Well, I hardly dare say it, but *whispers* summer appears to have returned to Manchester. This is excellent news for several reasons: firstly, I am going to a party tonight and wish to wear a particularly attractive new maxi dress, which was always going to look better accessorised with gladiator sandals rather than wellies and a large coat; secondly, one can avoid having a house full of wet-knicker-strewn radiators and instead parade one's smalls proudly on the actual washing-line; and thirdly, summer brings with it the ability to go out in the evening whilst imagining that you're in some gorgeous Mediterranean country.
So that's why the tapas really weren't my fault. In fact, it couldn't have started more innocently, with a short trip up West to drop my car off at the garage and then a healthy power-walk home down Burton Road. But wait! Who's this sitting outside Folk bar with a lovely glass of pink wine, condensation softly caressing the icy-cold curves of the glass, but a friend and her gorgeous children? And behold! There are other friends crossing the road to join us...well, it would take a stronger person than me to say no.
A couple of drinks later, enjoying the balmy evening amidst Folk's gently swaying palm trees, and the idea of trudging home and whipping up some kind of dinner was clearly utterly unworkable. Instead, we went to the estimable Pinchjo's for tapas, having been pitilessly drawn in by the early-bird offer - any two tapas and a glass of wine or beer for £11. This is a really lovely little restaurant (although, heartbreakingly, we were the only people in there sampling the outstanding food; admittedly the night was still young) and the tapas there is the best I've yet had in Manchester - ludicrously tasty food served in surprisingly generous portions.
The whole manu is utterly fanciable, which makes choosing just two tapas virtually impossible; luckily my task was made easier by the fact that a friend (she of the pink wine, actually) had a week or so earlier posted a picture on Twitter of the Mustard Chicken and proclaimed it the best dish in the world. I had it. It is. Large pieces of tender chicken slowly cooked until meltingly soft, and served up in a perky mustard-spiced sauce; I am already working out how long I must leave it before I can respectably go in for it again. My second dish was Seafood Paella, and whilst this didn't quite hit the flavour heights of its show-stealing brother, it was packed full of mussels, squid and prawns and was gone in a trice.
Mr Liz went for the Pinchitos - skewered chicken breast with chilli and ginger - and Morcilla (Spanish black pudding - you can take the boy out of Wigan, etc etc) cooked with a selection of vegetables including some perfectly griddled asparagus. I get the impression that he would have eaten more, given half a chance, and you can order additional tapas if required at normal prices (around £6), but the portion sizes here are much larger than, for example, Casa Tapas, and so you do eat pretty substantially for your £11 (and the glass of wine I had was decent as well.)
The offer is set to run all summer, and is available Sunday to Thursday between 5 and 7pm; I am going to try to build up the courage to go in and just order four portions of Mustard Chicken next time.
Speaking of summer offers, another rather seductive piece of Burton Road temptation comes from Rhubarb, the excellent restaurant next door to Folk. Proudly eschewing the consumption of healthy, salad-based summer fare, the Rhubarb offer is on STEAK; great, whopping slabs of dry aged rib-eye steak, supplied by the legendary Frosts of Chorlton. The steak comes with herb butter and triple-cooked chips, as well as your choice of side order, home-made bread, any dessert or cheese (presumably this comes after the steak, not alongside it), and a glass of wine or bottle of lager. All for £24 a head. The offer runs every night between 5 and 9pm (7pm on a Saturday) and looks, frankly, irresistable. Now, all we need is for other forward-thinking retailers to start offers on good, wintery food and this lovely weather might just last...
- Pinchjo's is at 192 Burton Road; Rhubarb is at 167 - best not try doing them both same night though *wise face*