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Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian Manchester

This week I’ve noticed a hint of spring in the air. The evenings are much lighter, the trees are starting to get blousy with blossom and everything just feels a bit hopeful. With a spring in my step, I met my friend Bob for lunch at Jamie’s Italian Manchester. He’s moved away, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, so we were ready for a proper catch up.

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian Manchester

We arrived at Jamie’s Italian Manchester, a huge grade II listed building on King Street in the city centre. Inside it’s imposing and grand, with dark wood and marble everywhere. It’s a beauty.

We were shown to our table and we checked out the Super Lunch menu. Since I was last in the menu has had an update to keep pace with the changing seasons. The super lunch menu is a hearty mixture of winter warmers and vibrant spring flavours. It’s keenly priced at £12.95 for two courses, or three courses for £14.95. It is available 12-6pm from Monday-Friday.

To start I plumped for the Tomato Bruschetta made with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, buffalo ricotta, basil and extra virgin olive oil. I’m a sucker for ricotta, so this was a deliciously light start to the meal. My only tiny quibble was that the tomatoes still had some fresh from the fridge chill to them, I’d prefer them closer to room temperature, but that’s me being very fussy.

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian Manchester

Bob opted for the Fritto Misto, crispy fried sustainable fish & squid tossed in fennel-spiced flour with garlic and lemon aioli. This was a hit, the aioli was perfectly garlicky and the delicate fish well cooked. There wasn’t quite enough squid for his liking, but the plentiful helping of chunky fish made up for that. This is a dish he would order again.

Moving on to the mains, there were only two veggie options and only one I was able to eat, so that’s what I had, the Classic Super Food Salad, a combination of avocado, roasted beetroot, mixed pulses & grains, sprouting broccoli, pomegranate and spicy seeds with harissa dressing & cottage cheese. To say it was delicious is an understatement, every fork full was bursting with flavour, I couldn’t fault it and despite my initial hesitation over ordering this, I would do again in a heartbeat.

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian Manchester

Bob plumped for the Italian Steak and Fries, marinated skirt steak, flash grilled & served with garlic butter, aged Parmesan, slaw and fries. This had a £3 supplement. The skirt steak was heavily topped with garlic butter with one side seared on the grill, Bob thought it was a good steak, though not the best he’d had. However, the skinny fries were perfect, crispy without being overcooked and a good portion size. I snaffled a few and they were good.

I was stuffed after my salad, but we were determined to do the new menu justice, so pudding was ordered. Choosing the light option, I ordered the Blood Orange Sorbet, which was topped with fresh mint and lime zest. It’s not listed as suitable for vegetarians on the Super Lunch Menu, but I checked and it definitely is. The sorbet was so good, it was just about perfect and the flavours in the citrusy sorbet were enhanced by the mint and lime, and it was only 72 calories too.

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian Manchester

Bob still had some room, so he ordered the Epic Chocolate Brownie with chocolate sauce, salted caramel ice cream and caramelised popcorn. It looked spectacular, he kindly let me try a corner. I’m not usually a fan of brownies, but it had a lovely crispy top and it was a very, very good brownie. I loved the ice cream, but the popcorn was the winner for me. It was a fine end to our lunch.

We had both had a cocktail, soft drinks, a three course lunch and coffee and our lunch time treat came in at a few pence over £56. We both felt it was really good value for what we’d had. I’ve had lunch at Jamie’s Italian Manchester with friends a few times now, and never been disappointed and always impressed with the value and service. 

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian Manchester

You can find out more about Jamie’s Italian Manchester and the Super Lunch Menu on the website.

We were invited guests of Jamie’s Italian Manchester. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian

This week I was keen for a bit of culture and had plans to visit an exhibition in Manchester, it seemed rude not to stop for a bite to eat while I was there, so I headed to Jamie’s Italian on King Street to check out their new Super Lunch Menu.

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The menu is very nicely priced at £12.95 for two courses, or three courses for £14.95. It is available 12-6pm from Monday-Friday and seemed to be incredibly popular when I visited. The menu is short but I felt there was enough to choose from and I’m a slightly fussy veggie.

I opted to start with “Jamie’s Spring Ribbolita”, a chunky soup with spring greens, cannellini beans, chilli, garlic and extra virgin olive oil, finished with Bella Lodi (black parmesan) and served with homemade focaccia. The soup was delicious, really chunky, riddled with fresh veg and beans and well seasoned, it’s rare I don’t have to add any seasoning to my soup and it was perfect, I couldn’t fault it.

Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian

My dining companion chose the Frito Misto – crispy fried sustainable fish and squid tossed in fennel-spiced flour with garlic and lemon aioli. It looked good and was a decent sized starter portion. Although I felt that the aioli lacked the garlicky punch I was expecting and my squid loving friend couldn’t find any squid, we think the table next to us which were having a double portion of the same probably had our share.

Moving swiftly onto the mains I chose the Spaghetti Primavera made with fresh pasta, wild garlic pesto, green beans, peas, sweet basil and Bella Lodi. I was impressed with this simple but delicious dish, I loved the wild garlic pesto, a seasonal treat I can’t resist, the primavera has got summer written all over it. Beautifully presented and full of seasonal veg, it was perfectly seasoned and almost plate-lickingly good. 

Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian

My diet concious chum plumped for the Super Food Salad, Avocado and roasted beetroot with fennel, quinoa, black rice, curly kale, sprouting broccoli, fresh herbs, pomegranate, toasted seeds, spicy harissa and cottage cheese. This salad looked good, but I’m not a great lover of quinoa, the avocado with the harissa was inspired and my companion really enjoyed it. It’s a great salad for ladies (and indeed gents) who lunch. 

I’d selected my lunch based on what I fancied and my friend chose something more slimming. On a pause between courses I hopped onto the website and discovered that my rich and delicious dish of carby pasta was 676 calories, and the healthy salad was 725 calories. It was clearly time for cake!

Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian

Pud arrived and between us we shared custody of a dainty bowl of strawberries and frozen yoghurt (fresh strawberries soaked in elderflower and lemon, served with baby basil, frozen yoghurt and poppy seed crisps) and an orange blossom polenta cake, served with whipped crème fraîche, fresh orange and pomegranate.

For me the stand out was the orange blossom polenta cake, it was impossibly light and delicately citrus, set off beautifully by the whipped crème fraîche. The strawberries and frozen yoghurt was small but just enough if you want something a little bit sweet at the end of your meal. I’m not a great fan of strawberries, but I enjoyed the little pud.

At just £14.95 for the Super Lunch Menu I can say it’s excellent value and the food was so good I’m planning a return visit again soon. For me Jamie’s Italian in Manchester is a great daytime venue.  It was busy and almost all of the tables were full, so they’re obviously doing something right. 

The Super Lunch menu runs from Monday – Friday, 12pm – 6pm.

Super Lunch Menu at Jamie’s Italian

We were invited guests of Jamie’s Italian, Manchester. Nevertheless all images and opinions are our own.

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Review: Vapiano Manchester

Since the dark days of uni when I was packed off each term with a 10kg sack of fusilli pasta I have shied away from ordering pasta in restaurants. I have a hard and fast rule, pasta must only be ordered in proper Italian restaurants, so when I visited proper Italian restaurant Vapiano in Manchester I knew I’d be ordering pasta.

Vapiano opened in the recently revamped Corn Exchange in Manchester in November last year. It has two light and airy floors, the first floor being the more popular and bustling space, as that’s where the kitchens are located.

Vapiano Manchester

Vapiano has a slightly different way of operating, there is no table service, you are given a card to use each time you order food or drink. You order directly from the chefs and watch them cook your meal in front of you, this takes minutes and it allows you to tailor your dish to your own tastes. Want more chilli? Ask for it. Less cheese? You got it.

Choosing a comfortable table next to the balcony, we ordered a couple of glasses of a red wine from their wine list, while we checked out their extensive menu.

For someone so picky about pasta I do have very simple tastes. I opted for the Pesto Rosso – cherry tomatoes, tomato pesto, pine nuts with ricotta cheese. I chose the freshly made Campanelle pasta. I went over to the kitchen and put my order in with the chef, I swiped my card on the counter and within minutes my pasta dish was being whipped up in front of me. They use fresh pasta made every day on site, so it only takes a few minutes to cook. 

Once cooked I took my Pesto Rosso back to the table, the pasta was perfectly al dente and the sauce was rich with a little hint of background heat. The pine nuts were plentiful, the grated ricotta was generous. It was superb, I enjoyed every forkful and couldn’t fault it.

Vapiano Manchester

On the side, I ordered garlic bread with cheese. As pizza takes a little longer to cook they operate a pager system. You order at the pizza kitchen, swipe your card and get a pager which goes off when your pizza is ready, you return to the kitchen and pick up your pizza.  It seems a very efficient system.

The garlic bread was oozing with cheese and a generous amount of fresh garlic. It was delicious but I think it could have done with another minute or two in the oven for me, so the crust was a little darker. The dough, again made that morning, was light and crispy and everything I want in a pizza dough.

My companion opted for the strawberry and spinach salad – a salad of fresh spinach, strawberries, goats cheese, red onion and pine nuts with a raspberry and maple dressing. It was a light, colourful salad with well balanced flavours which was consumed with much approval.

They then moved on to the pasta course, choosing a salmon carbonara which contained smoked salmon, onions, egg and cream. The dish contained lots of lovely chunky pieces of salmon, which did look delicious and made for a more interesting alternative to the traditional carbonara.

We barely had room for pudding, but we persisted. I chose my favourite, Tiramisu whilst my friend opted for the Bacio, a chocolate and hazelnut mousse on a biscuit base topped with chopped hazelnuts. I adore Tiramisu and I’ve eaten a fair few in my time, the sponge was light and the cream and mascarpone had been whipped so it was airy, it was excellent, a little light on the coffee flavour for me, but I do like it strong.

Vapiano Manchester

The Bacio was as pretty as a picture, presented in a jar it was a little like a cheesecake but with a mousse layer. I had a little taste and I was pleased that the chocolate wasn’t too overpowering, I liked the generous sprinkle of hazelnuts on top and the biscuit base added some extra texture. 

Although the card system probably isn’t for everyone,I think it’s probably useful for large groups who might haggle over splitting the bill, or for those watching their pennies. I did enjoy watching my food being cooked in front of me and I loved that it was so fresh and hadn’t been sat around waiting for a waiter to bring it to my table.

Between us the bill came to around £70 which for three courses, wine, soft drinks and coffee was very respectable. The meal was delicious and probably the best pasta dish I’ve eaten in years. The menu is extensive and there will be something on there for everyone, whatever dietary requirements you may have I’m sure most dishes could be tailored to accommodate even the pickiest eater (me). I now know why Vapiano is considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Manchester.

Vapiano is now firmly on my ladies who lunch rota, we’ll be back, and we’ll be back again soon!

Vapiano is located in the Corn Exchange in Manchester, for more information and to view their menu visit their website.

We were invited guests of Vapiano and were not asked to pay for our food or drinks. All images and opinions are our own.

Jamie’s Italian Manchester – Review

One of the worst things about coming home from holiday is returning to the old routine and having nothing in particular to look forward to. Thankfully as we sped (at no more than 70mph) down the motorway towards home, we knew we’d soon have a meal at Jamie’s Italian in Manchester to look forward to.

We arrived at Jamie’s and we were quickly shown to our table. Jamie’s Italian is in the old Midland Bank building on King Street. It’s an impressive and beautiful building, built in the 1930’s, they’ve retained as many original features as is practical, and it’s a real treat for lovers of architecture.

We ordered some drinks while we perused the menu. I went for an Aperol Spritz and my husband opted for a Bellini Spritz, and both were refreshing after a bus journey on a warm summer evening. To drink with our meal we ordered a bottle of Jamie’s Italian Rosso Sicilian Red, it is delivered to the restaurant in Tetra Pak cartons and decanted when required. It’s a very acceptable, medium red which went well with our food and was very quaffable.

We argued over what to choose from the fairly extensive menu (with surprisingly few veggie options), but to start we plumped for the Italian Nachos to share and I had the grilled asparagus bruschetta, while himself had the crispy king prawns.

The Italian Nachos were interesting, made with pasta instead of tortillas they had a similar texture but somehow missed the spot. They came with the usual accompaniments, they were piled high and when we dived in half of them fell on the floor, we really wanted to love them, but we merely liked them.

Jamie's Italian Manchester

My bruschetta was delicious, the asparagus was beautifully grilled, bursting with flavour and served on top of creamy mozzarella, for me it needed a good twist of pepper, but it was otherwise perfect. Himself was visually wowed by the crispy king prawns; the prawns were plump and juicy and served with a piquant tomato, basil and garlic sauce. The prawns were wrapped in crispy angel-hair pasta and this is where the dish fell down, it was visually impressive, but it made it difficult and fiddly to eat, especially for a lad who doesn’t like to fiddle, he just likes to eat and enjoy his food.

Moving on to the mains; being veggie I opted for the honeycomb cannelloni trio which was aubergine and sun-dried tomato, pumpkin, ricotta and spinach cannelloni with the usual tomato and béchamel sauces. It was an enjoyable dish. The pasta was excellent, just the right thickness and cooked perfectly. I loved the pumpkin and the ricotta and spinach cannelloni, both were well made and very tasty. The aubergine and sun-dried tomato I liked a bit less, it was the blandest flavour of the three. I would have it again, but it did feel a bit too much of a wintery dish for a summer evening.

Jamie's Italian Manchester

Husband went for the signature porcetta which was British pork belly with fennel crackling and chestnut mushrooms. He also ordered sides of “funky chips” and courgette fritti. He loved the porcetta, which you could’ve cut with a spoon, the crispy crackling brought a cheeky smile to his face and he clearly enjoyed every mouthful.

He kindly (he had no choice) shared his sides with me, we proclaimed the courgette fritti a wild success, though the deep fried pickles the courgettes were served with were actually red hot chillies, which rendered them pretty inedible, but I’d happily eat a number of plates of the courgette. The “funky chips” were a bit of a let down, the chips themselves were crispy, and served with garlic and parsley, I thought these would be off the hook, but they needed a really good dose of seasoning and we ended up leaving half of them.

On to dessert, which we barely had room for, so we shared a generous portion of tiramisu. The Jamie’s Italian version is slightly non-standard, given it’s been sexed up with some orange flavours. I love tiramisu, it is my all time favourite pud. I loved this version, light and creamy, it didn’t have the massive coffee hit of other tiramisu, but I enjoyed the citrusy summery flavours of the orange. It was a hit!

Jamie's Italian Manchester

As a vegetarian I did feel the menu was a bit lacking, with only two mains to choose from I think in this day and age that’s really quite poor, especially in an Italian restaurant.

All in all it was a bit of a mixed evening. The service was spot on, informal and informative. The food was good, sometimes great; occasionally a bit disappointing, especially given the pedigree of the restaurant. I liked the relaxed vibe and it’s the kind of place I’d happily come back to with a group of friends on a night out. Good, but not quite great.

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Jamie’s Italian Manchester. We paid for our drinks and service, but the food was complimentary. This, as you can see, has not swayed my opinions.

New Summer Menu at Gusto Cheadle Hulme

A little while ago I sampled the delights of Gusto Didsbury, the food was nothing short of delicious and a cracking evening was had by all. I was therefore excited to be invited to Gusto Cheadle to try some dishes from their new summer menu.

Being one of those vegetarian types I took along my trusty sidekick and eager carnivore chum Bob, who had the difficult task of eating all the meaty and fishy things. A tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

Gusto CheadleDue to a mix up we arrived two hours early, but nevertheless we were made to feel welcome. We shared a bottle of the Banchetto Rosso, a light, easy-drinking red and nibbled at a couple of new dishes from the menu. It was a not unpleasant way to while away an afternoon.

Gusto Cheadle

First up we tried the fried Pecorino cheese with tomato chutney. Two thick wedges of Percorino in a fine polenta crust, served with a good dollop of lovely tomato chutney and some dressed leaves. It was a hearty starter, Bob felt it a was a little dry, but I enjoyed it and thought it made a nice alternative to halloumi.

We shared a small portion of the hand made artichoke tortellini with sautéed mushrooms with parsley and butter. This dish divided us, we both loved the tortellini and enjoyed the mushrooms, but I felt the sauce was too salty and overpowering, whereas Bob thought it was just “well seasoned”.

Gusto CheadleThankfully before we devoured the entire menu by ourselves, the others arrived and we could begin the tasting proper. We began by having a selection of starters wafted in front of us. We tried the Bresaola with home pickled mushrooms and rocket; Home cured salmon tartare and quails egg; Crisp baby gem and Speck ham with tonnato sauce; Cannellini bean dip with cucumber and baby leaf salad with fennel crispbread and Bruschetta with avocado and tomato.

All were popular; I particularly loved the Bruschetta with avocado which was simple but beautiful. Good ingredients treated with respect. Bob was very fond of the salmon tartare. I thought the cannellini dip was lovely, very light very summery, like hummus but light on the garlic.

Gusto CheadleMoving on to the new main courses on offer at Gusto we sampled the Saffron risotto with a white crab salad; Home cured salmon, shaved fennel, orange,  radish and radicchio with a crème fraiche dressing; Baked fillet of seabass with roasted pepperonata, drizzled with lemon purée; and Roast lamb rump on a courgette, aubergine and tomato galette with a salsa verde dressing.

Gusto CheadleThere wasn’t a lot of veggie types like me to sample, but I managed to gobble down some of the excellent saffron risotto. Bob loved the seabass, it being perfectly cooked and the roasted pepperonata offering a welcome zingy hit to the dish. His personal favourite was the lamb rump, which came out perfectly pink and as soft as butter.

Next up, as if we had room (but we somehow managed) were the desserts. One of my favourite things about Gusto is their puddings are by no means a menu afterthought. They’ve created some new summery puds, we tried the Gusto Bellini – a peach and Prosecco jelly with a Prosecco foam. This was a light and fruity end to the meal, the Prosecco jelly being an excellent palate cleanser and the fruit helping to fool you into thinking it was an almost healthy option.

My personal favourite was the Italian Mess. A Gusto twist on the famous Eton Mess. A light berry meringue, filled with vanilla chantilly cream, raspberry coulis and topped with summer berries. It looked and tasted like perfection on a plate. My only grumble was I dislike the leafy stalks being left on my strawberries, but otherwise this was as perfect a pudding as I’m likely to find.

Gusto Cheadle

There were some real gems on the new Gusto menu, some I’m literally salivating at the thought of trying again, and try again I will.

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Gusto Cheadle and we were not asked to pay for our food or drink. These are my honest opinions of what we ate on the day.

Gusto, Didsbury Review

I’m a Didsbury girl through and through. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve seen many changes. I remember Gusto when it was Est Est Est (yes, I am that old) and it has always been a local, neighbourhood eatery, a restaurant for all occasions and for none.

I love that when you go in there’ll be a table celebrating a birthday, a few couples on their first or fiftieth date or just people who fancied a good meal. You don’t have to dress up to go there, or you can dress up to the nines, whichever. It’s so relaxed with very little pretention.

I’ve been itching to review Gusto since I started blogging and I was pretty sure we’d be in for a good night with some great food.

We were seated next to their open kitchen. I love sitting there watching the hustle and bustle and the quiet concentration of the chefs, it can get a bit warm up that end of the restaurant in the summer, but on a drizzly February evening it was just the ticket.

We ordered a bottle of Italian red, a very acceptable Feudi d’Albe Montepulciano. It was easy drinking and matched our food beautifully.

Gusto Didsbury

To start, Matthew, my long suffering husband ordered the mussels in white white, garlic and cream served with ciabatta. He was cock-a-hoop over this dish. He reckons mussels are a good way to judge a restaurant. If the mussels are prepped properly and the sauce without grit you know kitchen standards are going to be alright. He loved the tender mussels and the rich, flavoursome sauce. They smelt incredible, even to my vegetarian nostrils. He’ll be having those again.

I opted for the Burratina mozzarella cheese, slow roasted beetroot and herb wafers. This was undoubtedly the prettiest thing I’ve ever eaten. The mozzarella was soft and yielding, beautifully creamy, it almost sighed as I ate it. It was well matched against the tang of the beetroot, with the crunch of the herb wafers adding a welcome contrast of texture.

My only moment of pickiness was I wasn’t keen on the crunchy seeds mixed in with the beetroot, I’d’ve preferred them on the side, but that’s a personal preference. It was a delightfully light start to the meal.

On to the mains and I chose the Rigatoni Primavera which was rigatoni, butternut squash, celeriac, carrot, cabbage, green beans, pine nuts and cream. Being a real vegetarian the waitress kindly offered to get me the vegetarian Parmesan instead of the standard non-veggie one. This was one of those lovely, attention to detail touches that really make the difference in terms of customer service.

The Rigatoni Primavera was a well executed dish with the pasta being just a nudge over al dente. The vegetables were tasty and the celeriac was sweet and tender and I could’ve eaten a big dish of that alone. The green beans added crunch, it was a lovely rich, wintery pasta dish.

My carnivorous husband went for the pan roast breast of duck, balsamic shallot tartlette with red wine and beetroot reduction with sides of buttered savoy cabbage and pine nuts and a dish of lovely crispy baked garlic and rosemary roast potatoes.

The duck was pink with perfectly rendered fat, he said it was about the best duck he’s ever eaten. The shallot tartlette was sweet, unctuous and the pastry crisp and golden. The red wine and beetroot reduction (which I had a little dib-dab at with my finger) was sweet and I’m told worked well with the duck.

The sides which I ably assisted in the consumption of were lovely. I adore cabbage so there was a little battle of the quickest fork going on between us. The potatoes were hot, crispy and garlicky. We loved them (I was so inspired by them I knocked up something similar to go with Sunday lunch).

The portion sizes were just greedy enough to make us feel nicely full, but still magically have room for pudding. I plumped for the Bombolini, homemade mini doughnuts with chocolate sauce and cream. These arrived piping hot, sprinkled with sugar with a pot of melted chocolate and a dollop of cream on the side. These were amazing, far, far superior to the hot doughnuts you get in huts by the seaside, altogether classier and if I’m honest I’ve thought about little else since I ate them.

My companion chose the hot chocolate and hazelnut brownie with pistachio ice cream and chocolate sauce. As is the law I scoffed a couple of mouthfuls of the warm, moist brownie. The pistachio ice cream was a bit special too. Definitely a contender for brownie of the year.

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We rounded off our meal with a Godfather cocktail each. We’d had an exceptionally delightful, laid back, fun evening; with three courses of excellent food, a bottle of good wine, with attentive and considerate service and all just five minutes walk from our house. Perfection.

Gusto, Didsbury can be found at 756 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2DW Tel: 0161 445 8209

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the restaurant and ate for free in return for our honest review.