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Bacchanalia reviewed

Jonathan Schofield returns to the scene of a food crime

Written by . Published on September 9th 2010.

Bacchanalia reviewed

A year or so ago I slaughtered Bacchanalia (click here) over how slipshod, shocking and downright rotten it was in almost all aspects of delivering food of an acceptable standard.

When this classic dish is done well, the mix of ingredients and the truffle oil puts me amongst leaf mould in damp Pennine valleys; lush, earthy, fecund, richness. I almost want to fall into the food face first and inhale - although that might be a teenage memory of the strange mushrooms which grew in Pennines.

I’d had a bacon cheeseburger for (£8.75) and described it thus: ‘Instead of being light and yielding to the knife it was solid and dry with a repellent texture: an image of desiccated elephant dung in a dried up watering hole flashed into my mind. It was the best advertisement for the Vegetarian Society imaginable.’

To their credit the main man at Bacchanalia responded on the rants with: ‘I am the owner of Bacchanalia and am totally, totally, gutted about this review of my restaurant. I can't argue one little bit about Mr Schofield’s comments. We have some serious issues which need to be addressed immediately.’

The owner went on to invite me back.

It’s now a year exactly since that exchange. Bacchanalia had slipped my mind, but when I saw it on the list of approved restaurants for our 25% off Heroes discount card I investigated. Gordo said he’d been there for a stag night in the function room and there had been nothing wrong with the food: other Confidential writers said it had improved massively too.

So back I went, back for the selfsame menu item, a bacon cheeseburger. This had dipped in price from the last horror show, being £7.95 for the main event with coleslaw, a bit of leafage and some chips, plus 50p extra for the cheese and bacon.

It was very good. Look at the pic here: moist with sturdy mince yet perfectly light, decent bacon, decent salad, cheese fine, sesame bun good. Maybe the chips were 5% too dry but overall the dish was a vast improvement on 365 days ago, and great value too.

Get your risotto out for the lads

The risotto (£6.95) was even better: a refined, sticky yet floaty pea, leek and wild mushroom delight cooked with truffle oil. It made me feel good. When this classic dish is done well, the mix of ingredients and the truffle oil puts me amongst leaf mould in damp Pennine valleys; lush, earthy, fecund richness. I almost want to fall into the food face first and inhale - although that might be a teenage memory of the peculiar mushrooms which grew in the Pennines and used to make my friends and I see really strange things.

Back to reality. On a late summer day outside Bacchanalia, watching the world go by, a couple of ordinary but thirst-quenching Pinots from Italy helped the mood get looser and easier. A limoncello cheesecake (£4.95) with double cream was fun to share too.

Service from the pretty waitress, who held herself like a ballet dancer and pirouetted amongst the tables, was excellent. The building is a looker too – a bit of fake Tudor from the 1880s – and adds a splash of Victorian charm to Chapel Walks.

By doing simple food simply Bacchanalia is a thousand miles away from where it was a year ago. Now it’s worth a visit if you want something light and quick. And that’s how the place should play it; nothing too ambitious, just honest to goodness food for the thousands of passersby, shoppers and office-workers they have each week. It’s good to see that Bacchanalia have at last learned how to cook.

September starts well on Chapel Walks

Breakdown:7/10 food
4/5 service
3/5 ambience
15 Chapel Walks
M2 1HN
0161 819 1997

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

GordoSeptember 7th 2010.

Good to see that it worked for you Jonathan, the stag do I went to worked well, along with a quick burger that was getting rid of a hangover a few weeks ago. They deserve the oxygen.

VerlocSeptember 9th 2010.

Please, please, please include pictures of pretty waitresses.

Jonathan Schofield - editorSeptember 9th 2010.

Sorry I only got one of the building

HarveySeptember 9th 2010.

I think you should have a place on the site with pictures of pretty waitresses - It could be called, 'Please let me serve you.'

AnonymousSeptember 9th 2010.

Jonathan, I find the way you write nauseating. The haughtiness you portray puts me off going to any restaurant you review - good or bad. Did you actually review a burger? Glad you made sure to include a picture of your half-eaten mess of a plate and call it something for presentation.

Perhaps if you didn't spend the first half of your review going over your last experience (you provided a link to it - what was the point?) this shining dining establishment might have just squeezed by with the review it was deserving.

The food has always been impeccable at Bacchanalia, fresh, different and always something new. Restaurants have good and bad days, mistakes happen in the kitchen and are rectified - providing this "review" as an improvement would be a gross misrepresentation. You took it upon yourself to back link another self-promotion post in order to make yourself look more authentic - didn't work. Instead, you come across as an arrogant, self-righteous sexist pig.

Glad it's the pretty waitresses that would make you return (this is sarcasm, I just want to make that clear as you don't strike me someone who'd 'get it').

AnonymousSeptember 9th 2010.

"The food has always been impeccable at Bacchanalia, fresh, different and always something new". That has to be the comment of the year - the place is poor, very poor and has just managed somehow to drag itself back from being not quite the the worst 'restaurant'in Manchester.

impeccable & Bacchanalia = oxymoron

AnonymousSeptember 9th 2010.

'Shining dining establishment'? Are you for real? Of course the link to the previous review was relevant; it was a return visit to see how things had improved.

NortherngeezerSeptember 9th 2010.

F**k me, i get panned for critisising the quality of piccys on 'ere, i think if the Ed finds out who you are anon yer set for being hung, drawn, and quartered!!!!.
And of course, your wrong. I've visited Bachanalia twice in the last year (the 2nd time giving it the benefit of the doubt) and on both occasions, i was left distinctly underwhelmed.
You are of course, entitled to your opinion, just as the rest of us are, including Mr Schofield.

AnonymousSeptember 10th 2010.

Is ManCon trying to become the Lad's Mag of Manchestoh?

You're wasting your time anon, the blatant sexism is part of the 'humour' on here.


PS I totally disagree with your opinion about the restaurant, it's average at best.

Jonathan Schofield - editorSeptember 10th 2010.

'Arrogant, self-righteous sexist pig'. That beats 'pompous tosser' from a year or two back dear pseudonymic Anonymous.

Leigh ScottSeptember 10th 2010.

Oh I dont mind the odd feminist clam jouster that lacks a sense of humour, crack on, i see it as entertaining!

Susan BroganSeptember 12th 2010.

now now people...job done.I,m guessing people will have to visit this restaurant and decide for themselves..lets see who is right! Good/Bad publicity still gets people intrigued...I'll make my own mind up and report back..!

AnonymousNovember 29th 2012.

Has it closed down?

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