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The Carpet, The Champagne, The Comedy.......The Food!

Published on July 21st 2005.

Having been asked to go down to Establishment, being the only member of the Manchester Confidential team who hadn't experienced the venue that everyone's talking about, I wasn't too sure what to expect . But when I read in the Metro yesterday that even Emma Jean Sturgess has given the place some brownie points (a rare treat) by hailing it as one of the best two restaurants in Manchester, it was obviously going to be a high quality do.

The main thing that struck me was the eclectic mix of people. I thought Establishment was set aside from every other restaurant in town by only letting people in who owned more than two houses. This was far from the case, and nights like this can only improve this perception. They even let Rob in, a programmer from Pontefract and my last minute gay replacement 'date' for the evening.

Greeted on the red carpet by glistening crushed raspberry cocktails along with the paparazzi, the movie star treatment had just started.

After having pictures taken, we were welcomed by Jonathan Mayor, glittering both in appearance and personality. Jonathon, our transvestite host for the evening is certainly larger than life - a bit like Ainsley Harriott on speed - but thankfully the only rattling of pots and pans was going on down below in the kitchens by award winning chef Ian Morgan.

The canapés came round after Establishment’s Garry had organised everyone into the bar area to mingle – a perfect ploy for a night like this. The early drinks gave us a chance to meet the likes of Natalie Winmill from Baker Tilly and her pal, as well as a few regulars, heavily, HEAVILY preggers Jo Spearing and her mates and Rosie Lugosi, Manchester’s Vampire Queen (don’t believe me? Check this out – www.rosielugosi.co.uk) .

Wine was ordered while we were supping on our cocktails, ready to be made available by the time we hit the tables. A Rioja Vega 2001 and Shiraz Rooks Lane 2002 was opted for.

The capacity crowd was ushered through to the tables where Ian had prepared a four course meal to follow the champagne reception. The first thing you spot here is the staff buzzing around like a few well oiled machines fused together. The quality of service from the point of reaching your seat to the time you leave is like a relay team with plates, dishes, wine and water replacing the baton.

A top notch Haddock Tartlet came complete with Creamed Leeks and a Tomato and Chive Salad. This was quickly followed by an almightily tasty, if Action Man-sized, Linguine – we weren’t too sure whether to drink it, use the teaspoon that came with it, or send it down a zip line.

The main course consisted of Pork Belly with Caramalised Apples. Ian has obviously been taking notes from Gordo about adding the crispy top to the pork – a satisfying touch. The room went pretty quiet when these were delivered, chatter replaced by a satisfied silence.

For the pudding came Strawberries, Ice Cream and Lemonade, again a little on the 'Alice in Wonderland' side, but still a good way to round the meal up and crikey, we’re talking a mere £35 here for a slap up meal in one of Manchester’s top restaurants, and we’re not finished yet…..

Comedian Smug Roberts took the stage, maybe a bit unnerved by the fact there wasn’t a stage at all. The whole thing took a bit of getting used to, but that’s the idea. The last event at Establishment had a small band in the corner welcoming guests, this time they piped in music over the speakers – they don’t mind trying out new ideas, which keeps these events fresh and unformulated. Smug’s been around for ages and has had roles in the likes of 'Phoenix Nights' so was easily able to deliver a decent show for everyone, including a good ribbing of Jo Spearing, although it was a tad risky making her laugh too much due to the fact that she’s due to give birth in two days time!

Back to the bar area for a few more drinks and the night became in danger of becoming messy. If Gordo had been here it would have been off to the Circle Club for a 6am finish, but luckily, I knew Garry had asked me to get the review up in good time the next day.

The night's officially called The Carpet, The Champagne, The Comedy, and while these were good, it's really the food and the service we should be shouting about.

Did you go last night? Click here to tell me about it.

Did you miss our last night? Click here to make you sure you don’t miss the next one!

Tim Gough

The Establishment Restaurant
43 Spring Gardens
M2 2BG
Telephone: 0161 839 6300

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