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REVIEW: Kitchenette | Oxford Street

David Blake on a half-lit, half-arsed Oxford Street restaurant

Written by . Published on December 15th 2014.

REVIEW: Kitchenette | Oxford Street

THE first time I visited Kitchenette they chucked mud in my face.

Which still isn't the worst greeting I've had walking into a restaurant. I once walked into a pizzeria back in Grimsby to be clouted straight back out the door. They probably did me a favour.

The opening hummus and iman biyaldi tasted as though it'd come from a 5kg vat and was served with crostinis straight from the packet and designed to shave seven bells of shit from the top of your mouth.

The dirty hello wasn't really Kitchenette's fault. One of the plant pots hung above the door flipped in the wind. Still, soil in the eyes is reason enough to retreat.

I wish I'd not come back.

Kitchenette by the Mud Crab group replaced the equally dire Felicini Italian on Oxford Street in early 2014 and is one of a string of mostly below-par restaurants on the Oxford Street/Road strip: Rump'n'Ribs, Gio, Don Gio, Pizza Express, Tempus. Set off from St Peter's Square and you're mostly shafted until you reach Zouk. After that you'll be lucky to leave happy until you get to Red Chilli a mile away.

Turtle Bay? Not having it. Lax service and less reliable than the X47 bus to Kingston.

Img_0745Kitchenette, Oxford Street

Img_0732Kitchenette is held up by two giant cigs

It's rare you leave a restaurant with nothing good to say. There's usually one dish you'd try again, or at least, a pretty bartender or some tiles that'd look nice in the downstairs khazi. All that can really be said of Kitchenette is that I didn't want to strangle my server, the quesadillas weren't entirely crap and they serve Black Sheep ale. Aside from that it's a struggle.

The room's held up by two giant lit, upturned fags, the dull grey and brown wipe-down furniture looks as though it's been dragged from the skip outside an airport Wetherspoons, while the windows, looking out over Manchester's most piss-soaked alley, have been decorated in stickers peeled from the glass of a local public swimming baths.

On the first visit I count thirteen dead lightbulbs. Thirteen. On my second they'd replaced eight of them. During my time on the restaurant floor I remember Manchester's chief restaurateur, the notoriously eagled-eyed Tim Bacon, almost separating a hapless young manager from his bollocks for daring to overlook one extinguished table tealight. Kitchenette would turn him rabid.

Window stickersWindow sticker shocker

Half-lit, half-arsedHalf-lit and half-arsed

What of the food. Well, the opening hummus and iman biyaldi (which is some forgettable salsa thing with aubergine) tasted as though it'd come from a 5kg vat and was served with crostinis straight from the packet and designed to shave seven bells of shit from the top of your mouth. This came served on a board so big that both Kate AND Leo could have hopped on and waited happily for the RMS Carpathia. 

The following chicken and chorizo quesadillas (£6) actually weren't too bad, in a way that lava-hot, gloopy, cheesy stuff can never be too bad. Though the chicken and chorizo still had the taste and texture of the Tesco Express stuff a five second hop over the road. The quesadillas come served with so much grease they've been known to turn steel translucent. 

Alone and castaway, the crostinis had eaten the othersAlone and castaway, the crostinis had eaten the others

Quesadillas: ok but as greasy as a Tbird's quiffQuesadillas: ok but as greasy as a Tbird's fine-tooth comb

Two signs in the Kitchenette front window shout at passers-by. They read 'BEST PIZZA IN TOWN'. Well, not even close. Salvi's, Croma, Slice.. all spank this place. The second reads 'DRINK. EAT BUNS. DRINK. EAT MORE BUNS. TELL EVERYONE'. We'd stop after the first drink.

The pizza base was decent enough but ordering something with garlic, like a garlic and mushroom pizza (£9.25), means you enjoy the taste of garlic. The pizza tasted mostly of pesto. Mild pesto made from three lily-livered basil leaves. Even the rocket, which you can usually rely on for a big 'ole peppery kick up the jacksie, fell short. It was like eating a limp handshake.

Now the famous 'BUNS, BUNS, PLEASE COME EAT THE FUCKING BUNS' are something else. They're a puzzle of food revolving around Taiwanese steamed milk buns, Hirata, served in a bamboo basket with accompanying pals. Very trendy in New York in the 00s, I'm told. Hirata caught on in London sometime last year. Kitchenette is the first restaurant I've known in Manchester to have a crack at these weird, puffy, fluffy, white things.

Hirata buns with tough, chewy skirt, past-it lettuce and baby jackets with a grim dollop of chive sour creamHirata buns with tough, chewy skirt, browning lettuce and baby jackets with a grim dollop of chive sour cream

...come on now...come on now

The buns themselves are fairly inoffensive but much like casing your food in Polyfilla grout. The chargrilled skirt steak, chewy, tough and probably the least attractive plate of food you'll see all year, came splattered with something unidentifiably green and swimming in a sauce that holds the Guinness World Record for 'Sauce With The Least Explanatory Name' - ABC Kecap Manis Glaze. Which, if you're wondering, is soy, and did little to moisten the skirt. O'er.

An accompanying lettuce side was browning to the point of being funny. The baby jackets with chive sour cream (£3) looked grim. Mess hall stuff.

Give me £25 a head and I'll show you 376 places to eat in Manchester city centre that are better Kitchenette. Three of them are Pizza Express.

Follow @David8Blake on twitter.

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commerical relationship.

Kitchenette60 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 5EE.

Rating: 5.5/20

Food: 2.5/20 (hummus and iman biyaldi 3, quesadillas 3, pizza 2, skirt steak buns 3, baby jackets 3, lettuce 0)
Service: 2/5
Ambience: 1/5

David recommends: Black Sheep ale, quesadillas (at a push), taking your own garlic and lettuce

Stay clear of... Most of it

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, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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

BopBoDecember 14th 2014.

Cue a few rants from staff/management/owners masquerading as genuine customers aghast at someone who would dare slate their favourite dining establishment.

Richard ArnoldDecember 14th 2014.

I think the X47 to Kingston has got better recently.. Although I may be wrong..

KarenDecember 14th 2014.

I went there for emergency dinner before the theatre last weekend and it was awful!!! Ranged from greasy to bland to tasting like they'd pulled it out the bin!! Cocktails were equally bad, their happy hour isn't happy!! Oh and it was my birthday, what a treat!!

rinkydinkDecember 14th 2014.

It looks crap from the outside. I don't understand why anyone would want to go in. And Fumo is just up the road...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 15th 2014.

Don't forget McDonald's.

Mark GarnerDecember 14th 2014.

Well, that steak certainly can go into the competition for a picture of food most resembling regurgatated road kill. Who owns this place? I take it the chef walked out months ago?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AVODecember 14th 2014.

I think it's the guys that own Grinch. Grinch used to be ok. Not been in for a while though.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2014.

Grinch was trendy about 20 years ago.

AnonymousDecember 19th 2014.

Well I still like Grinch. This place however looks shite.

food for thoughtDecember 14th 2014.

First time I am reading an honnest and fair review from MC ,which made me laugh too

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoDecember 15th 2014.

I know Food For Thought, we've been making it all up for ten years now! Send us a tenner you tight feller...

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

I agree, most of the reviews on here have been long winded, boring and with scores that dont reflect the review!

food for thoughtDecember 17th 2014.

Free lunch= good review

Simon TurnerDecember 15th 2014.

Is it the Felicini owners doing a desperate(ly bad) rebranding job?

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkDecember 15th 2014.


AnonymousDecember 15th 2014.

Its sister Mud Crab Cafe is normally good, so I'm surprised its that bad. Shame.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 15th 2014.

erm no its not, its bog standard if you really need to eat kind of place.

Steve5839December 16th 2014.

Dont think the Mud Crab is any better, went there in the summer and struggled to ever see a reason to go back.

Ian CollisDecember 15th 2014.

Any restaurant that states outside that they serve "JUNK FOOD" is not onto a winner. It looks very uninviting too.

CharlotteDecember 15th 2014.

Felicini was crap, as is this place.

Calum McGDecember 15th 2014.

Aren't you all missing the irony? The food is junk food. It says it's junk. And it is junk. So, yeah, that's the whole concept!!!!!!!! Yayyyy.

AnonymousDecember 16th 2014.

this place is awful - worst meal of the year

Mick ProctorDecember 16th 2014.

the lettuce is unacceptable

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Barry MaginnDecember 16th 2014.

Even healthy lettuce is unacceptable plonked down in a big wedge on a hipster-esque bowl like that.

AnonymousDecember 16th 2014.

The lettuce is outrageous.

AnonymousDecember 20th 2014.

The lettuce is an abomination

AnonymousDecember 16th 2014.

Best reviewer on mancon. More reviews please.

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkDecember 16th 2014.

Hi David

Y.G.R. ErskineDecember 16th 2014.

That salad looks lovely - if you're a rabbit! Even then it's pushing it! Think I will add this to the avoid pile!

VictoriaDecember 16th 2014.

Best and funniest review on ManCon for a while!

VictoriaDecember 16th 2014.

You had me at the Titanic reference to be fair

AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

What a fantastic reivew, nice to see someone not arse kissing the restaurant (which will no doubt happen once Fumo is reviewed) and being brutally honest! More of this please

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoDecember 17th 2014.

Anon, we report as we find. If its a bad experience we say, if its not, we say. Period.

Jonathan SchofieldDecember 17th 2014.

Funny. There's a Fumo review going up later today and I loved it so I will be saying that. And oddly I can't remember kissing any arses in there.

1 Response: Reply To This...
pollolocoDecember 17th 2014.

quick off the mark there then.....

Tim WaddyDecember 17th 2014.

Great review and it confirms what a friend told me last week. Got a few looks while chuckling away at this review in the office!

pollolocoDecember 17th 2014.

Having read the recent Aamchi Mumbai review/promotion, there is no mention of the actuall reviewers who went although it does read that way. Are we to take it that no one from manCon actually visited and that the "review" is just a paid for advert by the owners a la Cheshire Life?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 17th 2014.

I know that this will cause the editorial team to get up in arms about their clear and transparent review policy etc, but I do think promotional content should have comments sections. It only takes away the sense of fairness, transparency and honest by not letting people even comment on what has been written. ManCon needs to remember that advertisers are short term income, user experience is long-term success.

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

I agree. Or at least a separate section called 'advertorial' rather than being mixed in with reviews.

EditorialDecember 18th 2014.

Three ManCon staff members visited Aamchi Mumbai to dine and take photos. The Aamchi Mumbai advertorial clearly states 'Promotion' at the top. Thank you.

pollolocoDecember 19th 2014.

Was it a freebie then?

LesleyDecember 22nd 2014.

Been to Fumo today. Loved it. Everything about it. Staff, food, ambiance, everything.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 23rd 2014.

I've not been in yet, but it does look a bit too posh for my liking.

AnonymousDecember 27th 2014.

Ah, this is a shame. Have been here a couple of times and actually enjoy the buns, particularly the pork and chicken fillings - have not had the steak though, which does look 'interesting' there. Do agree on the lettuce, it's not great. Same on the pizzas really - Calabrian sausage was nice, but not amazing. The base was incredibly crispy, if that's what you like, I prefer one that's thin, with a crisp crust, but that still has flex towards the middle - Neapolitan-esque.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 27th 2014.


AnonymousDecember 27th 2014.

I really enjoy the iman biyaldi and the crispy chicken steam buns. I agree the lettuce could be fresher though... And the pizza is certainly not the best... Too crisp base for my liking!

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