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Food and Drink Round-up 18/05/2010

Albert's Restaurant opens, the Food and Drink Summit arrives and Jonathan Schofield interviews Jean-Christophe Novelli

Written by . Published on May 18th 2010.

Food and Drink Round-up 18/05/2010

Albert's Restaurant and Bar opens
That James Ramsbottom is a canny so and so. With Albert's Shed/Duke's 92 in Castlefield he has a perfect combo of mid-range and grill dining with a pub, functions rooms and the best terrace in Manchester. It's rammed nearly every day and night. Now he's opened Albert's Restaurant and Bar on Barlow Moor Road (0161 434 8289) in West Didsbury. It was the crappy old Barleycorn pub. Now it's a drop dead gorgeous, sharp as a pin restaurant and bar. And is rammed nearly every day and night.

The spell of success
The editor, Schofield, dropped in impromtu at six thirty on Saturday to be told Ramsbottom's new place was booked out. A Confidential reader tried to book for a week on Thursday to be told the same. The everyman menu is similar to that of Albert's Shed: classic meat dishes and steaks, classic fish dishes, risottos, pizzas (boo to that), good looking desserts for the ladies. Confidential was with James Ramsbottom not so long ago when he was a bit worried about this new venture: do it to your usual standard and you'll crack it we assured him. He's done both. He's cracked it.

Loch Fyne under stress
Unsuccessful at Albert's Restaurant and Bar, Schofield then thought he'd try Loch Fyne in Didsbury, it was half empty, but they wouldn't let him and the family in. Why he asked? Because the chef says he's overworked at the moment, came the reply. Good one. Nothing like honesty eh, although if I were the Loch Fyne owners I'd batter that chef like a cod and tell him to work harder.

The Didsbury – the leader of men
Eventually Schofield ended up in The Didsbury pub on Wilmslow Road: a Chef and Brewer boozer. He thought it would be shocking, it was absolutely fine. The main quality was the manager, Paul Johnson, who was friendly, knowledgeable, and the image of John Bull without the Union Jack clothes – looked like the sort of man who'd had a long bow at Agincourt. His staff were just as good: the waiters, a Portuguese girl and a young local lad were clearly expertly trained. It was packed out too and we got the last table. Goes to prove once more, that leadership is the key in every walk of life.

City Inn menu lift-off
The City Cafe at City Inn close to Piccadilly Station in the city centre has been off our radar for a while. We must take another look. The company's executive chef, Scott Macdonald has designed some impressive menus. Starters of white crab and mango salad, tomato, basil and bloody mary vinaigrette, mains of middle white pork, confit belly, roast fillet and pork sausage with sweet red cabbage, crackling, pudds of bittersweet chocolate and pecan tart, malted banana ice-cream. Sounds beguiling. We'll have to give it a try.

Jaguar – rarrh - cocktail
As you might have noticed if you've been down Spinningfields way Jaguar cars are having a vast promotion. They've even invented their own cocktail called, unsurprisingly enough, 'The Jaguar'. This contains 50ml Zubrowka - Polish Bison grass vodka,15ml Teichenne peach schnapps, 25ml passion fruit puree, 10ml apple juice, 10ml gomme sugar water. That is if you care. 'The Jaguar' cocktail will be on sale at Rosso (43-45 Spring Garden, 0161 832 1400) during May only. It costs £8.50 and £1 from each sale will go to the NSPCC Hear our Cry campaign.

The Food and Drink Summit – Monday 24 May

There's a big foodie event coming up next Monday. The aim is to develop a mini-In the City (Manchester's music convention) for the food industry and is called the Food and Drink Summit. It's open to the general consumer as well as industry insiders. The price is £30 for the full day including grub and drinks.

Novelli meets Schofield
The main celebrity guest will be Jean-Christophe Novelli who began his career at the age of 14 as a baker in Arras, Northern France. Aside from holding 5 AA Rosettes & Michelin stars for his restaurant Maison Novelli, he's also a broadcaster and has his own cookery school. Novelli will be interviewed by Jonathan Schofield, the Confidential editor. “Something for the ladies,” said Siobhan, the organiser. “Who me?” said Schofield. “No,” said Siobhan. The Novelli interview will be the last event of the day before The Social – a wind-down, drink up with Lloyd Grossman playing lead guitar in his punk band. Yep, that's right.

Other events include:
In the middle of a chain reaction at 10am. Is the sole reason for every restaurant that it's intended to be the first of many or it it possible for a successful operation to be just that a one-off? This features Matthew Fort, Guardian Food Writer; Fergus Henderson, St Johns Restaurant; Paul Heathcote, Heathcotes; Tim Bacon, Living Ventures Ltd; Chris Johnson, Ramsons, Ramsbottom; Steve Pilling, Restaurateur and Landlord.

After the gold rush: Food tourism - A 21st century boom? Noon. A famed dish or food, a much loved restaurant or chef and a decent local foodie scene can in a flash change a town village from being a quiet sleepy little place to a thriving destination for the ever increasing army of jet setting food tourists. Featuring: Sheila Dillon Radio 4 presenter; Loyd Grossman TV presenter, chef and musician; Henrietta Green MD FoodLoversBritain.com; Nigel Haworth Head Chef at the Michelin Star Northcote Manor; Chris Wardle Co-founder Abergavenny Food Festival.

Twelve bar blues: The last waltz of the great British boozer? 2:40pm. Time gentleman please - it seems that last orders are being called on the most venerable British institution, the local pub. Cornerstone of communities, staging post and halfway house for many an adventure and dare we say it a fundament of out national identity. Was it the style bar that killed it off? Was it the rise and rise of the gastro pub, that most bastardised of foodie fads? Or has it just evolved into something new and better? Should we in fact be raising a glass, not drowning our sorrows? Featuring: Neil Sowerby Food and Travel Writer (Confidential's Travel Editor); Pete Brown Beer Writer, Richard Fox TV chef and beer writer; Oliver Robinson Frederic Robinson Ltd; Jan Rogers Marble Brewery and Cleo Farman MD Odd Group Ltd.

There's a lot of other good stuff going on as well, including Lloyd Grossman playing lead guitar in his punk band – we have to keep repeating that, it makes it real. You can check this out on www.thefoodanddrinksummit.com and book tickets there too.

So where is this all taking place? The Ramada Piccadilly. This hasn't been the most refined of food and drink places in recent years. To put it mildly. The manager has promised to pull out all the stops on this occasion though. Let's hope he does. At least we'll have those splendid views across the Gardens and out across the City to the Pennines. And for the ladies the view of Jean-Christophe Novelli.

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

Simon ManningMay 18th 2010.

Is a review of Alberts in the offing?

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 18th 2010.

Gordo's doing it soon.

NortherngeezerMay 18th 2010.

I couldnt even get in Alberts for a drink on Saturday Night, let alone something to eat!!!!.

Peter HarrisMay 18th 2010.

Last orders? I was in a real old fashioned men's pub in Burton-upon-Trent the other night. The landlord had been in residence for 34 years. For 34 years he would call time by shouting out " right, I've had all yer money, now f*** off!"

NortherngeezerMay 18th 2010.

The food and drink summit article..........where neither food nor drink was mentioned.

PR busterMay 18th 2010.

Re: Jean Christophe Novelli, Don't forget to ask what exciting new recipes he's unvieling this summer for Findus Frozen/morrisons foods.
Just what us "northerners" need another failed restaurateur,(many times over), popping up to patronise our cuisine/restaurants.

P.S. He holds fuck all, he use to hold stars.....etc several years ago.

Please don't perpetrate the myth he runs a cookery school and is a media "personality" last time I checked the Michelin Guide were rating this.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 18th 2010.

Still PR Buster he probably knows a thing or two about the trade, even if it's bitter experience, and even once having held stars is pretty impressive. And Northern Geezer I have no idea what you're talking about, but you're pretty funny usually so top of the afternoon to you.

My Sweet ValentineMay 18th 2010.

Is that food and drink day run by the person known to Gordo as Gollum? Typical that the cheapskate got Novelli up, instead of current class act. he must have invested all of fifty quid.

AgricolaMay 18th 2010.

It's a lovely day isn't it, you cheerful lot.

Hulme eaterMay 18th 2010.

City Cafe really need to buck their ideas up. I went in the other evening with a friend and was handed a menu that was far more expensive than the offers they were advertising outside with no visible sign of a time limit. The staff didn't seem particularly bothered about this misleading rip-off. When we saw on the menu that they would add 10% service charge to the bill automatically, that was the final straw and we took our money elsewhere.

PR BusterMay 19th 2010.

Jonathan, yes to achieve a michelin star is great, but to trade off that fact ten years later after a succession of failed restaurants behind you is not an achievement, it says more about PR savvy than knowing the restaurant business. I honestly believe he does the industry no favours whatsoever, and lets be really honest is he attending this summit to share his "bitter" experiences or to promote his cookery school? Why not have a picture of a real home grown michelin star chef, say Nigel Haworth, half as handsome as JCN but ten times the chef/restaurateur, in my humble opinion.

Sam's spannerMay 19th 2010.

Great to see the old Barleycorn return to life and not demolished and turned into more 'luxury' apartments that no one wants. Well done Jim hope it works and when the crowds settle down Mr & Mrs Spanner will make a visit.

Debbie PettMay 27th 2010.

Dear Hulme Eater, I am very sorry to hear you had a poor experience in City Café. I am the General Manager of City Inn Manchester and we take all feedback on board and value the fact that you have taken the time to give feedback. Therefore I would like the opportunity to talk with you personally to resolve this matter and would ask if you could contact me direct on 0161 242 1002.

Stewart Davies, General Manager

NortherngeezerMay 27th 2010.

No round up this week Ed??, or have you all been out of the office too much on the freebies??.

AgricolaMay 27th 2010.

Cheers cheese

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 27th 2010.

Not today NG. No freebies either if we are reviewing and scoring somewhere. That's not our way. In any case I've been wading rivers, scrambling up mudbanks and cheering at horny handed sons of toil as they peered over bridges at me.

jMay 29th 2010.

Eight of us(4 adults,4 kids)had breakfast at Alberts this morning. Can't fault the quality of the food but the service was a bit disjointed although pleasant with four different people serving us.I like brown sauce with my full English but not ten minutes after my said breakfast has arrived and drinks took an age to materialise.
Could so nearly be perfect , wouldn't stop me going back.

NortherngeezerJune 1st 2010.

Ed - Conspiracy theories abound......how come i cant rant on the latest Stock offer??

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 1st 2010.

Northerngeezer, because it's an offer. Not a review. Because we're trying to sell it to people. We've personally eaten the meal and love it and want other people to go there, so they get good food at great value and both Stock and your favourite Manchester magazine gets some dosh. This means we can pay the staff and do more offers and more articles. You putting something negative there (assuming you were)might scare people off and thus prevent that. I reiterate this is an offer not a review. With reviews we'll always let you have your say.

NortherngeezerJune 1st 2010.

Point taken Ed, i'll wait for the review before i comment. Sheeeeeesh, am i getting a bad rep for my rants or wot. In all instances i usually have good and bad comments to make, either way, i like to think i'm objective anyway.

Smyth HarperJune 1st 2010.

Hey fair play to City Cafe for getting back to Hulme Eater. We went there last Christmas and unfortunately the food was great so I have nothing to complain about. Oh, apart from the mojitos, which were an abomination. Although, in fairness, I complained about it and they replaced it with a different one that was amazing.

Northerngeezer, you are clearly becoming the new Cas. Come to think of it, where's she been recently? We miss you Cas. Sort of ;-)

NortherngeezerJune 1st 2010.

She'll be ranting on some such other obscure website Smitty like Pride of Manchester.

AnonymousJune 1st 2010.


Simone13024June 1st 2010.

I meant, really?

NortherngeezerJune 2nd 2010.


SpartacusJune 2nd 2010.

I am Cas

Spartacus 2June 2nd 2010.

I am Cas

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