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Lunchtime special: Grinch review

Jonathan Schofield identifies the city’s best lunchspots and starts with an old favourite

Written by . Published on July 14th 2010.


Lunchtime special: Grinch review

I must have first gone to Grinch shortly after it opened in 1994 - the year Oasis’s first album ‘Definitely Maybe’ was released.

It shows that other elements of restaurant visits, aside from just the food and drink, are necessary to create a full dining out experience – especially in a place like Grinch. And for lunch you can be out in an hour.

The place was striking back then for its happy chaos of decoration, its clash of cultures menu and its lively dining and drinking. It felt a bit Brighton-ish, an enthusiastically delivered easy eating place, that was refreshingly amateur and ad hoc, as opposed to the slick, po-faced chains.

Oasis are now deceased but Grinch seems the same as it ever was. Whenever the decor gets tired the staff muck in with a bit of redecoration, but the original spirit seems to perservere.

“We painted the walls, I helped out too,” said our delightful and spritely waitress about a recently completed refurb. “And we’ve added a few new seats and given it all a spring clean.”

From a familiarly eclectic menu with a global array of dishes (burgers, pizzas, salads, wraps) we ate homemade scampi and special fried chicken and drank a bottle of Parrotfish, Chenin Blanc from South Africa. The latter was refreshing and light, just the ticket on a clammy day.

Both coatings on the scampi and the special fried chicken offered something. The scampi had a salty layer of breadcrumbs crunching through to the sweet flesh beneath. The chicken had a herbed-up and spiced kick before the meat was reached. All fair enough.

The fries that came with both dishes weren’t so good, mistimed by that killer extra minute. Half the fries in each bowl had the consistency of off-cuts in a timber yard. You could have used some as tooth picks. The waitress agreed with us and asked if we wanted some fresh fries, which was the right way of dealing with the problem.

The desserts were both exactly as they should be, a rich, gooey, chocolate fudge cake and an Eton Mess which passed the Grandmother test. My long gone gran used to liven up Saturday visits to her home with vast collations of trifles, Eton Messes, homemade apple pies and ginger biscuits. This classic Grinch version of meringue, cream and fruit was excellent.

We laughed at a mismatch of plate sizes, my Mess on a proper plate, the fudge cake on a saucer. “We’ll not do that again,” said the waitress, “it does look a bit silly.”

For two courses each the price was around £25 all in – the wine at £18 for the bottle pushed the price higher. If I were Grinch I’d take down the price of the chicken and the scampi a pound or pound fifty from the £9 mark to give better value and more accurately reflect the level of expertise they display.

The food is after all, just decent background to socialising and chatting. It isn’t award-winning grub prepared and presented with finesse but it’s functional and filling with occasionally the odd attempt at flair. It shows that other elements of restaurant visits, aside from just the food and drink, are necessary to create a full dining out experience – especially in a place like Grinch.

Still the place passed the lunchtime test for city workers - the food served promptly allowing people to be in an out within the hour.

Grinch isn’t bad for evenings as well. There’s easy listening, live soul and jazz on Saturdays and early evening deals on meals and drinks, which is useful if going to the Royal Exchange for a show. To return to that Oasis reference, and the 'Definitely Maybe' album: Grinch might not live forever but it should be around for a good while yet.


Rating: 14/20
Breakdown: 6/10 food
4/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address: Grinch
5 Chapel Walk
City
M4 1EY
0161 907 3210
www.grinch.co.uk

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

NortherngeezerJuly 13th 2010.

Not much effort went into the desserts eh.

GallagherJuly 13th 2010.

Always thought this place was utter shite and the review and pictures merely confirm the suspicion.

John HarrisJuly 13th 2010.

I went once, a long time ago, and got such appalling service I've never been back. I should probably stop being so judgemental, it's not fair to damn a restaurant for ever for the sins of one arsehole of a waiter...

NortherngeezerJuly 13th 2010.

Yer right about the piccys, a lot of food on 'ere looks like shyte on a plate.

political patJuly 14th 2010.

Grinch does what it says on the tin, it is not about fine dining; it always delivers...very munchable,quaffable food & drink at a price to put a smile on your pocket.

AnonymousJuly 14th 2010.

Pat, I think it's the tin that causes the problem. Or the freezer bag. Ready made food flung out at restaurant prices.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2010.

Grinch is great for lunch and a couple of drinks, I have been going since it opened and have never had a bad experience. Staff always friendly, yes the food isn't going to get a michelin star but the atmosphere is great and buzzing.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2010.

I see the paywall has come down again. I visited the 'Great Whisky Debate' but it is only for Heroes, so now MC has private "ranting site" now eh? Are they still sleeping it off?

Mark Garner, The PublisherJuly 17th 2010.

Anonymous, you have confused me; the whisky tasting is open to all, subject to tickets being left, the paywall has been down for months, Heroes has been a huge success and you can join that if you wish, whilst there are no rants on thta story as the event hasn't happened yet so debate or rants clearly can't happen. If you are interested in whisky, get a ticket, its the bargain of the century.

NortherngeezerJuly 17th 2010.

You are very restrictive about what subjects you will, and will not allow rants on though Mark, take a look at the rants started on the Fat Loaf offer, with the ability to rant withdrawn, for whatever reason. Perish the thought it was due to the potential negativity.

AnonymousAugust 9th 2012.

After Bacchanalia, next to Grinch, recently closed down, Grinch has become my default for mid-week lunches with colleagues - it's 2 minutes from our offices, never too busy and facilitates a good catch-up. I've been a couple of times over the past fortnight and noticed slow service, but wanted to give them a final try yesterday - I'll never go back! Myself and two of my colleagues were left waiting 50 minutes for our food, and, realising we only had 10 minutes to get back to the office (having asked when our food would be served a total of 3 times) we eventually had to leave without eating and with nothing more than a mumbled 'sorry'! The experience was apalling - particularly as people arriving later were served their food before us! Avoid at all costs - still fuming!

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