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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Disastrously Good Puddings at Foster's Fish Bar Lead to Tight Skirts but Happy Cats

Now, as previously discussed on these very pages, husbands are useful creatures. They are urbane, witty chaps, providing a constant stream of affection, support and intelligent conversation.

*checks to ensure passing husband now gone*

They are also very good at fetching. In fact, Mr Liz lists it on his CV as one his best qualities - "can be sent into Didsbury, or slightly further afield by special arrangement, to collect any takeaway requested, providing it is deep-fried and/or comes in at more than 1000 calories a head."

I am aware that this makes me sound like a mean, hateful creature, but Mr Liz will confirm that it suits him perfectly; he returns 30-45 minutes after dispatch, proudly bearing the food he has hunted and gathered, smelling of beer, and trotting out some half-baked tale about bad traffic/no parking/delay on food order etc etc. But I have finally noticed a flaw in this otherwise harmonious arrangement: the discovery of hitherto unknown menu options.

Tonight, for various reasons, I was forced to turn poacher myself, and seek out dinner for myself and Mr Liz. I chose Foster's Fish & Chips, and placed our normal order for cod and chips, slice of lemon, extra vinegar. And then, the epiphany: as well as fish, they also sell desserts. And not just rubbish, wish-you-hadn't-bothered ones (anyone who has ever been the disappointed recipient of a Mr Punky ice-cream in a pub will know this feeling all too well), but proper, worth-feeding-half-your-fish-to-the-cat-so-you've-got-space-left ones.

*passing cat nods and gives smug "paws up" sign*

Now frankly, this is bad news all round; except for old Mr Fish face licking his whiskers in the corner, that is. Ladies across Manchester hoping to embrace summer in the coming weeks by wearing a short pant, or a cheeky little sleeveless blouson, or - heaven forbid - a BIKINI, are likely to find their plans for slinky skimpiness cruelly derailed by this new turn of events. Fish - yes, MUCH healthier than meat. Chips - erm, yes, vitamin C and, er, fibre. But a portion of chocolate cake so dense and rich that it could almost masquerade as the world's most generous truffle? A portion of cheesecake so light and airy that you accidentally eat that as well as the cake, and then wonder how you might be able to explain this oversight to the husband who has just popped out for an hour or so?

There's only one thing to do; I can't blame the cat this time, or the fictional mouse that lives in our kitchen, existing purely to take the blame for when I've eaten something I shouldn't. So, Mr and Mrs Foster, I'm sorry, but I'm putting this one squarely on you...

- Foster's Fish & Chips can be found in Didsbury and Alderley Edge; puddings are all home-made and cost £3.25 takeout or £3.95 eat-in. Blame them, not me.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Things to do in Manchester for the Royal Wedding...Tea at Harvey Nicks

Now, I hadn't planned to write about the Royal Wedding at all. I am very far from being a monarchist; indeed, the last wedding involving a future King of England, that of Charles and Diana in 1981, left an irreparable scar on my soul. As a very young child, in control of neither my destiny nor my wardrobe, I was bought an outfit for this most special of occasions that included a pink embroidered sweater with a high, frilled collar that frankly did nothing for a child carrying a little puppy fat. I was also the proud possessor of an obliging wedge of dark blonde hair that was cruelly coiffed into a Lady Di flick round the edges, prompting all and sundry to say "aah, just like a little Diana." I have seen photographic evidence, and I do not look like a little Diana. There are indeed no actual words to describe what exactly I do look like; think the very worst of the eighties levered into one small, grinning package.

So as you can see, a Royal Wedding is nothing to get excited about. Except for the following reasons:

- I am an adult now, and can therefore choose my own outfit to celebrate the happy event.

- I am an adult now, and can therefore claim an extra day off work to celebrate the happy event.

- I am an adult now, and can therefore spend my extra day off work drinking wine and eating a selection of party foods, to celebrate the happy event.

Much better all round, in fact. I quite like the idea of a street party, but have left it too late to apply to have the road closed, and as I don't fancy taking my chances with a succession of fast-moving vehicles (apart from those slowing down to admire my pink embroidered sweater, obviously) I may have to make do with knocking back a wine box on the pavement instead, perhaps whilst waving a small flag.

Most of the pubs in the area seem to be gearing themselves up for an onslaught of patriotic drinkers, demonstrating their royal fervour by sinking a variety of cut-price alcoholic beverages. More civilised-sounding by far is the Royal Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant, which runs throughout April. Afternoon tea is a marvellous tradition at ANY time, permitting as it does the consumption of tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off and an array of dainty cakes made, perhaps, for a passing dolly to take to her tea party; not real food, in other words.

For £30, Harvey Nichols promises a selection of savoury snacks and a "fun collection of desserts with a royal theme", begging the questions: a/ whoever heard of a dessert that WASN'T fun (tapioca, maybe), and b/ what exactly is the royal theme? Some sickly sweet confections with Kate's face on? Ones full of booze with Harry's face on? The mind boggles. Even better, you also get a special commemorative mug which, this being Harvey Nicks, is actually very tasteful (disappointingly so, in fact; never mind) and is included in the price of the afternoon tea. Full details are on the website, or call 0161 8288898 to book.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Triumphant Inaugural West Didsbury Market

Well, it was bound to happen - a week of unfeasibly glorious weather, viewed grudgingly through the windows of a classroom in which resentful, underdressed students are forcibly penned - and come the weekend, come the first West Didsbury Market, it was bound to go a bit cold and rubbish. But no matter; my feet were pleased to be safely back in their cosy FitFlop boots after last night's gladiator sandal experiment, and the return of more typical British weather conditions meant that large quantities of calorific food products could be purchased at the market without qualm, as a nice layer of winter fat is clearly still advisable.

The West Didsbury Market is going to take place on the last Saturday of every month, and has found itself an ideal home in front of the Withington Community Hospital - plenty of parking, plenty of space, and no issues with being accidentally run over while eating a pie. Now my fingers have defrosted sufficiently to type, here are the highlights of a splendid day...

First stop, the meat-laden stall of The Artisan Meat Company, where the lovely Paul tempted us with his succulent sausages and beautiful bacon. Tragically, he had so many flavours to offer us that we were forced to sample an array of sausagey titbits before choosing which to buy; indeed, next time Mr Liz wants me to take a larger handbag so that I may scoop a load in while he distracts the stall-holders by performing handstands and cartwheels.

Next stop, lunch. Mr Liz went for a steak and ale pie from the winningly-named Pie Guys, while I went for a bowl of mixed goodness from the Pinchjo's stall. If you've visted Joe's Burton Road tapas bar then you'll already know how good his food is, and this was no exception - salad, rice, chickpeas with spinach and chicken all in a bowl so generously laden that a lurking boy (who had already, let us not forget, snaffled a pie) was forced to finish it off.

Then, we bought cheese (as is the actual law at these type of markets), but I have been remiss and not noted the name of the stall we purchased from. I am going to guess, and say it was "Mr Cheesy's Cheese Emporium", purely because this is what I would like the stall to have been called. In my defence, I can claim to have been distracted as by this time Mark Hackett, Lord Mayor of Manchester, had arrived to officially open the event, and I wished to find out whether the rumours about him being presented with a cake bearing his face were true.

They weren't. Instead, the cake - rustled up, I believe, by the good people of Silver Apples - carried an image of the beautiful West Didsbury mosaic created by Amanda McCrann for WestFest2010. Rather ironically, Amanda was about the only person not to get a piece of the cake that bore her design, as it was carefully sliced before her very nose and then whisked away to be given to other, non-mosaic designing folk.

And finally, speaking of cake, no food market would be complete without a visit to a cupcake stall. We were lured by the sensibly-priced wares of The Butterfly Cupcakery, which had nearly sold out despite having started the day with 300 cakes. Before you start pointing the finger, I can confirm I only bought two of them - we had the last chocolate and mint ones, and very nice they were too.

We left just as Busker's Corner was getting into full swing (a coincidence, I promise), and I can only imagine how delightful this event is going to be in the (hopefully) balmy days of summer.

Friday Night Date Night at Jem&I, Didsbury

There are, of course, innumerable advantages to being married. You no longer have to brave the shark-infested waters that constitute the world of dating, and no more face the humiliation of ringing up the local curryhouse and ordering a takeaway for one (SO hard to resist the urge to add that actually you're terribly popular, and just happen to be on your own tonight, for one night only, honestly...)

And gone are the hideous days of early courtship, where you have to be on your best behaviour at ALL times and maintain a constant facade of perfection, an endless toil of cultivating artfully tousled bed-hair rather than random peaks and troughs, and pretending that you really don't need glasses at all and haven't really just fallen over the cat because you can't see where you're going.

No, I would not willingly go back to singledom (I would have to make my own tea in the morning, for one thing) - and yet I do occasionally miss the fun of getting dressed up and going out on a date. Thus, for one week only (sadly), Friday Night Wine Night has mutated from its usual lying-on-the-sofa-in-pyjamas-drinking-Sainsburys-Merlot format into a lovely, shimmering, glamorous cousin - Friday Night Date Night.

Mr and Mrs Liz began their date in the best possible fashion - cocktails. I mean, I had no choice - the fact that I was wearing a dress with proper jewels and sequins and everything practically dictated this course of action, although Mr Liz did look a little longingly at all the old blokes drinking pints in The Dog & Partridge as I dragged him past. We went to The Sanctuary in the heart of Didsbury, a nice unpretentious sort of place that very sportingly offers cocktails at 2 for £7 even on a Friday night.

Our main destination was Jem&I, one of our favourite restaurants in the area - a bustling, cheery place serving modern European fare in refreshingly generous portions. We started with a plate of bread, olives and humous while we perused the menu (when will I ever learn about stuffing myself with bread before the really good stuff arrives? When?), and then went for Chicken Liver Parfait (me) and Portobello Mushrooms with Camembert (my date). Both were excellent, the only complaint being that the balsamic dressing on the accompanying salads was very hard to remove from one's chin once it had properly adhered.

We both chose steak for mains (date night - he was paying), Mr Liz going for the Pan Fried Sirloin Steak with Au Poivre Sauce from the main menu and me for the Fillet Steak with Wild Mushrooms and Truffle Sauce from the specials board. The steak was of the highest quality, soft as butter, and we had no complaints about the sauces, potatoes or vegetables - all were delicious. But. They'd simply got our requests the wrong way round - I'd asked for my fillet rare and got medium, and Mr Liz had asked for medium and got rare. This raised a dilemma - I'm not one for sending food back when it still arrives in a perfectly delicious form, but equally, if you've ordered forty quid's worth of steak I think you can expect them to get it right.

Luckily, or unluckily, the dilemma didn't materialise, because the restaurant was by now absolutely packed and the staff were rushed off their feet. Tucked away in our little corner, nobody thought to come and ask us if our meals were alright, and I just couldn't catch anyone's eye to get them to come over. So we ate the steak, and very nice it was too. But when our plates were finally cleared a good while after we'd finished and I mentioned what had happened, our comments were met with little interest.

This is a shame, for Jem&I really does serve some of the best food in South Manchester, and should therefore rightly expect to be busy on a Friday night. We still loved it, and we'll still eat here again, but it did slightly mar what was otherwise a great night out. And who knows - I might even marry this one if he keeps up this kind of treatment...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Dave Haslam and Bernard Sumner at Manchester International Festival

It is the 1990s, and in a distant corner of Somerset a seventeen year old girl is being grilled by her teachers about what universities she plans to apply to. Many of her classmates are applying to Oxford or Cambridge; her parents are hoping she will decide to do likewise, or perhaps go somewhere nice, like York. But the girl is seventeen, and therefore knows better. She wants to go to the coolest city in Britain, if not the world. She wants to go to Manchester.

Really, it's a wonder it all worked out as well as it did. I had no idea that Manchester was a "good" university when I applied; all I cared about was getting in on the action and living in what seemed to be an impossibly glamorous city. Indeed, I never even checked the actual content of the course when I applied, thus leading to many painful hours translating Beowulf from Old English during my first year; my own fault, some might say. My parents were secretly aghast, I think; the Madchester scene was at its height, and the papers - often inaccurately, it turned out - were full of shootings in Moss Side and Ecstasy-related deaths in clubs.

Just as inaccurately, my own head was filled with the casual encounters I was bound to have with the great and good of Manchester; a sighting of Steven Patrick Morrissey here, a glimpse of New Order there. Of course, this didn't happen, but luckily I was too busy dancing with boys my own age at The Academy to care. And now, ironically enough after all these years, the great and good of Manchester are indeed starting to cross my path - witness the following evidence:

1. Clint Boon of the Inspirals follows me on Twitter. Now, as he currently follows 886 people, I'm not sure that he tracks my splendid witticisms particularly closely, but he does sometimes say nice things to me and that's good enough for me.

2. Last time I went to Bop Local, the DJ was actual Mike Joyce, off of the actual Smiths. I like to think how excited my seventeen-year-old self would be to know this fact, sat alone in her room sporting a devastatingly unflattering Meat is Murder t-shirt; I would drop a kind hint or two to ditch the shirt though.

3. Mr Liz last night attended the Jameson Cult Film Club showing of the Ian Curtis biopic Control at Manchester Academy 2, where two blokes apparently wandered on stage for a chat before the film. One of these men was New Order stalwart Stephen Morris, although the terrifyingly ignorant Mr Liz blithely tweeted that it wasn't actually a member of New Order, just a drummer... *starts divorce proceedings*

4. Last year I went to Folk School to drink wine and learn about music journalism with Dave Haslam. I wrote an album review, and Dave Haslam, King of the Hacienda, LIKED IT.

5. And finally, speaking of my erstwhile tutor, Dave Haslam is doing a range of his excellent Close Up events as part of the True Faith showcase during this year's Manchester International Festival. On July 4th he is talking to Bernard Sumner. I am going. I am in the front row. I am excited. I like to think I will come up with an insightful question, one so profound and thought-provoking that the whole audience gasps with approval and Bernard immediately marries me. Yet sadly I know that it's far more likely that the seventeen-year-old girl will make a reappearance and I won't dare say anything.

Still, it's a start...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Dancing Shoes at the Ready - Brendan Cole Comes to Manchester

Now, obviously my life is virtually ALL work and VERY little play (stop sniggering at the back), and after a long day of intellectual endeavour, wrestling with the deep philosophical questions that have been baffling humankind for eternity (such as, who exactly had the last chocolate digestive from the family size biscuit tin in the staffroom), I like nothing better than to come home and watch rubbish telly. Indeed, that girl in the advert who sets her Sky box to tape Next Top Model from her mobile phone could very easily be me, except that I don't have a bike. For this very reason, poor Mr Liz dreads the Christmas period, not just because it is a very expensive time for him, but because every Saturday he is forced to sit and watch Strictly Come Dancing, looking not unlike a cat being forcibly held down in its chair because its owner want to pet it (although the cat will eventually squirm away; Mr Liz has not yet become brave enough to chance an escape.)

So imagine my excitement when I received an email containing the following words: Manchester, cava, cocktails, canapes, Brendan and Cole... *watches as male readership makes its excuses and leaves* ...which, when you add them all together results in the Freixenet Dance With Brendan Cole evening at Suede nightclub on Thursday 17th March. Now this is exciting for the following reasons:

- you get to do a dance master class with Brendan Cole, the ladies' choice from Strictly, who can always be relied upon to twinkle at Alesha and fight with Craig. I don't know how close you might actually get to him, but I reckon there's always a chance he'll look into the crowd, make eye contact with me, recognise my obvious dance potential, and beckon me up to be his dance partner. I am planning to carry a watermelon with me, just on the off-chance.

- Freixenet cava is nice. In the summer, we drink it with blitzed-up strawberries and pretend it's good for us, and I note with pleasure that Freixenet Strawberry Bellinis are indeed to be served on the night, thoughtfully providing you with one, if not all, of your 5 a day.

- They promise canapes, my absolute favourite form of food; see how many you can surreptitiously pop into your mouth with no-one noticing, and then claim to have eaten only three by the end of the evening. Plus, they're so small they don't actually have any calories in them, and as you eat them standing up, you'll probably lose weight - winner.

- There will also be professional make-up artists on hand, although I must confess to being a trifle wary of this one - if the contestants on Strictly look orange on your TV screen, imagine how you might look going into work on Friday morning with a distict Ready Brek aura surrounding you; not a good look for a 9am class.

So if you want to go, get yourself to their Facebook page quick smart; this is only one in a series of VIP events Freixenet have got planned, and frankly, they're setting the benchmark pretty high. One word of warning though - don't be trying to muscle in on Brendan; nobody puts Things To Do in Manchester in the corner *scary face*

Saturday, 12 March 2011

More To Do in Manchester on St Patrick's Day 2011

Regular readers may know that, in general, I am quite receptive to most kinds of food and drink; indeed, I like to think of myself as a terribly versatile all-rounder, and have said as much on my CV - I hope this will be a useful quality should my dream job of "paid handsomely to eat food" ever make itself available. However, there ARE a few things I do not care for, and I will bravely list them for you below, trying not to shudder as I type:

1. Coffee. This is an evil, bitter drink, quite possibly brewed by Satan in his fiery workshop. There is no excuse for drinking this vile brew, and you certainly should not add coffee to anything as pure and virtuous as a chocolate cake, particularly if there is a possibility I may wish to eat a slice.

2. Celery. You may as well chew on a length of string.

3. Blackcurrants. Forbidden ever since I drank too much Ribena on a school trip as a child and subsequently did a neat pile of pink sick into my sandwich box.

4. Guinness. You drink because you are thirsty, not because you wish to consume a meal in a glass. Any drink that gives the impression that a slice could be carved off it and served up on a plate is wrong.

5. Whisky. Save yourself a fortune by simply drinking TCP instead; judging by the smell of each, they taste exactly the same.

Now, you may think it would be easy to avoid these fairly random comestibles. Yet once you consider that next Thursday is St Patrick's Day you will realise that this is a very difficult time of year for me *makes sure everyone is looking and puts on brave face* although not for my friends/husband, who are already fighting over who gets my coffee and my whiskey at The Didsbury St Paddy's Day dinner next week.

Anyway, if you're not going to The Didsbury like we are, here's a few other suggestions for amusing yourselves on March 17th:

- rather appropriately, the Jameson Cult Film Club is back in Manchester for St Patrick's Day, and after scaring us all with Aliens last time, this time round they're showing the Ian Curtis biopic Control. This a great film - stylish and sad, really capturing the feel of 1970s Manchester and the rise of the late, great Joy Division. Being sponsored by Jameson, there will naturally be copious amounts of whiskey available, but I am prepared to turn a blind eye to this in light of the venue, which is Manchester Academy 2; I'm certain I have had many worse experiences here than forcing down a drink or two. Also, it's free - just go to the website and become a member.

- The Fat Loaf in Didsbury is promising a St Patrick's Day Dinner featuring "a very special menu using only produce and recipes from within the Irish borders." They have not yet divulged what this produce might be, so you could perhaps amuse yourselves by taking bets on the following possibilities: whiskey, colcannon, whiskey, Irish Stew, whiskey, boxty, whiskey, black/white pudding, whiskey, soda bread, Irish coffee (with whiskey). Give them a ring on 0161 4380319 to see if you're right.

- If you're doing things properly, you ahould really pop along to the Manchester Irish Festival at some point. This is a music and arts festival taking place at various venues across the city until Sunday 20th March, with the festival Parade no doubt leaving a trail of happy revelry in its wake as it makes its way across Manchester tomorrow. St Patrick's Day itself offers a worrying sounding "All Day Party", and anyone who fancies a Guinness (or indeed anything stronger than a nice cup of tea) at 11am can throw caution (and work) to the wind and make merry - full details on the Festival website.

Anyway, I hear the ominous sounds of amateurish Irish dancing coming from upstairs - Mr Liz has clearly got wind of the Guinness and whiskey glut to come, and must be calmed down before he sustains a nasty Riverdance-related injury. I have now run out of cliches and will leave quietly.

Monday, 7 March 2011

How to Celebrate Shrove Tuesday, Properly

All raise your arms aloft in triumph (I cannot as I am typing, but I will do it straight afterwards, promise), for tomorrow is everyone's favourite Tuesday, Pancake Day. Originally designed to use up all those sinful ingredients such as eggs and sugar before Lent, the day has now become yet another excuse for greedy people to convene at each other's houses, open a bottle of wine and eat vast quantities of food; in other words, right up my street. Here are a few tips for the perfect Pancake Day.

1. Go to someone else's house; specifically, someone with a dishwasher. Hosting it at your own house is a mistake you will only make the once, as you slothfully leave the pots and pans until the weekend only to find that pancake batter is capable of spot-welding itself onto any firm surface, and requires nothing less than a good blast of kryptonite to remove it.

2. Do not assume that you will just happen to have all the correct ingredients already in the house. Yes, I know the whole point of pancakes is to use up certain items, but you will be exceedingly unpopular if you volunteer to bring the eggs and the person making the batter lifts the lid on the carton to find just one small, lonely, possibly cracked egg. Or so I, ahem, believe.

3. Go for a good range of both sweet and savoury fillings. Savoury should include ham and grated cheese, obviously, but our favourite filling came about accidentally, concocted from a random assortment of ingredients including mushrooms, red wine, squeezy garlic and squeezy chilli. Sweet fillings should include Nutella, crumbled Flakes and chopped banana. And remember that it doesn't matter that lemon and sugar are the traditional pancake fillings - no-one will wish to eat this when other, better, fillings are available.

4. If in doubt, forgo the pancakes altogether. They are far more filling than you think they are going to be (particularly the first one, which always comes out roughly the thickness of a child's finger), and no-one (please do NOT see this as a challenge, Mr Liz) can eat more than two. It is much easier just to eat handfuls of cheese standing up in the kitchen, or sneak a couple of Flakes into your bag for tomorrow. If you are brazen enough in this practice, your hostess will eventually tire of attempting to correct your behaviour and will simply buy extra Flakes and grate extra cheese, thereby making everyone, especially you, a winner.

5. And finally, do remember that the "Shrove" of Shrove Tuesday is *quickly dons English teacher hat* the past participle of to shrive, a verb meaning to gain absolution for one's sins by means of penance. The guidelines on the form this penance should take are hazy, so to be on the safe side, you're best interpreting them as "go forth and eat as many pancakes as you can". Then we're all well away on the path to righteousness - and we've all had a Flake as well.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Early Evening Menu at The Lime Tree Rewards Hardest-working Woman in Britain

Every six months or so, I lose my grip on reality entirely. I see some kind of lovely trip advertised that I could take my students on, and decide to organise it - see how easy it sounds when you say it quickly? And each time, I remember too late the pain and torment involved in taking a party of adults and almost-adults a few miles up the motorway; you wouldn't even think there could be so many forms in the known world, let alone that they have to completed in triplicate and then signed with the blood of a unicorn.

Anyway, the trip actually went off very well, but by 9am I was already congratulating myself for having the foresight to arrange for someone else to cook my tea for me. By 6pm, with all students safely dispatched back whence they came, it was all I could do to apply a coat of sparkly lip gloss (never let it be said that I let the side down) and drag myself to the Lime Tree for their excellent value early evening set menu. This is available every evening between 5.30 and 6.30, and offers two courses for £13.95 or three for £15.95 (meaning, of course, that one is practically forced to have a pudding, even though one normally eats like, ahem, a little bird.)

The Lime Tree is one of the stalwarts of West Didsbury, and it is easy to see why it has ruled the roost so long in what is a very competitive market: the food is extraordinarily good. Nor are they mean with their set menus - the dishes available are exactly what you might have wanted to eat anyway, and the portions are seemingly not scaled down in line with the reduced prices. I chose the goat's cheese and leek strudel with Waldorf salad to start with and it was perfection - crisp, flaky pastry enclosing an unctious cheesy mass that was actually VERY HEALTHY because it had leeks in it. Across the table, Mr Liz was recoiling slightly in terror from his pork terrine, two enormous meaty slabs perched cheerily atop a hopeful salad that was frankly never going to be eaten; next time I looked however, the terrine was gone, and merely a happy-faced husband remained.

When I eat out I always try to order dishes I hardly ever make myself, and was therefore happy to order fish pie for my main course secure in the knowledge that it would be stinking out someone else's kitchen, not mine. Mr Liz chose a traditional duck cassoulet, perhaps on the basis that he only cooks from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals and even Mr Oliver himelf would be hard pushed to rustle up such a feast in the time it takes to watch EastEnders. Did we need side dishes? Of course not. Did we order them anyway? Hell yes. Mr Liz has yet to resist the combination of the words "fat" and "chips" in any sentence, and I would sell my soul for a portion of the deep fried courgette fritters with parmesan and basil oil. At £3.50 a go these do bump up the price of the meal, but you can always, like Mr Liz, leave a bit of salad in order to fit them in.

Finally, pud. The baked American cheesecake was good without being great, perhaps a little too cloying and with rather a mean helping of fruit. Mr Liz however proclaimed himself most pleased with the iced rum and raisin parfait with coffee anglaise; I'm sure he deliberately orders things with coffee in so that I am unable to try them. The total bill, with drinks, came to £46.60, a price so low for such great quality food that the sheer value of it makes you want to cartwheel across the floor in glee - although you should NOT do this, as it's quite a posh restaurant and you HAVE just eaten three courses. It's almost - almost - worth arranging another trip for...

- The Lime Tree is at 8 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 2WS.