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The Glasshouse restaurant review

Jonathan Schofield watches a nervous breakdown at the Crowne Plaza

Written by . Published on January 6th 2011.

The Glasshouse restaurant review

Watching a nervous breakdown can be fascinating but never uplifting. It’s like slowing down as you pass a car accident on the motorway, an involuntary, intensely human response to an unfortunate incident. You know you shouldn’t look but you can’t help yourself.

We did have time to be shocked by a bill of £97.50. Thank God for the waitress with the lovely smile and the charm to carry off a pressure situation. I sought her out and handed her the tip.

On the evening of New Year’s Day, the Glasshouse restaurant on Shude Hill was cracking up. It was short-staffed and over-full. The place was swamped by people who'd turned up without booking, including a family group of 26 individuals and my group of four. Note to all managers: whereas a decade ago the city centre on high days and holidays was always deserted, each year it’s getting busier.

Still, unplanned pressures are part of the job description of restaurants, the test is how they cope. And there is only one way to cope: by not throwing a Heathrow.

Communication is the key. In this we had a member of staff who was a natural at customer service, a Mancunian, who smiled, apologised for delays and kept telling us what was going on. Full marks to her.

Meanwhile there was a power struggle going on in the family of 26.

There were two men in their forties surrounded by loads of females, wives, mothers, aunties, nans plus an improbable number of children. The men wanted to prove through their energetic complaining who was clan leader.

You could see them tallying up who’d done the most finger pointing, the most shaking of the head, the most throwing of hands in the air. Each had to have the duty manager over for a chat. It would have made a good anthropological study: 'In certain situations men behave like total cocks. Discuss'. Something like that.

Our food took a little while to arrive, but as we’d ordered towards the end of the soap opera above, it didn’t take a catastrophic age.

The two starters, the prawn cocktail (£7.50) and the scallops (£9) were creatively presented and tasted damned good as well, apart from being in their cooked components, a degree or two off the right temperature.

The scallops had been perfectly seared and placed over a rich black pudding and then livened up with an apple sauce. The prawn cocktail had two tempura battered king prawns, then the usual stuff beneath with a particularly good Marie Rose sauce. The chopped extras at the bottom included of course, the voguish root vegetable of 2010, beetroot - this time chopped into tiny cubes. The beetroot worked well with the dish, the only fault was the unripe avocado, especially since I’d forgotten my pocket pneumatic drill.

The boys had meatballs and a tomato soup from the kids menu, the soup was good, the meatballs were tasteless and overcooked.

Three of us had ribeye steaks (£17.95) for mains. Since the lamb, the seabass, the salmon, the fillet and sirloin steaks had all gone we were left with little choice. The steaks came with a mushroom, tomato, field lettuce and good strong chips. The two which were requested medium-rare came either medium or rare. Tut, tut. Of the offered sauce accompaniments, the Bearnaise was the best, with a good blend of herbs to the mix.

A kids menu main of bangers and mash was functional. As was a flabby South African Shiraz. We didn’t have time for a dessert. But we did have time to be shocked by a bill of £97.50. N-i-n-t-y-s-e-v-e-n-f-i-f-t-y. And no bottle of wine or even puddings. Thank God for the waitress with the lovely smile and the charm to carry off a pressurised situation. I sought her out and handed her our tip.

You get the idea the Glasshouse isn’t particularly inspired even when it hasn’t got a kitchen in crisis. I've been there three times now and never been hugely impressed.

For a start the space is a naturally uncomfortable, slightly cheap looking, the designer should be shot. The menu is dreary in its range and depth, a cop-out, in its roll-call of predictable steaks, risottos, salads. The whole thing smells of corporate design, intended to fit in with a company ‘look’. You can sniff the approved supplier economies of scale. In a city where hotel restaurants are on the rise and being allowed individuality at, say, The Lowry, The Hilton, Mint Hotel, Abode, this seems a missed opportunity. Strangely there was enough in that scallop dish to show the place could offer so much more.

As we left the two males of the 26 strong family were standing in the bar gloating over how many freebies they’d wrangled from the hotel because of their delayed service experience. Funny. They seemed to have come to a truce in their battle for who really is the clan boss. A temporary truce no doubt.

Rating: 11/20
Breakdown: 6/10 food
4/5 service
1/5 ambience
Address: The Glasshouse, Crowne Plaza
70 Shudehill0871 230 5320
M4 4AF
0871 230 5320

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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Eddy Le BeoufJanuary 6th 2011.

"I've been there three times now and never been hugely impressed." I stuck my finger into an electrical socket once. Never did it again. Just sayin like.

Keith KilbourneJanuary 28th 2011.

cant for the life of me understand why eddy le beouf as been back three times if he as never been impressed very strange

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