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Friday, 21 August 2009

As Drunk as you like at Harvey Nichols for £25...

Harvey Nicks in Manchester has sensibly extended their "Twenty Five" offer, which now runs until September 5th. This allows a three course Brasserie meal, accompanied by unlimited house wine for the miserly sum of £25, and when they say "unlimited", it really is - as soon as even a mouthful is gone from your glass someone will glide up to your table and top it up immediately.

There are a couple of catches, though. They insist on you booking specifically for the offer, despite the fact that last Tuesday there were just three other tables occupied and the Brasserie had all the atmospshere of a quiet and well-behaved sock. Also, your three courses must be chosen from a very limited selection, and although the food is nice it isn't really anything special. I had some smoked duck for starter which was tasty but insubstantial (luckily I had snaffled some pistachio nuts at All Bar One beforehand), roast chicken leg with couscous for main, and a very good chocolate tart for dessert - puddings were unquestionably the highlight of the meal.

So lets face it, the attraction here is the wine and overall the offer does offer the chance to eat somewhere pretty nice pretty cheaply. Amusing though that the deal is trumpeted as the "famous" Twenty Five, pretending completely that it didn't used to be called Twenty One and be four pounds cheaper...

You can book for the famous Twenty Five on 0161 8288898.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Review of Sam's Chop House, Manchester

Sam's has long been one of my favourite places to eat in Manchester, and luckily ny husband agrees (something to do with high meat-content on menu and dishes the size of a small house, no doubt). Also, it's just around the corner from All Bar One at the top of King Street, one of those rare chain bars that actually seem to get it right by providing a vast selection of beers and ciders for the boys, and a very reasonable selection of wines and cocktails for those more ladylike among us.

So we started with a cheeky glass of prosecco (me) and some dull beer or other (him) and then teetered our way to Sam's for dinner (actually just me doing the teetering - the cobbles outside of Sam's were no doubt specifically put there to plague heel-wearers). Sam's was as cheerful and busy as ever, and we were put in a cosy corner by a display of bottles of Laurent-Perrier (a sign from above, perhaps?)

You have to love a restaurant that has the confidence to describe two of its menu items as "famous" - particularly as one is a bowl of onion soup costing over a fiver - but both the soup and the corn beef hash (the other "legendary" food item) are quite disturbingly good, and so addictive that we have to order both whenever we go. This time, we also had the seafood cocktail, which is more exciting than most as someone was clever enough to think to put crab in there as well as prawns, and the mixed grill, which was frankly of ridiculous proportions and left even my husband beaten.

Puddings are less exciting, but the Baileys and banana cheesecake we shared was nice enough, and the wine list is reasonably priced with lots of palatable stuff under £20. The young waitress who served us was asking where we would be going next - clubbing perhaps? Crazy lady - after eating here, the wisest plan is to go home and sleep it off.

Sam's Chop House is at 19 Back Pool Fold, Chapel Walks, off Cross Street, Manchester M2 1HN, tel 0161 8343210.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Arts and Crafts Market Returns to Manchester

If you are already looking longingly ahead to the arrival of the Christmas Markets, then some temporary respite is available in the form of the Arts and Craft Market, which returns to St Ann's Square tomorrow (Friday 7th August). I can't pretend it's as atmospheric as its winter relative, but it's always worth browsing the stalls for unusual handmade gifts - this year more than 50 will be setting up shop.

Best of all, of course, is the food and drink - hot pork sandwiches, paella and chorizo rolls will all be available, along with beers, lagers and wines (not sure yet if the Pimms/champagne tent is coming along - please God let it be so). Hours of amusement watching people trying to eat on the move without spilling half of it down themselves.

The market is on until Sunday 16th August and is open daily between 10am and 5.30pm.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Charity Banquet at Khandoker, East Didsbury

My accidental generosity towards Christie's continues unabated this week - on an impromptu visit to Khandoker on Kingsway in East Didsbury last night we found ourselves in the midst of one of Mr Khandoker's famous charity evenings, where people kindly and selflessly eat vast quantities of curry for charity.

Mr Khandoker is well-known locally for his involvement in both local and international charities, and his charity banquets are excellent value as well as leaving the consumer feeling smugly philanthropic. For £12.95, you get popadoms, an enormous mixed starter, any main course of your choice, rice or nan, and a mixed vegetable starter. Being Khandoker, this is all of course delicious, and every penny goes to charity. Last night and Monday was Christie Hospital; tonight and Thursday the receiving cause is the appeal for Bangladeshi flood victims. There's really no excuse for not going (unless you don't like curry, in which case there is probably something wrong anyway).

This means that what with the excellent shindig at the Pitcher & Piano a few weeks back, giving money to Christie's has been an absolute doddle. The Christie representative who was at the P & P bash was also at Khandoker last night flogging raffle tickets, and he says that the recent do was such a success that the P & P is looking to arrange another "high-end" do for Christie's in October, this time in Manchester as well as Didsbury - hurrah!

You can book for the Khandoker charity banquet today or tomorrow by calling 0161 4343596.