21 August 2014

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Blog Reviews from Champagne and Chutney


My ramblings about life, work and play

  1. Published : Sunday, 3rd August 2014

    Australasia | Australasia

    Australasia has been a city centre favourite since it opened its doors to the people of Manchester way back in 2011. When it opened, it was a million miles away for anything else that was out there – it was beautifully decorated, served some very trendy pan-Asian inspired food and had one of those signature Living Ventures bars which came complete with a DJ. It definitely worked, the people of Manchester were immediately hooked (including me) and flocked to Australasia to try the menu devised by the former Young Australian Chef of the Year, Paul Greening...

  2. Published : Sunday, 22nd June 2014

    Red Dog South | Red Dog South, Clapham

    Yesterday was messy. Very messy. All we wanted to do was get into the foetal position and cry ourselves to sleep (exaggeration much?) this morning. Food is always the answer isn’t it? On that note, Tess suggested we try this relatively new place Red Dog South in Clapham. Its sister restaurant in Hoxton has been getting some great reviews serving up American hickory smoked ribs and according to the website, the ‘best wings in London’. It’s also been the talk of the town for its American food challenges the most popular one being the ‘Devastator Challenge’ which is a burger stuffed with 18oz chuck steak, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers applewood smoked bacon & 6 slices American cheese. Finish this beast in less than 10 minutes and you get the burger for free (normally costs £22.75) and they even throw in a free t-shirt...

  3. Published : Wednesday, 11th June 2014

    Chaophraya Manchester | Chaophraya Manchester

    This weekend, I decided to try Chaophraya, which is arguably the most popular Thai fine dining restaurant in the city. It’s one of those restaurants I have heard so much about but never got around to trying myself. I thought it was high time I changed that, so I called up in well in advance and booked a table for lunch on Saturday afternoon. The website claims that Chaophraya is ‘a truly special place to dine’ where ‘guests can get a true taste of Thailand complete with first class service and a bustling atmosphere’ – something I was keen to put to the test. Situated in a nineteenth century building on Chapel Walks above Sam’s Chop House bang in the centre of Manchester’s upmarket shopping scene, this place definitely looks the part. It’s got an elegant front complete with big windows that give you a glimpse of the oriental interiors and grand brass lanterns hanging outside the entrance – it’s all very inviting...

  4. Jamie’s Italian Manchester, Where do I even start? Yes, its a chain restaurant, No Jamie isn’t in the kitchen working away preparing your perfect meal but so what? I got a lot of slack the other day for saying that I like Jamie’s Italian in Manchester. But I genuinely do. I think it’s a brilliant Italian restaurant that does what it says on the tin! I am getting ahead of myself here (as usual) – let me start from the top. Seb and I booked a table for about 8pm on a Thursday evening. It was another standard summer day in Manchester – cold, windy and wet. You cannot help but notice the grandeur as you walk towards Jamie’s Italian. It is located in the very upmarket King’s Street and the restaurant itself is situated in the charming former Midland Bank building with high ceilings and huge glass windows. I bet sipping on a glass of white wine, trying out an Italian meat platter in one of the outdoor seats would be quite pleasant on a warm summer day but today was definitely not that day!...

  5. Published : Monday, 19th May 2014

    Panama Hatty's | Panama Hatty’s

    Most restaurants try to do a single cuisine and if they are lucky they do it well. Panama Hatty’s is the complete opposite, their menu is extensive with dishes ranging from Mexico to Malaysia and everything in between! Seb and I were out shopping this weekend, and after a lot of deliberation concluded that we had no idea what we wanted to do for lunch. When you don’t know what cuisine you want, there is nothing better than lunch at Panama Hatty’s – there is something for everybody! So we decided to head to this little crowd pleaser and see what the restaurant had to offer. Panama Hatty’s is tucked away just off the exclusive upper part of Kings Street next to some fairly well-heeled neighbours including Armani, Vivienne Westwood and Agent Provocateur. It’s quite easy to miss this basement restaurant – you are more likely to notice the mannequins at the Agent Provocateur designer store above it but I think this works in Panama Hatty’s favour...

  6. It’s been a good year for the Midland Hotel. This iconic hotel in the heart of the Manchester city centre is now the city’s most decorated dining destination with Simon Rogan’s Mr Cooper’s House and Garden, the sister restaurant to the flagship The French recently being awarded two AA Rosettes. Add to this the three AA Rosettes the French (read my review here) already holds, and you have a food lovers paradise. Simon Rogan has definitely delivered on what he was brought into do – to turn The Midland Hotel into a Manchester landmark. Mr Cooper’s House and Garden is one of my favourite restaurants in the city and I have being frequenting it since it opened last year. This 150-seat restaurant, with 50-cover destination bar, has a more informal feel than The French, and it marked an entirely new avenue for Rogan with the introduction of more varied, international style and menus...

  7. Published : Wednesday, 26th March 2014

    1847 Vegetarian Bistro & Bar | Bistro 1847

    As you probably already know, I love my meat! So the idea of eating at a vegetarian restaurant doesn’t usually appeal to me, but then again, I am not talking about any ordinary vegetarian restaurant here – Bistro 1847 is in a league of it’s own. It’s one of Manchester’s best kept secrets and you will definitely not miss your meat when you dine at Bistro 1847. You don’t have to take my word for it. It recently also won an award for being the best vegetarian restaurant outside of London at Cook Vegetarian Veggie Awards 2014. Bistro 1847 is named after the year the Vegetarian Society was formed (1847 if you haven’t guessed this already!). Opened in 2o10 by Damien Davenport at the corner of Mosley Street and Booth Street, its growing popularity has seen them open another branch in Birmingham...

  8. Published : Tuesday, 25th March 2014

    The French by Simon Rogan at The Midland hotel | The French

    Birthdays are always special aren’t they? Mine was last week and I wanted to do something special to celebrate. Nobody (and I mean nobody) does ‘special’ better than The French in Manchester so I was over the moon when I found out I was going to the French for my birthday dinner. If you haven’t heard of The French, it’s the famous restaurant at the Midland Hotel which is as old as Manchester itself! The Midland Hotel is where Rolls met Royce to form the Rolls-Royce company way back in 1904 after all. The French has its own claim to fame too, it was one of Britain’s first Michelin-starred restaurants awarded back in the 1974, with the publication of the first guide. Even the Beatles were famously refused a table at The French for being ‘inappropriately dressed’...

  9. Published : Monday, 3rd March 2014

    Androuet | Androuet

    When it comes to cheese, I trust the French wholeheartedly and when my friend Florence (a Parisian) suggested that we try out this little French restaurant and fromagerie at the edge of old Spitalfields market called Androuet, I was definitely not going to say no. I was in London last weekend so took Florence up on the offer and we decided to meet up for brunch at Androuet along with Jake and Seb. The legendary House of Androuet was set up in Paris in 1909 & is universally recognised as a grandee among cheesemongers. From Camembert to Comté, Reblochon to Roquefort and Swiss Gruyere to Italian Mozzarella, this place has it all. Along with its other stores in Paris and Stockholm, this tiny little shop in Spitalfields is the place to be if you like cheese...

  10. Published : Sunday, 23rd February 2014

    Manchester House | Manchester House and Lounge

    There is one restaurant in Manchester I have wanted to try for a very, very long time – the very aptly named Manchester House and Lounge. It’s been the talk of the town since it opened in 2013 and is considered one of the best restaurants outside of the M25! It’s run by Aiden Byrne, the youngest-ever winner of the so very coveted Michelin Star. And to add to that, it’s a venture by Living Ventures - the restaurant giants who also own another favourite restaurant of mine – Australasia. Manchester House and Lounge is a £3million venture, the kitchen alone cost over £300,000 with over 25 chefs working on Aiden Byrne’s team – that definitely can’t be cheap. And that’s reflected in the pricing – the taster menu alone costs £95 per head here. And Tim Bacon (head honcho at Living Ventures) has had no reservations in making it clear that he wants to bring this restaurant on the Michelin map...

  11. Published : Friday, 14th February 2014

    Steak and Lobster Manchester | Steak & Lobster

    I love lobster – it’s such a special dish. Absolutely divine when done right and terrible when done wrong. So with that in mind I decided to try Steak & Lobster at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Manchester. Bear in mind, this is a speciality restaurant that takes pride in the two mains they serve – Steak & Lobster. You can order other things but that wouldn’t be wise, would it? Seb and I decided to try this place on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. it was nice and bright and the red pillars at Steak and Lobster were wonderfully inviting. I was excited...

  12. Published : Tuesday, 4th February 2014

    London Carriage Works | The London Carriage Works

    I was in Liverpool last week with work and wasn’t supposed to finish till about 3pm. Luck was on my side, my meeting finished at 12 noon and I had some time to spare before my train back. It was a Friday afternoon, I had a few hours on my hand, and I was in Liverpool – I sure was going to make the most of it! Ayeesha, a friend of mine suggested that I should go try this gem of a restaurant called The London Carriage Works on Hope Street and that’s exactly what I did. And I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The London Carriage Works is an award winning restaurant by Chef Paul Askew who, The Times once described as a’ chef destined for the heights of Michelin’. This restaurant well renowned for the use of fresh and local produce and that definitely showed in the dishes we sampled...

  13. Published : Sunday, 26th January 2014

    Almost Famous Burgers Manchester | Almost Famous

    If you live in Manchester, you already know of the institution that is Almost Famous. I call Almost Famous an institution because it intrigues me – I didn’t understand how an unadvertised small ‘room’ located up a staircase behind an unmarked door, made such amazing burgers. Almost Famous was the city’s worst kept secret and boy was it good! But then, the unthinkable happened – this Northern Quarter institution burnt down last summer. But for its loyal burger fan base (including me), they are back with a vengeance and I couldn’t be happier! You probably know that I love a good burger, and when I heard that the new Almost Famous was opening in the Great Northern, next to where I live, I shed a tear of joy...

  14. Published : Tuesday, 21st January 2014

    Bryon Manchester <DUPLICATE> | Byron Burger

    A good burger is a thing of beauty, a satisfying, messy manifestation of all things wonderful and there are only a few things culinary that can be relied on to do their job as effectively. I have been craving a good burger all week – a simple no fuss proper burger, and trust me they are hard to come by, especially in Manchester. So I decided to drag Seb and Jake to Byron Burger to see what they had on offer and I was definitely not disappointed. Yes, Byron Burger is a large chain with restaurants all around the country but so what? They know how to make a good burger and that’s exactly what I wanted – a good unpretentious burger that’s not too heavy on my pockets. We went to the Byron in Manchester on a Saturday night and it was crowded (as expected) but we were seated promptly and didn’t have to wait – I wasn’t complaining as it was freezing and I was more than happy to be seated at a table close to the warm open kitchen...