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Gordo Gets Game

Published on November 22nd 2004.

Malmaison Hotel, Game Dinner, 18th November 2004.

Gordo and Johnny Walker, ready for the off...
Gordo and Johnny Walker, ready for the off…

Gordo has finally managed to fit (just) into his favourite pinstripe suit, and arrives at The Mal for the Manchester Confidential Game Dinner and Wine Tasting. Scott Harper, gaffer of The Mal is wandering about the reception looking dazed and confused. Gordo thinks this is the way it should be for hotel managers, they should have to suffer. Mark the chef is looking worried. That is the way it should be for chefs as well, thinks Gordo. Bon Viveurs like Gordo should have it easy, after all six years and a couple of million quid eating and drinking his way across France to get himself ready to become the self-confessed saviour of Manchester’s Hotels, Bars, Restaurants and Clubs should have its rewards.

First guests to arrive are The Argent crew, headed up by Angela Brown and Clive the Pint. Gordo took a call from Angela a couple of hours earlier. “What time is kick off?” asks the luvverly Angie. “7.30” I answer. “Good”, answers Angie, “That gives Clive and me an hour at the bar in the Rossetti”. Class girl this. “What’s the dress code?” Smart casual. “Smart casual Clive”, I hear her scream across the One Piccadilly office, not a small space, “which doesn’t mean you can wear that f*****g fleece”. As I said, class girl this.

Angela, looking as fit as a butchers dog, gives Gordo a kiss and asks what games we are all playing. Oh dear. Still class though.

Shady and Maureen
Shady and Maureen

Gordo’s Dad, ‘Shady’ Roy Garner is in the bar already. Shady, Seventy Five, dark glasses and still looking as sharp as he did the day he put Mickey ‘Three Fingers’ in the boot of his shiny red Bentley, whilst giving a startled seventeen year-old Gordo a lesson in debt collecting, is happily downing a pint of John Smiths. At the time Gordo was thinking leaving school early and joining the family business was not such a good idea after all. Gordo’s mum is on her second glass of champers. After fifty two years of marriage Maureen still has bi-weekly conversations with Gordo on the suitability of Shady as a husband. Rachael Verney from Manchester Confidentials charity, Nordoff-Robbins, is complimenting Maureen on her looks; she is a fair looking bird. Rachael then makes Maureen’s night. “I take it Roy is a much older man….”. You would have needed a crow bar to remove that smile.

Mark serves up little pots of bangers and mash whilst everyone assembles at the bar. Good start, the bangers supplied by one of the North West’s top five butchers, WH Frost (www.whfrost.co.uk). The mash lovely and creamy, with a little bit of yummy gravy.

Howard finds the Cheque
Howard finds the Cheque

On to the room set up for the wine tasting. Thirty-odd of us are standing round a long table, many at a tasting for the first time, looking at six different bottles at the ready. The Malmaison Group has sent Johnny Walker, current head of wine across the group (yes, that’s his real name) to host the session. Each one is at the top of its particular tree in the wine world, but each one has been chosen as it is unlikely that they have been drunk by us before. Johnny turns out to be an excellent host, tongue in cheek but highly informative. One of the ladies round the table enquired loudly as to whether Johnny’s preference is to spit or swallow. Nicely turned madam, that particular table. You can come again, should have been the answer, but that has taken Gordo three days to come up with and it’s still not the best. Where was Jonathan Schofield when I needed him the most?

Wine tasting over, we all trooped through to the dinner, held in the back room of the Mal restaurant. I have to say the whole place is looking well, lit candles everywhere. Great atmosphere. Lawrence Millet has the rather glamorous Annette on his arm, along with heir apparent, Mitch, on the other. Beauty and the Beast that. The meal was great. A pressed rabbit terrine was a moist, taste bud tickling master work. Mark should have ignored Gordo’s request for a very good Cumberland sauce and stuck with the gooseberry compote, it would have been better. Mark, assert your authority next time and tell me to bugger off. A tea cup of oxtail stew to start, with a magic little dumpling in it. The flavours impressed here, a lot of hard work starting with a freshly scrubbed stock pot the day before no doubt.

Mr. Schofield and the Cuffs of Many Colours
Mr. Schofield and the Cuffs of Many Colours

Howard Sharrock brought Andy Egan, a man brave enough to ask Howard to join the board of his company, Felix Group plc. Andy tells me they do some kind of gambling machine in pubs. “Everyone’s a winner”, Andy assures Gordo. That’s the kind of thing Gordo used to love hearing, and one of the reasons he went skint in the dot.bomb crash three years ago. Gordo went to the toilet to count his cash. It wouldn’t have been a class act to do it as soon as he walked away from Andy’s table. Bit naughty that, Andy is actually a cool guy and welcome in Gordo’s company anytime, he stuck with us all the way through to two-thirty in the bar, generously pledging a good wedge to the Nordoff-Robbins Manchester Confidential Charity raise. Rachel’s smile started to hit Maureen levels at that stage. Gordo will confirm his generosity in the next briefing, as he feels that he ambushed poor old Andy when he was under the influence!

Whole roast pheasant is served, on a bed of boulangere potatoes, a parcel of roasted root vegetables, game chips, bread sauce and extra gravy. The pheasant is cooked to perfection, bit of crispy personality on the outside, moist, just cooked juiciness on the inside. Again, Frosty supplied, as usual judging the hanging to perfection, Mark’s team judging the cooking to perfection.

Clare Griffiths, Head Girl at Key 103’s charity Manchester Kids, arrives hotfoot from launching Santa’s Grotto somewhere in Manc, looking the best yet in black velvet. Black velvet is a favourite of Gordo’s. FbD Kate Leach has a pair of black velvet trousers that hypnotize Gordo at twenty yards from the rear. However, Gordo is currently red-carded by FbD, so he will just have to dream on for a while. Red-carded or not, Gordo has decided not to leave the field.

Clare is here for two reasons. Gordo has officially adopted her, and Clare is officially handing over a cheque for ten big ones from Manchester Kids, into the Nordoff-Robbins fund raiser started at the North West Comedy Awards last month. That’s £10,000 in one go Folks. The Comedy Awards Dinner, it has to be said, has been startling. Andrew Mullet, Gaffer of 2M Media Ltd and purse strings holder for Manchester Confidential (with a grip that is sometimes frightening when Gordo is trying to get him to pass his expenses) will be reporting the net result later this week once the rest of the pledge money is confirmed. It looks like The North West comedy circuit have done us proud in allowing Manchester Confidential to shoehorn a fund raiser into the night, the two went well together and the final figure will surpass everyone’s expectations. Next year will no doubt confirm the event as Manchester’s must-have ticket.

Thank you Clare, Manchester Kids and Key 103!

Steve and Diane Kittos confirmed their place at the top of the Manchester Confidential Ultra-VIP list by lasting to the end as well, Diane looking a good deal fitter than Steve at the end! Mind you, Diane is a bit fit in Gordo’s eyes, full stop. Gordo was wondering whether to call an ambulance for Steve.

Jonathan Schofield arrived at about ten, with a particularly fetching set of cuffs on his shirt, along with Scott Burnham from Urbis, thinking it just a general party. Chef had calmed down by now, and instantly served up more pheasant. Jonathan, having already eaten a Chinese a couple of hours before confirmed the old adage that you do get hungry a couple of hours later, professionally devouring everything placed in front him. Next, we were treated to Welsh rarebit on a home made crumpet, with, wait for it, bottles of HP and Worcester sauce. This Chef is true class. Chris Lloyd was conspicuous by his absence, no doubt devouring another Rarebit elsewhere. Gordo is unsure as to whether or not he was doing a professional job of that; we shall have to await a full report from a certain rabbit, after she has downed a few gins.

The final dish was the Malmaison Bread and Butter pudding. Believe me; you don’t get hungry two hours after that one. Maureen voted it better than Heathcotes, which takes some doing I might tell you. The wines on the night were great, a vote of thanks to Johnny Walker’s expertise is well deserved.

Retiring to the bar, the team stayed on until 2.30, with Gordo fixed firmly into the Bill and Ben stage, happily blob-a lobbing with Mr. Schofield bringing up the rear as a close second.

Quick tip for business. The Malmaison is now in Gordo’s # 1 position for private meetings, the food as well as the facilities match all the 5* Hotels, and is far better value.

Gordo has another dinner planned in late January. Email him (Gordo@manchesterconfidential.com) if you want details. It would be good to meet you, Gordo is an excellent host. Bring your own crash carts.

Coming this week in Gordo’s Briefing. Gordo takes FbD to lunch at San Carlo on Saturday. Does he get the red card lifted? (Does anyone give a damn, you old louche-Ed) Cobbets gets arty at The Circle with a film show; Nicola Smith takes a night off from launching the new Magazine to take advantage of Gordo; Sintillate, the new club night launches successfully at Brasingamens, Sugar Lounge and Ampersand; Gordo’s entrance at the IPR Awards, with Miss Lilly L’Amour in tow, hotfoot from Phil Yates’ new exclusive night club, 140 Deansgate. And, the Northern Quarter starts to fulfill its promise. It’s been a busy few weeks!

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