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Best of 2008: the Sleuths

The Manchester Confidential Awards of 2008. And our news photo of the year.

Published on December 23rd 2008.


Best of 2008: the Sleuths

It’s the Sleuths – like the Oscars but with no expense spared. Literally no expense. This is our exhaustive selection of the best and the curious of 2008 – do you agree? The winners all receive an imaginary solid gold statuette of our logoman and urban myth-maker, Mr Sleuth. We know they’ll be thrilled. Call it a moral victory.

Best restaurant: Michael Caines at Abode
Close call this one with Ithaca, but the quality of the food, the range of drinks and the simple comfortable design wins out for Abode.

Best newcomers: Ithaca on John Dalton Street and the Angel off Rochdale Road
Ithaca joint wins because of its exciting food and the way it adds glamour to Manchester food and drink. The Angel joint wins because Robert Owen-Brown adds a maverick stroke of genius to Manchester cooking.

Best pub: Marble Arch, Rochdale Road A gem of a pub with its own micro-brewery expertly controlled by James Campbell and now with a great team in the kitchen with Ken Calder and Marc Lara.

Best bar: Walrus, High Street
Difficult choice this because Walrus can be a bit too bright and slick, but the introduction of elegant and flavoursome Japanese food alongside the striking design swings it for us.

Best use of a filing cabinet: The Angel, off Rochdale Road
See the story on the homepage for how Manchester Confidential had its 35lb Christmas turkey cooked in a filing cabinet in a car park.

Best shop: Edwards on Deansgate
For surviving from 1830 offering the best proper gentlemens’ shoes in the North West. We also loved the craziness of Babycakes’ world empire on Edge Street for ‘club kids’ and the floaty feminine wonder of Muse in Ramsbottom.

Best new building: Parkway Gate Student Apartments by Ian Simpson Architects
Three seriously impressive buildings, one clad in CorTen steel that enhance the drive along the Mancunian Way. There’s also an honourable mention to the lovely BDP Architects headquarters building on Great Ducie Street by, unsurprisingly, BDP.

Saddest Structure of the Year Award: B of the Bang
Made from CorTen steel like one of the Parkway Gate buildings above and condemned in late 2008. 2009 may see it demolished. Confidential loves it.

Best major art gallery/museum exhibition: Split decision: Blake’s Shadow at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Holman Hunt at Manchester Art Gallery or Emory Douglas at Urbis
The first for its range and beauty, the second for its scale and monstrousness and the third for raising questions about art and politics.

Best collection of dead people in an exhibition: Gunther Von Hagen’s Bodyworlds 4 at MOSI
Human meat done to perfection: stunning.

Best small gallery exhibition : Jan Cheblik’s Manchester and New York
Richly grained inspiring photography at Artland Gallery under the Friend’s Meeting House. Speaking of photographs we loved Andrew Brooks’ Reality Hack: Hidden Manchester images at Urbis too.

Most confusing exhibition : Lindow Man at Manchester Museum
An exhibition about an Iron Age sacrifice as lifeless and silly as the poor human sacrifice at the centre of the exhibition.

Best theatre production : The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
This featured an extraordinary performance from Brenda Blethyn. We also say well done to Black Watch from the National Theatre of Scotland at the Lowry.

Best festival award : 24/7 Theatre Festival
The theatrical extravaganza that is David Slack’s remarkable 24/7 theatre festival premiering 16 new productions in July. Keep it coming David.

Best Manchester band: Elbow
For the excellent album, the Seldom Seen Kid, which deservedly won best album accolade at the Mercury Music Prize. And services to The Temple bar on Oxford Street.

Best gig: Stevie Wonder
The old trooper rocked the Manchester world at the MEN Arena in October. Thumbs up too for the Leonard Cohen gig in August, a herald for 2009’s very very promising second Manchester International Festival.

Biggest surprise: Manchester votes for the Congestion Charge
Er…did we miss something? What, that didn’t happen…

Manchester’s biggest surprise part two: Manchester City
“Eh, what?” The reaction in August when City bought Robinho and technically became the richest club in the world.

Best debate: Gunther von Hagens gets a grilling
Confidential’s debate with the Bodyworlds man for twenty readers. Gunther told us it was the one of the most enlightened and stimulating debates he’d had anywhere in the world. Course it was, our readers are brainy.

The Manchester Confidential bad prediction of the year award: The Yes Campaign a month before the referendum
“It’s going to be a close run thing,” said the organisers of the Yes vote for the Transport Innovation Bid (aka Congestion Charge).

Statistic of the Year: Four to one
The amount by which the congestion charge was rejected.

Grubbiest press coverage of the Year: The MEN's coverage of Chief Constable Mike Todd’s death
The reporting of his death and subsequent revelations about his private life was as if the News of the World had come to Manchester as part of the Guardian Media Group.

Best non-Confidential writer: David Ottewell
The MEN still shows itself capable of serious writing from proper journalists.

Best day of the Year: Rangers' Day 14 May 2008
Ok it was a mess but despite that minor riot at the end it was a bloody exciting time to be around. Confidential loved it (see picture below).

Best Manchester satire: April Fool about Gordon Ramsay on Manchester Confidential
This was our story that Ramsay had opened a restaurant in Manchester Cathedral with dishes such as ‘Quince, with an arrogance of kumquat, on a gentle fisting of lime’. We love our reader Cass for this: ‘Yes I fell for it, I even called my dad to ask him to pop in for a menu.’ What were we saying about the intelligence of our readers? We'd also like to compliment ourselves for the fun we had with stories such as: Afflecks Palace to become Harrods, Black Hole located in Press Club, Great Wall of China to built around the Labour Party Conference, United's new 'safe' victory parade route following the fallout after Rangers' Day, and the Supercasino rejected in favour of a Super-brothel. We're very fond of the one where we declared that Warrington was going to be abolished in the April Fool Manchester 250 because people 'were sick of it.' This resulted in a complaining phone call from a council official there - who then went on to laboriously describe the joys of the town.

Our news picture of the year from our biggest story of the year in terms of reads. This is the aftermath of the Rangers' invasion on 14 May. The photo, taken by our own Lynda Moyo, has it all. The guy on the bin is coming down after 24 hours of irresponsible drinking. On the right there's a journalist with a mic and on the left there's a group of Ranger's fans who, by some miracle, have found some more alcohol in a city the rest of us thought had been drunk dry. Behind are the massed ranks of portaloos - seldom used portaloos.

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

AndrewDecember 23rd 2008.

Joan makes a very valid point about the RX studio, that is where the good stuff is on there. Its main house productions are largely dreary and tired. The Library consistently out-performs it, and they have won Best Production at the MEN Theatre Awards for the last two years (number of nominations for the Exchange? - zero). I look forward to the Editorial Promise being kept.

Manchester DaveDecember 23rd 2008.

Abode best restaurant - surely not. Went for lunch and had the set menu - portions ludicrously small so ordered more from the main menu. Cost a fortune and still left hungry.

BabyDecember 23rd 2008.

Walked past I

Graham KingDecember 23rd 2008.

My favourite restaurant was the Northern Quarter Restaurant. Great food at decent prices and good place to watch the world go by. An example of mid-range dining as it should be done.

Editorial promiseDecember 23rd 2008.

Here's a promise. We will do more theatre next year - although there were 26 stories in 2008 on theatre.

heatseekerDecember 23rd 2008.

They should have shot the jock b******d for wrecking our city.Scotland isnt that where we nicked all are oil from and sent all our nuclear waste too?

TheElderStatesmanDecember 23rd 2008.

I think sometimes Warrington should be abolished. We might get a night bus then, instead of having to make sure that nights out into the big fancy city are finished pre-11PM in time for the last train arround 11.30pm, or face a £50 cab fair back to a peasant dwellings in the shadow of the golden gates of the peoples unified republic of Warrington.Other times it isn't a bad place to be. As long as you like Chavs, or can ignore them.

wonderingDecember 23rd 2008.

just how long will Itheca struggle on for this year before it closes?

Shocked!December 23rd 2008.

Ithaca? Seriously? What is with you guys bumming this place? Over '5 spiced' teeny tiny new nouvelle cuisine, not very nice food?! Am I the only peron in the whole of Manchester that thinks Ithace sucks?! Are we not allowed to talk about the big pink elephant in the room?!?! The only redeeming feature is how nice the staff are, but seriously ManCon, stick with Abode and the one armed masterchef that is Michael Caines. 5 words. The. Man. Is. A. Genius. (Technically 4 words and a letter)

SCDecember 23rd 2008.

'Thumbs up' to Leonard Cohen??? 'Glory,Glory' Leonard Cohen at both The Opera House in June and the MEN in November.

sambraroDecember 23rd 2008.

Abode restaurant - cant agree with this one - the set menu is a joke. Had the xmas meal which tasted like it came from findus (at best) - I expect more even if i'm not paying top dollar. river restaurant at lowry still superior and not set in an old nightclub !

ADDecember 23rd 2008.

I agree with Andrew the royal exchange is decent at best. For me the Lowry is consistenly good with its productions - the best thing I saw this year was the man who had all the luck.More than that though it seems odd for confidential to be giving out theatre awards when you only review a small fraction of whats on... maybe we could see some more from you next year!

JoanDecember 23rd 2008.

But the shows @ The Lowry are rarely produced there; they're mostly touring productions with the production done elsewhere. I think the Royal Exchange is much better than decent, particularly if its Studio productions are included. Best production in my view this year was The Library Theatre's Godot. Don't think you reviewed it at ManCon. How about a New Year's Resolution to cover more theatre in 2009?

BabyDecember 23rd 2008.

Meant to say; walked past Ithaca twice today during lunch. It was closed. Odd

LesleyDecember 23rd 2008.

Royal Ex studio consistently provides excellent theatrical expreiences. Last seasons "I can see the hills" was brilliant.Disappointed with Taste of Honey in RX main house.Library theatre's Glee Club was excellent too.As was Monkey at the palace.And the amazing Leonard Cohen at MEN.Consistently good food to be eaten at The Restaurant Bar and Grill, and the Angel.Matthew Williamson at Urbis.World Aids day concert at B/water hall was both moving and a quality event.Manchester is such a great city eh ?

AndrewDecember 23rd 2008.

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange as Best Production? The Exchange is an over-rated outfit living on glories earned a long time ago. There is far more challenging and infinitely better work on offer at the Octagon and the Library, and they do it on a tiny fraction of the Exchange's huge public subsidy.

JoanDecember 23rd 2008.

Appreciate the 'Edtorial Promise'. 26 a year is one a fortnight, How about aiming for 52 in 2009?

lavinia lancasterDecember 23rd 2008.

have to disagree with your theatre choice. Overall I think that the best theatre in Manchester has to be The Library. Time and again it never fails with quite simpy brilliant artistic direction, superb writing and acting. Much more adventurous overall than the Royal Exchange. But, as a regular visitor to Exchange too I have to disagree with your choice of Glass Menagerie - good yes but did you see Henry V? It was fabulous in every way. The staging was simply superb. No big names and not needed but clearly it passed the confidential team by!

Jane ParkDecember 23rd 2008.

As far as theatre goes I completely agree with 24/7 winning your Festival award. It's an astonishing achievement, loved the Impossibility Club this year.

johnthebriefDecember 23rd 2008.

Ithaca's food is superb, but I fear for the future of any establishment (hint) that expects people to pay top end premium prices for very very small portions. Yes it's a nice surrounding and the bar's excellent, but cash is king and I think Ithaca will fall to the next trendy must-go place

Trevor GrahamDecember 23rd 2008.

I nominate Survivors for the best post-apocalyptic view of Manchester in 2009

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2008.

Ithaca is now closed on Sundays and Mondays

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2008.

Ranger's Day was the best. It was mad but bizarre, scary but fun. I had a drink with some of the fans in the Waldorf and they were generally really nice people.

Freddie HooperDecember 23rd 2008.

Rangers' Day love it. Definitely. It was shocking, alarming but superb as well. Let's get more finals in Manchester. Not that we'll ever see anything like that again.

AndrewDecember 23rd 2008.

Joan makes a very valid point about the RX studio, that is where the good stuff is on there. Its main house productions are largely dreary and tired. The Library consistently out-performs it, and they have won Best Production at the MEN Theatre Awards for the last two years (number of nominations for the Exchange? - zero). I look forward to the Editorial Promise being kept.

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