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Food and Drink Round-up 17/03/2011

London drinks scandal, Dulcimer, new patisserie, chocolate, afternoon tea, Patisserie Valerie

Published on March 17th 2011.


Food and Drink Round-up 17/03/2011

London Scandal, Manchester Angle
Bigger than usual story for the round-up this one, but it does highlight a classic modern hypocrisy. So Confidential’s Sleuth (click here) was at the opening of the Anish Kapoor exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Beautiful sculptures but after a while he wanted a drink. He wanted a thirst quenching drink, he wanted beer. Milburns operate the catering at the Gallery, they are owned by catering monsters Compass. Milburns – find a menu, look on it - have a policy of ‘local sourcing’. Seems they cast their net pretty wide when deciding what’s local. About 200 miles wide. The beer on offer at the event was Fuller’s London Pride. Yet Greater Manchester has more than 20 breweries, including four major family breweries.

Sleuth was more than a little angry, not in a provincial way, but because what is the point of all this game-playing if a defining product such as ale is ignored when, a) it is stronger here than anywhere else in the country and, b) it is so easily available. It also leads to the question as to why aren’t our tourist authorities seeking out attractions such as Manchester Art Gallery and advising them on the products the region has that would help boost the area’s profile, give it identity and character - build the brand so to speak. Having Fuller’s London Pride as the beer of choice is both lazy and hypocritical in the venue's desire for 'local sourcing'. It also hints at a wider problem of a lack of joined up thinking in the way Manchester’s tourist attracting bodies work. This might seem a minor point but it has big implications. We should promote Manchester distinctiveness at every turn. It's ten times as important as going to MIPIM in Cannes.

Sleuth fired off a message to one of his chums, the affable and charming William Lees-Jones of the glorious JW Lees brewery, five miles north of the Art Gallery, who do a stonkingly good range of local bottled ales. This is how William replied: ‘Yes - would love to supply Manchester Art Gallery, let me know who I need to speak to and we'll get them sorted out. We’ll help with local provenance.’ Took minutes.

A spokesperson for Compass said formally: “We are committed to using local products and we are in the middle of a programme to roll-out out a variety of different products from local ice-creams to locally sourced meats and cheeses. As part of this process we are also keen to work with local breweries. We are already looking into this and we'd be more than happy to update you once we are further down the track."

Dear reader they weren’t looking into this at all until Confidential highlighted it. Let’s hope they sort it now. Let's hope they live up to their ideals - which they're doing ok with in other parts of the catering at Manchester Art Gallery. We'll be watching.

Patisserie Valerie
A charming looking mini-chain has opened on Deansgate at the St Ann’s Street junction: a proper teashop with cakes piled high in the window. Opening times are from breakfast to 8pm and you can purchase lunches, snacks, sandwiches, chocolates,afternoon tea and all manner of lovely cakes. The site has called out for a good tenant for ages, the area has called out for a proper teashop for even longer. This looks like it might fit the bill: review to follow.

Take on the Foosball world champion
Blackdog Ballroom hosts the world foosball champion this Friday (18/03/2011). The Foosball Masterclass takes place from 1.30-2.30pm. The current topdog is Rob Atha who will be on hand to give Mancs the challenge of a lifetime, plus show you them some expert tricks and tips to impress colleagues and friends. To register for this event contact Rachel Lydon at Rachel@blackdogballroom.co.uk

Dulcimer re-opens
Good news from the suburbs. The new management have been in touch and told us the much loved Chorlton music bar Dulcimer, with its reputation for friendliness, great drinks and cracking atmosphere, will re-open on Thursday 24 March. In the future they may brew their own ales, and crank up the food offer, but name DJs and surprise guests are guaranteed. Most of the previous team will be back in place and the venue’s had a spruce up. Welcome back folks.

Heady heights on John Dalton Street
New restaurant and bar Vertigo is also set to open this month. This place on the former Ithaca site promises to deliver, according to rumour it must be said as the management are keeping tight-lipped at present, a mid-range British menu and also a smart upmarket bar ambience. Let’s hope the people behind the project have learnt the lessons from the bloated ambitions of former incumbent Ithaca, which took an age to open, often produced superb food, but was so laden with development and running cost debts it didn’t have a chance. It also had a rather useless bar space – far too small to amount to much – on the third floor which despite excellent cocktails never lived up to promise. Vertigo will have to be very savvy to survive. We wish it luck.

Follow Sleuth on twitter Sleuth

Follow Jonathan Schofield on twitter @JonathSchofield

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

Burt CodeineMarch 17th 2011.

The Patisseire looks great in that location. I imagine Lorraine Pascale popping in there to pick up some cheeky, French fairy cakes...when I say imagaine, I really mean I've been camping outside there for days in the hope she catches my eye. She does of course, then we spend time together eating lovely desserts and phoning imaginary friends whilst checking 'important' emails on an iMac....

AtalantaMarch 17th 2011.

Patisserie? Afternoon tea? Fabulous. I'm in town today an' all. Will scope this one out...

MCMarch 17th 2011.

Wonderful - the Patisserie Valerie near Harrods is an old institution, so look forward to sampling their goodies. MC

The Beast from WeasteMarch 17th 2011.

Love the fact that this has been highlighted.
Regional success is built upon local focus in all areas.
Well done

LCMarch 17th 2011.

Re City Art gallery catering. Why do Compass have the contract? Did they say who they were working with locally? I believe like you that they are doing nothing about locally sourced products. i suggest a boycott but that might mean local staff lose their jobs. I'll be watching too!!

Andrew StevensonMarch 17th 2011.

Of course Patisserie Valerie are now an industrial operation. I remember when they were just one shop on Old Compton Street in London when Soho was seedy. Still good quality, but don't be misled into thinking it's a little boutique bakery. (MC: the one near Harrods is quite a recent opening esp compared to the original.)

Hero
Andrew RevansMarch 18th 2011.

I'm a draught beer man myself, and have the gut to prove it. I can heartily recommend the bottled wares of Moston's magnificent Boggart Brewery, and Mossley's likewise Millstone Brewery though.

not so french after allMarch 18th 2011.

Eclairs filled with cream rather than pudding? Not right...

woksmugglerMarch 19th 2011.

Anyone on here tried the fabulous ales from the Dunham Massey brewery? Stamford Bitter and Deer Beer take some beating!

rosieMarch 19th 2011.

@ woksmuggler, yes. Their beers are awesome. If you weren't already aware, there is now a brewery tap, Costello's on Goose Green in Altrincham.

Female beer drinkerMarch 19th 2011.

I remember organising an event for 1000 people at Manchester Central a few years back at which there would be a lot of Americans. In a meeting with the catering reps I asked them what kind of beer they had. I was told by the young blonde female rep that they could supply lager. When I asked if they had any real beer (stressing the real) with which I could impress the Americans (to show them what real beer tastes like), she haughtily informed me that they supplied Carling and Stella. She then looked shocked when everyone burst out laughing at her. I continue to try and educate catering companies in vain...

A Cobble Stone WritesMarch 20th 2011.

There are other breweries to get in touch with other than Lees Mr Schofield. You seem especially sweet on Mr Lees-Jones. What about Marble? Is there something we should know?

ExampleMarch 20th 2011.

I think that was an example of a contact being used to make a point. Is the Marble very touchy?

John HarrisMarch 21st 2011.

Big corporate catering companies like Compass couldn't really give a stuff about quality, localism or anything other than lowest common denominator and bottom line.

On a similar vein, has there been any improvement in Pumpkin at Victoria since their mouth-piece tried to bullshit Jonathan following his review?

Manchester Art GalleryMarch 22nd 2011.

Manchester Art Gallery does work with our catering partner to source products locally for the gallery cafe and events. Our black pudding is from Bury and all our other meat and any bread and cakes not made on the premises are from suppliers based within a few miles of the gallery. However, fair point about the beer! We're meeting with our regional catering manager next week to identify a suitable local supplier.

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