Jay Rayner reviews

Neighbourhood

Saturday, February 16, 2013 - There's an appealing swagger to this city-centre newcomer. A feeling that they're doing something a little bit different, and doing it well. Pimped-up American comfort food may already be all the rage in London – sliders, mac and cheese, Southern-fried chicken and the like. Now, with the opening of Neighbourhood in the shiny new Spinningfields development, the craze has spread north...Despite a couple of dud choices, the food is much better than it needs to be at what is obviously a party place, with its loud music and huge booths. Glamorous, fun, lovely staff, good food.

BBQ Chinese Restaurant

Sunday, June 10, 2012 - There are better versions of the shredded pig's stomach with hot spicy sauce to be had elsewhere. (Just typing that sentence makes me laugh; but really it was short on sesame-oil aromatics.) Better were the fried dumplings served under a light, lacy pancake. Best of all was a rustling heap of deep-fried shredded potato mixed with strands of caramelised onion, dried red chillies and a little sugar. It is really filthy, dirty food. Eating it may hurt, both at the time and a few hours later. It may make your scalp sweat and your cheeks flush. But a meal here will definitely remind you that you are very much alive.

San Carlo Cicchetti

Sunday, November 27, 2011 - Perfect gnocchi come baked in a cast-iron pot with a crust of dense cheese. Although the chicken livers on a crostini are a little overcooked, the sauce is so robust you forgive them. A crisp pizza base is spread with melted fontina cheese which at the last minute is laid with strips of smoked salmon so that the oils just begin to run. A thick piece of exemplary raw fillet beef is beaten out to twice its size to be draped over a hot plate to form their 'warm Carpaccio' dressed with serious olive oil and curls of black truffle (a bargain at 10.95)...The joy of this place and this menu is that it can be used for just a couple of drive-by platefuls at the bar.

Australasia

Sunday, October 16, 2011 - Australasia, a cavernous brasserie with a messy pan-Asian menu, is so very, very Manchester. It is all glossiness and fragile first impressions...Tuna and crispy shallot rolls were equally overengineered, though there was absolutely no sign of the crispy shallots. Slices of pink beef with a teriyaki dripping sauce were, well, you know, fine. A shredded papaya salad displayed good knife work, but it was completely underdressed. It should have a real crash and zing. This had nothing. The worst dish of the lot was a tranche of blackened cod, which was overcooked and tasteless.

The Mark Addy

Sunday, April 24, 2011 - We order a long-braised, chicken-stuffed pig's trotter and it comes with piped ribbons of perfect mash with wild garlic. A crown of pigeon is a little overcooked, but tastes of a bird that led a proper life, and is accompanied by a scoop of impeccable black pudding. The wine list is short and gloriously priced...What it doesn't have is much in the way of desserts. Oh, they are there, but Owen Brown isn't that interested in them. A treacle tart is OK, but rough and ready. A baked apple stuffed with sultanas is undercooked. Still, they stock very good ice creams by Mrs Dowsons.

Obsidian Bar and Restaurant

Sunday, July 04, 2010 - It took 40 minutes to deliver a goat's cheese mousse with Parma ham and peas from the set price menu and a salad of black pudding, apple and soft-poached egg from the bar menu. They weren't bad. Nor were they great. There were broad beans in among the peas, which were chalky. The salad was too much underdressed frisee with crumbled black pudding. It was food. We ate it. We were hungry.

Glamorous

Sunday, March 07, 2010 - Char sui buns, while hardly exemplary, were soft and light, and the sticky, sweet, porky filling did the job. Strands of squid, though showing that rubberiness that comes with a pause in the deep freeze, had at least been greaselessly deep-fried. I loved the seafood in a scallop and prawn dumpling, which had a pleasing bite, but the sticky rice-flour casing was far too thick and gelatinous...It might well be possible to get a glamorous meal here. Ours just hadn't been it.

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