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Bottega, Selfridges, Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield purges his clichés over good food

Written by . Published on January 6th 2014.

Bottega, Selfridges, Reviewed

SO help me God I'm giving up clichés this year. I’ve had it up to here with them. I'm putting them out to grass, letting them lie fallow - if you get my drift?

This had been cooked to perfection and was a real crowd pleaser. With the snails it was the best dish we had. There was a very toothsome herby sausage and a runny duck egg that packed a punch.

My main New Year's resolution is to physically assault the next person who says 'with a twist'. Or worse, says, 'pop-up with a twist'. I'll beat the buggers with an Oxford English Dictionary - a big, heavy one - till the despised phrase exits their body through their bleeding ears. 

View from Bottega to the CIS Tower at sunset


View from Bottega to the CIS Tower at sunset

I'm starting the purge with food clichés.

These infest magazine reviews and 'blogs' like Japanese knotweed in an abandoned railway cutting.

The clichés are often included in reviews that have that particularly prissy food writer's style. You know the one: a sexually repressed Edwardian tone as though the writer is a minor Oscar Wilde having high tea with bone china, cocked little fingers and an air of quiet desperation? It's a weak, simpering, stylistic technique that at its worst sounds like a prim piece of Edwardian erotica. 

This is a real quote from a nearby provincial magazine back in 2011. 

'Across the table my delightful companion was still toying with her divine main as the dishy Italian waiter delivered a simply scrumptious pannacotta that had us both quivering with anticipation.'

Oh dear Lord.

Inside Bottega

Inside Bottega

So for this review of Bottega I've decided to rid myself of food clichés once and for all. I'm going to put every one of them in this article. Purge myself. 

BUT. This is still a real food review, accurately scored.

Here we go.

Bottega is on the second floor of Selfridges and occupies the space previously occupied by the much-loved Aubaine. It has a lighter and brighter feel than Aubaine, and looks very like the award-winning Cicchetti in House of Fraser - particularly the marble counter. The difference is Bottega is elevated by about eighty feet into the sky, giving stunning views across Exchange Square.

The menu in this eatery reads well with drop-dead dishes that read yummily. The food is a combination of Italian small plates with southern French small plates. Why there's this particular combination is a little puzzling but it does the trick (although, The Redhead thought an Italian/Danish combination might be more amusing - Scandi food is so on-trend atm).

First up we had nibbles - on the house - of big, luscious olives with rich, silky flesh. Good bread too - on the house again - better for being dunked in a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For starters yours truly plumped for the snails (£7.50). Snails play hard to get in Manchester but are delectable additions to the food and drink scene, all unctuous, rustic and earthy. Oily soil you could say, but lovely all the same, with good mouthfeel. 

Over the way The Redhead was savouring the beef carpaccio (£7.95), which was very approachable with its attractive riot of green rocket on red beef. The meat was meltingly tender, nicely tart and very tasty. Never sure about an excess of greenery though, surely the chef could tone this down, it's not rocket science after all? 

Next up from the bill of fare was the stick to your ribs Toulouse sausage and duck egg (£6.95). This had been cooked to perfection and was a real crowd-pleaser. With the snails it was the best dish we had. There was a very toothsome herby sausage and a runny duck egg that packed a punch. Chilli in the bed of woody spinach added grown-up heat.

Toulouse sausage and ducks eggs

Toulouse sausage and ducks eggs 

The fillet of seabass (£8.15) came at a weird price and was a miss. As The Redhead across the table said, "It's tasteless, needs more garlic, more definition, more interest; it needs to be more zingy."

"And more zesty?" I offered.



"Yes, it needs to be more zingy-zestytastic," she said. 

The moment was rescued by the dolci Bottega (£9.95 and main picture above), a mouth-wateringly decadent, cornucopia of sinful pleasure that was simply to-die-for. It boasted artisan apple strudel, tempting tiramisu, lush lemon cake, panting pannacotta and some blissful berries. Nom. 

The two large glasses of Syrah Astoria (£6.05) from Sicily were bang on the money, as full-bodied as a 32-year-old Sophia Loren. The Syrah appeared on a list with a wide range of well-chosen wines. 

Sophia Loren or Syrah Astoria Loren as she is also called

Sophia Loren or Syrah Astoria Loren as her best friends called her

Service came with a smile, and the service charge of ten percent on the bill was not an issue. 

Bottega, with that gorgeous view and the generally high standard of food performs well in Selfridges. It's a winner. It's hard to say the food is better than the previous tenant here, Aubaine, but it's certainly better for people watching as the San Carlo fairy dust delivers a constant stream of seemingly happy punters.

And it has snails which is a clincher. 

(Good. Got those clichés off my chest. If you let me know how many there are in the article then you can win a £50 voucher for Bottega. Entries to jonathans@theconfidentials.co.uk by Monday 13 January. PS: I've missed the cliche of 'shown the pan' but then we ate nothing that was flash fried.)  

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


Bottega, Selfridges, Exchange Square, City centre. Please note that Bottega opens during shop opening hours: 10am-8pm Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm on Saturdays and from 11am-5.30pm on Sundays.  

Rating: 14/20 (remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type - see yellow box below)

Food: 7/10 (snails 8, carpaccio 7, sausage 8, sea bass 6.5, dolci 8)
Service: 4/5 
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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

SquirrelitoJanuary 6th 2014.

Had me worried there, I thought you'd been forcibly entered by Cheshire Life til I realised what you were up to. ps: That dessert looks eye-rollingly tasty.

JayJanuary 6th 2014.

£7 for a sausage and egg seems scandalous to me but no mention of that in the review. At least Hoss was honest about the exorbitant pricing.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Station HarryJanuary 7th 2014.

stick to the Koffee Pot Jay. WTF is Hoss?

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

It's a duck egg. And really, really good Toulouse Sausage. I've had it, it's top.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

They've either significantly upped their game since HH's review, or he caught them on a really bad day, because the food in the pictures from his review looks appalling.

JayJanuary 8th 2014.

Although I am a fan of the Koffee Pot I also go to Cicchetti quite regularly and have noticed the difference in prices between there and Bottega for what is essentially the same dish. Just saying, that's all.

James BlackleyJanuary 6th 2014.

Talk sense have you seen the prices in the rest of the store? It's located in Selfridges, it is not in an ASDA cafe. Who the hell is Hoss.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 6th 2014.

I dont see why being in selfridges means you dont have to try to offer value for money to customers.

AnonymousJanuary 6th 2014.

The food is good but I think for some things the price needs to come down or the portion sizes go up. I paid £9 something for four mouthfulls of fish not long ago, tasty but not that tasty!

Richard HJJanuary 7th 2014.

Is it wrong of me to have a bit of a problem with a restaurant that's in a shop? They never feel terribly organic in my experience. Willing to be convinced either way.

SteamyJanuary 7th 2014.

Any update on who or what a 'Hoss' is?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

hungry hoss is some food addicted blogger.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

Hungry Hoss is a legend and I've always found his reviews spot on.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

Hoss is a sensationalist; not a patch on JS. I've eaten here twice and loved it. If you're a fan of Ciccetti / San Carlo, you'll be a fan of this place.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

I don't agree with all his reviews (the world would be a dull place if we all agreed) but I don't see how he warrants being labelled a 'sensationalist'. I wouldn't plate food at home for myself like that, let alone expect it in a mid-range, certainly not cheap, restaurant.

GordoJanuary 8th 2014.

Hoss is a trusted blogger and does get about. He went in the very early days when Marcello himself was worried about the quality and accepted Hoss's comments. JS went several weeks later; the quality has settled down and scores, IMHO, in line with Cicchetti, which is good. Polloloco below, whilst i love him, is, as usual, talking shyte.

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2014.

How many weeks does it take to put a sausage and egg on a plate?

AnonymousJanuary 9th 2014.

If they've taken steps to improve things then fair play, but it really shouldn't fill anyone with confidence that an established restaurant operator ever thought it acceptable to send out food like that

pollolocoJanuary 7th 2014.

Those pictures from the Hoss don't lie.......if you're just Joe Bloggs then I'm afraid that's what you can expect from Bottega, san carlo etc.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Ian PartialityJanuary 7th 2014.

Hoss, certainly seems to like Solita

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2014.

because he gets free food

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2014.

but then he makes no secret of the fact he's mates with the owner and gets freebies. Either way, it's irrelevant to the point that was made by Polloloco

GeorgeJanuary 7th 2014.

Had a "dinner" for two few weeks ago, JS there, and my food DID NOT look like yours. It was something that I could NOT describe in similar words the way that you have put it. It was poor quality, re - heated, most terribly presented, looked like it has been just assembled by somebody who did not work in the kitchen and the food had to be found on the plate with a magnifying glass. The only plus was the service which I found efficient, pleasant and with a nice smile. For Italian style tapas it was well too expensive, and as for "sensational" - it DID NOT - ..."transmit the nervous impulses to my brain and mind as a result of stimulation of any the sense organs (especially taste buds!!!)"

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2014.

No surprise - san carlo being a major client of man con!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Trish KarneyJanuary 8th 2014.

I fear your comment may mysteriously vanish, as have several other non complimentary reviews.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 8th 2014.

There's no surprise. Read our Rant and Comment Policy here: www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/Rant-And-Comment-Policy-Manchester-Confidential…

Liam AJanuary 10th 2014.

"Mouthfeel" made me smile.

Mark AllenJanuary 14th 2014.

haha egg and sausage and anyone notice they cant fry a bloody egg look at it its brown on the edge and all bumpy on the white a fried egg should be smooth and soft delicate but hey there a second class restaurant chain eat else where me thinks

Schadenfreude MisanthropeJanuary 15th 2014.

I'll see if this comment is left alone...previous 3 attempts have been removed. Having had lunch there, I'd give it 5/10, absolute maximum. It will no doubt be filled though with people all smug and self satisfied that they are eating there. I've no axe to grind, just expressing an honest opinion. Also, why is Gordo throwing his wait around making excuses? Customers can only speak as they find. Freedom of speech is a right worth protecting!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 15th 2014.

Schadenfreude I will leave this comment up and it's my call not Gordo's whether comments get removed. I will leave this comment up because you make yourself foolish with that 'smug and self-satisfied' sentence. I went again on Saturday and Bottega was fine. The only people I saw where decent sorts, often middle-aged and older, but younger ones too, some with kids in tow, who were enjoying themselves. I also think that maybe people confuse the right to Freedom of Speech in the internet age with Freedom to Insult behind the mask of anonymity. Worse the cowards usually do it without a scintilla of wit.

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