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Food and Drink 23/09/2010

Pesto messes up, Jamie’s all right, Hunters is good and Epernay parties

Published on September 24th 2010.

Food and Drink 23/09/2010

Pesto wrongo
Confidential went for lunch this week to Pesto on Deansgate. All the dishes, six of them, were poor and at price points up to £3.95 they were poor value as well. “Why are there so few prawns for £3.95?” Confidential asked of one little earthenware tub. “We have a policy to give out seven per portion, that’s all the kitchen can give,” the waiter said. “They look lonely and sad,” said Confidential, “and they don’t taste very interesting. You promised heat in the description and they just taste soggy.” The waiter went away and came back with seven more. “That seven really is a company policy isn’t it?” said Confidential. The prawns were warmer but they were still deathly bland. As had been the disgusting and limp calamari, the pathetic chicken dish – indeed everything. Pesto remains the weirdest food and drink experience in Manchester, wrong in concept and execution - ‘lite’ bites of Italian food which don’t make sense.

Liverpool 7 Manchester 7
The editor was in Liverpool for a meeting after the Pesto incident. He was in the Liverpool One shopping area. He passed a Pesto. He went in. “I’d like some prawns,” he said. “Alrighty,” the charming waiter said. “I reckon you're going to bring me seven,” said the editor. The waiter looked frightened. The prawns came, there were seven of them. They weren’t very good. At Confidential we always appreciate consistency whether in number or quality.

Magnificent seven
We'd like all the readers to go into Pesto and order the peppered prawns and when they come say,"oh, but we were so looking forward to eight." We might start a Pesto 7 club. Anybody up for it?

Jamie Oliver does it right
The purpose of the Liverpool trip was to review Jamie’s Italian on Paradise Street. There’ll be a Manchester version early in the new year on King Street of the famous chef’s restaurant. It’s curious how two places such as Pesto and Jamie’s Italian aiming at the same market, can be so different. The mozzarella dish, the sole dish and so on were all carefully prepared and presented in Jamie’s place. It was packed and it was good to be there. Review to follow next week.

Beer and jazz
The Royal Northern College of Music will host the second CAMRA beer and jazz festival this week on 23 and 24 September from noon to 11pm. Confidential hears there’ll be more than 40 ales and ciders plus food, souvenir pint glasses and tasting notes. Entry is £4 or £3 for CAMRA members. The music on offer is Thursday 7pm – 8.30pm RNCM Jazz All-stars, 9.30pm – 11pm Battle of the Bands; Friday 5pm to 7pm John Cage Uncaged, 8pm- 9pm Twelfth Day (folk fusionists), 9.30pm -10.30pm Bavarian Beer Band. Call 0161 907 5238 for more info.

Beer fact
There is no rhyme for pint. Confidential’s always wanted to tell people that. So stop going through words right now - there is no true rhyme for pint, that isn’t a slang word, you’re wasting your time.

Duck and Jas
The editor popped into his mate Jas’ fooderie, Hunters on High Street in the Northern Quarter. The curry cafe has had a makeover. A bit of one. The food is as good as ever. We bagged some naan, some duck rogan josh, some rice and some chickpeas. The rice was exquisite. The duck curry was a joy with capiscum giving a good shout out in the middle of the mix. Try the place if you’ve not been for a while. They still do all the game too – venison, quail and so forth.

Hunters battered
Hunters also do fish and chips now. Halal fish and chips: “Loads of Asians love fish and chips, I do, but it’s hard to find ones we can eat,” said Jas, who looks as though he’s tucked away a few portions himself. He then gave the editor a lift back to the office in a car the size of Belgium with his beautiful wife and baby in the back. Gracious chap our Jas. He had a good story too. He was surprised recently when he received an email with a picture of an Aussie who loved Hunters while living over here. Before he left the man got an image of the Hunters’ menu printed onto a t-shirt which he now wears with pride Down Under – and which he’s now sent a picture of as documentary evidence to Jas.

Ranvir Singh battered
Gordo had a good time and stayed out until a million o’clock last week after Lancashire County Cricket Club’s launch of their new conference facility, the Point. Confidential writer Simon Binns and Commerical Director Helen Ramsbottom were comrades in unholy arms. At the do they sat on the same table as BBC Northwest Tonight’s Gordon Burns and Ranvir Singh. Gordo used one of his best flirt tactics with the delicious Ranvir. He said: “Eh up, shall I tell you where the best chippy is in Manchester? It’s Frankies in West Didsbury.” Stuffing his face in Frankies a couple of days later, with grandson Harry, Gordo was surprised to see Ranvir walk in. “Told you it was a Gordo go,” said the smug one with half a haddock hanging out of his cakehole.

Ox gets noble again
Alex the boss of the Ox is doing the right thing on Liverpool Road. Over the next six months the pub will change back to its original name The Oxnoble. The return of the name is welcome, it’s unique, the pub is the only one named after a potato. The Oxnoble was a low grade spud in the nineteenth century and was sold from what is now the Air and Space Gallery of MOSI when it was a market hall. Potato Wharf is just down the road. In Manchester people said 'we gave the spud to animals, whereas in Liverpool they ate them'. The Scousers said the same thing in reverse. By the way the menu is looking strong again at the Ox - sorry Oxnoble - so expect a review soon.

Market Cornerhoused
A reader emailed us earlier this week. Martin Breach wrote: ‘I was going to eat at Yuzu last week, on route to going to the movies at the Cornerhouse – but was running late and thought that I’d just grab something quick at the Cornerhouse’s café instead. The food was amazingly good – my daughter and I had a chicken pie, which was about 4 inches across, with thin, biscuity pastry, and a lovely light lemon sauce. Also a vivid tabbouleh, and fresh bread. My son had a spinach and feta pastry, and tomato and goats cheese salad. For afters, we all had lemon and blueberry cake. On offer were meat and vegetarian mezze which we didn’t get to explore. This was all served, from start to finish in well under 15 minutes – with friendly service – and a total cost of £22 with (soft) drinks.’

Cornerhoused spat out
We like how the above reader concluded his brief impromptu review above. ‘I eat out lots in Manchester, and usually have a fair idea what to expect. This was a really good surprise. Check it out – and if you have time, go and check out the art installations on the top floors, which are – well the polite phrase is conceptualist bullshit.’ So nice cheese and then the bitter taste of bovine crap.

Hanging Ditch and the ubiquitous Malcolm Gluck
Maybe names dictate career paths. Gluck has got something of the word gulp about it: the man was destined for a career in food and drink. On Friday 29th October from 6.30pm - 9.30pm, Malcolm Gluck will be signing his latest book Chateau Lafite 1953 & other stories - his first book of wine fiction – just what the world needs. There’ll also be three sets of jazz arranged and performed by Gwen Oakden. This will take place in Manchester Art Gallery. Ticket price includes delectable nibbles and a goody bag including a free Hanging Ditch Peugeot Coutale corkscrew. To book ring Hanging Ditch on 0161 832 8222.

Movie action
With Twitter rumours about sightings of Bruce Willis and other stars of the Captain America movie, film buffs should remember that they can get ringside seats of the action. Inside the film barriers in the Norther Quarter are Drip, Lammars and Outlet, all of which offer food, drink and presently the buzz of the silver screen. They are remaining open throughout the filming. Here's Outlet on Dale Street (the new unit on the right close to the tents), complete with old-fashioned cars and the full paraphernalia of celluloid.

Epernay fizzes
It’s been a year since the opening of Epernay, Manchester’s champagne bar at Great Northern Tower. To commemorate the 1st anniversary of the venue, Manchester folk were invited to attend an “Age of Jazz” 1920’s themed event.

If any pre-conceptions of the tone for the evening were needed, being greeting by Manchester City’s new £24m man Mario Balotelli in full ‘bling’ (no call girl present) on the way up the stairs was an indicative touch. Guests were greeted with a choice of cocktails upon entry, a powerful Tom Collin’s being our personal and dangerous choice, before being seated to observe a great acoustic set by Jazz Singer Gemma Latham amongst a beautifully lit backdrop of the Epernay balcony overlooking the Deansgate nightline.

Attendees were asked to dress in an array of 1920’s outfits akin to Bugsy Malone, substituting mashed potato guns and children in ill-fitting suits with Champagne and 2010’s Miss Manchester for a glitzy modern take on Prohibition-era America with an array of outfits and Tallulah-esque headgear aplenty. The nights raffle prizes ranging from a bottle of Champers to group Champagne tasting sessions and 3-course meal at neighbouring Taps were presented by Miss Manchester Elicia Davies.

These are the pictures from the evening, courtesy of Carl Sukonik from theVain.co.uk.

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

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

Pesto is vile. They don't even have a proper kitchen - everything is pinged

nomancSeptember 23rd 2010.

The future's mint, mine's a pint. Works for me

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

Hahal fish & chips? eh?

EARL OF DIDSBURYSeptember 23rd 2010.

PESTO! , Italian goes tapas in a microwave ! yum yum 7 prawns ,,,,, may i have some more sir?

SleuthSeptember 23rd 2010.

Nomanc - it might work for you but mint doesn't rhyme with pint. Not one little bit.

macwiddupSeptember 23rd 2010.

I've obviously been going to a different Pesto on Deansgate regularly every week- end for well over a year. The staff are fabulous and friendly the atmosphere is always great and only ever had one problem with the prawns and that was when the chinese chef got carried away and they were just a little too spicy. Can't figure that happening in a microwave. Come on, tapas is what it is, small dishes, so why would you expect more than 7 prawns???

UnacceptableSeptember 23rd 2010.

Pesto is a confused and pointless exercise in ripping off thick Brits who have no idea about Italian food. The only ok bit is the terrace on Deansgate for people watching.

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

Obviously Macwiddup.

M FineSeptember 23rd 2010.

Pesto is Disgusting. I emphasise this point with the use of a capital "D". The food is like the worst ready meal I've ever eaten. But it's on Deansgate and looks nice from the outside so no matter how many people they offend with their over-salted mush on a side-plate, the passing custom will ensure the place continues to thrive. Shame

Pesto-cideSeptember 23rd 2010.

Pesto = McDonaldo's. Take yourselves down the alley to Harpers for some authentic cuisine.

Heinze PintsSeptember 23rd 2010.

You f*ckers have so far wasted my lunch break!

JackSeptember 23rd 2010.

I've always liked pesto. Maybe the plates need to be smaller so the prawns don't look so lonely and sad.

HEINZE PINTSSeptember 23rd 2010.

I'm pretty sure this fella will have had a beer before


Therefore, Dr Thomas Heint drank a Pint!

I don't care what you say ED; that rhymes. I'm now getting back to my desk job!

NortherngeezerSeptember 23rd 2010.

You cant eat at The Cornerhouse without thinking of Paul "I can have as much mung bean salad as i want" Calf can yer.
Loved the Epernay pics, theres some reet nice totty in sunny manc aint there, and a lot of pug ugly blokes!.

railaleSeptember 23rd 2010.

man walk into a bar,
barman asks: 'what would you like mate?'
man replies: 'i'll just have a pint'
barman: 'yeah, thought you might'


Simon14452September 23rd 2010.

We have also enjoyed Pesto and the food every time we have been. Clearly there are either two Pesto's in Manchester, or some people have very strange ideas to what the food and place should be! Nice food, nice staff, nice.

SleuthSeptember 23rd 2010.

For the record 'might' doesn't rhyme with pint. And Heint is a proper noun so doesn't count if we want to be purist about these things.

JSeptember 23rd 2010.

Simon14452, yes indeed, some people have much lower standards...I'm in the 'Pesto is rubbish' camp btw ;-)

IndySeptember 23rd 2010.

I really fancied Jamies Italian on my last trip to Liverpool. I didn't however fancy the 30 minute wait in the cold and windy night evening they expected me to endure before even letting me into the bar area. Shame.

HEINZE PINTSSeptember 23rd 2010.

It's a proper word too!So don't be purist... i'll take a bow !

ThirstySeptember 23rd 2010.

Bit of a pintless debate if you ask me and speaking of pintless...I'll think I'll go remedy!

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

Pesto is shocking. Close it down and who votes Katsouris to extend across the road and turn into a restaurant?!

J E SibberingSeptember 23rd 2010.

Orange also has no rhyme in the English language. Other words that have no rhyme include:

silver, purple, month, ninth, wolf.

J E SibberingSeptember 23rd 2010.

Huge hurrah for potato pub being reinstated.

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

The fact that people on here think Pesto is a good restaurant, speaks volumes. Cheap food, done in a microwave. No doubt these people will be bemoaning the lack of a Michelin star in Manchester again come February. This city, on the whole, has the reataurants that people deserve.

JaySeptember 23rd 2010.

Yes Pesto is crap heated up rubbish, but don't be fooled into thinking that Jamie's Italian serves food collected freshly from a local market. Jamie's Italian is mostly prepared off the premises and then assembled by the 'Chefs'

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

OMG, Pesto is what it is, either eat fast and reasonably cheap or dont....the choice is yours.....you all just sad for even passing comment......or just cheap yourselves!!

AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2010.

Fast, cheap food? I'd rather eat a Big Mac or a KFC Boneless Banquet for One. I may not like the ethos of such restaurants but at least they're honest. They serve shit and don't pretend they don't.

StevieJSeptember 24th 2010.

Seriously - you're complaining about only 7 prawns for £3.95? Get a life! Go and review a restaurant in London and see how many prawns you get for twice the price!
Pesto offers a great variety and a fantastic service in a city centre location - what more could you want?! If you want Michelin Star food then put your hand in your pocket and pay for it! How much do you think a meal at the Fat Duck costs?
Confidential has seriously gone down the pan and is signing up to the "X Factor" idea that slagging places off is what people want to hear... I for one would prefer a more optimistic outlook!

Andrew RevansSeptember 24th 2010.

Yeah, let's have a "happy news" slot!

Confidential is fab - the Beef Master Class on Tuesday was a delight.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

I have to agree about the prawns. Don't know how many you expect for £3.95. However it does not negate the fact that they were shit, as is the rest of the food in Pesto

Round the cornerSeptember 24th 2010.

Pesto is just like eating at any other chain-y type place like Cafe Rouge or Bella Italia. Efficient but dull and faceless. Mediocre food that is sometimes edible, and sometimes not, but works out surprisingly expensive for what it is. My fella and I shared around 4 very average little dishes at Pesto and with two soft drinks, the bill was £25.

For midprice decent eats I will always go somewhere like Common, where the food is freshly prepared and tasty. Their burger is one of the best I've had in town, especially when they serve it with Blacksticks Blue, and it's only £7.50 with chips.

Nigel4126September 24th 2010.

EAte out in dough last night and couln't resist getting the thai chilli prawns when I saw them on the menu, Guess what????!!!!!!!
7!!! there were 7 praws!!
Is 7 the new magic number??

Cardinal FishSeptember 24th 2010.

Seven deadly sins. The magnificent seven. Seven 11. Seven of nine. I'd like her tossed on a plate.

Leigh ScottSeptember 24th 2010.

dough is shit

WebySeptember 24th 2010.

Can anyone explain to this ignorant infidel why fish and chips wouldn't normally be Halal?

Oh, and PS.... TBLZEBRA (23 September 2010, 20:03:03), it may just be my pronunciation, but doesn't 'gulf' rhyme with 'wolf'?)

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

Yep, Dough is pants. All chefs work in odd numbers by the way, could have had 5 prawns or 9 - but then it wouldn't have cost £3.95

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

Can someone explain to me how fish & chips WOULD normally be Halal?

NoMoreInsideJobsSeptember 24th 2010.

Fish and chips would be halal if cooked in vegetable oil , but not in lard.Presunably Hunters use vegetable oil.

EditorialSeptember 24th 2010.

Maximum price with the grub in Pesto is £3.95 per dish. We've changed it now.

NortherngeezerSeptember 24th 2010.

They're boogered in Yorkyshire then, fish 'n chips are normally cooked in beef dripping over them that hills.........who said they are fillysteins!.

JohnSeptember 25th 2010.

The only rhyme that I can think of for "pint" would be someone from Wilmslow attempting to say "bint", which probably happens quite often there come to think of it

J E SibberingSeptember 25th 2010.

Hi weby, you are totally correct - it's my own fault for copying n pasting, without checking. Doh.

I can also think of a rhyme for orange, but it's a bit rude. Whinge, cringe, binge too.

GadgeOctober 6th 2010.

Also tblzebra, purple and silver are frequently cited as non-rhyming but a Chilver is a female lamb.
And there is Hurple, meaning to hobble or walk with a limp, and Curple, a leather loop, passing under a horse's tail, and buckled to the saddle to keep it from slipping forwards.

It was on QI!

J E SibberingOctober 6th 2010.

Top researching gadge. So are pint, ninth and month still valid non-rhymers?

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