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Food & Drink Round-up Wk 17: Classic Site Re-opens, Old Friend Closes, Dish of the Week

Jonathan Schofield goes for a walk and has a ball (or two)

Written by . Published on April 23rd 2013.

Food & Drink Round-up Wk 17: Classic Site Re-opens, Old Friend Closes, Dish of the Week

Prime Albert Square Site Re-Opening

The site of the former Chez Gerard, Brasserie Gerard, Steven Gerard and the world's fastest restaurant Pizza Porto (click here) is being occupied once again. Dutton's, the Chester-based bar/restaurant from Manchester brewer JW Lees, is set to open for summer. It will provide food from breakfast onwards. Here's the menu from Duttons, Chester, expect something similar in Manchester.

Duttons will be a middle of the road venue looking for broad appeal rather than, for instance, Northern Quarter edge (although it will sell burgers). It is very successful in Chester and with 200 plus covers should provide a good general eaterie and bar in this prime spot opposite the site of the Christmas Markets. It's been a mystery why this site, over from the Town Hall, in handsome Albert Square, has failed time and again. Maybe this time JW Lees have found the right operation for the location. 

At last, at last, prime site gets ready for re-openingAt last, at last, prime site gets ready for re-opening

MPA Looks To Take The Place Of Boddies

JW Lees also launched last week their new beer, MPA (Manchester Pale Ale). We wrote about it here. The idea is to exploit 'the cream of Manchester' idea that Boddington's used to own. MPA is a proper session ale (i.e. you can spend the night comfortably drinking it without getting giddy drunk), less than 4% in strength, and with a mellow but characterful flavour.

Velvet Comes Out From Village

Another blighted site close to the Town Hall is the old Beluga unit on the corner of Central Street and Mount Street. For a while after Beluga died, it was Sugar Buddha but that never worked at all. Now it's Velvet's turn. The massively successful business that is Velvet in the Village on Canal Street has decided to expand. We're getting more details later this week, so we'll keep you up to date. 

Adios Viejo Amigo: Santiago (Leonis) closes

Santiago has closed on Bow Lane. We reviewed the place exactly a year ago, here, and loved the pastel de choclo - a mad sweetcorn dish. But now the lights are out. Shame, this was the only Chilean restaurant around. Of course the site is much older than Santiago, and as Leonis, an Italian-ish venue, served the 1970s Quality Street Gang, Corrie stars and visiting actors. It was quite the thing. Now it's nothing. It's a difficult and cramped basement site so the future probably lies as a bar rather than a restaurant given the competition in the area.

New Cafe With Good Coffee Opens

The name is half-Turkish, half-Italian, the space is tiny but the decor is very cute. Lokum Il Caffe on John Dalton Street, is a bit mixed up you could say, but the coffees are lovingly prepared by the staff who deliver a rich, smooth capuccino as well as anybody in the city. There are some Italianate cakes that aren't so good, deli-products for sale, and a digital slide show of what might be the owner's kids. The question is this: If the owners are Turkish why bother doing all the Italian pastiche stuff? Turkish food is magnificent. Very odd. Cute design though.

John Dalton Street cafe with mixed race parentsJohn Dalton Street cafe with mixed race parents

John Dalton Waits Around On His Own Street

It appears that building work on the eponymous John Dalton Restaurant on John Dalton Street has stalled. The window features attractive graphics of the nineteenth century scientist but few clues as to what the menu might contain should the place ever open. You can look up John Dalton on our list of Manchester 'firsts' here. Of course the site was once the Ithaca that also took several years and several delays to open before shortly after closing. Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised by Mr Dalton's delays.

Maybe one day it will re-openMaybe one day it will re-open

Opening Of The Week: Pie and Ale

Pint first, pie secondPint first, pie secondAs our correspondent Sleuth pointed out over the weekend, Pie and Ale has opened between Back Spear Street and Lever Street in The Hive building in the Northern Quarter. The bar/restaurant sells pies, ale and a very good selection of whiskies. Tea and coffee too. It’s part of the adjacent empire of Bakerie wine store and - round the corner - Bakerie restaurant. All very distinctive venues.

Pie and ale has had a lovely fit out that looks like an avant-garde Scandinavian bar from 1962. Pie and Ale often has a delightful perfume provided by the Bakerie's bakery next door. When the ovens are fired the aroma makes the mouth water. 

There's an additional novelty too, plug sockets as standard over the booths, so you need never worry about your phone running out of battery on a night out - as long as you've remembered the charger. The pies are excellent by the way, the selection is shown on the picture below. 

Simple pie menuSimple pie menu


Lovely breadLovely bread

Evuna Set To Open In The Northern Quarter

Meanwhile round the corner from Pie and Ale the second site for the popular Deansgate Spaniard Evuna is closing in on a summer opening. Here is the building, on the corner of Tib Street and Thomas Street, with the signs up and a self-explanatory description of what it will provide. Let's hope Evuna continues in its north city centre arm with the tradition of providing the best in Spanish wines. Oh for a glass of a heavy Portillejo right now...

Evuna comingEvuna coming

Dish Of The Week - Balls of Joy, The Rice Bowl

I popped recenty into The Rice Bowl (33A Cross St, City, M2 1NL), a Chinese restaurant that's been around as long as the late-Leonis (see above). The interior is spick and span, goldfish in their tank eye you insanely as you enter past a fake waterfall.

On the menu I found Sichuan snow crab meat and prawn balls with spices (£6.95) - picture top of the page above and below. Bought them, ate them, loved them.

Run people, run down there and dig into these soft, spiced, hot, delicious, delicate, fishy explosions of oral joy. There's almost a fish paste texture to the balls, but the mix is so skillfully done, and the ingredients so balanced that it lifts the mood even on the dullest of days. 

Opened balls are very tastyThese balls are very tasty 

Insane fish - aren't they all?Insane fish - aren't they all?

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

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

David BishopApril 23rd 2013.

Its 1970s, not 1970's

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldApril 23rd 2013.

So it is. Thanks

GadgeApril 24th 2013.

If the gang operated in the 1970s then I would judge it should say 1970s' Quality Street Gang.

David BishopApril 23rd 2013.

LOL and yes aware it is it's not its

paulApril 23rd 2013.

Did anyone ever eat in Pizza Porto ?

SHED7PETEApril 23rd 2013.

it wasn't open long enough for anyone to eat there. I got as far as the menu and they turned the lights off..

AnonymousApril 23rd 2013.

Maybe its the £110,000 rent and £60,000 rates which have been the downfall for every establishment that tries to make a go of the old Chez Gerard site.

Marcus EmadiApril 23rd 2013.

Maybe its the £110,000 rent and £60,000 rates which have been the downfall for every establishment that tries to make a go of the old Chez Gerard site.

1 Response: Reply To This...
IanApril 24th 2013.

And maybe now it will be charging £8 for a panini

Chris GrayApril 23rd 2013.

The problem is the lack of open pavement space.....try any square in Europe and the tables stretch into the square.......the problem is the road and the dark colonnade...

Poster BoyApril 23rd 2013.

Agreed. The colonnades are dark, cold, and a smoker's respite.
Extend the restaurants into the colonnades and extend the outside seating, er outside, onto the pavement.

Sarah1968April 23rd 2013.

I ate at Pizza Porto. Think I was the only person that did!!

DavidApril 23rd 2013.

We ate there too and it was nice, shame it didn't stay longer.

Jo NightingaleApril 23rd 2013.

Aargh, no, I meant to say: That Brazilian coffee place in part of the old Kro 2 building on Oxford Rd seems to have closed, FYI. I'm sure it was open on Sat, but I might have dreamt that.

(Please delete above, I had to switch browsers for posting to work.)

AnonymousApril 23rd 2013.

Evuna, really? I'm sorry but I've eaten at the Deansgate branch and it was not good. Will that sort of place fit in on Thomas Street?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

You're right. Lets have a vintage teacup vegan pulled pork burger joint there instead.

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

ooh you are awful. But I like you.

AnonymousApril 24th 2013.

Owner of Lokum Il Caffe runs the kitchen showroom place a few doors away. Staff are friendly and good coffee but you're right about the food. Would love to try some Turkish cakes!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
LokumMay 24th 2013.

Thanks for all your comments. We are keeping improve ourselves with your comments. Recently we have introduced some Turkish Classic Bakeries: available as; "Pogaca" traditionally baked puff pastry, authentic "Simit" bagel with sesame seeds which can be served with Feta Cheese cubes - cucumber and green olives from Turkey, "Borek" filled pastry with Feta Cheese and Parsley /or Spinach, we also have complimentary served Turkish Grissini along with all above the famous " Hand Crafted Almond Marzipan"... By the way all home made with inspiration and hints from my grandma.... ( :

LokumMay 24th 2013.

also on that digital slide show of what our editor seen was a no-profit Italian organization that has been founded in 1980 by Noris Gian-Carlo in Recco (Genova)'s kids in Guatemala... further detail can be seen on; cyclingacrosseuropeforcharity.wordpress.com/…/…

Lesley HampsonApril 26th 2013.

Love the rice bowl. Great food, brilliant staff.

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