Chilango Hotbox

I was recently up in Manchester and wanting lunch. I have been a fair few times to Chilango both in Manchester and in London. 

Back in October 2016 I had some great tacos from the Manchester branch of Chilango. So I was hoping to get some of those, however since then Chilango have changed their menu, and they no longer do tacos. I was a little disappointed. In the end I went with a Surf and Turf Hotbox.

A hotbox has “alll the flavour of a burrito” but without the tortilla. This one was served with prawns and steak.

I did quite enjoy the hotbox, there were some great flavours.

That time I had some Chilango Tacos

Back in October 2016 I was staying in Manchester for a conference and had arrived the night before. Across the road was a branch of Chilango, so went there for dinner.

They had an interesting menu, but I was hungry so I went for the plate of tacos with a choice of fillings and salsas, along with a bottle of beer.

The tacos are made fresh to order, and after paying, I took my tacos to a table.

They looked great and were very tasty.

Would you like fries with that? Yes I would please!

Having arrived late one Sunday into Manchester and was staying at the Copthorne Hotel in the Salford Quays. I was quite hungry after a long drive. I headed down into the hotel foyer where I found the restaurant had just closed, but the bar was still open for food. They had quite a good menu, in the end I chose the Steak frites, this was described as a sirloin steak served with rocket, fries and herb garlic butter.

This is what I got.

Well, yes it was a sirloin steak, yes it was served with herb garlic butter (and it was quite garlicky), yes there was some rocket. However those were not fries, they were chips! Okay maybe being a little petty, but the menu describes the fish and chips as coming with chips, the steak and ale pie talks about being served with chips, but when I see a menu say it is served with fries, I do expect to get fries.

The menu says steak frites, this means steak with fries, not chips. Fries are not chips, chips are chips and fries are fries.

Well apart from the fries disappointment, the chips were okay. The steak was nice, the herb garlic butter was probably a little too strong for me, but I did like it. The rocket salad, was okay. Overall, I was hungry, this was a nice plate of food.

African Spiced Lamb Rump

I was up in Manchester staying at the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quay and went for dinner in the restaurant. I had a table overlooking the water, I settled in and looked over the menu and ordered.

Well after a somewhat disappointing starter, I did have quite low expectations about my main course. I had ordered the African spiced lamb rump with roasted Mediterranean cous cous.

Unlike my starter I got what was described on the menu.

The lamb was nice, tender, but lacked flavour. There wasn’t s lot of African spice there. The cous cous was nice and there were some nice roasted Mediterranean vegetables hidden in there. The dish was dressed with a yoghurt dressing.

I have to say, I did enjoy the dish, it wasn’t that impressive, but it was okay. If I was at the Copthorne again, would I order it again, probably yes.

Not as described

I was up in Manchester staying at the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quay and went for dinner in the restaurant. I had a table overlooking the water, I settled in and looked over the menu.

For my starter I went with what was described as mini pan fried scallops with pea puree, pea shoots and bacon crumb.

Well this is what I got!

Okay, so there were some mini pan friend scallops, but it was dressed with peas and bacon. No puree, no pea shoots and no bacon crumb.

This was really disappointing. I did complain, but really I was just fobbed off with an excuse that the chef had over-elaborated the dish on the menu. My response was that, if the chef had described the dish, accurately and as it was, then I wouldn’t have been disappointed, I probably would have still ordered it. 

It’s this kind of thing that puts me off eating in hotel restaurants, which can be overpriced as well.

Grilled Chicken Bao Bun

I was up in Manchester looking for somewhere for lunch and Banh Mi Co Ba on the Oxford Road has been somewhere I have been meaning to try for a while. They have a wide ranging menu, but I ordered the Grilled Chicken Bao Bun.

The Bao was filled with salad, chicken dressed with sauce.

I will say I wasn’t impressed, I’ve had better and even made better myself. The Bao was a little cold, the chicken was reheated and I wouldn’t have said it was grilled. The salad was probably too much and I would have served it with less. The sauce was nice though.

Lamb Hotpot

Needing an evening meal and not having much choice I ate in the bar at the Copthorne Hotel in Salford in Manchester. There is a typical bar menu, this time I ordered the lamb hotpot.

The dish comprised the lamb hotpot covered in sliced potato, some red cabbage slaw and some toast.

lamb hotpot

The lamb hotpot wasn’t half bad, the lamb was tender and there was a good portion, it was quite tasty. The potato slices in my mind needed to be cooked for a little longer and I prefer my potato crispier. The red cabbage slaw was nice, I think it would have been easier to eat if it had been sliced thinner. I wasn’t sure about why there was toast, then I worked out it was for mopping up the sauce.

In the end it was just okay, nothing special.

Fish Supper at Bills

I was in Manchester and needing an evening meal, my hotel restaurant was closed, so I headed out to the Trafford Centre for a bite to eat. There is a wide choice of places to choose from. I did walk around, but in the end decided I would go to Bills. There were quite a few things on the menu that I liked the sound of. They also had a reasonably priced set menu as well.

This branch of Bills is set within the New Orleans area of the Trafford Centre, so though it is a fake building, it’s quite an authentic fake building. I actually liked the facade.

I had a really good meal on my last visit to Bills in Ealing. I had some great tuna tacos and a nice steak. However that branch in Ealing has closed, it is now a branch of Las Iguanas. The menu at Bills appears to change frequently, or probably more likely I go so infrequently that it only appears to change frequently. However the tacos were on the menu, and I was tempted to give them a go again. I took my time, but in the end I decided I would go with the set menu.

For my starter I went with the crispy calamari with chilli and roast garlic & basil aioli.

I am a fan of crispy squid, so knew that I was probably going to be hyper-critical of the end result. However this was a nice plate of food. The squid was nice and tender, the coating was nice and crispy. It worked well with the aioli. I liked the presentation of the dish with the pea shoots and the chilli.

My main course was the pan-fried sea bass which was served with tomato sauce, nicoise olives, chive mash & pea shoots.

This was a nicely presented dish. The sea bass was nicely cooked and was quite tasty. I enjoyed the chive mash and it worked well with the tomato sauce. I finished all of this enjoyable dish.

I was tempted with dessert, but in the end said no.

Service was excellent and combined with the food made for a lovely meal. I would certainly go again and there are other items on the menu I want to try.

Ditto

When I am in a new city or town, though familiarity normally means visiting a place like Caffe Nero for a coffee, if I do get the chance I do like to try somewhere new, such as Kiss the Hippo in London.

Up in Manchester, close to our office, I liked the look of Ditto Coffee so popped in for a coffee.

The place has a lot of wood and looked inviting. I ordered a flat white and they said take a seat and they would bring it over. One feature of many independent places I visit, is this level of service. Something I never see from the major high street chains. There of course you order a coffee and then wait until it is made.

Taking a seat I could look at my email as I waited for my coffee.

The flat white arrived after a while and looked great.

It was a delicious cup of coffee and I really enjoyed it.

Excellent Eggs

Up in Manchester I joined a colleague for breakfast at the Federal Cafe Bar.

I really liked the atmosphere. We found a table and I went to the counter to order a coffee. Having had some toast at my hotel I only wanted the coffee.

My colleague with the Turkish Eggs. Two free range poached eggs on whipped garlic yoghurt with hot chilli butter and za’atar and served with sourdough toast.

Excellent Eggs

It looked amazing and my colleague said the eggs were excellent.

I had a great flat white.

Later I decided to go back there for a coffee, only to find the place full and no free seats. Well maybe next time I am in Manchester I will return for a coffee or even breakfast.