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Sleuth Wk 25: L'Entrecote To Close, Rihanna, Maconie And The Countess Of Wessex

The man with the hat on the madness that is Manchester

Written by . Published on June 16th 2013.


Sleuth Wk 25: L'Entrecote To Close, Rihanna, Maconie And The Countess Of Wessex
 

SleuthSleuthSleuth 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

Foxy Rihanna Woos Bowling Alley

Sleuth hears that Rihanna, one of the top ten A-List musicians in the world at present, wanted some fun on Wednesday night while playing in Manchester at the Arena. She ended up at All Star Lanes in the Great Northern. The picture below, from their website, shows the singer's famous reverse sat-down bowling technique.

Rihanna had been supposed to go to Suede nightclub round the corner but had been put off by all the paparazzi hanging around. Club boss Alex Morrissey told Mancunian Matters: “I kind of understand it’s the paparazzi’s job to sell pictures of celebrities and make money, but at the same time it would have meant a lot for Rihanna to be in Suede." Sleuth wonders who it was that tipped off the paparazzi. Surely nobody from the club itself?

Rihanna looks over her shoulder to test the accuracy of her reverse bowling technique

 

Rihanna looks over her shoulder to test the accuracy of her reverse bowling technique

L'Entrecote To Close

The steak and frites and no choice restaurant on King Street in the city centre is to close in early July after just over a year of operation. An insider told Sleuth, "We've not appealed to the Manchester audience as we do in London, we have never been busy enough." Sleuth hates to see people lose their jobs but might not the inflexible menu, set starter and main and nothing else, and the inflexible service policy have something to do with this? Mancs won't be coerced. Sleuth hopes Confidential's last review wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back. Bewildered early June L'Entrecote review here.

Soon to be no more

Soon to be no more

It's What He Would Want

R House is the intriguing restaurant on Hilton Street in the Northern Quarter with not only a strange name but an erratic approach to design with lots of shiny fixtures and fittings. Sleuth feels it has the sort of aesthetic Dale Winton would choose. This Father's Day they have a unique promotion, a reasonably priced set menu and a 'free pair of socks for dad'. As the saying goes, you couldn't make it up.

Stuart Maconie And The Miners Club And Small Cinema

Sleuth was at the remarkable and volunteer run Miners Arts Centre and Moston Small Cinema Project for a fundraiser. The small cinema was built by more than 60 volunteers over 12 weeks in 2012. Stuart Maconie, Jesca Hoop and Mike Joyce were in attendence. Maconie was on fine form. He told a tale about Jeremy Hunt, the present Health Secretary in the Coalition Government. When Hunt was the Culture Secretary he was given a talk through of the London Olympics' opening secretary by its writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. The latter explained to Hunt that there would be quotations from The Tempest and that the ceremony would unfold like the sequences in the play. Hunt, the Culture Secretary, said, "But just a minute we've got to have some Shakespeare in it?"

Maconie on form

 

Maconie on form

Sleuth's Crudest Sign Of The Week

If you want crude as in unsubtle and in-your-face this A-board on Great Ancoats Street takes the biscuit.

A bit more subtlety folks

 

A bit more subtlety folks

Sleuth's Next Idea For A Crude Legal Sign

Another lawyer should follow the example above and put another sign just behind the first saying: 'Cyclists! Ever crashed into an A-board? No win no fee cash guaranteed!'

Foxy Countess Woos Orchestra

As the editor described on Confidential this week. Sophie, Countess of Wessex was in town to open the Hallé Orchestra's new rehearsal space in the former St Peter's Church, Ancoats. After a special performance by the full orchestra she was introduced to the conductor. A few sentences in she said foxily, "Might you play something else?" The conductor was a little taken aback, but he rallied valiantly, "Yes, of course, something gentle or rousing?" "Oh rousing, please," said Sophie almost fluttering her eyelids.

More please Mr Conductor

 

More please Mr Conductor

 

Sleuth's Strange Thing to Sit In Of The Week

Every seven days or so Sleuth is stopped in the street by policemen, firemen, concierges, essential workers, Jeremy Hunt, the Countess of Wessex, Rihanna, sick lawyers and the complete Hallé Orchestra, and asked: "We're desperate to sit inside a barrel and have a drink. Where can we find a place to do this in the city centre?"

"Why," says Sleuth, "that would be at Duttons on Albert Square the recently opened venue from Manchester brewer JW Lees."

And to prove this he showed the policemen, firemen, concierges, essential workers, Jeremy Hunt, the Countess of Wessex, Rihanna, sick lawyers and the complete Hallé Orchestra these pictures. 

Barrel of laughs

Barrel of laughs

Barrel back into arcadeBarrel backs into arcade

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

A LeeJune 16th 2013.

Dropped into R House on Friday night for some quick food on the off chance. It actually appears to be something called "shack" now from the outside as the facade has been remodelled, but it is still indeed r house inside. It appears they are having a make over to fit more in with whiskey jar and Kosmo but aren't quite there yet. The service was friendly yet confused and inconsistent. The food was overpriced low quality rubbish. Overall disappointing. Hoping they get their act together soon.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
JayJune 17th 2013.

Got a shock the other day when I walked past and saw someone in there, must've been you.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

Man Con - please review R House!

StephJune 17th 2013.

For some reason there's a Shack sign on one side and an R House one on the other.

Marc MorrellJune 16th 2013.

How could London have got it so wrong about Relais de Venise that they've opened 3 restaurants there, full every night?!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

Tourists

SteamyJune 16th 2013.

The fake privets at Duttons make my eyes bleed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
tblzebraJune 17th 2013.

Totally agree, they are horrendous.

AnonymousJune 16th 2013.

?

Vincent CosgriffJune 16th 2013.

Sounds like my recent experience of french food in Montmartre, Paris. The wine and meat were good to wonderful. Vegetables were sparse and generally poor. The service was OK though and lunchtime prices were excellent value. So perhaps after all it is better to each french food in France.

James SmithJune 16th 2013.

Well done Manchester and a big pat on the back to Confidential - your wish has been granted - upset that they weren't prepared to kiss your arse or more likely that they were not prepared to advertise with you?. Hopefully L'Entrecote will be replaced with something more suitable to Manchester - Another TGI's? A Greggs? Now that would work. I think a minimum stipulation should be the availability of butter. Maybe another supermarket? Can't wait.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Other ReasonsJune 16th 2013.

James honestly you really don't have to read Mancon do you? Or maybe read some of the other stuff such as the transport policy articles, the North article, the one about mortality rates, the architecture stuff. You don't have to just read about food unless that is your only interest in life.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

I love the idea that mancon is some sort of protection racket where if you dont take out advertising your doomed. Does James also think we never went to the moon and it was Gordo on the grassy knoll?

AnonymousJune 16th 2013.

I am a great fan of L'Entrecôte. Having lived in London for a couple of years, I regularly used to eat in their Marylebone restaurant, which was short walk from where I lived and always full. I loved the formula, quality of steaks and excellent house wine. It seems to me that Jonathan Schofield has a bit of a chop on his shoulder by slating the place in his reviews and making a big deal by not being able to butter his bread. A bit pathetic really and may be because the place does not line the pockets of Man Con. The price at L'Entrecôte has dropped in recent weeks from £22 to £17, which is an excellent deal for the quality if the food and drink. May be too many people in this city prefer to spend their money in chain restaurants / bars or spend more money in the nauseatingly style per substance Jamie's. I don't think Manchester was ready for L'Entrecôte and it is a shame because I was hoping that other London/continental cafés would open in Manchester, such as L'Apostrophe and Le Pain Quotidien. May be it is time to move to London again. JAL

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Staff
Neil SowerbyJune 16th 2013.

L'Entrecote was an appalling, joyless culinary experience, food, staff and ambience. JS was kind. Good riddance.

Ghostly TomJune 17th 2013.

I thought it was the perfect restaurant for people who don't want to think about what they are eating. More choice and thought in a McDs and I wouldn't cross the threshold of one of those either. Except for the loo, usually scrupulously clean.

Ghostly TomJune 17th 2013.

I thought it was the perfect restaurant for people who don't want to think about what they are eating. More choice and thought in a McDs and I wouldn't cross the threshold of one of those either. Except for the loo, usually scrupulously clean.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

May be if L'Entrecote advetised with Man Con like Living Ventures or 47 King Street (which is often splashed all over Man Con) , Neil Sowerby's remarks would be highly complimentary of the restaurant. Good luck to L'Entrecote and the staff (many whom I have become to know as a regular) and hope to visit L'Entrecote in Marylebone very soon.

KliptoneJune 17th 2013.

What happened with that 3-Twenty-One review. They don't advertise do they?

AnonymousJune 16th 2013.

chop should be chip.

AnonymousJune 16th 2013.

L'entrécote thought they had Manchester over a barrel.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

It did. No point decent places opening in Manchester, given some of the comments on here.

AnonymousJune 16th 2013.

I agree with James Smith 100%. May be a Greggs, rubbish chain like Duttons or Tesco will do better. Something different and good doesn't stand a chance in Manchester!

Producer MarkJune 16th 2013.

Such a shame. As a mancunian often working in London, myself & my wife visit the Marylebone restaurant a lot & love the place. We were really excited when we heard about the opening of a Manchester branch given the very limited choices in the city but did feel that they would find it difficult to make it work up here. Unfortunately when we visited, it felt cold due to the bright lighting, no music or background noise & lack of clientel (9pm on a Saturday evening!!!) We felt that they would have had a much better chance if they had opened a smaller venue maybe around the Northern Quarter. They could then have expanded if it had worked. We were expecting this news. Again, another opportunity to step up against London missed :(

2 Responses: Reply To This...
laffingboyJune 17th 2013.

irony overload. given your (very arguable) premise of "very limited choices in the city", holding Entrecote up as a solution to lack of choice? really?

Ghostly TomJune 17th 2013.

We don't have to ape London to step up against it. It was the 'emperors new clothes' of a restaurant (well overpriced cafe really). Manchester caught onto its pretentious attitude pretty quickly, London is yet to catch up..

rEddie_brekJune 16th 2013.

Manchester isn't ready for Entrecote? In what way? What part of their revolutionary idea of serving (admittedly quite good) steak and chips is the city not ready for? That's a genuine question: I'm puzzled as to what it is that they were/are doing that is supposed to be so damn clever that us clodding Mancs (and technically I'm an adopted one, coming from 'The South' as I originally do) are still trying to come to terms with... And 'something more suitable to Manchester' equates to 'TGIs and Greggs'? "Something different and good doesn't stand a chance in Manchester"? Again, I'm genuinely curious as to the last time anyone who says this actually went out in Manchester to eat. Because the last time I went out in Manchester to eat I passed 63 Degrees, The French, AF, Liquor & Burn, Podium and actually settled on Solita. Those were just on my (very slightly dog-legged) walk to and from the NQ, and that's not even the start of it - Chicetti's anyone? Jesus. Manchester is made up of TGIs and Greggs in the same way that London is made up of Angus Steakhouses. I don't harbour the same kind of vitriol for Entrecote that JS does. I actually though the two servings of steak was very good value for £17 and, having made my decision to go there, made my peace with the kind of service I knew I was going to get. However holding it up as some kind of paragon of culinary virtue to which all of Mancunian chefs should aspire? It's not that I hope we can do a little better than that - we already are...

JoanJune 16th 2013.

I think Le Pain Quotidien could do very well in Manchester. The difficulty for L'Entrecote was that the whole party of diners had to fancy a steak for that meal. I intended trying it, but I have lots of non-steak-eating friends so never got there. I expect that was a common experience. A restaurant where there's no choice runs against the Manchester's non-conformist spirit.

Charlie ButterworthJune 17th 2013.

L'Entrecote is Disney French. Cafe Rouge with less choice. It's failure is to do with the fact that Manchester doesn't have as many floating tourists obviously as London who don't know what to do with their time. How many Londoners bother with the chain?

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

Why is it whenever a restaurant/chain that is popular in London comes to Manchester and bombs it is seen as a failing of our city and of Mancs in general?? Surely it is a failure of the restaurant for not understanding the market and environment it is operating in. When money is tight being told you can't have your steak cooked the way you want it or butter for your bread and given poor service is not a smart way to operate. Maybe they should have had a word with Living Ventures as they seem to understand pretty well how to operate in this city !

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

and why should Manchester have exactly the same restaurants as London anyway? People visit/move to Manchester because it's distinctive, not just London with cheaper flats and worse weather

Poster BoyJune 17th 2013.

Idiosyncrasy. More. Idiosyncrasy please.

user4652June 17th 2013.

Opening secretary?

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

Thing is when what you offer is limited and at London prices it's not going to work up here. I moved up here two years ago and live in the city centre. The city is still doing the 'keeping up with the Joneses' with Jamie's Kitchen, Byron...but the centre's most loved places are still the likes of El Rincon, Dimitri's and the mini chain Akbar's. Actually the place needs a Lebanese, a fun Dim Sum place and a Mexican.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Eva HsuJune 26th 2013.

plenty of authentic, non-bs dim sum places in the city (as a chinese I'm truly spoiled for choice), you just need to know where to go... and awesome mexican in the arndale food court, and if you fancy something more americanised try Lust liquor etc.

IanJune 27th 2013.

Yuzu, Umesushi, Pancho's.

AnonymousJune 28th 2013.

umm yuzu and umesushi are actually japanese... fucking amazing though

IanJune 29th 2013.

Yea good alternatives

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

There are many Londoners who flock to L' Entrecôte and I was one of them whilst living in London. I think on the whole Mancunians do not embrace anything slightly different and sophisticated: it is either the Cheshire set type places such as San Carlo, Rosso, Restaurant Bar & Grill, or a plethora of burger-type places and chain-bars and restaurants. L'Entrecôte had a simple formula: excellent quality food in a convivial atmosphere and excellent house wine and cheeses. Look, £17 is not bad value as people would pay £10 for a cr*p salad or pannini or more than £17 in one of Manchester's omnipresent chain restaurants. If Entrecôte has failed it should only be a matter of time before Jamie's fails, unless people really do not have any taste. Why oh why would anyone choose to butter their bread. Bizarre. I agree that Jonathan Schofield has been unfairly critical of this restaurant and think Man Con's strategy of possibly supporting restaurants which also advertise with Man Con is appalling.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

Seriously "why would anyone choose to butter their bread" Because that's what most people do?

AndrewJune 17th 2013.

"why would anyone choose to butter their bread" What a ridiculous comment. I have eaten at L’Enclume and they supplied me with butter for my bread, like 99% of restaurants in the UK would.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

Rosso - cheshire set? are you high? Manchester embraces all sorts of diferent cuisines far to many to list. Our only blind spot seems to be for ponced up chains from down south (whether south is london or paris).

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

sophisticated? I walk passed there often and it always looks sad and awkward... I would love to eat there but the whole idea of being in the restaurant had stopped me from going in...

AndrewJune 17th 2013.

They do salad and steak & chips, I have been having this in Manchester for years. How is “Manchester not ready for this” exactly? The gimmick seemed to be we do not let you have any choice. £17 is good value for what you get, but can we please remember that at the end of the day it is just steak & chips! I would personally put the failure of this place down to lack of passing trade and the fact 50% of restaurants fail in their first year. I doubt ManCon have some kind of conspiracy to run any restaurant out town who do not advertise with them.

John GrantJune 17th 2013.

'Why oh why would anyone choose to butter their bread.' Oh dear unnamed Anon, that is one of the weirdest things I've read on a rant. Because it's dry without some sort of topping, because in Northern Europe we've been doing it for generations. L'Entrecote's bread was tough and hard, why wouldn't you butter your bread? And why all these anonymous cowards on here? Name yourself. Both Schofield and Gordo loved The French but that place isn't advertising.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

I agree about not buttering fresh, crusty baguette to accompany the salad at Entrecote. There is no need and respect the staff for standing firm.

AnonymousJune 17th 2013.

I give Duttons 6 months. Looks awful, with a menu as long as your arm. Not cheap either. L'Entrecote is far superior.

Darren LJune 17th 2013.

...it should've been closed down some time ago for attempting to pass that starter off as a) a salad, b) a starter, c) something which you consider acceptable to present to a paying customer.

AnonymousJune 18th 2013.

L'Entrecote did advertise on ManCon, actually.

AnonymousJune 18th 2013.

The lettuce starter is fresh and refreshing, the dressing original and tasty. The steaks are the best in town, and the sauce is unique. The house wine is excellent, and there is a choice of very good desserts. The service is efficient, informed and friendly. The decor is pleasanrtly quirky. The lighting allows you to see what you are eating. For some people it is an attraction that there is somewhere in Manchester to dine without the intrusion of music, and where, perhaps because their conversation does not have to compete with background music, diners seem to respect the space of diners at other tables. In a city saturated with eateries offering infinite varieties of dishes which somehow contrive to taste almost the same, it has been a delight to have one restaurant concentrating on doing something, albeit something simple, very well. It is Manchester's loss that Mancon just didn't get it. Had it had better reviews it may have become sustainable.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomJune 18th 2013.

Doing it so well that it had to close down....

Chris PaulJune 20th 2013.

I agree with Joan. No choice and that is exactly why I haven't eaten there. There is a also a bit of a footfall issue but that would be overcome by being a destination.

AnonymousJune 22nd 2013.

There is no choice for a reason: the steak-frites are excellent. If people prefer restaurants with menus as long as their arm offering microwaved dishes then that is their choice. I don't think the Manchester market is sophisticated or sufficiently epicurean to appreciate L'Entrecôte.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 22nd 2013.

What a stupid comment. Offering no choice is hardly sophisticated, the concept is stupid, it works in London because the footfall is so high, as is the population. Most Londoners don't go either. There are places offering great steak and chips in manchester and why does people wanting a little choice mean they want menus as long as their arm? At the end of the day this place wasn't any good and had no atmosphere whatsoever.

annijesJune 23rd 2013.

how patronising can you get!! i have eaten 3 times at L'entrecote but found the service offhand and curt - the lettuce leaves and dressing are nice as are the steak and chips but the lack of small courtesies i.e. provision of butter on request (and no it doesn't make us peasants or chavs to like a little butter on crusty bread) does not make a quality restaurant which wants to please the customer instad of implying the customer is in the wrong for asking. Midland French expensive (so yes Mancs can afford to pay for a non MaccyD meal!!) but service is impeccable and if someone asked for something as naff(!) as butter the staff wouldn't recoil in horror and say NO we don't serve butter with bread

Simon TurnerJune 23rd 2013.

Why did you go back twice after being so disappointed with the service?

AnonymousJune 23rd 2013.

I went to Entrecôte tonight an also went last Friday. I know as a fact that Londoners regularly eat in Entrecôte and can't understand the big deal about being refused butter by the waitresses. Get over it. The bread was wonderfully fresh and crispy rendering it perfect to eat without the need for butter. I find the staff extremely courteous and the restaurant has the right kind of ambiance without any artificial an false service. The closure of the restaurant is Manchester's loss.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

How can it be Manchester's loss?, nobody went, nobody is interested, it wasn't very good, therefore it is no loss.

pollolocoJune 27th 2013.

It closed because people people didn't choose to go. There are far better places in the town to eat steak. Not a culinary loss to the city in any way, shape or form. Jesus...even Garfunkels is packed in London...what does that say??

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