Tag Archives: bistro

Beastro – Spinningfields, Manchester

“Our bangers have been ‘bobbed’, we’ve been ‘well hung’ over and now its time for the Beast!

Great story this. Ive seen James, Heather and young Richard plunder the streets of Manchester and the farmers markets of the North west for several years now. ‘Bobby’s Bangers’ purveyors of fine sausages and latterly ‘Well Hung’ equally fine purveyors of well grilled, non vegetarian foodstuffs have set up shop as ‘Beastro’. By virtue of winning a ‘streetfood comp’ they’ve bagged one half of Spinningfields’s ‘Leftbank’ in the well heeled business district of Manchester.


The trio have grafted for a few months to convert the old three unit space into what is now a rather splendid and hospitable cavity. It’s an ‘L’ of a space, pigmented in a ‘duck eggish’ blue, with smart, light grey ‘countrystyle’ dining implements. If dining alone, it’s perfectly possible to hop on a stool and reside at ‘The Chefs’ table and watch young Rich et al. prepare your nourishment ‘live’ before your eyes.

As we were a gang of four we settled on a four berth bench by one of the large, floor to ceiling windows that light up one side of the space. We were able to choose as we were the only ones in. We surveyed the stark, black on white menus. As it was 3pm we had a choice of finishing off the brunch menu or firing up the evening card. As fine as the brunch menu read it was the serious evening stuff that we had come to trough.


We plundered the ‘pots and plates’ section first while we read the starters, mains, desserts and wines. A Manchester egg (£4), the cheese platter (£8) and some fine bread with bacon butter (£2.50) rocked up first. Richard even threw in a light smoked duck dish with leafy greens and heritage vegetables that he was pondering for a future menu. We lapped it up. The Yorkshire folk were thrilled with the cheese whilst us Lancastrians weighed in with the egg. The bacon butter won many compliments too.

Pots and Plates, cheese, manchester egg, duck, bacon butter

For starters we notched up a smoked mackerel salad with new potatoes and poached egg (£6), and a cod, scallops and curried fondant potato (£7). The salad looked a picture and tasted superb. If I was being picky with my Masterchef hat on, I could say the curried cod was the least refined dish on show, but as ever it was all wonderfully cooked and tasted tremendous.

mackerel salad, scallopp, cod in curry

For mains we tested out the true beast in us. Three steaks (rib eyes at £22.50) and the pork belly with sour apple, celeriac mash and crispy pig (£15.50). Normally a steak out can be a risk, but no worries here. Perfectly cooked, seasoned and delivered with vine tomatoes and beef dripping chips.


As ever I had to let you see what the desserts are like! My lemon meringue (£5) and the girls scone and jam (£4) were as delightful as they looked.


The bill came in at nearly £200 for the four of us, complete with a couple of bots of a rather spectacular red Malbec. Tne bottled beers look good too.

It was 3pm on a Sunday afternoon when we turned up. We were, and remained throughout the two hours, the only people in. Rather a shame really. It is early days and of course the main foot fall will happen through the week as the offices spill out at lunch and home time. Its open at 7am too, hopefully it can prise away some of the lucrative breakfast trade from chainster Greggs.

IMG_0347 2

They have a fine vision. They use local produce, they aim to charge a fair price and attract a loyal following who’ll use them regularly. They are certainly passionate having traded from the streets to this fine eatery. Definitely give them a try night or day. You deserve it…..


Irwell Square,
M33AG ,
0161 327 0265


Hispi – Didsbury, Manchester

“There cant be many better bistros in Didsbury named after a cabbage?”

Im probably a bit late. Gary Usher’s latest, crowdfunded eatery blistered onto the scene a few months back. Every dish has been ‘socially media’d’ and all the big reviewers (well the paying ones)! have been and gone. Glowing trails of foodie prose lies in their wake. We all loved ‘Sticky’ and ‘Burnt’ (click to read how much) and so it was expected that Hispi would follow suit.


We romped in on a cold Sunday afternoon. We had booked, you have to it would seem. The place was packed when we got in. Set moments from the centre of Didsbury Village it cuts a startling dash in its boxy, sagey green exterior.

We were met enthusiastically and set into the lower room. The other two or three rooms move upwards a bit, one gets set in the roof. Decor is smart and uncluttered. Walls are either clean exposed brick or super smooth off white paint. Various shades of contemporary wood fill in the rest. The big crowdfunders get their own mirror. Nice touch.


Our Sunday menu was printed (as ever) on one side of an A4 sheet. Three courses for £22, two for £18. You get four choices of start and dessert with five go’s at a main. As ever I could have had any. The Flame as ever, struggled a bit! The menus vary slightly depending on time of day, there’s an early doors menu and an evening dinner menu. It probably goes without saying that they then vary seasonally.


For start The Flame edged into the Squash soup with curry oil, yoghurt and rye bread, though she requested that chef left out the curry. It turned out rather good. Velvety, hot and super tasty, she loved it. I went for the charred mackerel, Jerusalem artichoke, lemon tapenade and parsley. Im not too sure I got all that but it was presented rather nicely and the mackerel itself, with a touch of all the trimmings on each forkful, provided a good few mouthfuls of delight.

It was then a rather over long wait for the mains, as I said they were busy. I had selected my new favourite fish, pan roast skate wing, mace butter, saffron potatoes and spinach. The only downside was that i could have had about four wings rather than the one. The golden spuds were delish too.


The Flame having furrowed her brow at the choice, mentioned in passing that she loves chicken! She ordered the beef, only for Ashley, our super waitress, to inform us that chef could rustle up a turkey dinner. The Flame was in raptures, and even more so when it turned up. A glorious chunk of moist, yes moist turkey, with a sausage meat patty and cranberry topping. Lovely jubbly.

We then had the cheese course, a Beenleigh blue, with rye crackers and chutney and a whipped fromage blanc with pear, meringue and almonds. The dessert whilst not looking too great and being over simple was actually flipping gorgeous, just up my street. Perhaps it may have looked a bit better in a dark bowl, but hey Im being super churlish here.


All in all another great little outing at an Usher gaff and get this…ahem…the ‘cookery’ is always ‘on point’ (whose been watching Masterchef? – Ed) and always well presented using great local produce. The DNA set by owner Gary Usher washes through the place. As if to emphasise, we were wonderfully served by Gareth and the ever bubbly Ashley. Both bright and confident with the right tinge of humour.

As the late AA Gill commented, something along the lines of “Your local restaurant should be treasured, use it, cherish it and it will pay you back in spades”. Didsbury has been dealt a good hand with this smart little bistro. I reckon every town and village should have one. Maybe the city’s should have one too, perhaps even Liverpool? Think it should be called ‘Wreckfish’…..watch this space.

1C School Lane
Didsbury Village
M20 6RD.
Tel: 0161 445 3996

Ariete – Newton-le-Willows

Spare a thought for my humble home town of Newton-le-Willows. A small lump of coal of maybe 20,000 souls, nestled between the great metropolis’ of Liverpool and Manchester. Famous for it’s has been rock star Rick Astley and having the first bloke ever to be killed on a railway.

As far as gastronome is concerned it’s all a bit flat. A few decent pubs, it’s own curry yard, a phalanx of kebab shops and that’s about you’re lot. It does however, have at least one beacon of hope in Ariete, an Italian restaurant set in the oldest building on the High Street. The High Street is part of the great North/South highway known as the A49. It’s one of my favourite roads! Ian Botham went through it once on a sponsored walk. This is how good this road is. Ariete is housed in the best building on the best road.
Formerly the grand entrance to the Haydock Park Estate it provides a rather splendid facade, particularly at night when some bulbs light it up. In case you wondered Ariete is Italian for ‘Ram’.
Inside things change a bit. Basically they have grafted a huge hangar on the back of this wonderous folly, complete with skylights and conservatory style windows. I reckon it could cope with 150 covers easy. As well as big it is high, which means the noise can bang on a bit. It’s not what you would call intimate. It sets up better for bigger parties really, but nonetheless the flame and I regularly walk down for a plate of pasta and a bottle of house red. Having said that, they have recently grafted on a ‘specials’ menu which changes pretty often, possibly weekly, so there is always something new to try.
We went in for Christmas Eve so we caught it this time on absolute top form. Completely full, the atmosphere and sense of occasion was bang on. A bottle of Italian Merlot oiled the pipes while the flame plundered a toasted muffin slathered in chicken livers, themselves spiked with chilli and herbs. She was well chuffed. I wafted into a spicy chorizo and squid stew, also set on a crouton with a wodge of rocket leaves. The squid was plentiful and well cooked, criss crossed and curling after a quick ‘shufty’ in a hot, oiled pan. It was a corking starter.
For mains the flame had another starter! But by hokey what a starter, she was stuffed as were the peppers, with beef mince, herbs and spices. She had a ‘small’ mixed salad to accompany. I had a spaghetti with spicy meatballs. Standard fayre I would agree, but if you do want a decent feed, you can’t really beat here. The portions are stupendous. Also worth a mention, is that the garlic bread is based on a massive pizza base. No couple of slices of baguette here, It’s a meal in itself so be warned if you order one with your starter!
I finished off with a creme caramel. A light delight to finish, very nice too, freshly made on the premises that day according to eccentric host Giovanni. We have had ‘a la carte’ here and enjoyed that too. The quality and value is hard to beat. £52 for two for three rollicking  courses, wine and coffee on a Christmas Eve. Not bad in my eyes. I’m not saying you should all trek across from the foodie enclaves of Chorlton or Didsbury or any of the other Cheshire outfits that lead the way in food nearby. I would suggest however, if you ever come to the races, or find yourself trundling down the A49 when the M6 at Thelwall viaduct shuts down for a bit of wind, you could do a lot worse than check out Ariete, The Ram of Italy, you’ll get a decent feed for not much money.
136 High St,
01925 291555