My lovely wife and I have frequented Amici two times in the last year or so, the most recent being today. As our experience was almost identical on both occasions, I think the trend is clear and my review will be accurate and representative.
The photograph near the entrance of a rotund, bespectacled man (presumably the manager) standing next to Gordon Ramsay must not lull one into a false sense of security or even the belief that the premises are somehow endorsed by Mr Ramsay. I can find no evidence that they are. The “Thank you” card cleverly displayed next to the photograph of Mr Ramsay bears no relation to the photograph from what I read.
The entrance foyer is nice and respectable, the staff greet diners politely, and there are many reasonably attentive staff. They use paper placemats on the tables displaying the drinks list; perhaps one is supposed to slide the plate to one side to read it? Either way, it’s not a classy touch – white linen would be better. The chairs look like something from a hotel conference room, but are serviceable I guess. More important the food……..
On this visit, we were with our child, and they have a decent budget kids menu with Italian overtones. We elected to miss the starter and head straight for the main course. I ordered fillet medallions with mushrooms in sauce, and my lovely wife opted for some kind of seafood and pasta dish. We got a garlic bread on the side. Chicken nuggets and chips fed our four-year-old diner.
This is where things took a disappointing turn. The food was ready at lightening speed; it’s never a good sign. It is an indicator of pre-cooked or warmed up food. The garlic bread is of the pizza type. It arrived looking yummy, yet was tepid, average and very forgettable. My guess is a frozen base; certainly not freshly made. Farmfoods own brand perhaps? Yuk!
My “fillet” medallions arrived looking agreeable, yet were also inexplicably tepid as was the accompanying rice. They arrived so fast that none of it had time to cool down on the kitchen side, and the restaurant was not busy enough that this would happen. Again, I can only imagine my dish was warmed up or pre-cooked in some way.
I am a big lover of steak and have consumed it all over the world, even at the famous Morton’s in Manhattan. I know fillet when I taste it, and my “fillet medallions” were not fillet. They were decent quality beef for sure, but too chewy and marbled to be fillet. (A popular trick of restaurants is to overstate the quality or economise on meat when it is served in sauce, as so few people can identify the difference.)
My wife’s pasta and seafood was hot enough and tasted fine, she gave it a 7/10. She backed that up with stating it was on the better side of average, but not memorable by any stretch of the imagination.
The kids’ nuggets and chips were OK for a kid. They were hot enough, and the chips looked homemade rather than frozen rubbish. The Nuggets were of course frozen rubbish, but one expects that for three pound something. Children are not gourmets after all are they?
The house wine was a surprise. The white is a Sicilian D’istinto Cartarrato Chardonnay, and the red is a D’istinto Merlot. Both were very nice and at £3-50 for a glass or £12-95 for a bottle represented decent value. Most restaurants house wines are “£3 from Asda” quality sold at £13. I don’t know what D’istinto Cartarrato costs, but it is nice; I shall be Googling it to find out more and to see if I can buy it anywhere.
Dessert time: Two ice creams and a cappuccino. All quite decent but not earth shattering. I would have expected nicer coffee from Italians. At least they had brown sugar.
Overall, a little disappointing based on the restaurants’ appearance and enthusiasm of the staff. The weak point is in the kitchen; what should be freshly prepared signature dishes are pre-prepared, tepid and of very average quality. Our overall mark is 6/10. This place can do better I am sure. The chef needs a Gordon Ramsay style kick up the arse to smarten up his act. If that were fixed, this place would be great.
Parking is up the side and plentiful. There is no smoking area, despite the fire door that exits onto the car park offering a super opportunity for a gazebo that smokers could use.
The clientele: Being in Stockport, Amici attracts the typical Stockport woman – overweight, a bit supercilious, a tad loud and generally best avoided – and who doesn’t know a decent piece of fillet from any other piece of meat she may consume on a meal inclusive two week Eastjet discount jaunt to Turkey. She thinks Amici is great! The rest of the typical clientele are the over 50’s (the only ones who have money in a recession – having no mortgage), they remember the austere 1970’s, so think Amici is decadent. (Did I see an automatic Austin Princess in the car park?) The crowd is mostly quiet, local and non-discerning. Some will be celebrating birthdays and occasions as that’s the only time they get to venture into a restaurant.
As it stands today, I have been there twice and unloaded in excess of £150 in their direction. Did I get my moneys worth? Not really. Will I go again? Doubtful. Frankie and Benny’s in Stockport can do much better for the same money. We landed at the (mostly empty) Amici tonight as Frankie and Benny’s were full and had a 45 minute wait for a table. I guess people vote with their feet.
A perusal of their website at “Amicirestaurant.net” (Really? Dot net? Come on guys! Sack your web designer!) reveals that they are “taking bookings for Christmas”. Hmm, as it is February 2009 when I write this, I suspect they are talking Christmas 2008. Update the website guys!
Amici Pizzeria & Ristorante.
59-61 Buxton Rd.
Tel: 0161 480 5982.