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Cat Johnson finds Milan in Worsley isn’t playing in the Champion’s League

Published on March 25th 2008.


Some restaurants can be relied upon to do exactly what they say on the tin. There’s a comforting, predictability about them. Case in point is Piccolino’s just off Albert Square. If I go there I know I’ll get well prepared, tasty Italian(ish) food. It’s not going to be the most memorable meal ever, but it consistently offers quality, mid-price range food to squeeze in between shopping or work. You know where you are with Piccolino’s.

It also gave the promise of ‘plate after plate of exquisite and mouth-watering food’. Golly I thought, all this on my doorstep, I need never take the number twelve into town again.

And then there are the ones who don’t do what they say on the tin. Or, in this day and age, the website. The ones who attempt to woo you with lofty promises of culinary excellence in exquisite surroundings. The hyperbole used on some of them could lead you to believe that their chefs can also walk on water.

This is where the six-year Milan, another Italian restaurant, in Worsley comes in. I went on a Wednesday night brimming with expectation. Living only ten minutes away and being a ‘support your local business’ type of gal, I was eager to see if I had on my doorstep a reliable alternative to the offerings in town. Whilst perusing the official website I was delighted to read their claim of ‘bringing a much needed venue for fine dining to the popular Manchester village’ (surely Salford – Ed). It also gave the promise of ‘plate after plate of exquisite and mouth-watering food’. Golly I thought, all this on my doorstep, I need never take the number twelve into town again. But in the wise words of Public Enemy – ‘Don’t believe the hype’.

Things started promisingly as my sister and I arrived to a friendly welcome from head waiter Mari. A cursory glance around the dining room gave the impression of a warm, inviting space. A piano nestles in the corner overlooked by a galleried dining area. It’s all perfectly pleasant, but does it shout top-level dining? I think not.

I imagine this to be the type of room Kelly Hoppen might inspire, until the budget ran out three-quarters of the way through the project. The finishing touches aren’t there and it all looks a bit passé with dated looking prints on the wall and grey, marble effect table tops that wouldn’t look out of place as a worktop in an MFI kitchen.

But what of the food? If I were being euphemistic I’d describe the menu as retro, but in reality it’s just limited. I half expected to find a Gino Ginelli mint choc chip nestling amongst the desserts.Typical dishes include bruschetta and minestrone soup and confusingly, duck spring rolls chucked in for good measure. It’s unexciting and not quite as haute as the billing on the website.

I went for the king scallops seared in a garlic and chilli, cream sauce (£6) and my dining companion, Emma had the ‘traditional’ Italian vegetable soup (that’s minestrone to you and me, folks) for £3. My scallops were tasty enough: smothered in a hot and creamy sauce, with presentation leaving a lot to be desired. They were accompanied by an undressed iceberg lettuce salad that was inappropriate and surplus to requirements. Emma’s soup was hearty stuff. Fresh, chunky vegetables and it tasted homemade. Sadly the bread roll was badly charred rendering it inedible.

Mains fared slightly better. Emma’s, pan fried sea bass fillet with white wine and herbs (£16) was adequate. It was cooked just about right, but the sauce that accompanied it was oily and a little heavy, overpowering the delicate flavour of the fish. My fresh chicken breast was stuffed with dolcelatte, a soft blue veined Italian cheese, and spinach. It was finished with a white wine and cream sauce (£14) and was the highlight of the evening. The chicken was permeated by the wonderfully pungent aroma of the cheese. Moist and tender, I ate every last bit. Pleasingly, potatoes and seasonal vegetables came free with mains, bucking the current trend of charging another £4 to the bill for spring greens tossed in a bit of chervil butter. Food was accompanied by a dry and light Pinot Grigio San Antonio (£17.50), helpfully suggested by the head waiter.

Desserts provided another low. I chose the tiramisu (£4.65) and I’ll cut to the chase here: this dessert was the blandest that I’ve ever had in a restaurant. I was waiting for moist sponge suffused with espresso and amaretto, but I was left disappointed. It was more like Victoria Sponge in taste and texture - woeful stuff. Emma’s profiterole” (£4.95) were no better. The sauce they were coated in was like Angel Delight in texture and had a curious, powdery/synthetic taste that you sometimes get with cheap hot chocolate.

All in all it was a hit and miss affair. Credit where it’s due the service was excellent. The whole team, in particular Mari are warm, obliging and efficient. And the décor isn’t unpleasant, if you like sitting in kitchen showrooms.

My main gripe is that it’s marketed as fine dining and it’s a million miles off. It even struggles to compete with its similarly priced peers Restaurant Bar Grill and Zinc, who seem to have aged far better. In fact given the choice, both the aforementioned would be preferable to me in terms of overall experience, so it looks like I’ll be catching the number twelve for a little while longer.

Rating: 12.5/20
Breakdown: 5/10 Food
4/5 Service
3.5/5 Ambience
Address: Milan Italian Restaurant
17-21 Barton Road
M28 2PD
0161 794 5444

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

Spanish JohnMarch 25th 2008.

Worsley, eh?So try Ambiente. It's just round the corner.

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

Milan is a average restaurant, If you want a nice meal go to Albet Shed in castlefield or Goucho Grill on deansgate.

dave the raveMarch 25th 2008.

so it didn't get the "ESA" then, never mind !

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

If you live only 10 minutes away from Worsley you are alo close to Puccinis in Swinton. Great food, service and atmosphere- beats Milan any day!

DunnyMarch 25th 2008.

Having lived near to Milan for a few years now I have slowly watched its decline. I dont think the menu has changed in the past 4 years and certainly the service and quality has diminished like the customers somewhat. The sunday lunch is pretty good though but the place lacks atmosphere !

RICHARD NASHMarch 25th 2008.


AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

I have been to Milan three times (the second and third visits were not by choice I add) .. They are certainly consistent on their food/service ... food is 'just okay' and service is dreadful .... never again

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

Simply put , Milan is PANTS , but they don't care so don't go

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

Milan has got complacent and done what most local village/suburb restaurants tend to (Isis did exactly the same). Take advantage of their (normally more mature) neighbouring residents who do not want to trek into town. The only time I have now found its worth visiting is the Monday special, then its no different a price to a pub dinner and you don't have your expectations dashed. Only decent Italians left now tend to be Bella Vista/San Carlos and the wonderful Stock but all of them not on my doorstep unfortunately.

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

I am so pleased to see this write up as I visited the restaurant about 2 weeks ago and had a similarly poor experience. I sent an email describing my dissapointing experience to the contact email address but have heard nothing back (they are clearly not bothered that people are giving them advice on how to improve). Needless to say I shall not be visiting again - which is a shame as this used to be such a nice restaurant and did live up to its fine dining label - but alot can happen in 2 years.

danMarch 25th 2008.

i worked at milan as a chef not long after it first opend and we had a grate team an italian head chef who loved what he did and the team that worked with him its a shame the owners didnt have the same fraim of mind one more botherd about trying too look good proping the bar up and the other well we hardly saw him other that pay days when he turnd up to take a cut no dought! im shockd that milan has lasted to be totaly truthful after its sister resturaint cafe bar riojca had its doors slamd closed in early 00's. its sad to see a prime spot being used in such a bad way!

PaulMarch 25th 2008.

This has to be one of the worst restaurants i have ever visited, i work and dine in manchester most days and used to live in worsley and tried my hardest to find something good to say about it after eating there (mostly not by choice) a number of times mostly because i wanted to support my local town. Worsley obviously pretends not to be in Salford and wishes it were in Manchester at best and Cheshire in its dreams - i am afraid not but it does deserve a decent Italian which Milan certainly isn't at all. The location couldnt be better, the local crowd have more than enough income to throw around and the competition is pretty limited! if you can't make a restaraunt work in these conditions you should give up and go home i am afraid. If you want good food at a reasonable price and a warm and friendly atmosphere albeit not in the most salubrious setting head for Puccinis in Swinton which is so much better than this great pretender. If i were a betting man which i am i would have a sizeable wager that if Puccini's were in Milan's location there wouldnt be those really embarrasing, quiet and atmosphere free lunches and midweek evenings which define Milan. Its not worthy of Ramseys kitchen nightmares because it is just so average but it does seem to fall into a category "could do so much better" and Cheshire's great pretender deserves so much better than Milan. Not to rub it in but most Cheshire towns and villages have so many more quality Italian restaurants than Worsley and as you have done so already vote with your feet until somebody with an ounce of restaraunt nous gives you what you deserve.

JanieMarch 25th 2008.

I've totally abandoned Milan after my last two visits were a complete shambles. The food wasn't anything to write home about but what concerned me most was the dreadful service. My partner and I arrived for our table booked at 7:30pm. We were shown into the restaurant and left for around 15 minutes without menus or an offer of drinks. We eventually had to stop one of the waitresses to ask for the menu otherwise who knows how long we'd have ignored. We ordered drinks at the same time as we placed our order, the drinks arrived and we waited for the food. And we waited--- and waited--- and waited. By the time the first course arrived we'd both finished our first drink and was on to the wine we'd chosen to go with our meal. The dishes weren't presented particularly well, in fact we both said that it looked as though the ingredients had been tossed onto our plates with no care. Both courses were just about warm but we were hopeful that the main courses would deliver - oh what a joy to behold. My steak arrived with a sauce that resembled some kind of congealed mass that screamed toxic waste and my partner's dish looked as though somebody's pet had played with it, munched a bit and then decided it wasn't worth the effort. Needless to say, we didn't bother with a dessert as we both just wanted to get the hell out and never darken the place's doorstep again. If you haven't tried it - DON'T!

disgruntled ex customerMarch 25th 2008.

When Milan first opened it seemed to have everything right, it was cosy and comfortable and looked very modern. Customer service was excellent and food was great. Then it began making cutbacks on the food and was eventually took over. It is under the new management and the last few years that have really seen this restaurant go to the walls. The last time we had to wait over an hour to be taken to our table booked at a set time for my mothers birthday and yet the table wasnt free no apology. We were then put next to the toilets which smelt and had the rudest waiter ever. The food was much worse with frozen prawns and smash instead of real mashed potatoes and stale bread and frozen garlic bread. I think any restaurant that uses so much prepacked and frozen foods as this deserves to close. I heard that one of the chefs left a few years back because he was fed up of this same attitude towards customers. Its time the people of worlsey and surrounding areas realised what fine dining should be and not eat food equivalent to microwave meals. I wrote the MD of milan and sent it recorded delivery however never got a response or an apology. Shame on you Milan!!

Frustrated In WorsleyMarch 25th 2008.

I agree with some of the above points, Milan's standards have fell through the floor, food is "pub grub" at best, waiting times are beyond belief, when i asked where our main meals were they just disappeared, not acknowledging if they had even listened to my request ! I was a regular here living 200 yrd from the place but no more. Sadly, the other Worsley restaurant of previous note, Tung Fong, apears to be going the same way. As for Ambiente...is it open yet ? Seems to taken an age to be open for business !

dave the raveMarch 25th 2008.

oh and by the way milan didn't qualify for the champs league for next season, ironic !

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

its a shame to hear about what was a good venue, lets hope they turn it around. If you want a good honest Italian meal ive found saporitos on scholes lane prestwich (next to pizza express, no dont GO there!!) to provide simple yet gorgeous foodcome on milan pull your act toghether!!!!

Phil TaylorMarch 25th 2008.

Maybe a lot of Italian restaurants have 'jumped the shark' as they say. San Rocco owned places seem to keep standards up as a group.Perhaps the best places are the unashmedly retro ones- Puccini's and Leoni's in Manchester. I still have fond memories of Bella Napoli, not had a lasagne like theirs in years. However, they did give me bery bad liquid botty twice. Perhaps their closing was a good thing.

AnonymousMarch 25th 2008.

I live five minutes from Milan's and would rather travel 5 miles than eat their bland and boring food. NOT GOOD, NOT CHEAP and their NOT BOTHERED.

ericMarch 25th 2008.

Not far from Worsley is Danielli's located on the one way road at Walkden. (Opposite RBS on the one way to return to Worsely). Food is top draw, Mondays is some deal night and its full to the rafters.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2013.

I went to Milan on Monday night for the 2 courses for £16.95 deal with my husband, was a fantastic meal with fantastic food. The waiters and waitresses were very attentive and helped in any way they could. The food was cooked perfectly and my husband and I really enjoyed the meal. It was great value for money with a lovely atmosphere. I will definitely be going back again soon!

AnonymousApril 15th 2013.

Milan has definitely turned into a modern bar and restaurant with fantastic food and excellent service. The waiters were attentive and helped as much as they could. The food was presented well and tasted even better. I think everyone should give milan a try!

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