Archive for the 'Restaurants' Category

Kobideh Kebab Recipe.

KOBIDEH KEBABS INGREDIENTS 500g minced beef (80-85% lean) 500g minced lamb (80-85% lean) 1 ½ medium yellow onions, quartered 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 egg 1 tsp salt 1 tsp sumac ½ tsp ground black pepper ½ tsp turmeric powder ¼ cup butter, melted (for brushing over the kebabs after grilling) INSTRUCTIONS You will […]

Where To Get Long Stainless Steel Barbecue Skewers BBQ

Finding good quality long barbecue skewers  in the UK can be a drag. But you are in the right place to find out more. BBQ skewers are a sector of the market that cheap Chinese manufacturers and ‘pile em high, sell em cheap’ eBay and Amazon merchants have been all over for some time. Finding the […]

Review: Cau Didsbury, Manchester: “10% “Service Charge” Leaves a Bad Taste in the Mouth.

Note to Cau: You might get away with a 10% “service charge” in Media City or London. In Amsterdam, the service is exceptional so nobody minds.

But in Manchester, this wont really go down well and will alienate you from your potential future clientele.

Had I have been impressed overall, I would have made a £1k booking for my staff Xmas party, as I did in the same location under the previous management last year. This year I will find someplace else.

So overall, I think an ‘average’ is fair.

Don’t pay that service charge people. It is in fact an optional gratuity. If you don’t resist it, it will become commonplace.

Puccini Italian Restaurant Ashton Under Lyne Review

Puccini is an Italian restaurant located at 141 Katherine Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL6 7AW. The phone number is 0161 330 1234.

This place was recommended by a friend a few months ago, we have been a few times and have recently had a function there. However, there was an experience during that function that I feel is an integral part of the review, and people will want to know about upfront: Greed.

We booked the upstairs function room for an anniversary party. There were about twenty adults and a small gaggle of children present. The group bill was well over £1000.

I am a tad picky on my wine, and only drink one type given a choice [which they don’t sell], so I brought a couple of bottles with me along with two bottles of champagne [again of a type we wanted and they don’t sell]. As soon as I opened one of them, a young waiter came over and said this isn’t allowed. Then he said there may be a corkage charge.

Well, which is it? Corkage charge or not allowed? I explained to him that as we were spending so much, I didn’t see it as an issue, but if the manager did, he was welcome to have a chat with me about it. He went away and didn’t come back, so I thought no more of it.

At the end of the evening, when I came to settle the final part of the bill that was ours, there was a £40 corkage charge on there. I immediately took this charge up with the manager, Robert.

Repeating what was stated above, I suggested that if I was paying corkage, it should have been disclosed in advance, and why were there not even any ice buckets provided at this money? He had no reply to that so he offered to reduce it to £30.

I suggested to him that zero might be a better number as we had a choice of venues, and had this evening spent well over £1000. Further, such greediness would prevent me from holding further venues there and he would probably also lose our business several times a month as regular diners.

He was adamant he wanted his thirty quid corkage, so I paid him and said I wouldn’t be back. *shrugs*

He clearly felt somewhat uncomfortable with his behaviour moments later, as he chased us out into the car park and gave my wife a bottle of wine. Well, I dunno what a bottle of Prosecco costs, but I am sure it isn’t thirty quid. Gesture aside, it still left me with an uncomfortable taste in my mouth, so we won’t be going back.

However, peevish greediness aside, based on about half a dozen visits, I also think I can still give an impartial review for others considering dining there. You may not want to use the function room or take your own wine, so what can you expect?

The Building:

The building is modern and quite nice. The place is clean and well appointed. The toilets are also clean. Not too spacious, and not too cramped. Getting in the small car park is unlikely, but the car park across the street is not expensive and free at certain times.

The Service:

On the whole, the service is quite good. The younger male waiters can myther you a bit. They interrupt your conversation to continually ask if everything is OK. I almost felt like saying to one to stop interrupting me every five minutes, and if something isn’t OK, he would be the first to know. The older, more experienced waiters are quite slick and on the case. They do tend to fawn all over women customers a bit, kissing cheeks etc, but that isn’t terribly unusual in Italians.

The Prices:

The prices are right at the top end of what you want to be paying in Ashton. As with most places, the wine is expensive and the quality mediocre. I certainly wouldn’t pay any more in Ashton, and one can easily pay a little less for similar food elsewhere. The pleasant building makes up for it though, depending on your point of view.

The Food:

If you are gastronome, it will not rock your world. There is nothing particularly wrong with it, and my honest appraisal over several visits is average. Some things were rather nice, others less so. You wouldn’t say, “Let’s go there, the food is so great”, you would be more likely to say, “Let’s go there, the food is alright”. I like the fact that you can see into the kitchen from outside, only what comes out of it could be a little better.


If you have £80- £100 [assuming two with wine] burning a hole in your pocket and want an OK meal in a nice looking place, you could do worse. In Ashton, there isn’t really much choice of clean, presentable looking restaurants, so if you are tied to Ashton as a location, you may want to give it a shot. If you are not tied to Ashton as a location, I suggest Zizzi in Didsbury or Isis in Swinton instead if you are looking for a nice Italian.

If you are considering using the function room, ask for an older waiter or the young boys will pester you to death every two minutes, and make him aware upfront that if you choose to bring a bottle or two of your own, you refuse to pay his corkage charges. Make that a condition of the booking in writing.

Unfortunately, trying to nickel and dime me for thirty quid has lost him several thousands pounds of our future business [on principle], and a write up here. You may have better luck.

2013 Musings from Togliatti, Russia: Restaurants & Eating Out.

Eating Out in Togliatti.  When you visit a place, you don’t really want to start cooking do you? So restaurants are going to feature. However, in my experience, this is something Russia hasn’t quite got to grips with yet. We went in two places that had been previously OK that now have insect issues. One […]

Amaani Restaurant Ashton Under Lyne Review

The Amaani Restaurant is located at 77 Lees Rd, Ashton-under-Lyne. OL6 8BQ.

The phone number is 0161 339 9876.

In a rush? Here is the short version: Food is forgettable. Service is a bit crap. For Ashton, its about average.
A friend and I decided to go out for a meal recently to catch up. We both like Indian food and for logistical reasons, Ashton-Under-Lyne was the location.

He told me that the Amaani was the one everyone was talking about now (whoever everyone might be). So we went there.

Located in an old pub premises at the junction of Lees Road, Broadoak Road and Queens Road, in a building that was formerly known as the Turnpike.

Now, the residents of this part of Ashton are not known for their appreciation of haute cuisine. This is not an area where one expects to find a discerning culinary clientèle.

Nobody in Ashton is reading AA Gill’s reviews in the Sunday Times. Nobody is looking for a reduction of a jus or for small things to be nestling on other things on a large plate with a drizzle of something organic on the side.

However, they should know a half decent curry when they wash one down with six pints of lager, so off I went to the internet to find some reviews.

Trip Advisor I found.

26 reviews. 4/5. Sounds OK right? Well, on the surface……..

Looking at the clientèle, many were people who don’t often get out to restaurants except on birthdays and such like. They are not discerning diners. They have little experience with which to compare. For them, because it isn’t baked beans, they didn’t get food poisoning, and someone else did the washing up, it is “superb”.

I found several reviews on Trip Advisor from people who clearly have half a clue:

I don’t know where these people are reviewing but its not the same place we went,there is no atmosphere in the place the food is just average I’ve had better from the take away I would only go back if I had no where else to go
No idea where the reviews come from on here, the food is average at best, we have been twice now and both times come away disappointed, the poppadoms and chutney tray is the highlight, it goes downhill after that, the chilli fry starter is tasty but too gloopy and sweet and the puri tough and chewy. The mains on both visits have been awful, this time I chose a dish that sounded different, it turned out to be some weird sweet and sour hybrid that had no place in an Indian restaurant, we left most of the meal. The service is very good but we won’t be going again, its back to the Indian Ocean for us.
Came here just after it opened, it is very nice inside and looks well, but that is where the praise stops.

The service was fine, but the food was not some of the best, the poppadum’s were stale and there were not a lot of accompanying chutneys etc. I had a Lamb Madras as the check meal to compare it against others as a standard – it was not one of the best.

So would I go there again – probably not
I am in agreement with the quotes above.
The wine choice is rubbish. Its all Asda type circa £5 stuff @ £15. The most expensive they had was like vinegar.

I had to summon them to get some poppadoms even. Service is not their strong point. At one point I had to use my mobile telephone to call them up and direct the man who answered to my waving hand to get some service. Funny but grim.

I had something called a “Naga Special” which is supposed to be “very hot” . It wasn’t. It was medium at best.

The garlic naan wasn’t very garlicky.

It wasn’t bad food, it was just nothing to write home about. Very, very, average.

The price was likely more than you would expect in that area. £100 for two – inflated by the over-priced wine really.

The service was rubbish – hence no tip.

Would I go back again? Probably not. Next time I’ll take the extra time to go to Wilmslow Road.

Marco Marco Marple Bridge Restaurant Review

Looking for a review on Marco Marco at 89 Compstall Road, Marple Bridge, SK6 5HE? You found it – read this BEFORE you book.

I was recently Googling for a restaurant in the Marple area. I happened upon Marco Marco. One of three restaurants owned by the same people (the others being in Lymm and Northwich). “Fine Italian Dining in Cheshire” is what they tout, and having three locations in half decent areas, and Marple Bridge being the newest, led me to believe they must be half right. Boy, was I wrong!

I did some Google due diligence, and I found some bad reviews of their other places. But to be honest, review sites do attract the “Greedy Groupon” crowd who want to eat food by Gordon Ramsay for £9.99, so I took them with a pinch of salt and booked anyway.

The only ’89 Compstall Road’ that existed in my car’s navigation appeared to be in Romiley, and that brought me outside a house – not a restaurant. I asked a woman at a bus stop and she explained that this is a local thing with Compstall Road, as there are two nearby each other (and locals often get the mail for the other one). She directed me a mile or two up the road and I found it. In hindsight, it was an omen I should have recognised and heeded.

Marco Marco is located in what was a pub. There is ample car parking at the back, and plenty of outdoor space that might be pleasant in the summer.

We went in and were directed to a sofa to wait for a table. There were an abundance of tables so this was a pointless exercise really. We were then left alone and not asked about drinks or anything….

I spoke to a girl behind the bar and asked if I order drinks with her or if someone comes. She said she would come and did. But without a wine list……… she had to go back for that. I had the wine list for under a minute and we were being ushered to a table. Not much organisation going on here up to now. It was all a bit amateurish and not smooth as it should have been.

Having been seated, the first thing that hit me was the atmosphere. Muggy and stinking of cooking. It was awful! It felt like the kitchen extractors were extracting into the dining area. It was bad enough to make you eyes water and my chest a bit sore after a while. Like inhaling on an extractor exhaust pipe. I asked a waiter to open a nearby door, and it didn’t make so much difference; only the room cold. So we were between a rock and a hard place: wear your coat and be able to breathe, or have all your clothes stinking of kitchen and your eyes smarting. I was about to leave, but decided to persevere as the door was now open.

We had our three year old child with us, and she got the chicken strips and chips kids meal. She couldn’t eat it (and this is a kid that eats anything). The reason was the chips were rock hard, as was the chicken strips. Like they had been refried from yesterday – just awful.

Garlic bread with cheese was OK, but its hard to get that wrong.

Chicken with parma ham and sauce was highly forgettable. The vegetables were OK.

My wife’s deep fried Mozzarella starter was tasteless and not of good quality, she claimed. She followed with Sea Bass that got a thumbs up.

So overall, the food ranged from the inedible, through the forgettable spectrum and occasionally something was good.

Despite being in a half decent area, the clientèle can hardly be described as beautiful people or high rollers. People were dressed quite drab; more like you would expect in a cafe. A lady in a pretty dress here feels out of place. She may or may not enjoy the waiters trying to flirt with her – as Italians tend to do.

Overall, the food wasn’t up to scratch, the atmosphere was very lacking – to the point of being detrimental to health – and the service a tad clumsy.

Marco Marco is not a place I would ever go back to. I suggest the management and staff all take a trip to Frankie and Benny’s to get a better idea of what they are aiming at. If you are considering visiting an Italian restaurant in the Stockport area, do yourself and your health a favour and choose another one.

The Shashlik! The Barbie, Barbecue, BBQ, etc. The Grilling Meat Topic.

(That’s a meat smoker in the background BTW). After playing around with this one above, I decided I wanted one. The 200 Euros is OK for a bespoke item, but the weight and size makes it prohibitive to ship to the UK by courier. And they dont sell heavy duty ones like that in the UK that I found. All we can buy here is mild steel Chinese ones and occasionally American Webers if you pay enough.

I am quite enthusiastic about the barbie now; so much so, I imported all my skewers, special fish grilles, tons of marinades, oil brushes and all kinds of stuff from Estonia (mostly Swedish brands) as the stuff in the UK is just total crap and very over-priced compared to what is available out there.

Now, as to why I think this will be a good topic: From the time I have spent in the US, I know we Brits have not the slightest clue about the barbie compared to our pals over the pond. We [as a nation; not me personally] cook cheap sausages in the drizzle; the Yanks are cooking fillet steaks and all kinds of other yummy stuff. The Aussies appear to have written the book on the barbie as they have the climate to do it almost daily – a lot of fish seems to be on the menu there. The Russians seem to have their own way, and seem to stick to variants of this rectangular steel box design, and appear to favour pork.

So what is your experience of the barbie in the FSU?
What do you cook at home?
What do you cook over?
What style of grill do you prefer?

The Best Honey in the World: Russian Honey

I was recently waxing lyrical about honey from Russia and Estonia. A guy said to me: Odd.  Please explain why.  Apis mellifera is an Apis mellifera in the UK or Russia.  Honey depends primarily on the flowering plant from which the nectar is gathered.  Usually the local vegetation is so diverse that honey is honey.  […]

The Best Restaurant in Togliatti (Tolyatti) Russia. Orient Express.

Orient Express.
35 Victory 40 Street.

And because Russia is the last outpost of the free world — you can smoke! There are discreet, silent smoke extractors on the ceiling so non smokers feel no pain. Yes, ashtrays on the tables (the very moment you put one out they replace it). I expect Californians would photograph those ashtrays as a tourist attraction

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