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Manchester shuns Good Food Guide 2011

Once again our dining must be too good

Published on August 19th 2010.

Manchester shuns Good Food Guide 2011

Ok that's a joke headline - a take on the BBC weather report in the fifties which read: "Fog on the Channel, Continent cut off."

But Manchester has once again suffered an almost complete lack of recognition in the top 60 Good Food Guide restaurant list. Only Ramsons in Greater Manchester, around 350 metres from the border with Lancashire, makes it into the top-selling guide’s first sixty restaurants.

Maybe next year it will be different. Surely Gale at Podium and Thompson at Harvey Nichol’s are on the fringes of getting there. And what about Matfin at Abode and McTague at Aumbry?

If there is any comfort in all of this then we still have more overall entries as a city region than any other British city outside London in the Good Food Guide. More a case of must try harder rather than a situation to despair over. As one recent visitor told the editor of Confidential after a conference, "the variety of food choice is astonishing and the standards are pretty good across the city."

Anyway cue the local radio reports on what's wrong with Manchester food and drink, to which the answer, probably, is nothing. Of course it would be good for prestige if a few top places made the list and joined Ramsons, but as a place to dine we're still a very interesting and distinctive city.

  • 1. The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire
  • 2. Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Road, London
  • 3. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
  • 4. L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
  • 5. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock, Cornwall
  • 6. Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
  • 7. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, London
  • 8. Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
  • 9. Pied-à-Terre, London
  • 10. The Square, London
  • 11. Hibiscus, London
  • 12. Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London
  • 13. Adam Simmonds at Danesfield House, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  • 14. Whatley Manor, Easton Grey, Wiltshire
  • 15. Le Gavroche, London
  • 16. Tom Aikens, London
  • 17. Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 18. The Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire
  • 19. Bohemia, St Helier, Jersey
  • 20. Fraiche, Oxton, Merseyside
  • 21. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, London
  • 22. Murano, London
  • 23. Anthony’s Restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire
  • 24. Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Baslow, Derbyshire
  • 25. Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon
  • 26. Robert Thompson at the Hambrough, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
  • 27. Midsummer House, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
  • 28. Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo, Wales
  • 29. The Ledbury, London
  • 30. The Crown at Whitebrook, Whitebrook, Wales
  • 31. The Pass, Lower Beeding, West Sussex
  • 32. Mr Underhill’s, Ludlow, Shropshire
  • 33. Michael Wignall at the Latymer, Bagshot, Surrey
  • 34. Hambleton Hall, Hambleton, Leicestershire & Rutland
  • 35. Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Scotland
  • 36. Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor, Chester, Cheshire
  • 37. The Creel, St Margaret’s Hope, Scotland
  • 38. Harry’s Place, Great Gonerby, Lincolnshire
  • 39. The Old Vicarage, Ridgeway, Derbyshire
  • 40. The Greenhouse, London
  • 41. The Kitchin, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 42. Purnell’s, Birmingham, West Midlands
  • 43. Artichoke, Amersham, Buckinghamshire
  • 44. The Sportsman, Whitstable, Kent
  • 45. Club Gascon, London
  • 46. Ramsons, Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester
  • 47. The Yorke Arms, Ramsgill, Yorkshire
  • 48. La Bécasse, Ludlow, Shropshire
  • 49. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  • 50. Galvin at Windows, London
  • 51. Chez Bruce, London
  • 52. Northcote, Langho, Lancashire
  • 53. Read’s, Faversham, Kent
  • 54. The Cellar, Anstruther, Scotland
  • 55. Arbutus, London
  • 56. Zafferano, London
  • 57. The Peat Inn, Peat Inn, Scotland
  • 58. The Capital, London
  • 59. Seven Park Place, London
  • 60. Alimentum, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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

    GMSAugust 11th 2010.

    Good to see Northcote Manor in there.

    Craig SutheranAugust 11th 2010.

    I'm surprised the Star inn, Harome isnt in there

    Eddy RheadAugust 12th 2010.

    Not one mention of Greggs? This list is surely flawed for that reason alone.

    Joey ButtafuukoAugust 12th 2010.

    L'Enclume is hardly a million miles away at Cartmel and certainly deserves it's 4th place (if not higher). It's simply astonishing that it only has a single star to it's name. How Nathan Outlaw/Sat Bains feature ahead of Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley is equally astonishing.

    ElbieAugust 12th 2010.

    Wasn't Mary-Ellen McTague named BEST up-and-coming chef? The Guardian says so...

    ElbieAugust 12th 2010.

    PS... I love eating out in and around Manchester. But consistency is a problem for many places - including a few high-end examples. Often in service or setting terms, rather than food.

    AnonymousAugust 12th 2010.

    i cannot believe that MC is surprised by the cities lack of entries. Food in Manchester can at best be described as ok....often it is of very average quality, overpriced ,and generally badly served......this City does NOT DO SERVICE'....just attitude. i agree that Harvey Nic's is doing a good job, but thats an occation destination not good quality daily food. The idea of seasonal menues seams to have passed Manchester by.
    yas there is alot of veriety.....but QUALITY....no whare to be seen. I have lived in the NQ for 3 years and have still to eat a meal that is well devised , cooked and presented at a sensible price......i just paid less for a dinner in Florence that a similar one in Manc and they were worlds apart....

    costacartaAugust 12th 2010.

    I agree with annon. The quality of restaurantas for a city the size of Manchester leaves a lot to be desired. But we're not alone, Liverpool has the same problem. The one entry in there, Ramsons, is well deserved, but I find it staggering that Michelin haven't recognised this by awarding them a star. The Good Food Guide is a far more reliable guide as far as I'm concerned.

    Michele HartAugust 12th 2010.

    That map is genius!

    positive spinAugust 12th 2010.

    I'm just pleased that Ramsons has made the top 60 - it's a top achievement for a great restaurant in a lovely part of the Northwest.

    Leigh ScottAugust 12th 2010.

    Aumbry's is better than Fischers hands down!

    BowksAugust 12th 2010.

    Fantastic recognition for Ramsons. Top experience with the consistency in food and service. Particularly the service as come rain or shine you will always see Chris "Marmite" Johnson looking after tables.

    The Italian JobAugust 12th 2010.

    What about San Carlo, hehe?

    ecotyAugust 12th 2010.

    I'd say it was a fair assessment, and it's actually our fault, as we simply don't support this type of establishment/chef in the North West.

    I'm a bit fed up of eating out in technically brilliant, virtually empty restaurants.

    I challenge anyone to find a better, more interesting Treacle Tart then Aumbry's or more 'bang for your buck' than lunch than MC@ABode!!

    AnonymousAugust 12th 2010.

    What about San Carlo - over priced,lazy waiters typical Italian waiter syndrome and it's full of fly's or is that flies....

    AnonymousAugust 12th 2010.

    Good Food Guide 2011 names Mary-Ellen McTague as BEST UP AND COMING CHEF: www.guardian.co.uk/…/fat-duck-blumenthal-best-restaurant-2010…. About halfway down: "Best up-and-coming chef is Mary-Ellen McTague of Aumbry in Greater Manchester."

    markthefotographerAugust 12th 2010.

    I'm going to put my hard hat on as I write this, but how much do we really value top-quality food? It's not unique to Manchester, I think most northern/midland cities are the same, but if it's a choice between paying money for great food or money for alcohol, I think more people tend to go for the latter. So we end up with mostly cheapish, okay restaurants that still leave us plenty of money to go out on the piss afterwards. Look at the list and see how many of those places are in very wealthy areas where food is perhaps revered more than alcohol - yes good food doesn't have to be expensive, but it usually is.

    micbabmacAugust 12th 2010.

    I agree with ecoty, we do not support quality restaurants or in fact understand and appreciate what they are trying to do for the money. I believe Anon @ 14.44 is way off the mark, has he looked at what a 3 course ala carte meals cost at any of the top 30, the majority of them are at least £20 per head more expensive alongside, MC@Abode, Harvey Nichols or Aumbry, so how can Harvey Nichols be destination in comparison to them, yes it may be destination alongside other restaurants in the city but do people not want to experience the next level. I do believe the Manchester restaurant scene can still improve but it is not as far away as people believe. It needs support and understanding.

    And before anyone asks, yes I do work in it.

    Paul MastersAugust 12th 2010.

    San Carlo did have a HE HE it was a joke by the Italian job

    NortherngeezerAugust 12th 2010.

    I've eaten there and if Ramsons is the best we can do in the area, i was distinctly underwhelmed by my visit, no wonder no one else is listed. I dont think you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of places that consistently produce 3 good courses everytime.

    NortherngeezerAugust 12th 2010.

    And dont get me started on the service at San Carlo.................thats if the fookers even return your call!!!!

    ElbieAugust 13th 2010.

    Agreed... the service at San Carlo is among the worst I've experienced in Manchester - repeatedly. Many of my friends and colleagues have found the same. They're just too busy to care, even if you have a table booked. And personally I hate waiting in a scrum; then sitting down in one too. It's just rough. And the food is VERY hit and miss. Though I'm sure I'd love it if I was a 'name' and they were fawning all over me. Sorry, this is a proper rant - but it drives me mad that it gets so much undeserved praise and attention. In my experience it's a posing/party venue, not a 'proper' restaurant.

    BanesAugust 13th 2010.

    Yawn... Yet again we have the "Manchester's rubbush for restaurants" brigade out. Firstly, I don't believe it is, and secondly, we're not really better or worse than any other UK city outside London (which is a law unto itself on a global scale).

    Greater Manchester gets one restaurant, by the skin of it's teeth, on the list in Ramsoms. Merseyside, Leeds, Brum and Nottingham also get one. Edinburgh gets a mighty two. Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff, Belfast, Leicester, Derby etc get nowt.

    Not a Manchester problem then, or even a Northern one. Just a testament to the economic difficulties of making fine-dining restaurants work in prime city centre sites.

    I'm just proud that the NW has more entries in the list - five - than any other English region. If we're upset with that they must be topping themselves in foodie Yorkshire where they scraped a meagre two.

    The Italian JobAugust 13th 2010.

    Bl@@dy Hell, what have I created!

    NortherngeezerAugust 13th 2010.

    You'll get an editorial critiscm on this Elbie, San Carlo's is one of Mancons 'favoured few', they dont like ranters biting the hand that feeds 'em.

    D KesslerAugust 13th 2010.

    Do you? you're weird

    GordoAugust 14th 2010.

    @Northern; *yawn* I think the fact that you're still here Northern points to the fact that this publication is arguably the most liberal of its kind when it comes editing rants

    GordoAugust 14th 2010.

    @Northern; while we are at it, I get the impression that you don't have a good word for anybody; to say that you are underwhelmed by Ramsons rather points to the fact that you either spend most of your time eating in the likes of Les Pres d'Eugenie and The Waterside at Bray on Thames whilst popping over to Denmark for lunch or you're simply full of sh*t. Which is it? BTW, this rant is on my own behalf, not The Management's.

    Simon TAugust 14th 2010.

    "Manchester has once again suffered an almost complete lack of recognition" I love the quality of your writing.

    AnonymousAugust 14th 2010.

    ooh NG takes a bit out of Gordo... where is the plaster?

    GordoAugust 14th 2010.

    Anon, are you reading a different rant to me?

    NortherngeezerAugust 14th 2010.

    Gordo - Firstly, i love the concept of Mancon, the fact that it generally suits my needs for an online publication and that i'm able to comment, usually without impunity, and that both yourself and John boy reciprocate accordingly so your right, the fact i'm still here says it all, 10/10 for your publication. Secondly, again your right, i'm NOT easily pleased, i have very high standards when it comes to parting with my hard earned wonga, i believe the merest slight can make a poor impression on anybody, certainly on myself. Maybe i caught Ramsons on a bad night, maybe i'm wrong in expecting San Carlo to return my call to confirm my booking, maybe i'm wrong that when i complained, i expected the courtesy of a reply, not to be just ignored, maybe i'm wrong in expecting The Grosvenor to at least get my fookin booking right, maybe i should just aim lower and put up with shyte service and average food, maybe i'm wrong, but i doubt it. Thirdly, as long as its not slanderous or libelous i believe you should take anybodys individual comments as just that, the opinion of one person, who generally is poorly served by the north wests finest, which is exactly why this region did shyte in the good food guide. The case for the defence rests m'lud.

    NortherngeezerAugust 14th 2010.

    PS - I'm in the shit if i win the San Carlo competition aint i, hehehe, sum how, i dont think its my name gonna be pulled out of the hat,lol.

    BanesAugust 15th 2010.

    A fine and wonderful response NG, if lacking in paragraphs. Your closing point - "This region did shyte" - is though demonstrably wrong, as my earlier post illustrated.

    On the list of sixty Greater Manchester and indeed Manchester itself did much the same as every other major UK city, whereas the North West region was the best performing outside the South East spanking foodie strongholds like Yorkshire and Scotland.

    Also, in the GFG proper Manchester city once again has more entries than any other English provincial city, and this has been the case for at least ten years or so (and is replicated in other guides such as Hardens).

    Ramsons, I really liked. San Carlo service is infuriating though, and lets down an impression operation. Running restaurants ain't easy.

    ElbieAugust 19th 2010.

    I was possibly a bit OTT there, on San Carlo (on writing, I'd literally just heard another complaint about it from a friend!). But I do sincerely believe they only try hard when they want to impress specific people. The standard restaurant-goer gets awful service and average food. Shame.

    RaySeptember 2nd 2010.

    I wouldnt take the Good Food guide too seriously. Its reviewers are hardly trained in food asssessment, particularly in giving comparative assessments. It's all a bit "Daily Mail". Banes - FYI, Edinburgh utterly destroys Manchester for fine dining with one hand behind its back - and I'm no fan of the city. Birmingham, at the top end, does similar. There is a serious dining out culture in Edinburgh. I like Ramsons - the food is very good indeed, but it's quirky and the wine list is hit and miss. At least the owner (Chris Johnson) is passionate about what he does, and that's to his credit.

    NortherngeezerSeptember 2nd 2010.

    OOOOOEEEEERRRRR Ray, they'll be hell to play regarding the comment on Ransoms wine list, mark my words.

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