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Wings Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield finds good flavours and 24 hour night in Lincoln Square

Written by . Published on December 6th 2012.


Wings Reviewed

IT was dark at 1pm but intimate. Wings, in Lincoln Square, had the blinds down. The terracotta warriors guarded us in a warm twilight. The Christmas markets pulsed outside. 

Bite and crunch to get into the thick moist meat which was squid cuddling a core of prawn. Lots of rich seasoning, lots of lip-smacking food joy. Folks rush in and get these. Flavour and fire. Ka-pow!

Apparently the reason for the dropped blinds, even at lunch, is that dirty, grubby smokers from the offices above puff away in the arcade immediately outside. This can easily put a man off his sizzling duck, so Mr Wing, proprietor and plate collector, has turned his restaurant in on itself.

Mr Wing has an extensive collection of plates signed by celebrities and frequent customersMr Wing has an extensive collection of plates signed by celebrities and frequent customers. He probably wished he'd just got them to sign pieces of paper, less expensive that way.

This works well enough in cocooning the customers, although whether that would be the case on a bright sunny summer's day is open to debate.

As it is, the interior of Wings is pleasant enough in light wood tones with proper table cloths (very nice) and a weirdly beguiling child-like mural of Hong Kong covered with the names of Manchester companies.

The food is mainly Cantonese and there's nothing much wrong with it.

The Asian Dim Sum (£7.60) was a lovely entree with one element that was truly outstanding. The Vietnamese spring roll under a lattice of gloriously delicate batter was sublime. I could have eaten ten of the things all in one go, stuffed them in my mouth and had bits falling out of the corners. 

Platter, Vietnamese spring roll on the left, saying, Platter, Vietnamese spring roll on the left, saying, "Hello, I love you."

Next up were the steamed king prawns (£14.50) in their shells with garlic, and soy sauce but best of all coriander. This gave the whole delicate dish character, lifted the senses, gave the food, the room, the restaurant, a sort of magical clarity. It was like drugs. But then I really do love coriander, just like everybody else with any sense. 

A real beautyA real beauty

Better again was the salt and pepper squid (£20.90). Expensive but oh mother, this was a goodie. Bite and crunch to get into the thick moist meat which was squid cuddling a core of prawn. Lots of rich seasoning, lots of lip-smacking food joy. Folks rush in and get these. Flavour and fire. Ka-pow!

Salt and pepper squidSalt and pepper squid

In fact I'd love to buy a bag of these as street food and wander around the city, sighing and looking at baubles painted with snowy scenes in the Christmas markets. Not sure why, but I just feel it'd be a deeply pleasant, unhurried, pastime. Like stamp collecting in the high Alpine valleys.

A duck dish (£11.90) with orange sauce was less good, in fact it was poor, a slobby, msg mess of clumsy flavours - although the flesh of the duck had been timed well. 

Slobbery duckSlobbery duck

Two other dishes, one of bamboo fungus (£14.90) and minced prawn and the other of Lo Han vegetables (£9.90) in the Wings Specials section, were nice, rather than exciting. They both needed more edge, something extra, to really engage the interest. 

Nice looking but a bit dimNice looking but a bit dim

The rice was excellent on both review visits, tacky and tasty.

As for the service, this was diffident and cautious, but came to life when the waiters were asked questions. 

Our lad with the dim sum platter, when prompted, told us which sauce we should put with which ‘heavenly morsel’ and even told us not to use any with the Vietnamese spring rolls.

He also asked whether we wanted a bowl or a plate. "With the food we’ve ordered", I asked, "which would you go for?". He told us plate on the first visit and bowl on the second. Same with the rice. "Fried rice, or boiled?" we'd asked. "The Chinese would have boiled rice," he said. So we did and thus found more flavour from the main events. 

The only downside was the way the rice and the wine were kept separate from the booth tables we were in and out of our reach.

On one occasion I yearned for rice but trapped in the booth I had to stand and wave to get attention. I appreciate the gesture of being prolifically attended upon, but when this fails and the waiters' attention has wandered, you can be left stranded. Wings would be better to just slap the rice and wine on the table and let us sort ourselves out.

Lovely salt and pepper suidLovely salt and pepper squid

Overall though, the two visits I made were dandy.

The food was very delicate, light and finessed, although we had gone for fish, veg and seafood rather than anything involving a cow, a pig or a chicken. We had eaten the duck and that had waddled off the table into a swamp of disillusionment. So maybe we’d done the right thing. Maybe the denizens of salty H2O is what's Wings' thing.

By the way we also chugged through on the first visit a fruity, spicy and utterly superb Gewurtztraminer at £27.90.

One of the reasons for this visit was that The Sunday Times had put it in their list of the top 200 restaurants in the country. I’m not sure about that, but I am certain that I’ve had two tranquil, almost elegant, dining experiences there in the last week. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Wings, Heron House  1 Lincoln Square, Manchester M2 5LN
0161 834 9000

Rating: 14.12/20 

Food: 7.12/10 (Asian Dim Sum platter 7, bamboo fungus and minced prawn 7, Lo Han vegetables 6, rice 8, wonton crackers with chili 8, salt and pepper squid 8, duck 6, steamed king prawns in shell 7.)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: 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, we get carried away.

Blinds are down, smokers are smoking nearbyBlinds are down, smokers are smoking nearby

A cow and a warriorA cow and a warrior

Inside and looking southInside and looking south

Wonton crackers are genius with the chilliWonton crackers are genius with the chilli

Mr Nice Man Wine

Mr Nice Man Wine

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

AnonymousDecember 6th 2012.

No picture of the mural?

Jonathan SchofieldDecember 6th 2012.

Sadly no, I was swooning over the coriander

John BrocklehurstDecember 6th 2012.

This place is the best restaurant in the UK. JB

1 Response: Reply To This...
AVoDecember 6th 2012.

No it's not. It's just a half decent chinese.

David AddisonDecember 6th 2012.

Wings is too sterile, I hate it when they make a big deal of moving the rice and the wine out of reach and I don't like the waiters in their gloves! Food is OK but surely not in the top 200 in the UK. They need to loosen up a bit!

GordoDecember 6th 2012.

That Gewurtz is an old pal, and always VFM especially if you buy a case off T'interweb

GordoDecember 6th 2012.

anyway, am going next time i'm thinking chinese...

pollolocoDecember 6th 2012.

Not a fan...and £20.90 for the squid is a piss take.

Doctor QDecember 6th 2012.

That's a German Gewürztraminer, I'd prefer a slightly drier French variety from Alsace - cant win them all. Place looks alright but looks a tad pricy for a lunchtime menu.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Richard WilliamsDecember 12th 2012.

It's French - look at the label!

bellel7December 6th 2012.

The wine being out of reach is a bit of an annoyance - but the environemnt , the food that calming music he superb service --its 5*star! i LOVE this place the best Chinese restaurant in MCR for me!

Haley CaruanaDecember 6th 2012.

I travel from Liverpool to go to wings, by far one of the best I like the service the food and the ambience.

James KayDecember 6th 2012.

Not been in since Helen R of ManCon gave it a bad write-up a couple of years back, so may try it if it's now back on track. God, I'm so easily led! Baaaah!

GioDecember 6th 2012.

Never had a bad meal there. One of the best Chinese restaurants in Mancester (forget London they put peas in the rice down there). Red Chillis worth a mention especially if you are on a budget.

Lorraine ByrneDecember 6th 2012.

I've always felt Wings is over-priced and too full of its own importance. There are better places to eat that aren't as expensive.

Lesley HampsonDecember 7th 2012.

Last time we went there they refused to serve tap water and we haven't been back.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldDecember 7th 2012.

They served me tap water I seem to recall

AnonymousDecember 7th 2012.

One of Wayne Rooneys favourites I believe

AnonymousDecember 10th 2012.

boo

SpikeDecember 11th 2012.

Doctor Q clearly knows bugger all about wine...Pfaffenheim is in France, the clue is Alsace, it is also a Dry wine.
Wings is without doubt the very best Chinese/Cantonese restaurant in the North West; and only Hakkasan, Yautcha and Royal China Club in London are in the same league in the UK.
As for not serving tap water, I have witnessed this, only when some already drunk, rude to staff party entered the Restaurant asked for some.....of course you can get tap water if you want, and aren't a clown. Good on Wing!

Wayne RooneyJanuary 17th 2013.

I luv it ere me

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