Yesterday was such a beautiful day in Manchester: cloudless, bright blue sky above; perfectly crisp white snow underfoot (well, the last bit was true if you avoided looking at the grey sludgy stuff and the yellow bits where the dogs - presumably - had been). Definitely a day for being outside, despite the cold.
The only problem with snow is the sheer effort involved in anything. The normally ten minute walk into Didsbury Village seemed to take around two hours, and felt like the equivalent to several sessions at the gym (from what I remember), so the special-offer blackboard outside Jem&I called us like a beacon, welcoming us inside with promises of warmth and cossetting.
For a long time after it opened, I refused to go in Jem&I on account of not liking its name, and whilst I stand by this as a reasonable decision I do now acknowledge it to have been a mistake. Jem&I is simply one of the best places to eat in Manchester, offering food of a similar style and quality to West Didsbury's Lime Tree but with a less stuffy attitude and a younger clientele (although there were two VERY old people in there yesterday, rather splendidly sharing a whole bottle of red at 1 o'clock in the afternoon - bravo).
The deal that lured us in was the Express Lunch menu (again, fight the urge to reject something so poorly named), which offers a selection of main dishes at £5, a couple of starters at £2.95, and a few bin-end wines at £2.50 a glass. We both started with soup of the day (the other option was home-made humous) which yesterday was cream of parsnip - deliciously thick and warming, just right for people who have lost all feeling in their feet on the walk to the restaurant.
For mains, my husband went for the fish and chips and I had liver served with sausage and cabbage cassoulet. Both were delicious, suggesting no sacrifice in quality to meet the £5 price tag, and portions were generous (so generous, I had to leave some - unheard of, and no reflection upon the standard of the food). Just for the record, my husband had a glass of £2.50 merlot but I stuck to water (poo) in line with the current self-imposed two week alcohol ban.
Service was swift and friendly, and the bill was of course pleasingly low for food of such a standard. I swear though that the walk home felt SIGNIFICANTLY colder on the way back.
- Jem&I is at 1c School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6RD, and the Express Lunch deal is available every day.