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Stock leads the market

Gordo invests in fine food at Stock

Written by . Published on May 3rd 2007.


Stock leads the market

Gordo is feeling depressed. His editor has demanded that he reviews another Italian at lunch, Stock, in the city centre.

There are, in Gordo’s opinion, far too many Italian (and Italianish) places around. Some, San Carlo, San Rocco and Piccolino are equally good as part of your night out as they are for a quick lunch. The ManCon jury is out on Palmiro in Whalley Range, recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Vanessa, our co-reviewer doesn’t like being talked at in Italian on the menu and there was no soap in the bog. Horror. Although the editor loves the place.

Gordo, Greedy? Noooo…

So it was with heavy heart that Gordo went and parked his ample arse in a very ample booth table in the aforementioned Stock, an Italian restaurant in the old Stock Exchange, behind Boots on Cross Street. Very swish actually, it’s a white tablecloth gaff with a black and white tiled entrance, cool as Capote bar and a Michelangelo domed roof to the dining room, without the Michelangelo bit.

Gordo perked up when, before he ordered anything, he found a squashed ball of pizza dough that had been deep fried (ever so lightly) like a doughnut, and topped off with a tomato, basil and garlic sauce. It was head and shoulders above Croma’s dough balls, which ain’t bad. A little crunchy, a little doughy, hot on the outside, warm on the inside. Herby. Tomato-ey. A lovely er..thingy. Then Gordo remembers who owns the place: Enzo Mauro.

Gordo first encountered Enzo and his team twenty eight years ago, in Bollington, near Macclesfield, a classic mill village clinging to the side of the first hill you hit on your way to Whaley Bridge. In a restaurant named after the owner. Gordo was trying to seduce his first true love, Diana Warner, for the second time. Having remembered Gordo the first time round, quite rightly she was having none of it, but Gordo was having plenty of the pizza doughnut thingy. It was better than sex. Especially if you weren’t, like Gordo, getting any.

Believe Gordo, Thingies are great!

Mauro, who was the owner/chef at the time, then went on to open Stock and more recently, another gaff in Mottram St. Andrew, Osteria (which needs work) is responsible for the thingies. No one else can make these little bits of naughtiness quite like him. In fact these thingies still, after twenty eight years, have no name. Thingies just arrive. And very welcome thingies they are, as they cheer up Gordo no end. For Mauro was no ordinary Italian chef then and it seems he hasn’t turned into one now.

A smidgeon later arrives a seafood platter. The fantastic Maitre d’, Hassan Mohammed, had described to Gordo what seafood was available. “Lobster, Sardines, Scallops, Large Prawns, Calamari”. “Great stuff. I’ll have that”, says Gordo. “Err, which one sir”, responds Mohammed. Gordo slowly looks sideways and upwards at Mohammed. “Ermm, no problem sir, I shall arrange a platter…”

OK, San Carlo’s was good. This was un-blinking-believable. Prawns, Scallops and Lobster cooked to THE point before they go tough. Pools of garlic butter nudging and winking at its cousin, freshly chopped parsley. Sardines? Gordo doesn’t know why he orders them. Foul after taste, bony and with a smell that can keep a Big Issue seller at bay, he hates them. Until now. So this is what grilled sardines are all about? How good were they. Best in town.

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Click here for more photos

Ivana Rusnakova, Gordo’s waitress, glides in and out of service like a ballerina, reminding Gordo that he needs to get a Harley to go with his raging mid life crisis.

This was un-blinking-believable. Prawns, Scallops and Lobster cooked to THE point before they go tough. Pools of garlic butter nudging and winking at its cousin, freshly chopped parsley.

Scialatielli alla carbonara (£7.95) is exactly as it should be. Scialatielli is a pasta two inches long, shaped between string and rope. Like tubes without the tube. Not stringy mind you. Lovely when cooked correctly, the pasta matches the rustic simplicity of the Italian bacon, parmesan and fat fresh egg sauce that looks like it has been thickly painted on; it tastes and smells like it has just been passed through a farmhouse kitchen window underneath a bay tree in Lucca, dappled in early morning sunshine. OK, so Gordo has had four glasses of the Sicilian house white by this time. If ManchesterConfidential.com had awards for best house wine this would pick one up and sprint off with it. No one else in the city could keep up.

Mohammed and Angelo.

Vitello ai funghi e granchio (£17.75), thin strips of veal sealed in garlic butter with oyster mushrooms, white Newlyn crab and cream was the wrong choice after the carbonara, it tasted bland after that and Gordo was stupid having chosen another creamy sauce. Also, forgive him, but Veal has never been the same since the little sweeties were nailed into light-tight coffins from birth. Nice to see each dish matched correctly with it’s own veg, in this case fantastic jersey royals, mange tout and carrots. A feature of all the cooking here is the chef’s understanding of heat and subsequently, when the food should come off it.

Gordo was given a complimentary pudding. Zabaglioni, with a tiny poached pear (goddess-like) and a couple of slices of fresh figs to dip into the light, liquid aero-bubbles coffee-ness. Have a look at the pictures, they are worth a thousand words.

Angelo Gimgregorio is the third leg of a hugely professional service. Gordo feels there is something not right about the room, Hassan tells him that they are closing for a refurb in August.

This restaurant is class. If you think you know your Italian food and haven’t been here, take the time out to give it a visit. Italianish, Stock ain’t. It’s more authentic than Carluccio himself. Go. (Tip: The lunch table d’hote menu is £13.50 for two courses and £16.50 for three. You have no excuses).

Manchester Confidential pays for its own reviews

Rating:17.5/20
Breakdown:8.5/10 Food
4/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address:Stock
4 Norfolk Street
0161 839 6644
www.stockrestaurant.co.uk

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

GordoMay 3rd 2007.

Caroline, I would recomend you give Stock the benefit of the doubt, I made my judgement over two visits really, previously at a friends birthday party where 20 people sat down, the place was jumping and great fun. The service then was exemplary. Nothing against The Groucho, mind you, i have had some great meals there and I love the room. More of a regular pals night out tho' than a birthday party. Neil, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Gordo speaks as he finds and that is how it scored. Finally everyone, thanks for ranting. For or 'agin me, it doesn't matter as long as people are as lucid as you lot.

sue p chorltonMay 3rd 2007.

Caroline, don't give your money to Stock - I've been twice and felt it was very poor value for money both times. Don't go to Gaucho Grill - Go to Chaopraya (Thai food) for excellent service, excellent for groups and FANTASTIC food. I have been 4 times since it opened, with both work colleagues & friends and it has been top dollar every time. Watch out for the special rendition of Happy Birthday!!

SergioMay 3rd 2007.

Ok, I am half italian, I have lived in rome for five years and travelled fairly extensively throughout italy. Stock is definitely highly over rated. Ok I have only been once and during the week at that but I'm pretty sure I've seen enough! First of all yes the building itself is impressive, but lets face it. It could be so much more impressive. That funny little bar area crammed full of alco-pops looks like it's been transplanted from some mediocre Italian restaurant in marple or gatley or glossop or hazel grove or well, I'm sure you get the picture. The food, well, I remember the starters being ok, nothing special just ok, was some sort of sea food platter for two. Then the primi piatti, I had some sea food pasta dish which wasn't bad but not outstanding by any means, quite good for UK I suppose. It was the sort of standard you would find in any italian coffee bar, the type that also serves food at lunch time. My partner had a gnocchi dish which on the menu sounded fantastic some sort of four cheese source with pancetta. The gnocchi had completely had the arse cooked off it, and was swimming in tasteless sea of melted unspecified cheese mush and the pancetta was clearly bacon or at least sliced so thin to make it look like bacon. The whole thing was a big gloopy unstructured mass of bland. It really did resemble something out of a packet.I remember the "secondi" were just ok too. We didn't have desert and the espresso was ok. The didn't have "amaro" which is an italian digestive liquor, which is deffo a poor show in my opinion. We sent the soggy gnocchi back, we had a second bottle of wine that never turned up but made it to the bill. The table next to us was also complaining to the waiter about something, they were seriously hacked off! The service on the whole was dire, amazingly unfriendly and dreadfully slow, christ including us there were only three table in there, this place has a serious atmosphere problem, there isn't any! The whole place smacks of a provincial (in england not italy) italian restaurant transplanted to an impressive building in the city, apart from the bar area, that says it all. it has all the pomp and appearance and stereotype of a quality southern italian restaurant but without any of the substance, The menu to me looks like has very little to do with contemporary food trends in italy. It is at best good quality 70's style italian cooking trailered to the english palette.Stock is most definitely over rated and over priced, It's a place that some how has built up an amazing reputation probably by people who never really eaten good food in Italy. Stock now rests on the laurels of it's reputation, I really got that impression from the "can't be arsed" attitude that seemed to ooze from the manager.I have been a little harsh perhaps as I have only been the once, but that was my experience. At those prices I won't be rushing back to give it a secondchance.I recommend piccolinos and would eat there every time, san carlo also good but piccolino's service, personal touch and value for money put's it a head for me.Of course the quality food in either of these places does not equal what you would find in certain eateries in italy but hey we're in manchester!In short Stock is OK, but vastly over rated and over priced. If you go with no expectations and you're not paying the bill and miraculously find other some other punters in there you may have a good night.

MJMay 3rd 2007.

Went to Stock a couple of years ago during the Manchester Food & Drink festival enticed by a special festival menu. The food was very ordinary. Their response was what do you expect when you eat off a cheap menu. Surely, the idea of a special festival menu was to entice customers in with a glimpse of what they could offer. What we got was a second class choice with second class cooking. There are plenty of better places to eat in Manchester than this.

gordoMay 3rd 2007.

Thanks secret squirrel! You would all be amazed at how stupid restaurants can be even when a known reviewer is in. A bad gaff simply cannot turn it on in an hour, even if the service can. It is about skill and ingredients. At stock both are very evident. The girl who served was a good ,n. The real test though are you guys and I am going to ensure that mauro sees a copy of these rants.

Jonny MacMay 3rd 2007.

Granted it has been some time since my first and only trip to Stock, but needless to say you can 'forgive' over time, but never 'forget'.I went to Stock just over two years ago as a ‘last supper’ with my girlfriend before she went away to travel the world. Fit impressions are always good with Stock as it has one of the more memorable settings for enjoying a romantic meal. We were seated at one of the large booths which given the fact that I had rang up and specifically requested a booth, and the fact that the restaurant was half empty meant that the night had got off to a good start. It was only when there came to the slightly more complicated task of giving the drinks order did it start to go down hill. I was expected to converse the drinks order to a man that had no understanding of English. After much finger pointing and the help of a second waiter, we eventually managed to settle on a bottle of Chianti. We then proceeded to order the a la carte menu and after a bit of wait our starters arrived. Nothing wrong with the starters, infact they were very good (granted I don’t remember what we both had). As we were coming to the end of the startes hurray! The wine we order 20 minutes earlier arrived. (Minus the bottle of fizzy water). We then came to the main course, I had steak, and the misses had ordered a king prawn risotto. It was delivered by what I understood to be the owned who managed to carry two dinner plates in his hand as he held his mobile phone in-between his head and his shoulder. I didn’t know who he was talking to, but it sounded Italian. It did take the misses a moment or two, but she soon realised that the prawn dish wasn’t the prawn dish we had actually ordered but ‘most probably the prawn dish from the special menu’ as I was advised by the manager after I had to get up from the table to eventually get him off his mobile. Some questions were exchanged as to whether we had ordered the other prawn dish and then changed our minds because we didn’t like the looks of it. But when we reassured him that it was the other prawn risotto that we wanted, and maybe the non English speaking waiter might have got it wrong that he happily took away the wrong dinner with a roll of the eyes, shrug of the shoulders and a comment (in an Italian accent) “OK! Nobody died!” slightly flabbergasted I was left to wait for a further 10 to 15 minutes whilst they whipped up the prawn risotto for the misses. I did ask them to keep my food warm, but I think it was obvious that it would return dry as a bone after spending 10 minutes under the ‘hot-plate’. Needless to say, I don’t recommend Stock to anyone, and I shall not be returning whilst under the current management. All in all a poor experience, but well done to them for picking such a good building to house such an average restaurant. As Ben pointed out, I think you will either love it or hate it, but unfortunately, I didn’t like it.

Caroline, Whalley RangeMay 3rd 2007.

I was thinking of booking a table at Stock for my birthday in a couple of weeks time. After reading the above 'rants' I am really in two minds as to whether to do so. My alternative is Gaucho Grill.

Richard WilliamsMay 3rd 2007.

What is the point of reviewing a restaurant when the staff know you're a reviewer? Of course they are going to roll the red carpet out for you. I don't think the Michelin guide reviewers have their photos taken with the staff do they?

AnonymousMay 3rd 2007.

Stock. Bobbins. Been four times over the years with four different sets of friends / business colleagues. Never my choice and always disappointing not just my opinion, but that of the groups. Bland food, crap service, even wrote to them once it was so bad, needless to say didn't get a reply. Avoid.

JohnthebriefMay 3rd 2007.

We can all only go on our own experiences.For me, Stock is without doubt the best restaurant in Manchester, and by some distance. I have been quite a few times and never had food that was less than excellent. Service has been good, and my only niggle is ambience, it's a big room and needs people and voices otherwise you'll feel lost.The lunchtime set menu is phenomenal value for money.

secret squirrelMay 3rd 2007.

I think you'll find that if the head chef is breathing down their neck they might be "on it" a bit more in the kitchen, if a known reviewer is in....Mind you it's Gordo, so perhaps they thought get him pissed, he'll be happy....-)

RGWMay 3rd 2007.

You've got to be kidding - the last time (and it really will be the last time) I wen to Stock the food was put in the shade by Pizza Express, the soft drinks never made it to the table (although they did make it to the bill), the waiter dropped (and smashed) a bottle of wine, and the service was distictly lack lustre. Made all the more dissapointing by the constant closures of far far better establishments (no pun intended) in Manchester.

DibsMay 3rd 2007.

At last, the best restaurant in Manchester gets the praise it deserves! Stock is fantastic. FACT!

Caroline, Whalley RangeMay 3rd 2007.

Thank you all for your comments, I must say I am definitely leaning towards Chaophraya now !

Queen BeeMay 3rd 2007.

Maybe so, but they can't suddenly cook any better can they?

secret squirrelMay 3rd 2007.

It's consistancy that counts,and from the rants here and diners reviews on the likes of Sugarvine et al, it would appear that Stock is inconsistent.(Like almost all of the city centre restaurants)I've had many a chat with Mcr. proprietors and head chefs who have told me that consistency is the hardest thing to achieve, partly because a lot of the talented young chefs bugger off elsewhere to climb the brigade heirarchy ladder and get Michelin star experience. Bit of a catch 22 situation-)SS

BenMay 3rd 2007.

Hmmm. The Stock debate rages on. But first, Palmiro. If you want excellent Italian food, go to Palmiro - no question (even MancCon's co-reviewer gave it 10/10 for food). It might not be the most ambience full place in the world, but the quality of the food and wine is outstanding. Now Stock. Having eaten in Stock on 4 occasions over the last couple of years (3 business lunches and one pre-theatre) I have to confess that they must have seen Gordo coming. For a place with the airs and graces that it puts out the service has never been above average, with long waits between courses and waiters too busy chatting by the (admittedly very nice) bar area. The food has been a bit hit and miss (though I've only ever eaten off the fixed price menu) with some good and some frankly mediocre dishes. In particular a BURNED schnitzel springs to mind. I've seen debates about Stock on this and other websites and there seem to be two camps, those who love it and those who are distinctly unimpressed. I have to confess that I'm more on the side of the latter, though my final analysis is that its not as bad as some make out, but definitely not as good as others (Gordo included) seem to think. Go there with medium expectations and you probably won't be disappointed! On another note they do a bottle of Soave - San Vincenzo - that is very good for the price. Enjoy.

JamesMay 3rd 2007.

Very disappointing, overpriced and overrated. Dined there on a Saturday night at 8pm, not particularly busy but we waited for the starter and main plates to be taken for 20 minutes. The waiter, when told this, seemed not to care. The duck I ordered was overcooked and they made it perfectly clear that they thought I was wrong in this opinion. Our complaints were completely ignored. Overall, I wouldn't go again and would definitely not recommend it. To top it off, the bill came in at £102 for two of us. I've had better for half the price. Very, very poor.

ancoats girlMay 3rd 2007.

I had an excellent birthday meal there a while ago, and I found the service reasonably friendly and quick at the time. A sausage risotto was a bit on the stodgy side and I would have liked a lighter hand with the dishes overall, but it was still good. I've never had the urge to go back though - probably because I found the atmosphere a little stuffy and the clientele was a bit on the geriatric side that night. (Which is cool, just not what I'm looking for when I'm spending my limited eating out money!)

NickMay 3rd 2007.

Stock are one to watch on the tipping too - they slap a hefty service charge on the bill and if you pay by card the machine is set for you to give a gratuity too - talk about having your cake and eating it! Been a few times, food okay (loved the Gnocci with boar ragu), service patchy at best.

ancoats girlMay 3rd 2007.

I agree that Chaophraya is fantastic, especially for birthday parties. Nothing was too much trouble, service was speedy even with our large party, and the food was gorgeous. Make sure you tell them it's your birthday - they'll come and sing for you (Thai style) and you get a free pudding with a candle!

Phil.May 3rd 2007.

Looks like i won't be paying Stock a visit then.

NeilMay 3rd 2007.

Question to Gordo...8.5/10 Food - 4/5 Service - 4/5 Ambience.Looking at the photos, there was nobody else in the restaurant. So how, pray tell does service only get 4 out of 5 and ambience 4 out of 5 on decor alone?

DCFebruary 7th 2010.

I visited Stock on Saturday 6th of Feb with a group of 6 friends and had the worst dining experience of my life.

I have read very bad reviews about Stock but decided to give them the benefit of the doubt because of the wonderful setting. I implore you to not waste your money at this establishment after our shocking experience.

Some of the waiting staff were extremely unprofessional forgetting orders, not clearing starter plates, not bringing wine lists and most worryingly being curt and rude whilst the wait for our food was intolerable.

We waited 60 minutes for starters and just before they arrived we were informed there was no pate and when they did arrive the Ravioli Neri was still cold/frozen. The mains arrived a further hour later.

Numerous complaints were made to the manager and owner who placed two bottle of house wine on our table but would not discount the bill for the long delays, mistakes, rudeness and general tardiness. We paid the full £180 bill, tipped the one waiter (Leo) who tried to salvage the night £20 and they offered us free coffees.

A shameful example of how not to run a restaurant.

GladysFebruary 8th 2010.

I went to Stock with a group of 12 people on Saturday night...and the experince was dreadful...the evening saved only by reliable Harvey Nicks. I have eaten in lots of places around manchester and this was easily my most disappointing eating experience. The venue is beautiful but...the staff were rude and told lies, the place was in chaos and noone apologized when we waited nearly TWO HOURS for our starters...then 2 arrived and the others didnt! They genuinely didnt seem to care. Go at your peril! There are plenty of much better places around town - AVOID!

IseaFebruary 8th 2010.

Stock was brilliant the last time we went, don't understand these comments. A real people watching occasion. People have various experiences. Ours was superb. Great meat dishes and unbelievable pasta.

WooodyFebruary 8th 2010.

I agree, Mauro serves the best pasta in the bloody country

GogglesFebruary 8th 2010.

DC and Gladys look like the same people to me, I would check the server IP addresses of both of them If I were you Mancon. To get a bill of £180 between six also looks well out; that thirty quid a head, it would be difficult to do that even if you didn't drink at all and that doesn't seem to be righjt to me. Smelly.

NortherngeezerFebruary 8th 2010.

Waiting 2 hours for starters!!!!.............i would have been out of the door AND not paying for me drinks after 20 minutes!!!!. If your prepared to put up with such shyte service Gladys then you deserve everything you got, or didnt, hehehe.

Dave SpannerFebruary 8th 2010.

As if anyone would wait 120minutes for starters, was utter rubbish. Never eaten at Stock, but I just don't believe anyone would wait that long and still stick around.

Central SalfordFebruary 9th 2010.

Gladys and DC are professional spoilers. Ignore them because there's just one of them. Clearly. The similarities in the text are too much: the person needs to grow up or even perfect the art of slander. I love Stock, its space, its food...like all Italian restaurants the service can sometimes be a little casual but otherwise ignore the above comments.

beijingtlzFebruary 9th 2010.

Went there a few years back, for lunch. Hardly anyone else in, service was indifferent. Then I had the cheek to send a pasta dish back. It had fresh mint in it, which I love, but there was so much it's all I could taste. A bit like eating toothpaste/mouthwash.<br><br>
I was treated like an imbecile, so I've never been back and never ever recommend the place to anyone.

Granby RowerFebruary 9th 2010.

Get the ravioli dishes, they're divine. Good for functions too

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