The Alan ( Manchester)

Fresh from an effusive Jay Rayner write up today, we decided to pop in here for some early pre gig food this afternoon.
We were there for 3, when they open for food on a Sunday.
Asked if we could eat - yes no problem. Decided we would first sit and have a drink and then move into restaurant area once a few more people showed up. It was literally empty af this point.
We explained this to them when we sat down as they tried to give us cutlery in the bar/coffee area but we explained we’d rather sit in the restaurant when ready to eat. Yes, no problem.
One hour later - we are ready to eat - can we go through?
We are asked- Do you have a reservation?
No we don’t- as we explained when we arrived.
Sorry no - fully booked.
Eh ? There are literally two occupied tables ( very much per the Rayner review).
Okay we’ll check….
Sorry no we have a date night on tonight and all tables are booked in the next hour.
Hmmm okay but we did say when we arrived and no one told us this. Sorry our mistake- we thought you said you had a reservation. Now this is total BS as why did they offer to seat us in the bag if they thought we’d booked the restaurant.
But hey, y’know, we are here now and hungry so let’s roll with it.

We’ll eat here then… and keep a close eye on the clock.

Time passes.


One hour later.

We have had some good food. Lovely anchovies and scoffable flatbread. Outstanding pea ‘smash’/ hummus.
Ace chips !

But really what we wanted was the Arctic roll and maybe their custard and rhubarb combo to see if it was more deftly handled than it was at the French.

They came to clear our plates and asked if we wanted the bill literally as they pick the last plate from the table.

No thanks we are fancying something sweet to follow……

And then we wait
And wait
And wait

No one comes near for a full 15 minutes

We had open menus in front of us.

We discuss them not ten feet from the staff .
We close them.
We wait some more.
There are staff all over the gaff as it’s dead.
We start to get annoyed and forget we wanted pudding.

In the end we asked for the bill.
Then we asked them to take the service charge off.
No one even asked why.
No manager came near us.

On my way out I went and spoke to one of the chefs. Told him the story. Explained we had been given a personal recommendation from someone in the street, as well as seeing it in Rayner’s column.
Told him how we’d been bullsh*ted about a table in the restaurant- not a single extra table came in during that hour. Said to him it’s almost criminal this - you are cooking great food but the place will remain empty if your front if house staff have this kind of attitude.
He seemed like a nice guy but may have been quite junior.
He thanked me for the feedback and said he hoped we’d come back.
Yeah, right.
After I was made to feel so welcome?

I give it six months, Rayner seal of approval or no.
It’s easy to be nice and serve a well known food critic but it’s us middle aged farts who will actually put repeat business your way if you treat them with just a little bit of care.
Oh dear.
Manchester 2 visitors 0.


Er, we’ve not done well by you and t’other half this weekend.

I read Rayner’s review and must admit I didnt fancy it that much.

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I always think that I could walk a course or two in his shoes, but not a full meal. This place was two mins from our hotel and the folk we bumped into eulogised about it to us two randomers in the street. Seemed like a no brainier, turned out just no brains😂


Precisely :nerd_face:

I’ve never understood why people need to wait until other people show up before they go in to eat. What is this need to have others around you in order to dine? Whilst I found the story funny regarding them being full, once you’d decided there was enough other customers for you, I find the restaurant staff behaviour quite bizarre and I’m with you on the 6 month closure.

We go out for dinner not just to eat but to have a pleasant evening. There is a world of difference between a restaurant sparsely populated and one which is buzzing with the background noise of conversations and the movement of both staff and customers around the room. That said, if a place takes reservations (as most do), then we make a reservation and turn up at the appointed time. But we have had some dismal evenings when we’ve been the only people in there (or nearly only).

It’s maybe similar to watching a comedy programme on TV. Do people laugh as much if they’re watching it on their own, as when they watch with others? Dining out is not a solitary event - if we want solitary, then we can get that at home.

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Yep, I can see how this would seem like us getting our comeuppance :slight_smile:
How dare we think we can occupy two tables in one place, on one day !

The answer is more prosaic and dull. We’d been schlepping round Manchester all day and just wanted a drink first, to unwind… and something to eat later.

So they showed us into the bar. They then asked if we wanted menus and we said to them we’d rather move into the restaurant when we wanted to eat, which they said was fine, though they left the menus with us to have a look at. This seemed like perfect accommodating service to us. It was only later that the wheels came off…

Agreed, John
The people we bumped into in the street had also sat at the pass/‘chefs table’ to eat and had said the chefs were very chatty, informative etc. and I wasn’t keen on doing that in an otherwise totally empty place. I think I would have felt a bit food stalker-ish. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried.

That said, there is also an irrational part of me that wouldn’t want to sit down to eat at 15.00 at a place that opens at 15.00 :slight_smile:
A bit like turning up for dinner at a friend’s house at 18.55 if they said 19.00…

FWIW, Iain Thomas, who was chef at The Alan when Emlyn went is now knocking out damn good grub at The Pearl in Prestwich

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Glad he’s found a good place to land. It sounded lovely from your review :slight_smile:

Tbh, he makes it as a place to go.

The owner, nice bloke though he is, hasnt got a hospitality background. He was previously in some unrelated industry (IT?) but lost his job during lockdown. He then opened a sandwich shop in Prestwich and then this. I’m not convinced by the physical set-up of the restaurant and I’d be pretty sure the menu direction is determined by the chef rather than owner. So, if he leaves, the place may struggle to find its way.

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Yeah I’ve just had a look at the website. The menu looks lovely but its along way for us to drive for our tea. Weirdly there is more on the website selling their ‘stuff’ ( baseball cap, tote bag, anyone ? ) than there is about the food. Odd - but might be explained by the owners ‘other’ history :slight_smile: