancy.

So after a couple of drinks in The Metropolitan (very busy, especially considering that two rounds of drinks in here cost roughly the same as a small car) we made our way to the very fine Rhubarb. Fully booked. Oh. Then the very charming Italian restaurant Azzurro. Very apologetic, but fully booked. By now I was eying up scabby dogs and cursing my choice of footwear - West Didsbury pavements were not made for spike heels.

Hurrah for the Namaste Nepal, where we were swiftly seated and served restorative poppadums. This curryhouse is massive though, and only twenty minutes or so after our arrival people were being turned away. I tried to look sympathetic rather than smug. The food here was brilliant as usual - the bringal (aubergine) side dish is unfeasibly good, as is the makhan fish which I always order despite promising myself I'll try something new. The service and the atmosphere is much, much better than at its sister restaurant Great Kathmandu, just up the road, where the waiters are sometimes surly and are prone to spilling food of the type that leaves permanent stains on you (well OK, that was just once).

The moral of the story? If you're going out and fancy anything other than curry, then book. The good folk of West Didsbury are gamely doing as Gordon Brown asks and are spending us out of recession.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Guilty Pleasures on a Sunday Night

I'm not really one for New Year resolutions, unless they are ones comfortably achieved during the darkest, coldest months of the year and don't involve giving up food or alcohol in any way. This year's pledge is to make more of Sunday evenings, too often wasted in general grumpiness at the thought of work the following day and spent wearing pyjamas and reading a trashy book.

So, working on the basis that weekends will seem longer if Sunday evenings are spent profitably in pursuit of nice things, three girls strapped on their finest shoes and ventured into Manchester (clutching tickets for Anton and Erin at the Bridgewater Hall, but that's another matter - no need to discuss that here) for an early dinner at Livebait. First stop was Beluga, on Mount Street just off Albert Square for a bonus cocktail - the bar was surprisingly busy, suggesting that perhaps lots of people have determined to make more of their Sundays.

Livebait was also quite busy, particularly since it was only 5.30, but the average age of the other diners (somewhere between 50 and 150) indicated that the business was perhaps down to the formidable pulling power of Anton and Erin. The restaurant is doing some pretty good offers at the moment though - you can download a voucher from their website worth £15 off the bill when two people order two courses from the a la carte menu during January, and there is also a very reasonably priced set menu available.

I chose the mackerel fillet (massive) with pickled cucumber (nice - like a slinky gerkin) and horseradish cream (a bit stingy on the portion size) at £5.95, and also snuck my fork into other people's calamari. The mains were slightly less inspiring than the starters, but the thai red fish curry was nice enough and pretty spicy (cue lots of wine for medicinal reasons). No time for pudding (sequins were calling us) but the bill came to a very reasonable £72 inluding service after the £15 reduction.

Monday, 5 January 2009

January Offers at Manchester Bars & Restaurants

Whilst it is very sad - not to mention quite sordid - to see folk rummaging around in skips to salvage the last of the Woolworths fixtures and fittings, it cannot be denied that there are some good deals around at the moment for those who wish to spend some money. Considering it my civic duty to keep the economy afloat by investing in goods and services, I shall be taking advantage of some of the following rather splendid offers:

  • The Pitcher & Piano (branches in Manchester and Didsbury) is doing two main meals, sandwiches or salads for the price of one. The deal is on all day, every day until further notice, although some dishes such as the sharing platters are excluded. Whilst the food here is not exactly haute cuisine, they do serve till 10pm and the food is very useful for mopping up some of the alcohol deals they are offering - half price wine sale throughout January, or four bottles of Peroni beer for £10.
  • If you fancy something more upmarket, Room restaurant on King Street, central Manchester, is offering 50% off all food until 12th February. You need to order before 7.30pm, and the offer isn't available on Saturdays. Discount cards need to be ordered via the restaurant website, but the card is valid throughout the sale period for parties of up to eight people. Full details at