Once more unto the epicurean wasteland....( Manchester city centre )

Right then, challenge time.
Off to the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester next weekend. This presents a multi layered challenge requiring

  • somewhere near by ( 5/10 mins walk max )
  • that isn’t a fast food ‘joint’ ( my recollection is that its a bit of a Maccies zone on that square itself )
  • that will actually be serving good food that gets us out by 19.00 ( 19.30 k.o)
  • that wont induce torpor by being too heavy ( chop houses ) or rage by being a bit up itself ( 20 Storeys ? )

Only Harters ( c/o The Good Food Guide ) can save me now…

Multi layered challenges demand a single, straightforward answer

San Carlo Cicchetti

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By the by, it’s a shame they’ve not reopened their restaurant post-Covid and now just have the caff. Restaurant was surprisingly decent when we ate there in 2019, prior to a performance.

Thanks John
San Carlo is on my list of places I absolutely never go in Liverpool, so some psycholigcal gymnastics needed between now and tomorrow, if we decide to go for this :slight_smile:

Despite apparently being unable to spell psychological, we took the plunge and went to Ciccehetti last night…and I am pleased to say we now have somewhere to go in the ‘wasteland’.

It was odd being in the centre of our neighbouring city (just) before 5 on a Saturday. We avoid going in to ‘town’ (Liverpool ) on a Saturday night these days on account of the lairy-ometer readings. Ditto Manchester apparently - it was, er, ‘bustling’ on our stroll from near the Bridgewater Hall to Cicchetti on Deansgate.
Once inside there a busy post-shopping vibe too. But in a gentler, families grabbing something to eat on the way home kind of way.

Its an odd room - long bar where pizzas and Italian tapas seem to be going down a treat, tables opposite/ behind and then another section offto the right running near the window & looking into the street. It has odd decor too - a bit flash ( one of the many reasons I avoid San Carlo in Liverpool ) and a bit flowery. We were tabled near but not at the bar, next to a solo dining bloke with ( by our quick glance ) LV, Boss, Selfridges and other high end shopping bags all piled into the seat opposite him. I thought he had put them there while his other half went the loo but, no, they were his assembled dining companions. He seemed a bit menacing. Hmmm, nice.

The menu is laminated, extensive and you are told its like tapas so they bring your food when its ready. What is it with places these days ? Can they not coordinate food, or can they just not be *rsed ? To be fair, it works fine for me, as I order burata to ‘start’ and then spaghetti vongole. It works less well for my other half who orders halibut, roast potatoes and a rocket and parmesan salad. This results in the slad arriving five minutes early, and the potatoes arriving before the halibut- only by a couple of minutes, but still a bit odd. The potatoes are the low light of the meal. A bit insipid and sad on their little plate. That said, the sauce with the halibut is so wonderful, tomatoey, zingy and just righty that my other half simply loves the lot. My vongole hits the spot. At the time I think its a small portion at a full price price, but then we order two desserts and realise that this ( plus the pizzas we see whizzing by) is where you do not get smaller portions and can crank up on value, if so inclined.
Tiramisu is substantial enough, but the pistachio cake is a monster. We ask if it comes with anything, the waiter says ‘no’ so we order a scoop of hazelnut ice cream to go with. The waiter could have said’ its creamy already’ ( its a bit like cheesecake but with a soft base )or ‘its massive you know’. Both would have been true, but neither in fairness would it have stopped us eating that ice cream. It also took the edge off the coffee hit from the tiramisu, which was substantial ( love tiramisu, but don’t drink coffee. Weird, I know.) If we went back we would share a pud, TBH.

So all in all we now have a reliable, buzzy, if not spectacular place to go in central Manchester. Next time it will be pizza and ice cream for me :slight_smile: Grazie mille, as they say in Stockport, Mr H !

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Prego, amico.

In truth, I made that recc with some trepidation. Not just because it’s a goodly while since we were there (San Carlo Fiorentina near Manc airport is our regular “go to” Italian - lottsa bling there). But, mainly, cos we’re right off “small plates” places of all types. It is the “it will come when it’s ready” thing. Which buggers up your idea of how you intended to eat whatever you’d ordered. So, we’re just not going - which is a sort of shame,as it seems that every new place opening up is small plates