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Food And Drink Round-up 20/3/13: New Albert's, Michelin And Cheese

Jonathan Schofield and extra chips

Written by . Published on March 19th 2013.

Food And Drink Round-up 20/3/13: New Albert's, Michelin And Cheese

Albert goes west

THE Albert's empire is set to grow.

After Albert's Shed in Castlefield, and Albert's Didsbury, the Ramsbottom family are returning home. As the leaves turn this autumn, Albert's Worsley should be up and running (in the former New Ellesmere pub on the East Lancs in Swinton - despite the Worsley tag).  

Jim Ramsbottom, ex-bookie, and the entrepreneur who moved into food and drink with the Mark Addy and Dukes 92 in the 80s, was born within a couple of hundred metres of the boozer. He used to attend the former Ellesmere cinema that stood on the site of the expansionHis son, James Ramsbottom, who now runs the food operation, was brought up round the corner on Lancaster Road.

"It's not just sentimentality that attracted me to the area but also chimney pots," says Ramsbottom. "There is a big population around here and good infrastructure too."

Albert's Worsley will be 185 covers with a restaurant and bar, a similar menu to Albert's Didsbury (click here) and two function spaces. The whole place will be mostly rebuilt from its time as the New Ellesmere. 

New Ellesmere as was - it'll be all change for Albert'sNew Ellesmere as was - it'll be all change for Albert's

Good News from the waterfront

One of Confidential's favourite restaurants Choice is to re-open after suffering a castrophic flood earlier in the year. The water didn't pour in from the canal though - Choice is handsomely sited on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal in Castlefield - but from a building leak. The re-opening is scheduled for Thursday 21 March at noon. Here's the website, get your teeth round some of those menus.

Choice Before The FloodsChoice before the floods

Tiny Tipples in Chorlton

Neil Sowerby, bon viveur, master of bon mots, writer of beer and wine round-ups (click here), owns a dog so small you can only see it with the naked eye from six inches. The dog is called Captain Smidge and is a chihuahua. It makes sense then that he's currently writing a review up of Tiny's Tipples 'a purveyor of fine libations' on Wilbraham Road in Chorlton - a beer and wine shop. It's apt because the name of the shop is derived from the owner's dog. More later this week. Woof.

The Biggest Cafe In Manchester

Confidential had a look round the refurbishment of Manchester Central Library this week and found the largest transport cafe in Manchester. This occupies two floors of the construction complex next door to the building site. English breakfasts cost three pound nothing and the mugs of tea are so big you could drown cats in them. The only trouble is you need a high-vis jacket, steel toe-capped boots, a rolled up copy of The Sun and a pass to get in.

Big cafe for big buildersBig cafe for big builders

Spot the difference: A breakfast challenge

Speaking of cafes, Bowlers over Mount Street from the Library also does breakfasts and fry-ups and surprisingly good coffee. But here's a sign from the wall. Can you spot the difference between the Full English brekky and the Builder's Breakfast within a minute? 

Spot the differenceSpot the difference

A Gentle Ribbing To Relish

There's much talk of a rackshack diving into the old Relish/Persia site under the Great Northern just along from All Star Lanes later in the year. This would be an all American festival of ribs, a glutinous, finger-licking, hand-wiping festival of goo, beer and cocktails. The operator is famous these days after not being so famous last year. If the planners play ball then the builders can move in.

Cheeseboard in the Podium

David Gale, the chef at the Deansgate Hilton in Beetham Tower, has put together a cheeseboard available between 4pm and 8pm in the bar area of Podium - the ground floor restaurant that gives very good steak. The price for the cheesboard with a selection of seven local, regional and continental cheeses is £15. You can match them with recommended wines. Gale calls it 'a cheesy happy hour'. You also get hams, nibbles and crackers. On our visit there were six gorgeous cheese babes and one mad witch of a thing. A Spanish Blue was standout, a warm Caerphilly mustard and beer cheese was surprisingly good and a Brie de Meaux was lovely. But the curried Cheshire cheese with raisins was one of the worst things to ever be thought edible. We told Gale this. He's wisely removing it from the cheeseboard before people get into fights over the thing. 

Lovely cheese, except that one second from the right - the horror, the horrorLovely cheese, except that one second from the right - the horror, the horror

Man Tea - Something For The Chaps

You may have read in Confidential's Sleuth column this week that for Father's Day something very different is being launched in Cloud 23 in the Deansgate Hilton. This will be Man Tea, like afternoon tea, but devoid of cucumber sandwich triangles and dainty flutes of champers. Man Tea will be filled with crusty ham and pickle cobs, pork pies, heavy whisky cocktails and big mugs of strong tea. Interesting.

42 means Manchester food and drink, but don't mention any bloody Michelin stars

Manchester appeared, somewhat oddly, in the '50 top food picks from the Observer Food Monthly', this Sunday. The piece was subtitled 'From haute cuisine camel in Doha to a proper pint in a beautiful Chester pub, here are a few of our favourite things'.

Number one on the list was Sushi Tetsu, a seven-seater bar with a three month waiting list, in Clerkenwell. Makes you wonder why they don't get bigger premises.

The whole city of Manchester - the only whole city on the list - was at 42 between 41, Bone Daddies Ramen in Soho, a whole Ramen restaurant, and number 43, 'music at Electric Diner' - the restaurant with the most wholesome music policy.

Twenty-six entries in the worldwide top fifty were in London. Shocker.

The good news is that Manchester's position at 42 is special. According to the novel Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - click here - 42 is the 'Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything'.

The bad news is the Manchester entry says 'Mancunians obsessing about an elusive star from Michelin might not have to wait much longer as Simon Rogan, who won two stars at L'Enclume in Cumbria, has just arrived at The French restaurant at The Midland Hotel.'

Oh dear.

That statement ignores one of the great rules of life, incapable of contradiction, as certain as gravity.

The rule is: If you mention Michelin stars and a Manchester restaurant in the same breath, then it hasn't a cat in hell's chance of achieving one. 

Man in The French, at The Midland, can't believe someone's just said the dreaded M-wordMan in The French, at The Midland, can't believe someone's just dropped the M-word

The complete text of the Manchester entry in the Observer Good Food Guide

Although Manchester city centre awaits an elusive Michelin star, it has significantly upped its game recently. Nearly 25 years after New Order singer Bernard Sumner persuaded his record label, Factory, to open Dry 201, the Northern Quarter is home to one of the best collection of independent bars outside the Lower East Side, including Odd, Black Dog Ballroom, and newer arrivals Bakerie, Port Street Beer House, Solita, and Almost Famous.

OFM favourite Robert Owen Brown continues to produce superlative retro British food at The Mark Addy, while Parlour in Chorlton was voted Best Sunday Lunch in the country at last year's OFM Awards.

Some of the most interesting developments are outside the city centre, including the rise of two neighbourhood restaurants in unlikely locations that are becoming destinations for food lovers across the north. Steve Pilling and Simon Stanley have picked up accolades for their Heaton Moor restaurant Damson and have just opened a second restaurant in MediaCity, much to the delight of BBC staff with expense accounts.

North of the city, a modest converted cottage in Prestwich is home to the similarly lauded Aumbry, which is owned by husband and wife chefs Laurence Tottingham and Mary-Ellen McTague (who represented Manchester on BBC2's Great British Menu) with Kate Mountain.

Salford, the birthplace of vegetarianism in the UK, is now home to The Biosphere Project, a farm/laboratory/research centre in a converted mill which aims to explore how to continue to put food on tables in an era of rising prices, growing populations and climate change.

Finally, Mancunians obsessing about an elusive award from Michelin might not have to wait much longer as Simon Rogan, who won two stars at L'Enclume in Cumbria, has just arrived at The French restaurant at The Midland Hotel.

Manchester is 42

Manchester is 42

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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

RobbsyMarch 19th 2013.

Nice to see Worsley (OK, Swinton) getting a decent restaurant - I used to go to the Saturday morning matinees at the Ellesmere cinema too - oh happy memories! Alberts always delivers (in my experience) decent food so looking forward to this expansion.

AnonymousMarch 19th 2013.

So the Persia site is likely to be an Almost Famous venture judging by the cryptic/not so cryptic wording?

JoanMarch 19th 2013.

Manchester: The Meaning of Life. Surely it's a T-shirt waiting to happen.

Simon TurnerMarch 20th 2013.

That fella sat in the Midland looks like he's about play on the world's weirdest Etch A Sketch

Poster BoyMarch 20th 2013.

'American' food is dead. Official.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2013.

Very pleased Alberts in opening in Swinton / Worsley - The new Ellsemere was a big let down and we really lack good restaraunts in Swinton/ worsley and Monton, now we are going to be getting a really good quality restaurant locally - Great News!

AnjellikMarch 21st 2013.

Great news about the New Ellesmere being turned into something decent. Bit of a push to call it Worsley though when it is Swinton !! Guess Albert's Swinton doesn't quite have the same ring to it !

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