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Revolution review

Jonathan Schofield finds signposted food directing him to a great burger and a weapons policy

Written by . Published on March 15th 2010.

Revolution review
It was a gauntlet thrown down, a challenge not to be refused.

Outside Revolution in Parsonage Gardens, off Deansgate, are permanent signs reporting how reviewers at Urban Life and The Yorkshire Post have adored the food.

Overall this wasn't the best food in a bar ever. The burger was up there, as was the scone but the rest were average at best and the menu is all over the place. Pisssing about with pizzas is almost always a poor idea. And a single cup cake for a dessert? Prices are agreeable though with nothing over a tenner.

'Unquestionably beats every bar I've ever eaten in....' shouts one board.

To me Revolution is a chain bar, albeit a locally grown one with a design ethos a cut above the rest, but I'd never given it a moment's thought as a food option. Didn't it just supply grub to help the drink down on lost Saturday evenings?

The building at Parsonage Gardens helps make an impression, a big hunk of twenties imperialism in Portland Stone, put together when the British Empire was still pretty sure its sun would never set.

Inside there's a competent enough fit out as a bar/restaurant with big strong fixtures and fittings. Well, mostly. The plastic chairs in red and black are ridiculous, somehow capturing you and trapping you and yet slippery devils too.

The menu quickly lets you know that this is strictly bar food. It's consciously 'fun'. There are toasties, sandwiches and wraps, pizzas, burgers, some scattered 'mains' (lamb shank, rump steak and, weirdly, salads labelled mains too). There's also a personal phobia: 'platters to share' with nachos, potato wedges and so on. I'm a selfish eater: there's no 'me' in platter. Or 'I'.

A ham, pancetta and cheese ciabatta toastie at £4.50 was terrible, ceramic like, with the ciabatta crushing the filling. If I'd got another twenty of these I could have tiled that difficult splash space behind the bath that attracts damp at Chez Schofield.

The mad pizza, my companion had was a puzzler, the Revolution vodka pizza at £7.95. My companion said she'd get back to me on what she thought. It took 24 hours and she wrote: 'The surprising sweetness reminded me of one of my mum's culinary exploits when I was younger. She'd made a quiche but using pre-bought pastry taken from the freezer. Only my dad liked it (he would eat anything) because the pastry was sweet stuff supposed to be used to make desserts. Still I sort of enjoyed the Revolution pizza after I'd got over the sweet surprise.'

I had a go at the pizza too. It was sweet, coated in too much balsamic gunge on top; although when the topping was bunched together, the chicken, chorizo and sweet chilli-peppers with the base, it was acceptable, but not really my cup of tea.

Fortunately for me, the Mexican burger at £7.95 was the best burger I've had in a couple of years. The mince in the burger was high quality and beautifully, gently and juicily cooked. The guacamole it came with seemed a bit of an afterthought to keep with the theme but the heat of the salsa and the fresh quality of a crisp salad accompaniment plus that excellent flesh lifted it far above average. The chips were good.

Puddings are very odd. Excellent but not really desserts at all, more components of an afternoon tea. There's a selection of four with the regulation brownie and cheesecake so predictable they were a no-no on our visit. So we went for the only two choices remaining, a spring cup cake and the sultana scone with clotted cream and jam, both at £1.75.

Both were great in a small way. The sultana scone, warmed up, with the jam and cream was perfectly baked and a real joy. But the whole approach to desserts seemed like Revolution wasn't very interested.

Overall this wasn't the best food in a bar ever. The burger was up there, as was the scone but the rest were average at best and the menu is all over the place. Pisssing about with pizzas is almost always a poor idea. And a single cup cake for a dessert? Prices are agreeable though with nothing over a tenner.

A nice touch was the big fifteen minute egg-timer. If the food wasn't brought in that time frame then you get the food for nowt.

Service meanwhile was good in a laid back way with one caveat. The girl waitress should have informed me that I was getting enough salad with my burger and would not need another £1.50 mound of green stuff as a side dish. In fact the only listed side I wasn't getting with the burger were the beer battered onion rings. This made her question of 'Do you want any sides with that?' superfluous.

There's another big black mark against Revolution in Parsonage Gardens. In the loos there are signs which explains Revolution's 'Drugs and Weapons Policy'. Recommending people to dine in a place which seems to expect people with guns or knives to turn up doesn't fill me with confidence.

I don't want to take grandparents, parents, kids or visitors to Manchester for lunch or dinner to a place where when they go to the loo there are these scary notices. It's all right being prudent but why advertise it? Or is it a thick-headed Police thing?

And there's illogic here too. Why would anybody who came armed be the type of person to read this and think, yep, fair enough I'd better leave? The sentence which states that if 'suspecting (sic) of possession of a weapon you may be detained whilst the authorities or notified and/or asked to leave' is so silly it's hilarious.

The whole thing casts a shadow over the experience and will have no influence on the real bad boys. It also destroys the good intent behind the signs outside advertising the food – the ones which enticed me in.

It leaves a bad taste, despite the excellence of that burger.

Breakdown:6/10 food
3/5 service
3.5/5 ambience
Arkwright House
Parsonage Gardens
M3 2LF
0161 839 9675

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

Jamie BoulgerMarch 15th 2010.

I actually really like the pizzas in Revolution; they're much better than can be had in other bars in Manchester. I quite often have the Revolution Vodka Pizza and think that the sweetness comes from the balsamic glaze. EDITORIAL CORRECTION: Jay the writer says he must remember to write legible notes next time. But it was the Vodka pizza. Thanks for letting us know.

isabella16070March 16th 2010.


Matthew11516March 16th 2010.

An apostrophe in 'weapon's policy'? Honestly.

reader17884March 16th 2010.

I have gone from never having been there to eating in Revolution twice in the past few weeks. I organised a funtion there for a group of girls - a cocktail class, dinner and drinks. I also went there for a quick afterwork drink and dinner last week and both times had a lovely meal. The staff were courteous, the food was great value for money, portions great and tasty - and not overly manufactured. Think you need to take this place at face value. Its consistantly good bar food. It's not Stock (which I incidently also ate at last week) - but in Revolution there really isn't anything that negative to complain about if you take it for what it is.
You should have had the Brownies - they were really nice.

Stephen NewtonMarch 17th 2010.

Like others here, I feel obliged to counter your comment on the pizza. The secret to a good pizza is the base and Revolution's are certainly superior to compatible outlets and easily better than, say, Pizza Express. Nice and thin and the right side of crispy.

As for topping, like most places they could be more innovative, so it's disappointing to see them slagged off for trying.

CASMarch 17th 2010.

Does anyone actually know the original toppings of a Marinara pizza?

DescartesMarch 17th 2010.

Think it was brummies @ Cas

CASMarch 17th 2010.


Scott NeilMarch 17th 2010.

well we've all had a Brummie tell us about the miles of canal in Venice, so perhaps Descartes means that.

to make this not entirely beside the point, i cheated and went to Wiki: "pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil (although most Neapolitan pizzerias also add basil to the marinara)".

Scott NeilMarch 17th 2010.

or even, they have more miles of canal than Venice. ahem...

DescartesMarch 17th 2010.

Nope, it was brummies killed in the Birmingham/Venice war of 1478. So many brummies were killed that they used the meat as a new topping. True fact.

CASMarch 17th 2010.

I didn't really want you to Wiki it. The reason I asked is everyone always assumes seafood but the name comes from the fishermen who use to buy it. Found this at Di Michele's in Napoli where they only do two kinds of pizza which is how it should be.

AgricolaMarch 17th 2010.

Descartes right, the Brummies were overwhelmed when the Anchovies of Stafford joined the Venetians.

Kevin CleverMarch 17th 2010.

Are you staying they topped themselves?

DescartesMarch 17th 2010.

Talking of fights, it all kicked off in my local chippy last night, three fish got battered!

Scott NeilMarch 17th 2010.

Capers are originally from Tamworth.

i believe.

@Cas, well at least i'm honest... ...nice sounding pizza adventures there.

AgricolaMarch 17th 2010.

Capers are from Jolly Japes the village near Lichfield

NortherngeezerMarch 17th 2010.

Is this one of those "men are from mars, women are from venus, capers are from buuuurmeeeenghuuuuum" rants??

MarkMMarch 17th 2010.

Thanks for that Cas. I am feeling so much better now that you have told us how much you know about pizzas in napoli. I am guessing that is actually naples for us thick northerners. I wiki'd that too.

CASMarch 18th 2010.

You know what MarkM, I'm not quite sure why you feel the need to be so defensive and a teeny weeny bit abusive. However I suggest you get that chip surgically removed and lighten up a bit. I had no idea about the Marinara thing and it was a lil bit of trivia that someone somewhere may have found interesting. If you want to make a personal attack on wrongly made assumptions of myself then please use something more substantial than a couple of comments about pizza toppings. Otherwise you just look like some wound up guy looking for someone to verbally lash out at. Enjoy your next pizza.

NortherngeezerMarch 18th 2010.

Can you get shoulder chips with pizza in eyetallyeeeeee??.

MarkMMarch 18th 2010.

and i need to lighten up a bit.....

meMarch 18th 2010.

was a bit patronising with the wiki comment to be fair cas

HBiffMarch 18th 2010.

..and a bit pompous with the 'I've had pizza in Napoli' bit. In fact, if you were to remove that which is pompous and that which is patronising from Cas' posts there would be only be the punctuation left.

DescartesMarch 18th 2010.

I've had pizza's from Napoli too HBIFF, Iceland have got them in the freezers next to Chicago Town

HBIFFMarch 18th 2010.

Hope they've only got two kinds.

Leigh ScottMarch 18th 2010.

ha-ha-ha silly i know but ha-ha-ha

MarkMMarch 18th 2010.

I actually have had pizzas in Milano ( that's Milan for you non-wiki types ) in a proper place that had 6 different ones. That's how they thought it should be. So did I.

DescartesMarch 18th 2010.

Did it have pineapple on it?

Dave SpannerMarch 18th 2010.

It's not a pizza if it's not got pineapple.

CASMarch 18th 2010.

If you thought it was pompous I do apologise. I always call it Napoli, not sure why, don't really feel that should overly offend anyone. Look, it was a bit of trivia that I found interesting, if you didn't then fine. However I don't really think there's much need for the high horse jumping. HBiff, I post rarely on this site these days, do they notify you when I do so you can come and have a pop? Seriously, I assume we must have a run in at some point to create your bitterness but you need to get over it. And Dave, you're right, a pizza should be pineapple free ;)

AnonymousMarch 18th 2010.

what a bunch of idiots. it's like a playground around here sometimes, do you keep a list of people you don't like at the side of the computer and pounce when they dare to comment? seems most of the good posters have gone now, just the sniggering child types left.

anonymousMarch 18th 2010.

come on cas no point being anon

AnonymousMarch 18th 2010.

i'm not cas, i went on as anon as I don't want a bunch of sniggering children following me around threads like a fan club. for what it's worth i agree that a pizza should be kept simple and not be covered in duck or rabbit food.

MarkMMarch 19th 2010.

OFFS, she came on with a pompous rant, had the piss taken out of her. If Gordo had put the same rant up most would have ripped the piss out of him to, or anyone else come to that. Stick a rant up and be prepared for people to dissagree or take the piss, or even agree. If you don't like it, don't rant.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 19th 2010.

Now now folks. Let's be nice. Cas you say what you want when you want. I thought all that stuff that followed about Birmingham, anchovies and the rest was hilarious. It's a lovely sunny day don't you think.

MarkMMarch 19th 2010.

it is indeed JS

Leigh ScottMarch 19th 2010.

Yes and Man Utd just drew Bayern Munich for the quarters.I was at the reserves match in Alty last night and ole gunnar signed my 1999 champions league shirt..I wonder if that's an omen...God i hope so !Oh i do hope we do it again!!!

OMarch 19th 2010.

Scotteee, have you not seen Barca this season. reds have no chance mate. The way it is lined up though, I think it's repeat of final from last year. Repeat of result too,

AnonymousMarch 19th 2010.

what did S have in his pocket which made him so upset about the notices. Revolution has always been a Fri/Sat operation as well as having a more up market intentions mid week. Most bars of this type display an anti drug notice. Anti weapon ones are rarer. In Anyway they are like that other notice...'please leave quietly' to meet the commitment they made when they were licensed in their operating statement.

Scott NeilMarch 19th 2010.

anyway. to get back on topic, it is a myth that bresaola originated in Lombardy. it is actually from Alum Rock.

MarkMMarch 20th 2010.

I thought it was mined near Buxton

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