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The Pavilion Food Reviewed: Manchester International Festival

Jonathan Schofield is in a pickle while Gordo brings home the bacon

Written by . Published on July 5th 2011.

The Pavilion Food Reviewed: Manchester International Festival

FESTIVAL TIME and the big pointy tent has arrived back in Albert Square. The deckchairs have opened like butterflies and the pro-buskers have started entertaining at very acceptable volumes. There's a real buzz about the place.

It's lovely to hang out in Albert Square at festival time. The world of Manchester cascades slowly through and you can take your time watching the world pass by

The backdrop of the Town Hall and Albert Square works a treat and good weather fills the place quicker than you can eat one of the Ploughman's lunches.

This is perhaps faster than you think.

The food courtesy of Heathcotes Outside, the catering arm of the well-known Lancashire chef Paul Heathcote, does a poor ploughmans for an inflated £5. 

The ploughman the company have in mind must have been very small in stature, more suited to a desk job than a life on a farm. Or maybe I was looking at the inelegantly packaged collation through the wrong end of a telescope?

Inside there are bits of leaves, a slice of ham, a single halved pickled onion, and other tiny tubs with Lancashire cheese in pieces so miniscule a mouse might consider them suitable only for brunch. The pickles weren't pickle-y enough either - tough, almost unpickled. There was no crusty bread. The whole thing at cost must come in at way under a £1, which gives a fat mark-up.

Img_2264The bacon ciabatta (£4) was much better though, and looked the part. Gordo passing through the Square sat down with me and enjoyed this mightily. "Big fella," he said of the sandwich, not himself, "good quality dry-cured bacon, slightly flabby ciabatta but that works well here. A belter. I like that you apply your own tomato sauce as well, that way you don't have to scrimp. My only advice is people who like their bacon crispy should specify that when ordering."

This reminded me of Rochdalian chef Andrew Nutter's advice about eating a bacon sandwich - click here. Gordo didn't apply Nutter's rule in the Square.

Gordo's salad at £4.50 was better than mine too, came with a sharp oil that moistened the thing, and with lovely feta cheese and Oakmere -fresh that morning we were told - asparagus.

The sharing platters look even better than the bacon sandwich. While we were at the Pavilion, Alex Poots, Manchester International Festival Director, and Christine Cort, Associate Director, were tucking into the Antipasti platter for £15. This was filled with hams, meats, flatbreads, olives and more. 

Img_2269Lovely place to hang out Albert Square at festival time. The world of Manchester cascades slowly through and you can take your time watching it. From high up as well. There's an astro-turfed roof terrace on top of the Glasshouse Bar for 2011. Excellent place to study the Town Hall, if that's your bag.

Pavilion Part 2 009
The only sadness is that nobody could organise some good Greater Manchester ale from one of our 24 breweries, instead there's some washing water called Worthingtons and some fizzy washing water called Koors.

Not that this should get in the way of enjoying the atmosphere down in the Square while MIF's on, especially since the licensing authority have been kind: Gordo told me he was up till 2am on the roof terrace debating the pros and cons of life on Sunday night/Monday morning. That should become policy during the Christmas Markets as well I reckon, or at least midnight, rather than a miserly nine or ten pm closing time.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. £1000 to the reader who can prove otherwise, and dismissal for the staff member who wrote a review scored out of twenty on a freebie from the restaurant.

Festival Pavilion
Albert Square

Rating: 14/20
Food: 6/10
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 5/5

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

PaulJuly 5th 2011.

Coors and Worthingtons is unforgiveable. It show how little care has actually been taken in the planning of this event when the drinks are an after thought.

Calum McGJuly 12th 2011.

Poor beer selection, agreed. The food I had was OK - but not enough on my platter to warrant £15. They do at least have reasonable cider (in that it's better than Strongbow!). Be nice next time to give someone less corporate a try on the food front and also to get some local brews in there. We'll have international visitors going home thinking that Coors and Worthingtons are from Mcr!!

NorthernGeezerJuly 15th 2011.

Just read Nutters advice on bacon buttys........cook 'em in goose fat!.
Jeez, i'm salivating already, i can only assume why he reckons you should eat them alone is the sounds you are going to make when 'chomping on the pig'............truly orgasmic ;-)

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