Tuesday, 31 January 2012

La Casona

Date: Thursday 26th January

After hearing positive feedback about a Tapas restaurant/ bar down my road (Heaton Moor), I thought this would be a good place to be next on my hit list. It is a nice little family run restaurant which was exactly what I was in the mood for.

On entering the Spanish gentleman welcomed and escorted us to a table, giving us the menus. The place was small, but had a decent amount of seating, and decorated simply but elegant. When we arrived the restaurant was pretty quiet, but we have heard that on prime nights it can fill up pretty quickly.

The two sided menu was categorized with Tapas dishes on one side, organized by vegetables, meat and fish. The other side was a classic A La Carta menu with sides and mains. We decided to get a selection of tapas, seeing as we fancied tapas. We were also served some homemade bread which came with a tasty garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce. The main entre selection was impressive as well, and next time I try this place I may be tempted to get a main dish, like a steak, or some type of sea food dish.

The waiter advised us to order six tapas dishes with bread, between the two of us. This ended up being too much food for us, however it would comfortably feed a party of three. When the food came, I was so impressed. The beef strips were nice and tender with a wonderful pepper corn taste. The lamb meatballs gave an explosion of delicious flavour into my mouth.And the seafood selection cooked in egg batter was delicious; with the calamari (fried squid) being the best I've ever had, including when having it abroad. All the dishes we ordered pleased our palates, except for the seafood dumplings, which were too flavorless for my liking

We had a Hi-Life Diners Club card, giving us 50% discount off the menu, making the meal very cheap. Even without this card though the prices are still reasonable, however the very nice waiter said he was not going to stamp off the card, meaning we can use this offer again next time.

This place left a very positive impression on myself, making me leave a generous tip on departure. I am really chuffed that this gem is just walking distance from my house and will surely be using this place to entertain guests or to give myself a deserved treat after a hard days work.

8.5 out of 10 rating.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Ocean Tr235ure

Date: Saturday 21st January

Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Happy New Year)

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, I thought I would treat myself to one of the hottest Chinese restaurants in Manchester. This place is located next door to the 235 Casino (hence the name). On entry what struck me first was the beautiful Oriental deco. Lighting was spot on however it was a tad too cramped. We were lucky to get a table, apparently the place has been fully booked for a week, however there were only two of us so they managed to squeeze us in.

Like other Chinese restaurants, they offered a few banquets for a set price however we chose to order the dishes separately. The waiter came quickly, offering us drinks then giving us a few moments to order our food. A nice touch to the menu was that they included a 'Chef's Recommendations' sections which I chose to pick from as I wanted something different to my usual Chinese order (aromatic crispy duck, sweet and sour chicken, beef in black beaned sauce). I went for the crabmeat and sweetcorn soup for starters and for mains the Sesame Pak Fa Duckling, which is sesame fried prawn meat stuffed with roasted duck, served with oyster sauce. On the menu they also had a variety of Dim Sums I do want to try at some point.

On ordering, it did take some time to get the food, but not too much of an extended period, plus it was very busy (take note Zouks). The soup was pretty average, I guess there is a generic way to make this soup as I find similar quality at Chinese buffets. The main, also served with noodles to make the dish filling, was very original. It was delicious. It was like having a big portion of dumplings drizzled with the oyster sauce which arrives in a separate pot. Although some people may take this as a negative, I personally loved it as I do enjoy the starter more so the main most the time.

In conclusion I thought the service was great even though it was busy, decorations were fantastic, and thought I got a decent Chinese meal from them. I think as with most Eastern restaurants, you need to play around with the dishes to get the perfect meal. Although the meal was enjoyable, and it did satisfy me, I think on another day I would want a more complete main meal. However for the originality of the dishes I would recommend and come again.

7 out of 10 rating

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Drink Tea, Eat Cake

I came here a few weeks ago, as I was sick of the commercial 'Starbucks-esque' Cafe's and wanted somewhere new where I could kick back and relax with a brew. Also the fact that I am dominantly a tea rather than coffee drinker made this place stick out for me.

It is located next door to the Krispy Kremes by Piccadilly Bus Station. So a good location for anyone using public transport to get into Town Center. On entering the cafe it is very unique. Light colours easy on the eye, the counter on entry with fabulous looking home made cakes and brownies on display. What stuck out the most though were the booths. They were in a cute looking wooden huts, similar to the stores of the yearly German Market.

The menu was quite big, considering it was dominated by tea and cake. They offered all kinds of varieties of tea, from the Indian Chai, to the classic Earl Grey. We decided to ask for assistance who recommended the home brewed tea for two. For cake, he invited us up back to the counter and let us pick out the most desirable.

The tea came in a classic English style, with traditional teapots and teacups. In fact the teapot could have served four, a very generous amount for just two people. The brownie we ordered was also very generous. so big we asked them to pack it to finish at home. I must say, the tea was an excellent cuppa. Went down very smoothly. The chocolate brownie is the main reason though to give this place a visit, it literally melted in my mouth. Spectacular!

Looking at the bill at the end I was amazed, I was expecting to spend that amount per person, and the fact we couldn't even finish our serving made the bill even better.

I must recommend this place as highly as possible. If you fancy a cheap hang out place with friends, this is your place. Drink Tea, Eat Cake has a great English atmosphere which would be a treat for anyone, especially for tourists wanting an English experience.

9 out of 10 rating

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Don Marco

Date: 10th January 2012

On entry to this fine Italian restaurant, instantly it felt like you stepped in a different county, walking onto the cobbled streets of old town Europe. You walk into an alleyway with outdoor seating and heaters provided, but for my taste it is only suitable to sit there with a warmer climate. Interior deco was classy with good lighting to set the mood, but once sat down it felt cramped, however it didn't ruin the evening.

Now onto the food. We started with, in my opinion the most under rated dish ever, home made bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. However this was not complementary as with my other experiences of Italian dining. This was eaten with the Antipasto Don Marco, a sharing platter of various sea foods and Italian appetisers. This was fantastic, letting you try a variety of dishes, and the portion was generous. My favourite was the king prawns in buttered source.

For main, I ordered the sirloin steak in peppercorn sauce. My friends ordered the Tagliatelle con Pollo, the Lobster Ravioli and the skewered prawns with scallops and saffron rice. My steak was cooked to perfection (medium rare) however I wasn't a fan of the sauce. Too much pepper for my liking. my favourite by far was the Lobster Ravioli and I am for sure going to order on my next visit. The basil and tomato sauce blended perfectly with the lobster, plus you got some prawns on the side to spoil you even more!

The service was great, very friendly, leading us to treat the place like a homely atmosphere letting us relax and enjoy each others company once we had eaten. The pricing was also reasonable, in fact cheaper than other Italian restaurants in Manchester, but the quality is still high.

This was in fact my second visit, but for sure not my last. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

8 out of 10 rating

Monday, 16 January 2012

Sapporo Teppanyaki

I came here on Monday 9th January. On arrival they nicely greeted us and took our coats which was a nice touch. The seating arrangement is what makes this restaurant stick out, as around 10 of you sit in a big square with all around the chef and his stove. This was a different, and splendid dining experience. Not only does the chef adequately prepares your meal, but he also does his most to entertain with a selection of tricks and performances to please the audience.

We decided to mainly go for sea food dishes. I must say the chili garlic prawns were fantastic, and the sea food tempura was also yummy.
For mains we decided to go for the teppanyaki dishes. As there were five of us, we decided to share all of our mains, where the chef kindly cut our meats into pieces so we could divide each one easily. The lobster and the prawns were great, the duck was average, the beef fillet was superb.

In conclusion, if you don't mind treating yourself as this place is pricier than the usual meal, it is a fine dining experience with very good food.


7 out of 10 rating

Zouk Teabar & Grill - Manchester

A group of 10 of us booked a table for Saturday 14th January, 7.45pm. It was for a birthday meal. In fact we booked for 12 but 10 arrived. I have never experienced staff so rude in my life. The place was busy, but this is no excuse. When we sat at the table, I expect for a waiter to take our order for drinks. As everyone had not arrived, they instead ignored us, forcing us to ask for their service and being shouted at saying that they thought there were 10 of us. Then they said they will take our order in a minute and not coming back. So rude. Then they tried to take one of our tables and tried to force us to squash on less tables., but I refused after arguing. I must say the person who seemed like the manager with glasses on was disgraceful. 

Drinks finally got ordered. It took 45 minutes for it to arrive. The waiter argued with us saying we only ordered 5 minutes ago. again, rudeness and down right dishonesty. When it became more quiet the drinks and food did start to arrive, and to be fair the food was great, although plates weren't provided to eat from which again is poor restaurant etiquette. I ordered the sea-bass which was adequate, not the best in my time but tasty with an Indian twist. Funnily enough it was the bill that arrived very quickly. Our bill was £237 but we refused to pay the optional service charge. Cheekily enough though the waiter asked for it. I couldn't believe my ears. Quite frankly although your business is successful at the moment, I doubt it will last with this kind of service.