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Zinc Bar and Grill

Gordo cries fowl after a tragic chicken at the overpriced Zinc Bar and Grill

Written by . Published on August 28th 2007.

Zinc Bar and Grill

Zinc’s been here a while. It arrived with a new wave of concept restaurants launched by bright eyed city-types with strong covenants who had persuaded London chefs to prostitute themselves.

That chicken breast had probably cost less than £2 a portion. The tomato, twenty pence and the greenery ten pence. This was charged out at 12 English dollars. The dish, entered into the worst main course in the North West, would win hands down.

Gordo had been looking forward to Zinc. Conran’s restaurants in London were first rate and had something sorely lacking in Manchester: fish. And shellfish. The Blue Bird Café on Kings Road was one of Gordo’s favourites, albeit very snobby. Gordo once found himself being told by a front desk girl that he would have to wait forty minutes for a table. Gordo’s chain smoking pal, Drew Smith, then editor of The Good Food Guide was stood next to Gordo out of the zone. At that point a woman who’d been rooting for something or other under the desk stood up, sneered at Gordo then turned and saw Drew.

She nearly fainted. “Oh Mr. Smith, we must have made a mistake. See here, Annabel darling, it’s THIS Mr Garner, the one with the larger table by the window. Which is available right NOW. I am so sorry Gentlemen, follow me, my name is Indochine and anything I can do to help…” Gordo is sure he saw Indochine, out of the corner of his eye, cuff Annabel viciously on the way back to the desk.

The fish was awesome, the displays modelled on Brasserie Lipp and Flo in Paris. Gordo was expecting something similar at Zinc. Opening night and Gordo left downhearted. Conran was clearly joining in the anticipated gold rush motoring up the M6. “Cut the offering down chaps”, was the cry in the trendy Soho boardroom, “those Northern monkeys don’t know shit from Shinola”.

Zinc was recently bought by the Individual Restaurant Group. Very individual this lot, they own Piccolino (396 of those) and Restaurant Bar and Grill (176 of them). Gordo was taking out the girlies from Crush PR, blond Caroline along with Beckie Crane from the team that run London Fashion Week: they are launching Fashion Weekend Manchester later this autumn. It was going to be a quick lunch, arrival 12.30, so that the girls could get away well before two o’clock as they had to be at another meeting.

So no starters and at 12.45 the team ordered fish, chips, mushy peas with tartare sauce and lemon (£12.50), lemon and rosemary free range chicken with roast tomatoes and rocket (£12) and finally chicken Caesar salad (£8.95).

It took an hour for this to arrive. The service was appalling. Gordo had the chicken. It was the worst chicken dish he’s ever had. The editor has told him that he can’t write that it had gone off, or indeed that it was well past it’s sell by date. What he can say is that it was f*****g horrible. Gordo had to eat three mouthfuls to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. It was served with a grilled tomato split in half, which was fridge cold. A big bunch of rocket was piled up on the plate to cover up malignant meanness. Now, that chicken breast had probably cost less than £2 a portion. The tomato, twenty pence and the greenery ten pence. This was charged out at 12 English dollars. This dish, entered into say, a competition called the Worst Main Course in the North West, would win hands down.

Then the cheeky buggers ask you to stoke up the price of everything by offering potatoes (Gordo had the new potatoes, very good, creamy butter and herbs) along with ‘proper’ vegetables at a price. Gordo’s spuds cost £2.95. You can buy a one kilo bag of the best jerseys for less than that. If you then take the spinach (tasted of dishwater), an eye watering £3.50, the main course works out at £18.45. Add a starter at around £6, and cheese, the same, you find yourself having spent £30.45 for lunch. On the same day, Gordo, if he was in London, could have visited Claridges, arguably the best hotel in the country, eaten in Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in there (one star Michelin) for a fixed price of £30, with the main courses matched with their correct accompaniments. Click here to see what Gordo means. (www.gordonramsay.com/claridges)
Yes, 45p less than an ordinary starter and cheese course in Zinc, and a main course not fit for using as one of Manc mover and shaker David Mallon’s flip flops. In fact, his feet are less smelly.

Surely there is something wrong here? Or is it just Gordo?

Let it be said the fish and chips were outstanding by all accounts whilst the char-grilled chicken Caesar was serviceable. The puddings were OK. But Ian and James of the Individual Restaurant Group, need to work at this place. Fifteen years or so after coming up with your formula boys you need to come up with the next Big Thing. And whilst you are at it, let's raise the bar again, your audience are starting to mature guys.

When chefs like David Bright at Luso and Matt Smith at Geese, both trained by the Individual Restaurant Group, can come away and deliver dishes like David’s vindaloo pork and Matt’s simple but divine roasted pheasant, it’s time attention was paid to the pupils. Zinc might be one of the company’s best from the point of view of looks, comfort and ambience but it needs to free itself in the kitchen. Go mad, try out a few ideas, it’s made for it.

Rating: 10.5/20
Breakdown: 4/10 Food
2.5/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Zinc Bar and Grill
The Triangle,
Hanging Ditch,
M4 3ES
0161 827 4200

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

JohnAugust 28th 2007.

Personally I think that you deserve all you get if you order fish and chips from an establishment designed by some Southern Jessie like Terence Conran. (Let's not forget his crimes against humanity during the 70s with Habitat). Next time take the young ladies to Grandma Pollard's Chippy in Todmorden, everything freshly cooked and you'll save a fortune!

scottAugust 28th 2007.

i ate there for lunch about 6 months ago.... was decent enough to eat, cant remember what i had, but it did cost something like 40 quid for 2 of us to have a 1 course lunch and an orange juice each, when considering its no more than average pub food, its pretty expensive...although agreed, nice surroundings and little touches down to good cutlery add to it, but the food was average

John S. LockeAugust 28th 2007.

Having known Gordo for wee while now I can say that although he often infuriates, and never calls back when he is meant to, and also has caused me to want to scream in frustration after meetings - he is very open and up front in his reviews - advertisers or no...if you don't like his reviews then don't read 'em! I hate conspiracy theorists...generally not had enough sex in their lives I believe! Ha ha! Another free lunch methinks Gordo?

MandragonAugust 28th 2007.

Zinc is just plain aweful. Overpriced, poor food, appalling service. The smell is very worrying, especially those peas! Needs a visit from H&S or Trading Standards I think.Many better within a couple of hundred yards as well.The very fact I can give an opinion here says something in ManCon's favour.Gordo is allowed to have an opinion and so are we!

GorAugust 28th 2007.

I have also had a rubbish experience at Zinc resulting in me not going back again. The food was mediocre and over priced, the service was pathetic and that slow that when we asked for a dessert menu they told us that the kitchen had closed for the night. On complaing I was offered a bottle of wine next time we dined.. next time?! I dont think so!! I even find the bar service rude so don't bother going in - oh... and while I am at it the toliets are bloody miles away!

benedictusAugust 28th 2007.

CPS, you seem to have an agenda. Rather than continue with the innuendo maybe you could just spit it out i.e. if you think ManCon gave an advertiser an easy ride let's have some "facts". Put up shut up.

Mark GarnerAugust 28th 2007.

C.P.S. Regarding the San Carlo Spell, it's an interview with an individual so we don't invite all and sundry to throw the interviewee on the bonfire to see if they get off. Luso is as you are gagging to point out an advertiser, but that makes bugger all diference to me as a couple of paying punters have recently found out, along with a government body not forty miles away who insisted that we talk nicely about them before they signed a £13 thousand pound a MONTH advertising contract. I blew them off, my chest puffed up in pride until i shut the toilet door and burst into tears. Luso, with David Bright, in my humble opinion is the most enjoyable meal in town currently. That vindaloo dish is the best in manchester. Geese, with Matt, who aren't paying advertisers, is the best meal outside Manchester. So stop beating me up! I have to ensure that ManCon pays it's way and therefore we need advertising revenue, but believe me I know when to draw the line and sleep at night.

STEAugust 28th 2007.

i have visited zinc several times since day one and would never go back due to its pathetic faux highbrow pretensions and anal mirror gazing staff. a berni inn with ludicrous atmosphere.......s

CosmoAugust 28th 2007.

I was invited to eat there on the gala opening day so was expecting tremendous service and food. Both were terrible!! Plus they ran out of desserts! On opening day! Will NOT be going back.

GordoAugust 28th 2007.

John, stop whinging you girl. Can't do the pint this afternoon, will try at beer o'clock.

AnonymousAugust 28th 2007.

its irc what do you expect

secret squirrelAugust 28th 2007.

To be fair to MG/Gordo, he has slagged places that either have, are, or could advertise with Mancon.....Perhaps a little disclaimer before each review might help pacify the conspiracy theorists....Luso is fab and has been since it opened, no argument.SS

ancoats girlAugust 28th 2007.

I had the fish and chips last week - my boyfriend likes to eat there from time to time as he thinks the f&c are pretty good. The fish was very good, however getting only 5 chips on the plate also bugged me. Stingy and slightly undercooked.The mushy peas really put me off though - they had an unpleasant smell, probably came from a budget tin and looked like the contents of a nappy. UGH!For the same price you get a much nicer fish & chips at the northern quarter restaurant, with tasty, fresh minted mushy peas.

steveAugust 28th 2007.

Went to Zinc one, never again. 13 quid for a Burger, do me a favour.

Stuie72August 28th 2007.

We went to Zinc on Saturday to meet some friends for a drink then we decided to stay for something to eat. I agree that the cost out weighs the food. I had the fish and chips , or should I say fish and 5 chips. The fish was excellant, but the mushy peas seemed to have been re-heated a few times and had gone a funny slutchy green colour, and my 5 chips were a little on the greasy side. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it. I think we paid £33 each for garlic bread and a main and a few drinks.

CharlotteAugust 28th 2007.

I went there on Sunday morning for some breakfast. All I can say is £8.95 for a full English-and my boyfriend had the stupidity to order it!! Never again, it was totally overpriced. Good coffee though.

annieAugust 28th 2007.

I can see all the rants but has anyone complained about the meals they got to the staff. Note! Be carful though as one of my friends in another restaurant,not in the group, Chef came out and threatened one of the males when his wife complained. Wasn't even Ramsey himself!

RowAugust 28th 2007.

I first ate at Zinc a few years ago. The staff were extremely rude and the food was average at best. I was recently persuaded to give it another chance. This time round the staff were less rude but the food was considerably worse than average! My friend was served a plate of sub-par pub fayre and I got an inedibly limp salad.

The DudeAugust 28th 2007.

Zinc has never had good food at its heart, never. It’s a bar concerned with soothing the egos of Manchester's identityless bourgeoisie. Totally mundane and manufactured and quite honestly a load of rubbish. Why did you even bother to go there? send it back to London, please!

Here hereAugust 28th 2007.

Very little appeal about this place, other than perhaps for a quick coffee.Food is, as has been highlighted, not great and over priced.I think they were lucky to get a 4/5 for ambience as its quite soul less.Fair review I think Gordo!

NHAugust 28th 2007.

I used to like Zinc when it was Conran owned. I found the staff were always helpful and the menu to be decent and usually cooked properly. Nothing amazing, but I liked that it made me feel like I had a reliable brasserie near home. Unfortunately everything all that seems to have gone down hill since the takeover, including the value of the vouchers I had. Small tip for the IRG, it's worth treating the existing clientele as if they have some valiue.

John S. LockeAugust 28th 2007.

Absolutely God awful place!...Incredibly expensive food and drinks in surroundings akin to an airport lounge...ghastly!Talking about great Fish and Chips though - I had the finest Fish and Chips of my life - and I've packed away a few fish dinners in my time!- during a quick day trip to Betws Y Coed (a piece of heaven on Earth is this little Welsh town - a right mini version of the Alps)on Bank Holiday Sunday, at a Hotel and Restaurant called The Royal Oak...4 of us ate Fish and Chips which was utterly superb.Served with a mountain of hand cut chips, and a bowl of melt in the mouth mushy peas, with a ramekin of home made tartare sauce that was worth the trip on its own!...This hotel is fantastic and the Brasserie restaurant is wonderful,as are the staff. We all ate lunch, with a two glasses of wine and two pints, finished with four coffees for under 50 quid...absolute winner! When in Wales, do yourself a favor and stop by and try their F and C dinner...you will thank me I guarantee.

FiAugust 28th 2007.

I agree with this Gordo. I was always disappointed when Zinc was still Conran owned - I tried three times hoping it would improve but it always got worse. I think The Individual Restaurant Group have, quite frankly, got a bit of a nerve - the menu at Zinc is the same as the menu at Bar&Grill, only cheaper and this would appear to be reflected in the quality of food and sevice on offer - but that's a poor excuse. Trade has dropped off at the B&G considerably since the group opened Zinc - a result I assume of the cheaper prices offered - so it would seem their plan has backfired on both counts. The chains have taken over the world, it's high time Manchester diners looked at the independents both in the city and the suburbs. Finally, 'The Individual Restaurant Group'? I for one could not think of a more ironic name for this company - there is nothing remotely 'individual' about any restaurant in their portfolio

johnAugust 28th 2007.

Benedictus, the facts are staring you in the face, just have a look around the site and at the content, then look at the advertisers. i agree with CPS im afraid.

C.P.S.August 28th 2007.

Mr Garner, I think we all understand that you have to pay your way with advertisers, but sometimes it's hard to see where the adverts stop and the objectivity begins. You are nothing without the community of readers that you serve, so you should act always as our contact lenses, and never as the woolly garment being pulled down over our eyes. C.P.S.

LouiseAugust 28th 2007.

I have never commented on these pages before but I almost leaped at the chance to comment on Zinc. I have visited twice. The second time was only to check that they weren't just having a bad day the first. They burnt my steak and the overpriced chips were greasy and unpleasant. Like Gordo I had to wait far to long and once served the main course, the waiters forgot we existed. This place is totally overpriced and I can never understand why it has managed to attract the customers it does.

C.P.S.August 28th 2007.

Mr Garner, I agree that Zinc is disappointing. But, another favorable mention for Luso here, I see. A balance of commercial considerations and the higher purposes of good journalism? Perhaps... I'm not sure. But why can't we rant about the article entitled 'The San Carlo spell"? I'd like to tell people that whilst there are some positive things to report, the food is all too often the Anglo-Italian equivalent of Chicken Tikka Masala. To my knowledge, a risotto, for example, should not resemble the erupting Vesuvius - a steep mountain of sticky rice overwhelmed by an effusive flow of rich, thick gravy. I fear there may be some sinister reason that ranting is not permitted underneath that article. Please reassure me, or tell us the truth. C.P.S.

PebsAugust 28th 2007.

My boyfriend took me on the Manchester Wheel thing last week (where he proposed!) and then we carried on the celebration in zinc - as I had said yes! We thought the food was pretty average and pricey for what it was. However the service was good, the waitress was very friendly and we got a free glass of champagne, so I can't complain too much!

secret squirrelAugust 28th 2007.

Ancoats girlI agree about TNQ F 'n C, fantastic, and only a tenner for two courses off the lunch/early bird menu.

This is meAugust 28th 2007.

NB - Crush PR used to have the contract for Panacea, which interestingly enough is in Individual Restaurant Group's stable, they lost it to Brazen. Although I'm sure that didn't come up between the girls and Gordo over lunch..! There are wheels within wheels people, fires within fires!

Mike BAugust 28th 2007.

I ate there a couple of months back, I ordered a steak and when the food arrived it looked pleasant enough but then I noticed a smell like the bottom of an old bin. I was convinced it was the food but my gorlfriend told me as we were sat near the back they must have just carried some bin bags out and that was the smell(not too pleasant a thought anyway) I couldn't bring myself to eat much of the food to be honest as the smell was horrible. As soon as the plate was taken away the smell disappeared. It was by far the most disgusting meal I have had and I will not be going anywhere near this place again.

GriffAugust 28th 2007.

Glad to see that Zinc's getting what it deserves in the digital press. What a ****hole. I've been twice: on the first occasion, it took 40 minutes to order a drink and a menu wasn't forthcoming so we upped sticks and ate elsewhere, and on the second vist we waited 45 minutes before one of our party was forced to very physically block the waiter's path in order to get a menu handed over. When the food finally arrived it was very average indeeed, and very expensive. It's the only place I've ever walked out of without paying, and I only did that on both occasions because we couldn't raise the attention of the staff to ask for the bill. How it's managed to stay there for as long as it has is a mystery to me.

C.P.S.August 28th 2007.

Secret Squirrel, It is certainly not my intention to be unfair to Mr Garner. And I would hope that his institution is big and ugly enough to defend itself. But I sense that the territory recently vacated by City Life and the M.E.N. (RIP) is being circled by those at ManCon, and we Mancunians are apparently keen for a worthy publication to step up to the challenge. But there can be no easy middle ground between straightforward commercial listings magazine and robust journalism. If a review is to have any influence, it will be built on the trust that exists between reader and publisher. In order to trust, we need a large degree of transparency. But at the moment I'm just not sure what to make of it all. Let us not forget that careers and livelihoods are potentially at stake here - theirs is not a kind of journalism without import or responsibility. I'll hope to be persuaded. Yours, optimistically, C.P.S.

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