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Food & Drink Roundup Wk 18: New Bar Arrives, All Bar One Reopens, Bubble Teas, Blue Pig

Jonathan Schofield is the sultan of city centre flavour

Written by . Published on April 30th 2013.

Food & Drink Roundup Wk 18: New Bar Arrives, All Bar One Reopens, Bubble Teas, Blue Pig

All Bar One Promises A Late One

All Bar One has re-opened after a refurbishment, looking remarkably like it did before it closed. Main difference is that the dining area on the northern area of the site is much bigger and filled with softer seating.

Confidential went in for a soft shell crab which sounded the business on the menu.

Seven minutes after ordering I was told all the crabs had already crawled down people's throats, so we had to have the sea bass instead. Then an order of gnocchi arrived as a tapas side rather than a main of gnocchi with pesto and the full works. The sea bass flesh was ok, the risotto it was plopped on was poor.

Worse still, everything took forever. For about ten minutes we watched as the fizz left the bottle of sparkling water we’d ordered as it sat on the bar winking at us ten metres away. Other people’s lager lingered longer on that cruel bar. An inflatable pig carried by a man on a stag-do slowly deflated.

Teething problems doesn’t come close. Why are all the staff clumped round a service till all the bloody time?

“Moral is,” said my dining companion, “give the staff a week’s more training if they’re not ready."

We waited for the bill. And waited. I’m writing this from All Bar One three days later.

Curiously there's the biggest clock in a Manchester dining venue hanging from the ceiling. Maybe the management see it as a threat.

L’Entrecote Sees Sense And Lowers Its Price

Walking around the city A-board hunting the other day, I saw this flirty number on Pall Mall. £17 makes more sense at L'Entrecote than £21 for a two course menu with no choice. It makes £4 more sense, £8 more sense for two. Review later this week, or rather a reappraisal after my review of 2012 here.

That's betterThat's better

Pure Unadulterated Hardcore Pawn

More Dusk til Pawn picsCocktail don't you knowDespite all the websites, I’ve missed out on Pawn. So it took an email from the PR of the place to make me aware of the existence of the Stevenson Square bar - full name Dusk til Pawn.

Sounds all right as well and the pictures they’ve sent are good. We’ll review it soon. Here’s some blurb:

‘Open six nights a week, the venue comes with a free-play jukebox, laid back decor, ambient lighting and comfortable seating'.

Bless the PR folk for telling us the latter - what seating not covered in nails then?

The venue has been created by Rebecca Race and Simon Ching. Apparently its ‘thing’ is the cocktail.

Race says: "We use ingredients a little different to the norm including crystallised stem ginger rum and fig Bourbon. We make our own candy floss and Bourbon vanilla frozen yoghurt for our cocktails. We’ve also introduced ‘Bloody Sundays’ with an additional menu of Bloody Marys from around the world to sample and share."

The site is a former shop, once home to a fortune teller. All Bar One could do with one of them - see above - to tell you when your meal may arrive. 

Dusk til Pawn's beguiling entranceDusk til Pawn's beguiling entrance

Barca Returns

Maybe read this slowly.

Sugar Buddha, the bar from Deansgate Locks, which took over Beluga Bar on Mount Street but then sold it so that Velvet could run it instead, has acquired Bohemia in Castlefield, which was Barca ages ago, and changed it to Sugar Buddha but – breaking news - has now decided to call it Barca again. Capice? 

Meanwhile Barca that was Bohemia that was Sugar Buddha that is to be Barca again held the regular Twitfaced event on Friday – the name is an unsubtle play, of course, on the common vulgar phrase 'shitfaced' meaning drunk as a skunk.

The result of the event was that as Friday became Saturday, lots of twittery media and PR people were so thoroughly networked out, cheek kissed and hugged to bits, they were completely 'shitfaced', and no doubt spent the following morning crouched in corners destroying all photographic evidence. Curious the paths alcohol steers us down. 


Blue Pig On High Street Gets Cheeky

Wandering the Northern Quarter the other day I dropped into the Blue Pig. This is the attractively designed main food focus for Cleo Farman’s Odd chain of Manchester outlets. I enjoyed a quite glorious set of baked cod tails for £13.95 (although £11.95 would have been better). Fresh as daisies, the pair pictured at the top of the page, were sharply flavoured, well seasoned and sitting in a gorgeous stock with well chosen veg. My dish of the week. The hazelnut chocolate churros at £2.50 (I would have paid £3.50) were marvellous as well. 

Some Swedish visitor's to Manchester enjoying Blue PigSome Swedish visitor's to Manchester enjoying Blue Pig

The Dulcimer Ale And Cider Festival 2013 

On 6 May, Dulcimer in Chorlton is dipping its notional beard into the bibulous joys of ale and cider. Of course, the Wilbraham Road bar with its mix of folk music and earthiness already provides ales, but over the Bank Holiday weekend they’re boosting that into a festival. There’ll be over 30 ales, ciders and perries from more than 15 of the best micros in the UK including Brodie’s, First Chop Brewing Arm, Gwynt Y Ddraig, Hard- knott, Hawkshead, The Wild Beer Co, The Moss Cider Project, Thornbridge, Tiny Rebel.  

An All Star Forever Manchester Burger – That’s Nice

All Star Lanes, the bowling and dining venue in the Great Northern, has announced a partnership with charity Forever Manchester (Manchester Confidential’s charity of choice).

Forever Manchester helps fund community groups and projects across Greater Manchester. All Star Lanes will be donating 25p from every burger sold in its retro American restaurant. The meat for the burger comes from Chorlton's ‘Frosty the butcher’ (WH Frost), via a Josper indoor BBQ and served in a toasted brioche bun.

The project was launched recently by the charity’s chief executive Nick Massey and All Star Lanes' general manager Angus Pride – who Confidential thinks sounds like he might be a burger himself. "Get me an Angus Pride burger, with extra fries, hold the mayo."

All Star Burger - filling, handsome and worth 25p to community funds as wellAll Star Burger - filling, handsome and worth 25p to community funds as well

Weird Thing Of The Week – If You’re Not Taiwanese 

Patrolling the city on Monday night I encountered ICFT on George Street. ICFT means ‘I come from Taiwan’. The place sells bubble teas and was doing a rare old trade at 6pm. Bubble teas are tea infused drinks that come warm, ice or sweet and in fruit or milk versions. Flavours such as lychee, grape, apple and so on can be added to a base of tapioca, coffee jelly and so on.

Interesting place, mad teas. Longer review to follow after I’ve tried more than the tapioca and passionfruit ICFT bubble tea which resembled mud at the bottom of a grave.

ICFT's tapioca and passionfruit sweet Bubble Tea in my gardenICFT's tapioca and passionfruit sweet Bubble Tea in my garden

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

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

AngusprideApril 30th 2013.

Always on the menu, Jonathan. Extra cheese please.

Gay Gordon Has A Highland FlingApril 30th 2013.

I was thinking Angus Pride sounds like the annual LGBT festival in Aberdeen

CharlieApril 30th 2013.

There's been a bubble tea stall in the Arndale for a while and the two Wasabi restaurants do them too. Tastes nicer than it looks.

David BishopApril 30th 2013.

Yeah I always have the Taro Bubble Tea from the one in the Arndale, once you can get used to the colour (purple!) its delicious.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 13th 2013.

I think you should try the ICFT one, then you'll know what is the real delicious.

David BishopApril 30th 2013.

Also whats the difference between a josper grill and an inka grill? (or same thing different manufacturers?)

Kieron HumeApril 30th 2013.

I always find the quickest way to get the bill is to head towarss the door works everytime

AnonymousApril 30th 2013.

All bar one always very very slow on service.understaffed.

Margaret HoustonApril 30th 2013.

"which resembled mud at the bottom of a grave." - my phrase of the day! Personally I think the coffee or liquorice or whatever it is jelly balls that they put in those bubble teas ruin them, but they have proven to be very popular at that pop-up bar in the Arndale as well as in China town for a while now.

AnonymousApril 30th 2013.

ICFT is the ONLY authentic Taiwanese bubble tea house you can find in Manchester (as far as i'm aware the only Taiwanese-owned bubble tea shop in the UK). I am Taiwanese and a sip of ICFT takes me straight back home...

I was so excited when I found out there's a Taiwanese owned business in MCR. After a small chat with the owner they import everything (Green/black teas, syrups etc) from Taiwan, apart from the hot water machine and ice machine...

The one in Arndale tastes ok, but is pricey. The tapioca portion is also appalling. Wasabi and various chinese bakeries do bubble tea, yes, but they are more Hong Kong style rather than Taiwanese (they use sweet condensed milk and is very sweet).

In ICFT you can adjust sugar/ice levels which is the authentic way of having bubble tea as Taiwanese people are quite health conscious.

If you like it sweet though, Wong Wong's bubble tea is amazing, and quite a bit cheaper than ICFT at £2.

Can't recommend it enough!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 1st 2013.

Excellent post. Good knowledge (assuming it's all accurate of course)

Swiss JamesApril 30th 2013.

I was dubious about Dusk till Pawn until I went in, but it's well worth a look. Interesting cocktails, good beers, good staff, good music.

I've said good three times now.

1 Response: Reply To This...
tblzebraMay 1st 2013.

You've said good four times now.

AnonymousApril 30th 2013.

visitor's? with an apostrophe? there's an awful amount of poor grammar within journalism these days, and much of it is to found on mancon.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 30th 2013.

Some very poor capitalisation too, and missing words

Physician, heal thyself

RicanukApril 30th 2013.

From Dusk til Pawn definitely deserves some attention. I just discovered it after participating in a rum trail...cannot count how many times I have walked past its doors without realising the gem inside! A bit on the small side (cosy for others :) but really nice atmosphere, very friendly and knowledgeable staff and some of the most unusual and tasty cocktails I've ever had. A Manchester must!

Laura KettleMay 1st 2013.

Ridiculously slow in All Bar One - most people have an hour for lunch, we went in yesterday, ordered food and drinks at half twelve, knives and forks (10 sets incstead of the 5 needed) arrived fifteen minutes later, drinks half an hour later and food nearly 50 minutes later. Waitress spilt coke on my companion and couldn't remember what food was on the plate in front of her. I left after an hour and 10 minutes when we still didn't have the bill. Need to sort their staff out!

Elliot BrownMay 10th 2013.

I've tried Taro bubble milk tea from the stall in Arndale as well as ICFT. In my opinion, teas from ICFT are much nicer.

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