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Cicchetti's new menu sampled

Gordo lets the public reads his notes after a long tasting afternoon

Written by . Published on May 20th 2011.

Cicchetti's new menu sampled

A few weeks ago Gordo was having lunch up at Chris Johnson’s (yes, he’s a weirdo, but he’s Gordo’s weirdo) restaurant up in Ramsbottom, Ramsons. It was a celebration of the fortieth birthday of The Good Food Guide, in which Ramsons has been deservedly included for donkey’s years. The charming Elizabeth Carter, editor of said guide, was having lunch with us and thirty or so Confidential Heroes: it was a great meal.

We’re still not sure about what is the best way to describe Cicchetti. Café? Restaurant? Eaterie? We don’t know.

Gordo was asked to do a question and answer session with her at the end of the meal.

“What’s the future of restaurants?” was one question from Gordo.

“Small plates, open all day, rustic food,” came the reply. Asked for an example, Elizabeth urged Gordo to try Terroirs in London.

“Hmmm,” thought Gordo, “sounds like Cicchetti.”

Having swapped recommendations, Gordo and Elizabeth went their opposite ways.

Cich 014.jpgSome two months later an invite came through from Cicchetti to try their new spring dishes and Gordo skipped  over with Schofield, the Editor, for a nosebag, courtesy of owners Marcello and his dad, Carlo. What’s new?

Over the past six months Gordo has eaten some of the finest food in Manchester here, certainly of the farmhouse style cooking prevalent across Italy. The raw ingredients are being sourced more and more from the markets in Milan as Marcello appears to be driving the San Carlo group further and further down the route of quality produce. There is a mound of the fruit and veg on show as you walk through the door.

John and Francesco in the kitchen seem to be pushing each other to expand boundaries; a risotto dish with langoustines has been outstanding. You can argue all you like about how the rice is cooked (Gordo’s taste is on the over-cooked side of al dente) but one thing you can be sure of, nowhere else in the North-West is getting those ingredients and flavours as well as these two can. Gordo has sat at the bar with two waiters from a rival chain eating pizza, which, they say, is better than anything they get at their restaurant.

Cich 006.jpgArguments abound in the Confidential office as to whether this can be classed as the best restaurant in Manchester currently. They all end in stalemate at the moment, because we aren’t sure what the description should be.

At this particular lunch, to try the new spring/summer dishes, we weren’t disappointed. Here is the list of dishes we tried, with Gordo’s notes.

Lentils with burrata and basil £3.95 - burrata is a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream originally from Puglia.  Deep, earthy flavour, consistency perfect, cheese melts. But that basil was the best yet.

Bruschetta with cannellini beans and salami £3.30. Perfect with a beer, flavours again on top.

Funghi misti £3.55 - mixed mushrooms with garlic and white wine.  Fab presentation, get some bread with this, mushroom lovers delight.

Pea and prosciutto soup £4.95. More than pea soup, a play on ham hock and pea soup from Lancashire?)

A choice of Piadina from £4.95. Italian flat breads from Romagna with a choice of fillings.  Cheese and ham toasties on drugs, share a plate of these with the Bruschetta and that beer.

Lobster and mango salad £7.20. Too feminine and messy for Gordo.

A sharing plate (2 people) of tempura di vedure £11.95.  Deep fried Italian vegetables, looked spectacular, good crisp light batter, more seasoning needed.

Carpaccio of salmon with pink peppercorns £5.50. An absolute fucking triumph. Salmon, cured in orange, pink peppercorns. Startling.

Tagliatelle con fave £5.80. Long pasta with fava beans, prosciutto, and meatballs and butter. Spanking meatballs, great pasta and sauce as you would expect from this kitchen.

Spaghettini with prawns, Italian wild asparagus, garlic and chilli £6.20. Well nailed dish.

Spiedino pollo £6.35. Chicken wrapped in Parma ham on a rosemary skewer.  Bottle of Barolo with this, or good Amarone with a bit of age.

Swordfish stuffed with peppers, capers and olives 7.50. Very good but not to my taste.

Sicilian Cannolo £3.95 – pastry tubes filled with sweet ricotta. Old friend from across the road at San Carlo. Get thee behind me Satan.

We’re still not sure about what is the best way to describe Cicchetti. Café? Restaurant? Eaterie? We don’t know.

One thing is for sure; it’s the best Italian cooking in the city by a rustic mile right now.

Elizabeth, get your Good Food Guide critics in here, Gordo’s found an establishment of the future and it’s well worth their inspection.

Follow Gordo on Twitter at @GordoManchester

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williamMay 20th 2011.

that risotto looks bloody lush

HungryMay 22nd 2011.

Good food. With Cicchetti and Australasia it appears food in Manchester is finessing up

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