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De Nada, Chorlton, Reviewed

Deanna Thomas gets a taste for next year’s World Cup a little closer to home

Written by . Published on October 30th 2013.

De Nada, Chorlton, Reviewed

Category: Restaurants: casual-dining. Score 14.5/20 (Full breakdown below and score explained. Venues are compared with similar venues and measured against the best examples in their category.)

I’VE just been for a Brazilian in Chorlton.  No need to cross your legs and wince sympathetically, there was no painful ripping of nether follicles, it was actually a pleasant experience enjoying the South American inspired food at De Nada opposite the leisure centre.

Feijoida is not an attractive dish; in fact it’s so ugly that even if it had a personal stylist, a digital filter and a giant sprig of parsley, Mario Testino could not make it look good. It’s bloody lovely though...

De Nada ExteriorDe Nada ExteriorDe Nada is about to enter its second year of trading but was brought to my attention only recently via Twitter with a number of local food lovers swooning in 140 characters or less.

Keeping up to date with Chorlton and Didsbury’s ‘trendy suburban neighbourhood café-bars’ is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge; by the time you’ve gone through each one in geographical sequence, you have to start over again because they’ve changed hands or new ones have opened.

From the outside De Nada doesn’t look that different from any of the others, in fact from the inside it doesn’t look that different either with its mismatched furniture, wooden floor, blackboards and fliers advertising local DJ nights.

What sets it apart is the menu. Owners Samantha and Nigel have travelled around South America extensively and wanted to provide a place for people to enjoy the genuine best of what they found there. They offer a small range of authentic homemade dishes, locally brewed craft ales, carefully chosen imported bottle beers, mostly grain based cocktails and a mid priced wine list created with the help of Hanging Ditch.

De Nada Looking OutsideDe Nada Looking Outside

It was half term but I was dubious about taking our kids to a bar until the website assured me that high chairs and nappy changing facilities are available. My kids are too old to need either, but obviously children are welcome. They also provide a small range of playing cards and games which helped our children transform into Connect 4 enthusiasts before our very eyes over lunch.

To start, or to munch through with drinks, are a number of small plates (£2.50-£6.50) including olives, bread with chimichurri for dipping, Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and other tapas.

For something more substantial there’s a whole range of empanadas (two for £4.25) The Portuguese spent centuries travelling overseas and their culinary influence stretches far and wide. Empanadas are miniature pastry parcels with assorted fillings; I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cornish pasty originated from a Portuguese merchant galley docked in Penzance.

De Nada EmpanadasDe Nada Empanadas

De Nada offers around half a dozen types ranging from the vegetarian spinach and ricotta or humitas (sweetcorn and chilli) to the more hearty pulled pork or chicken and chorizo.

We chose three to represent the range – lamb and aubergine, shrimp and Serrano ham with cheddar (the children’s favourite.) We could see Nigel making them to order in the back so they arrived freshly baked and piping hot.

Main dishes include bean stews, sharing platters and hearty sandwiches but the thing that really encouraged me to visit was the feijoida (£6). This is a dirty great black bear of a beany ribsticking stew containing various porcine parts and spicy sausage (see main picture and below). It originates from Portugal but worked its hearty way through various South American colonies to become Brazil’s national dish.

Feijoida And RiceFeijoida And Rice

There’d been some gentrified modifications as Chorltonites generally prefer beans to bones, so chef removes them once they’ve given up their marrow and imparted the best of their flavour. Feijoida is not an attractive dish; in fact it’s so ugly that even if it had a personal stylist, a digital filter and a giant sprig of parsley, Mario Testino could not make it look good. It’s bloody lovely though, warms the cockles and puts hairs on the hairs on your chest.

We also ordered the brilliantly named Lomito Completo (Argentinian steak sandwich £7.75), a baguette filled with lettuce, tomato, mustard, minute steak, sliced cheese and a fried egg. There’s absolutely no polite way to eat this, how you eat it is your problem, so just try your best and make sure you’re not on a first date.

Lomito CompletoLomito Completo

It was pretty good and there was enough in it for us to intermittently throw bits into our children’s waiting beaks but better quality meat would have transformed it from just good to great.

We wanted to try the pancakes with dulce de leche for pudding but Nigel apologetically confessed he hadn’t prepared the batter yet. I’d much rather hear that than ‘our supplier hasn’t delivered them’ or ‘there’s none in the freezer’.

The kids happily settled for some (cheapo homogenised) ‘vanilla’ ice cream smothered in that addictive Argentinean warm toffee sauce (£3). The husband squeezed in another pint of Solstice Golden Ale from Radcliffe’s Brightside Brewing Company (£3.20) and I had an Americano (£2) which proved that as well as bikini waxing and Samba the South Americans really are also leaders when it comes to great coffee.

De Nada Ice CreamDe Nada Ice Cream

‘De Nada’ translates as a kind of verbal shrug, the equivalent of ‘think nothing of it’, or ‘no problem’ but this café isn’t ‘nothing’, it actually really is something.

Follow Deanna Thomas on Twitter @DeannaThomas 

De Nada, 127 Manchester Road, Chorlton, M21 9PG 

Rating: 14.5/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind) 

Food:7/10 (Empanadas 8, lomito completo 6.5, feijoida 8, ice cream toffee 5)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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26 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

FoodieOctober 30th 2013.

My meal there was a joke, worst place in Chorlton. The steak sandwich was a part bake baguette ( didnt know they had a Morrissons in Argentina)with 2 pieces of overcooked beef fighting with each other, tasteless cheese and underripe tomato:7.75£? Student food The pastry of my empanadas was raw too.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Sam LynnOctober 31st 2013.

Hello Foodie, sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy your food, if you had mentioned it at the time we would have been happy to rectify any problems you had.

AnonymousOctober 31st 2013.

the sandwich looks terrible to be fair. empanadas look good

StuieOctober 31st 2013.

I wouldn't say it looks terrible.....just not well presented.

Jonathan MoranNovember 1st 2013.

Yeah butty looks drier than the Gobi desert but proof is in the pudding I suppose!

AnonymousOctober 30th 2013.

Completely disagree with the above, best Empanadas I've ever tasted and unbelievably well priced. Sam & Nigel are so friendly, and I love the fact your food takes a while to be made. Shows (as mentioned) it really is handmade.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
FoodieOctober 31st 2013.

Obviously staff

Simon TurnerNovember 1st 2013.

In the new RANT rules could you edit out comments clearly by staff or other vested interests.

EveOctober 31st 2013.

I also have to comment on the above statement. I have travelled around Argentina, and the empanadas at De Nada are far better than any I have had in Argentina. They have a great selection of fillings, and the value is amazing! You get dipping sauces to go with the empanadas too which are also yummy. The service created by Sam and Nigel is something you wont get in many place in the UK, they take so much time to listen to you, and have a chat and nothing is too much trouble. Again lets say, if you have a problem in a restaurant, then let the staff know, so they can rectify the situation. Instead of venting on M.C.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 31st 2013.

both of these sound reviews sound like they were written by the owner

ThornersNovember 1st 2013.

Rant Poicy: "Anonymous bile is now off-limits" - Foodie and Anon are clearly trying to destroy a lovely little independent, I'd like to see their comments removed please ManCon. De Nada is a cracking place that doesn't attract the "I'm here just to be seen here" crowd, thankfully.

AnonymousNovember 1st 2013.

bit embarrassing these comments by the owner(s) or their friends

Jane GrayOctober 31st 2013.

we've just had a birthday party there and Nigel & Sam were fantastic and very accommodating of our rowdy little group. The food was fantastic, no matter how much some drank they could still remember the next day how delicious the Empanadas were and are itching to go back for more soon.

Andrew JonesOctober 31st 2013.

Great little place, also has a damn good jukebox.

Richard HJOctober 31st 2013.

Wonderful music tomorrow night too. He says shamelessly. www.facebook.com/…/231245300369009…

William ScholesOctober 31st 2013.

I would like to try this place with my wife. What distance is it from Chrolton tram stop please folks?

Mr Geography-NoseOctober 31st 2013.

I believe it's 331m, 72.3cm from the Chorlton tramstop in a north westerly direction with a slight upward incline of a mere 2 degrees. Give or take. If you mean the Chrolton tramstop then it's the same dsitance.

AnonymousOctober 31st 2013.

funny how all these comments are appearing from people who have never posted before. hmmmm.

MikeOctober 31st 2013.

Well I've never posted on here either but after following de nada on twitter and seeing this review, felt I had to defend my new fave gem. I discovered this place a few months ago and I have to admit, its a great little place. Initially I was attracted by the real ale and beer selection, but have been back many times to eat with the Mrs. I've had the Lomito - it was great! Needed a bit more mustard but the taste was there. Although my fave dish is the Feijoada (if that's how it's spelt?) - I will never get bored of this and its just like it tasted on my travels. Seafood stew is also the Mrs fave. I'm not really a food blogger but have always been excited about the food here.

Dave MartinNovember 1st 2013.

Firswood tram stop is closer, 5 minute walk. The food (and drink) has improved since it opened. Jukebox is great and they just leave it on random. I guess they took on board people's feedback, which they do seek out, and practise makes perfect doesn't it?

AnonymousNovember 1st 2013.

When a poster mentions the owners by name, this either suggests that the patrons introduced themselves and provided impeccable service... ....or that they're mates with the owner

Deanna ThomasNovember 1st 2013.

Or that they've read the article above?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 4th 2013.

Hahaha bravo!

FoodieNovember 1st 2013.

Independent doesn't mean eveytime good I am afraid @Thorners. My meal was rubbish and I won't be back , my opinion

1 Response: Reply To This...
Henry VFebruary 27th 2014.

Foodie, if you are genuinely interested in the business and want to see things get better in the restaurant game, grow a set of balls and go back in, explain your problems and give these hard working people a chance to win you over. They probably are hocked up to the nines and simply want a good business. Or just sit timidly behind your keyboard.

AnonymousFebruary 28th 2014.

Well said Henry..and why do people have such a problem with owners responding?

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