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Gill thrill

After AA Gill gives the city a dig, Gordo and Schofield give their response

Written by . Published on October 18th 2010.

Gill thrill

Oh no, AA Gill has come to Rosso in Manchester and found it and the city not to his liking(click here).

So the debate will have to roll on. That most tiresome of city debates. Are we a poor city for food? Or are most of the national critics part of a metropolitan elite who don’t know how to compare like with like?

Gill also generally laid into Manchester as a modern city.

After discussing our immense history he dismissed us, the present citizenry, as ‘taken over by the Gallaghers, Morrissey and Rio Ferdinand’.’ He called us a ‘sorry lot’.

He described Manchester as: ‘Girls strutting and pouting with tarantula eyes and Siamese breasts, showed off hooker frocks and were soused in smells called things like Pepper Splayed and Moist Obelisks. They were followed by sheepishly leery blokes looking like bad boys who’ve been sent to the head. All wearing ripped, faded jeans, trainers and T-shirts, just to let us know they were too cool for dinner, but up for sex afterwards. There was the expectation of celebrity, a posing commitment to having a laugh. Everybody was auditioning for their own sexual reality show.’

Which is one side of things but all a bit different from Cornerhouse bar, The Briton’s Protection or Band on the Wall.

This is what Gordo and Schofield thought about Gill’s piece.


The question is, are there any cities north of Watford which are worthy of Gill, with his dead-fish eyes screwed firmly shut as his Sunday Times Editor sticks a boot up his tight, herringbone-clad arse and propels him north?

Or, similarly, that other one, Giles Coren. I wonder how Gill's bitch got the job anyway? Coren, hmm. Mind you, he is arguably the better writer of the two.

The failed novelist Gill, whose full time occupation is the rather stretching job as The Sunday Times TV and motoring critic, has a view on Rosso, the Italian restaurant at the top of King Street here in Manchester. He is entitled to his view.

What he is not entitled to do is talk down to the North-West and Manchester in particular, an area that helps pay his salary through the purchase of his newspaper.

This is what Gill writes about us:

"For a city this size, the options for eating out are cacophonous but not pretty, the usual handful of ethnic restaurants, kebab and chip shops, old torpid and congealing restaurants in hotels, and then a lot of flash bars that do food. This is a city that drinks first and eats after, with its mouth open. Nights out are events that aren’t easily contained by tablecloths and cutlery."

It is clear from his lazy description of our hotel restaurants that he has no knowledge of the scene whatsoever, one that has been revolutionised by Podium at The Hilton and the River Restaurant at The Lowry, MC at Abode and Malmaison. Torpid and congealing? I think not.

The reality is that Manchester is a city in transformation and doing it well. At mid-level dining we are outstanding, certainly at ethnic cuisine. Red Chilli and Red’n’Hot can whip anything in London's Chinatown into a corner.

Gill's Editor should change the name of his paper and have done with it. 'The Southern Counties Not Forgetting Cornwall and Devon up to Gloucester Sunday Times' should just about cover it.

Jonathan Schofield:

Gill delivered a brilliant bit of invective. Splendidly written. Great fun.

If I had an issue with the article it was that he seems to have picked one single venue as our sole representative. Couple of years ago I went to some big restaurant close to Hyde Park, It was full of East European horizontal lady workers and men who looked like they’d auditioned for the villain roles in CSI Miami. Would I base all London restaurants on that experience?

Gill was a bit like that. He was a bit childish. But definitely funny.

I agree with Gordo but I would also judge the Manchester food scene from a different angle. Over the last fourteen years I’ve taken thousands and thousands of people from across the globe on guided tours of the city. I’ve only ever had – what? – maybe eight, negative comments about the range, diversity and quality of the food. Fact. And many of my guests have been professional journalists, and many of those travel and food writers.

The inference that was most annoying came with the Gallaghers and Rio quote. Gill thinks we have a vanished cultural life. Tonight (Monday) I’m addressing more than 100 people on Anthony Burgess and Manchester. It’s a sell out. We are presently amidst the Literature Festival, we have the Science Festival to come, I could go on...

Yet maybe he underlines something. Too often it seems we want our representatives to be tough street talking working class sorts like Mani or Bez.

Yet we are also the city of Burgess, Anthony H Wilson, Howard Jacobson and many others such as Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, who’ve adopted us. Maybe we can play on our reputation for straight-talking, almost uncouth manners, too much. AA Gill it seems had already judged us before he arrived, all he had to do was find the evidence. And it's not that hard to do.

Still AA Gill’s piece was very good. Very funny. Criticism, even if only partially true, can be instructive.

Click here to read the reproduced article.

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

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

There's some many chips on shoulders in this article that if you combined them with a bit of sauce you could open a new venue for Gill to review. Gill is sarcastic, arrogant and usually not entirely accurate. However, does it deserve an article just because he slagged off the restaurant scene? It's so provincial and small time.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

How embarrassing. Everything AA Gill says is true - I've lived in Manchester three years and the food is at best mediocre and massively overpriced. His description of the clientele also seems pretty accurate to me. I wish you Mancunians would drop this blind, misguided loyalty and have a bit of humility.

AgricolaOctober 18th 2010.

Anonymous on a Saturday night you can go to all the best pubs, most of the best bars, about seventeen good restaurants and not find the type of people described. Perhaps you just stay in the suburbs and whinge about a scene you don't know.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

Gill is right though about the clientele in Rosso of an evening. Truth is we don't really have a lot to shout about on the food front and getting upset at his article is a fault. I haven't been to RednHot but Red Chilli aint that good.

NotgilescorenOctober 18th 2010.

Do you lot eat out in other cities? Name the supposed Gods of Greatness in say Glasgow within walking distance of each other. Or is this a British problem not particularly a Manchester one?

Simone13024October 18th 2010.

Put your toys back in the pram. You two feel free to insert humour, use stereotypes and generalise in your own reviews (which I like), yet get upset when someone else does it. The posturing makes me cringe.

Aimee StuartOctober 18th 2010.

Didn't Schofield say he liked the review and maybe part of the problem was our fault for trying to be so very very 'Manchestoh'?

MeOctober 18th 2010.

Gordo that is unbelievably immature. Unfortunately this article won't be remembered for its well balanced argument in favour of our city, it'll be remembered for such comedy gold as 'The failed novelist'. Get yourself a name for a decent standard of writing as opposed to failed bitchy snippets like the above. Johnathan, some really good points, give Gordo some tips will you.

Simone13024October 18th 2010.

What worries me most is that next Sunday Gill will use snippets of this in his article and we all look like a bunch of Northern numpties who think the whole world has it in for us.

YouOctober 18th 2010.

The use of ME as a pseudonym. Is that tecnically a pseudonym?

MeOctober 18th 2010.

Hello YOU, it's spelt 'technically'. I hate it when someone tries to be clever and makes themselves look stooooopid.

Not You AgainOctober 18th 2010.

Tochnocrally you're reet. Anyway aren't YOU, ME? And vice versa. Mi casa es su casa.

Andrew StevensonOctober 18th 2010.

Lots of elements of truth in Gill's piece (as reported here - I've not going past the Murdoch paywall thanks), Gordo's and Schofield's responses and Anonymous' rants.
Though Gill's piece smacks of laziness in bringing up old stereotypes.
Problem is, some of those stereotypes still hold: Manchester is more taken with flash bars first, flash restaurants second, really good restaurants third.
Fortunately the tide is turning: MC at Abode, Harvey Nicks, Mark Addy in the centre; Damson & Aumbry in the suburbs, Chris Johnson all the way out in Rammie - they all come immediately to mind.
But why is the French at the Midland not a highlight? Why did Establishment fail? What's happened to the Yang Sing? (Actually, don't understand why Yang Sing has fallen so far out of favour - used to have to queue for dimsum at weekends, now it's half empty, and the dim sum is just as good, if not better.)
Manchester comes off badly in comparison with Birmingham, Edinburgh and even Nottingham, but I think can hold its head up alongside Glasgow, Leeds and maybe even York. Manchester is positively glorious compared to many cities (Leicester, Preston, Derby, Plymouth, Southampton etc).
I think the first two anonymous posts have a point in suggesting we're too quick to come to Manchester's defence. If we can be so easily riled, we're going to continue to be an easy target for publicity-seeking journalists like AA Gill.

BhajsfsdOctober 18th 2010.

Andrew I think Confidential just want us to start opining away. Good tactic.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

Exactly SIMONE 13025.
When are we in the North finally going to learn our lesson and ignore or simply laugh & sneer back at all this stuff? (Now that would truly infuriate the London papers.)
Thanks to the "hysterical response" of Manchester Confidential, the MEN and Pat Karney etc - we've fallen hook, line & sinker into their trap YET AGAIN. Gill just won't believe his luck reading all this paranoia!

EARL OF DIDSBURYOctober 18th 2010.

A Lot of truth in Mr gills article , of course the 4 hotel restaurants Mr Schofield names are'nt congealing , of course theres some great mid range restaurants too like red chilli , Luso , Zouk, etc , but there are hardly any decent gastro pubs in the city , no flagship restaurants like Birmingham's Purne'lls , not even a decent italian! , lots of tosh like Rosso and the swanky but lacking Stock, a walk around Battersea or Islington or Chiswick in the capital and there's 10 times as many better restaurants than in Manchester. The fact this very site keeps doing repeat reviews and even reviewing city greasy spoon cafes and the likes of Nandos says something.Then there's Manchester's drinking culture or lack of it , the city is full of chain bars just like any other uk mediocre town and even the exceptions like socio rehab beacause of there unsuitable locations now get flooded with chavs smelling of the latest cut price after shave from the "prefume shop", Manchester wake up and take your head out of your arse , the food overall is average at best , head to London or Belgium or anywhere in fact to verify my point!

Go and try overthereOctober 18th 2010.

Belgium. I was in Antwerp for a week and ate and drank everywhere. And aside from one restaurant it was no better than here, the average quality was lower and the beers no better than that produced by our 22 brewers in Greater Manchester.

DibigoOctober 18th 2010.

Manchester Confidential just got battered

ADOctober 18th 2010.

Lets be fair that big paragraph about girls with tarantula eyes was not written about manchester but specificaly the 9pm crown in rosso. the Gallagher rio bit was written about how manchester seems to market itself to the outside world (perhaps in london thats how we come accross?) and he did put a chunk of text in bigging up manchester art gallery and its pre-rafalite collection. the only unfiar thing in this is that with an influential food writter and critic in town the only place he ended up was Rosso - which numpty recomended he go there?

EARL OF DIDSBURYOctober 18th 2010.

I too was in Antwerp this year and had one of my best meals of 2010 , try http://www.Zuiderterras.be in Antwerp , we do not simply have restaurants of this standard in Manchester , i found many like it in other Belgium cities too like Ghent . Of course i am NOT going to knock our great pubs here in Manchester/UK or our fantastic growing micro brewery businesses which make bitter's as good or better than Belgiums range of beers. In my view Allgates of Wigan , Dunham Massey brew co and Phoneix of Heywood are amongst the best in the north west (sample them at this months Didsbury beer fest towards the end of the month)

jeremy clarksonOctober 18th 2010.

adrian is a top writer without prefixed views. he is also a great lover of all things north western and a big fan of the orange people of knutsford and alderley edge.
what did you expect him to say about a night at rosso? great writing though from gill, gordo and and schofield - bring on a proper fight

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

I have to say, he is spot on regards his observations on the clientel - it's a mirror image at the other end of King Street too. You can smell the orange-faced, skyscrapper-heeled, tarantual-eyed bimbos before you hear their caterwauling. Having said that, there seems to be a clique of London-biased 'critics' whose very purpose is to slag off Manchester restaurants on demand; Jay Raynor, Matthew Fort, AA Gill

EARL OF DIDSBURYOctober 18th 2010.

And may be plenty of people who blog on here that should read "the "emperors new clothes"

Eddy RheadOctober 18th 2010.

Just so i know.....what words for female genitalia am i not allowed to use on here and which am i allowed to use? Once the ground rules are established i shall be back for a sensitive and thoughtful rant about what i think of Mr Gill.

mOctober 18th 2010.

He talks of tarantula eyes and ripped jeans, clearly witnessing the local WAG culture (A football's restaurant is probably a good place to find it). The clientele in the more upmarket restaurants often do tend to be WAG laden though. The brash pretentiousness of it all must do little to create the ambiance of a classy, award winning restaurant.

Except during special events, none of large regional cities attract enough tourism to dilute whatever the trends of the locals are. People and fashions change depending on where in the city you go but in the case of Manchester, if it's upmarket it's most likely to be waggy, which is unfortunate.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

Upmarket WAG = oxymoron

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

Sure, he came across as arrogant and scathing, and Rosso isnt the kind of place on which to judge Manchester in its entirety, since its pretty much a glammed up Pizza Express in terms of quality and price, but he is correct about most of what he says! The general quality of dining in Manchester city centre, is terrible for a city of our size and importance. As a food lover, who loves love kebabs and pizzas, aswell as fine dining, the sooner than people realise this, the better. Sure the food at Michael Caines is Michelin standard, but the service is hit and miss. At The French, the food is great, aleit dated, along everything else about the place, but its the only place in town where you feel truly special, but its formality puts people off. As somebody mentioned Podium as being fine dining? It isn't. End of story. We are a northern City, hence like a drink, and yes, people prefer to be non formal when dining out, hence our lack of Michelin stars. Mix this with our fascination with celeb haunts, and it stacks up to a disappointing food experience, unless your preference is curry, chow mein, pizza and steaks. Decent quality food, but not 'foodie' food. There is nothing wrong with any of this as it suits the market, but Manchester lacks fine dining credentials, and in truth, doesn't like, or understand fine dining. Everybody likes eating, but not everybody likes food. There is a difference. But then people here on the whole couldnt care less about this, as long as it tastes OK, fills you up, and is reasonably priced.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

To be fair and I don't like to be fair to Mr. Gill, readig the article in context, the 'sorry lot' he refers to are the Labour Party delegates at conference a few weeks back, not us Mancunians as a whole. Just my interpretation...

TOMOctober 18th 2010.

"Arrrrrrrrrr those Labor delegates that supported the govt who bought the UK economy to its knees ,,, arrr please be nice to them !

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

The world & his wife have picked up on this, it's even made the Mirror football pages.....

John HarrisOctober 18th 2010.

Gordo / Schofield

The challenge is obvious. Do unto others etc...

Get yourselves down to London, pick one over-priced under-quality chav palace and review London as a whole on the basis of it.


AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

And look even more childish.

John HarrisOctober 18th 2010.

Anonymous, you have neither wit or imagination

AnonymousOctober 18th 2010.

Johnthebrief, very mature. If, just through some perceived insult from Gill, they reviewed a London restaurant with the sole intention of slating it then that would be pathetic. If you can't hack different opinions from your own then may I suggest it's you lacking several personality aspects.

John HarrisOctober 18th 2010.

If it were done with the no more intelligence than is displayed in, for example, your writing, then it would indeed probably be pathetic.

But I happen to think Gordo and Schofield have it in them to produce a piece witty and ironic enough to avoid that pitfall. As with so many things, it's all in the presentation.

D KesslerOctober 19th 2010.

Guys! Get him up here again and show him town!

Irony checkOctober 19th 2010.

Would John the Brief like to explain what he understands the word ironic to mean?

Leigh ScottOctober 19th 2010.

Getting a bit school playground this, Im off to read Binns' pants article!

ellpollolocoOctober 19th 2010.

Who gives a flying ***k what Adrian Gill thinks????

SmudgeJonesOctober 19th 2010.

Any food critic that poses on a 4x4 holding a gun is a w8nker. end of....

Spending your time trying to be ross kemp isn't good at the best of times; especially when your job is to sit around eating

Ex-smokerOctober 19th 2010.

endorphines released through light exercise reduce the cravings for me. I stopped buying them and started exercising,not much, just 5-10 minutes to start with, a light jog a couple of days a week just to get in to the mental process and think about stopping. I felt good after a few weeks and stopped smoking cigs.6 moths later I have lost a stone in weight feel lots better with more energy and have never looked back. I dont really exercise much more than 20 minutes every other day now and used to smoke 40 a day for 15 years!

AnonymousOctober 19th 2010.

AA Gill's a second-rate human being. Unfortunately, while people continue to buy the Times, the bile and vitriol he spews will continue to attract publicity.

The snobbery in some of the comments here is disgraceful. "unsuitable locations now get flooded with chavs smelling of the latest cut price after shave from the "prefume shop", Manchester wake up and take your head out of your arse". Funny that. Surprised you could see the screen your head's that far up.

And where did this obsession of 'perfume status' come from?

Christopher BryanOctober 19th 2010.

"The greatest protest is indifference"

CB 2010

costa cartaOctober 19th 2010.

AA Gill is spot on. Manchester has never been a foodie city, it is primarily a city to drink in and dance, or at least it was until the rise of the Printworks and other equallly monstrous 'bars' with their plastic people and fake tans. I agree with everything he says about Manchester. After living in the city and partying hard throughout the late 80s and early 90s it has become distinctly false. Nothing comes out of Manchester anymore and food isn't even on the radar. Put Manchester to bed, it's had its day.

GMSOctober 19th 2010.

Thursday is the best night out in the City for both bars and restuarants. Busy, but without the weekend crowd. On Saturdays if you wtill want to avoid the weekend crowd, either stick to some of the excellent restaurants in the suburbs, or explore. You'll soon find the gems and that's half the fun.

AvoOctober 19th 2010.

You're right GMS, Thursday is the new Friday night.

WhitesidesOnsideOctober 20th 2010.

Couldn't agree more with AA Gill. Poor, unimaginative come-back from Gordo, Red Chilli wouldnt even make the top 10 in Londons China town and as for the wider City itself, the likes of Hakkasan and Kai are litterally on another planet. As for Schofield - the Gallaghers have made more of a positive impact on this city than you could ever dream of, why is it that you feel the need to discredit their influence on the city?

Jonathan SchofieldOctober 20th 2010.

Ah it's you Whitesideonside. Please number the ways the Gallaghers have had a positive impact on the city? Jobs? Student numbers? Listen I have nothing against Liam and Noel especially the latter but there is more to the city than just contemporary music you know.

WhitesidesOnsideOctober 20th 2010.

There IS more to the city than contemporary music Jonathan - i'm not disputing that. No, Oasis collectively haven't made a positive impact on jobs in the region, i'd argue that due to their stature, in the mid 90's students from outside the region may have been alerted to/been intrigued by the music scene that they were very much at the forefront of at the time, which may have influenced them into joining the university. What they have certainly contributed however is some cracking music down the years, music that has its origins in Manchester - something that we should be proud of and not something that we should allow the Didsbury johnny-come-lately types to discredit as being the embarassing side to Mancunian culture as is the fashion these days.

milseyOctober 20th 2010.


You forgot to mention the leading Award winning Opus One restauarant.

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