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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Grinch Wine Bar, Manchester: Local Girl Rediscovers Long-Lost Love

Now, I have always thought of myself as an exceedingly loyal person. I am proud to say that I have known many of my very closest friends for upwards of fifteen years; I have been with the same mortgage lender for longer than shiny-faced Cameron has been in power; I even get a personally-addressed Christmas card from my local Indian takeaway. And yet, in the past twelve months or so, I fear I have been grossly disloyal to one of my oldest and dearest restaurant friends: Grinch. As long ago as February 2008 I waxed lyrical about the lustrous charms of its meaty goodness - it has appeared many times on these pages over the years, and always with the same result: fatness, happiness, mild tipsiness. It was, quite frankly, the perfect relationship.

And then, somehow, I stopped going. I think it was a rush of fancy new places that did for me - they turned my head with their fashionable locations and their own delicious meaty goodness, and some of them will indeed be keepers. But coming back to Grinch tonight was like finding an amazing pair of favourite shoes that have somehow got lost under the bed - they make you feel fabulous, and you wonder how you have done without them for so long.

At 6pm tonight, the place was packed; luckily we had booked, and were rewarded with the favoured table under the lady with the impressive feathers - if you don't know what I'm referring to, your homework for the week is to go to Grinch and find out. Even better, it was still happy hour, meaning that all cocktails were £4.50 and all pizzas £6.50; I fear I had finished my first Amaretto Sour before my dining companion had even got off her train. Once she arrived, we polished off a shared starter of nachos, seen here piled high with guacamole and sour cream, and then shared the Oriental Duck Pizza and the Special Fried Chicken served with fries and homemade barbecue sauce.

My friend - a Grinch virgin - had been perusing the menu on the train and had been sceptical of duck on a pizza, but soon realised that actually, it makes perfect sense; a beautifully thin, crispy base, covered with shredded duck and hoisin sauce, then scattered with thin slices of cucumber and spring onion - it's very probably my favourite pizza in the whole of Manchester. And the chicken? Grinch have been perfecting this recipe over the last 19 years and it shows - moist, tender strips of white flesh (sorry, the lady with the feathers may have made me a little smutty) contrasting nicely with the crispy crunch of their coating; I know this coating is good, as there was a little bit left on the plate that had lost its chicken, and I even ate that. You should also know that Grinch do perfect fries here - never, EVER offer one to any boy diner you may be with, as he will eat the LOT *voice of experience*.

Best of all, though, is the price. Two cocktails, four glasses of Prosecco, a massive starter and two mains came in at £51, in the centre of Manchester, on a Saturday night. Grinch, I'm so sorry I've been away for so long - I certainly won't be making the same mistake again.

- Grinch is at 5-7 Chapel Walks, Manchester, M2 1HN; tel. 0161 907 3210.

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