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SLEUTH: Aumbry No More? | Fumo | New Italian | Adrift Returns | Buckets

Week 47: Comings, goings, bliss, desperation, buckets, Bez, rubbish ads

Written by . Published on November 14th 2014.

SLEUTH: Aumbry No More? | Fumo | New Italian | Adrift Returns | Buckets

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week, it's the truth, but Sleuth's truth. He's several people all at once. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to publish. Sleuth sometimes even gets serious. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows. Follow Sleuth on twitter @mcrsleuth


Sleuth could feel this one in his water. Aumbry, the twee cottage restaurant that's been cooking above its station in Prestwich since 2009, looks doomed. At least, it's bags are packed and by the back door. Yesterday the 'To Let' signs went up outside the restaurant. Sleuth isn't overly surprised. Half owner, head chef, Great British Menu finalist and Queen of Aumbry, Mary Ellen McTague, popped up at the back end of NQ's Teacup in late-September to open a 'temporary' restaurant - 4244 (reviewed here) - for a few weeks while Aumbry was under 'renovation'. She's still there...

Sleuth thinks Aumbry's closure is a shame, but means McTague's very British, very Bury cooking will likely stay in the city centre. Sleuth isn't one to spread rumours (much) about the next move, but Sleuth recently caught McTague snooping around Old Granada Studios...

Aumbry looks doomedAumbry looks doomed


Back in 1977 the first Apple computer went on sale, Elvis died on the khazi and United sacked manager Tommy Docherty for taking extra training sessions with his physio's missus... and Italian restaurants were still 'far-out, man'. So when Manchester gained Pizzeria Italia on 31 December 1977 on Deansgate (beneath Manchester's truly terrible Renaissance Hotel and Premier House) the beige suits, wing collars and peacock frocks descended, slinging back Pina Coladas, blowing smoke into each others hair and staring at spaghetti bolognese in confusion. Folk moved on, the restaurant stayed in 1977.

Soon to be Dom's on the corner of Deansgate and Blackfriar'sSoon to be Dom's on the corner of Deansgate and Blackfriar's

Pizzaria Italia became Rustica. Rustica became Italia. Italia became closed. Now closed is becoming, you guessed it, a new Italian. Sleuth hears the new Italian gaff will be called Dom's (Dominoes was taken) and comes from the lot behind Al Bacio's Italian Restaurant... Al Bacio... you know... the one on South King Street... just up from Pizza Express... the Pizza Express opposite 2 Kozy restaurant... 2 Kozy... the one above South... South... oh forget it.

Al Bacio... yeah that oneAl Bacio... yeah that one


At the other end of the Italian spectrum comes San Carlo's Fumo, which Sleuth reckons will be worth slipping ones slacks on for. Fumo, a San Carlo brand only open in Birmingham until now, will open within two weeks (Tues 25 November'ish) and occupy a 5,500 sq ft space at the handsome new One St Peter's Square (also the new home of accountancy big'un KPMG). Fumo will mix full San Carlo restaurant with Cicchetti lighter bites and a late-night bar (2am licence), and is likely to be as popular with all The Suits as the other brands are with flash footballers and popstars. Accountants are the new footballers, after all. Confidential knows this because we've played CLB Coopers accountants at 11-a-side footy and we won 2-1. In a Ukranian kit. Writers are the new footballers, after all.

One St Peter'sOne St Peter's

Fumo CGIFumo CGI


Just about Sleuth's favourite statue is Adrift which was cast Adrift during the Central Library/St Peter's Square refurbishment. It shows a doomed family adrift on a raft in heavy seas: an adolescent boy and girl seem close to death. The mother is trying to protect the baby, the father is raging against the dying of the light. They're all just about naked. It's a faintly ridiculous, 1907 work, by John Cassidy: an allegory about life's struggles. It's ridiculous but marvellous. Sleuth loves it, especially as the man's torso is modelled on Sleuth's. 

Modelled on Sleuth's torsoModelled on Sleuth's torso

Not modelled on Sleuth's torsoNot modelled on Sleuth's torso


Sleuth thinks the most ridiculous, bloody-minded, counter to common sense, waste of public money is the Library Walk glass blob: Confidential's been banging on about that for months and months and the obstruction is presently the subject of a public inquiry. Yet Sleuth also thinks the landscaping, benches, the paving around much of Central Library is superb, top-notch, uplifting and inspiring. Dear Manchester City Council, you've been naughty over Library Walk, but this is brilliant. 

Nice space even in the rain


Nice space even in the rain



Gold splashes the bucketGold splashes the bucketSleuth was on a coach tour the other day stuck in traffic. "This reminds me of the worst time ever, a few years ago," said the driver. "High winds had closed the Barton viaduct on the M60. It took me nine hours to get from Urmston into town." "Nine hours?" said Sleuth. "Some people did ok from it though. There was a guy on Regent Road with a bucket and a blanket. Made a fortune," said the driver. "I don't follow," said Sleuth. "He was charging £1 for people to relieve themselves in the bucket while he held a blanket round them. Then he emptied the bucket into the drainage grills and moved to the next vehicle. Very entrepreneurial I suppose."


Sleuth mentioned weeks ago that to tackle the constant stream of Bez news pouring into his inbox, Sleuth would give over a special spot in his column to see what the jelly-legged, maraca-man had been up to...

This week: Bez gets on a boat...

'Happy Mondays star Bez is set to showcase his many talents aboard the Teesside Princess this Saturday night. As well as his signature dance, Bez is set to DJ and has promised to provide percussion at the house and techno rave down the Tees - as well as dropping in some ‘Madchester’ beats.' - Teeside Evening Gazette

Sleuth's tried to bag tickets on SeatWave but didn't have a spare £1.37. Stockton-on-Tees is going to go wild.

BezBez: coming to a boat in the Tees


Sleuth happened across this half-arsed thing attached to Arndale Food Courts at the bottom end of Market Street this week. Now that could be an ad for a cruise, a phone, or SPAM. Sleuth ain't the foggiest...

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

Poster BoyNovember 14th 2014.

Mary Ellen is coming up in the inside lane...

DavidNovember 14th 2014.

Premier House is truly the very worst building in the whole of the city centre.It really needs demolition and a new building created that makes something of riverside location

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

And as if it's not bad enough, have you seen what was knocked down to build it? Borderline criminal what happened with that site.

Steven ManginiNovember 14th 2014.

The glass monstrosity between two of our finest buildings is an abomination and insult to the visionaries who built this city all those years ago. Not that I have anything against glass add-ons to historic buildings. The John Rylands Library and Manchester Museum extensions are a triumph of blending modern architecture with beautiful old buildings. The council should be ashamed of the way it pushed through this carbuncle on our city.

AnonymousNovember 14th 2014.

Aumbry is the biggest fantasy in the restaurant world, mainly created by Confidential and the MEN. Some commis chef from the Fat Duck opens a restaurant in a house that looks like a doctors surgery inside, gets in the top100 restaurants even though no one eats there and then goes on GB menu and gets laughed at by her peers. Then pretends that she is renovating even though its obvious its not going to reopen. That PR for you

2 Responses: Reply To This...
PaulNovember 14th 2014.

Didn't someone say that about Lounge Ten

AnonymousNovember 14th 2014.

I totally disagree. I've eaten there several times. Food has always been amazing plus great friendly knowledgeable service which is so rare.

gar200November 14th 2014.

I dined at 4244 on Tues night... there were only about 8 covers all night which is a shame. Gorgeous food. I was told "watch this space" when talking about the venue in NQ.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 14th 2014.

To be fair these things can take a while, when I mention it to people, even NQ residents, many don't seem to realise it's there yet.

Trish KarneyNovember 18th 2014.

I considered taking my hubby but it seems *so* overpriced for what it seems to be. Also seems to be overhyped, and she seems a bit of a shifty character. I've no time for someone who deserts their local market. Oh, whatever happened to Isinglass in Urmston?

rinkydinkNovember 14th 2014.

St Peters Square is looking good but give it a year, the wooden benches will be rotting, the flags will have been lifted up and tarmaced back over. The council has no idea about maintenance

9 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 14th 2014.

Easy now homes. That's not like you to be negative. The seating has been made by Italians [literally] and the cenotaph and cross have been relocated and cleaned by Portugese stonemasons. You know, the non-Mancunians doing more for Manchester than the Mancunians?

AnonymousNovember 14th 2014.

... and designed by the Germans using EU money. Much like the Japanese-designed Piccadilly Gardens and the Dutch-designed NOMA Angel Square we can always rely on the council to grant planning for designs & materials entirely unsuitable for the Mancunian elements, such as wood and white stone, drawn up by "Starchitects" with zero-knowledge of the city... or even the human condition. Maybe our public spaces aren’t really designed to last in case vast sums of public cash can’t be thrown at them every 10years or so when they fail?

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 15th 2014.

Absolutely foolishness this negativity. Some people can't enjoy a sunny day because it might rain tomorrow. I think the policy behind rants needs to be rethought.

rinkydinkNovember 15th 2014.

I was pointing out the council's lack of ability to maintain projects like this. It looks stunning and I hope they will maintain it but their record is not good. Piccadilly Gardens? And what on earth is wrong with pointing this out? What is negative about it? I'm saying it looks good but they need to maintain it. Jeez

AnonymousNovember 16th 2014.

The point surely [Jonathan] is that we know that it probably isn't going to be a "sunny day" tomorrow in Manchester so why are we still constructing public spaces that don't use sustainable materials that are durable against the weather? It is the contempt shown by architects and planners in the city (like Piccadilly Gardens and Library Walk) which leads to the lack of respect shown by its citizens, how long it sustains and ultimately whether we get value for public money in the long term.

rinkydinkNovember 16th 2014.

I slightly disagree Anon. I say let's use wood but understand that it cant just be left for 5 years without treating or replacing. It's the same with the recessed lighting in the pavements. None of it works in Piccadilly Gardens now. So if you're not going to upkeep it, why pay to have it installed in the first place? It's really annoying. Other cities manage it so why can't we?

AnonymousNovember 16th 2014.

But the reality is that the benches won't get treated (nor bespoke paving elements repaired)- we know this from past experience. Good urban design should insulate against recessions (and rapacious Tories with an agenda) and be sustainable through the durability of materials used and the ease of maintenance & repair.

AnonymousNovember 16th 2014.

Last anon, how have you managed to criticise the Tories in your post?! The bad decisions made In manchester, a labour controlled city. They feck up Library Walk, & Piccadilly Gardens and somehow it's not their fault? Only in Manchester. Always blame it on the Tories!

AnonymousNovember 18th 2014.

Fully agree that the Local Labour Politicians have haemorrhaged public money badly on public space in the city- principally through the Capital Spending Budget- but the National Conservative Government has slashed the Operating Budgets whereby we have the ridiculous scenario of spending hundreds of thousands £££ on litterbins but not the cash to pay for more people to actually empty them and keep the streets clean. It’s all taxes in the end just that the rules are there to siphon it into private hands (e.g. Construction companies and paving stone manufacturers) rather than for public benefits (e.g. more trees, parks & gardens or actual maintenance of expensively-funded urban spaces).

Steve5839November 14th 2014.

Are you sure the statue is you and not Gordo?

AnonymousNovember 17th 2014.

The MEN are reporting this morning that Aumbry isn't closing - the to let sign went up as a result of the lease being up for renewal. McTague has made a statement saying they fully intend to reopen at their existing Prestwich premises.

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

Hmm... wouldn't be too sure about that

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