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Feb 19, 2008 04:02 AM

Manchester UK City cafe Review

if i could just bang the drum for the city cafe once again.

the service is clean, crisp and inoffensive

the wine list is well blanced if bizarrely arranged (by wine style ather than country)

the food was again delicious on saturday 16th feb

for me; foie gras parfait with prune & armagnac rchutney and toasted brioche. simple and lovely (the leaves should have been dressed)

a superb, melt in the mouth smoked pork belly with lavendar glaze (not crispy skin. tsk tsk), parsnips & caramelised apples.

a maple pannacotta with cranberry soup (and a pecan tuille i think, possibly a bit squiffy by the end)

lovely wife enjoyed truly delicious morecambe bay potted shrimps with baked cherry toms, preserved lemon sauce, sourdough & microleaves.

a superb loin of tatton hall venison, red cabbage and something else (i really struggled to get anywhere near it)

a trio of desserts - great apple crumble, moorish chocolate ganache tart and a sticky toffee pudding which should have been slightly warmer.

an OK Pouilly fume, a bulldozer of a large glass of aussie shiraz, coffees & lots of water.

£110 smackers well spent. it is a lot of money, but what price happiness ?

if you dont want to go off piste and onto a la carte as above then the £16.50 3 course market menu which changes weekly i think is an absolute bargain

yes £16.50. for 3 courses. of good food.

they also have a garden menu if you have the misfortune to be or be with a vegetarian.

parking is a pain if you drive into manchester but 3 courses for £16.50 !

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  1. Have to admit that I've always found the service at City Innn to be pretty dire. Even when they only have a handful of guests, its fairly hard to get noticed by anyone. Oh, it's friendly enough, but they always seem to have somethig better to do. Maybe its the anodyne eating room.

    And the food is very hit-or-miss. Not in the same way as the Lowry is, but one dish thats superb can always be followed by a real disaster. Their apple crumble (had in November) was one of the worst puddings I'd had in, oh, months. Do like the market menu idea though.

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Drake

      My MD and the sales director dined there last night 25tth february and gave it a glowing review. and the sales director is ultra high maintenance. maybe we have just been lucky.

      isn't it funny how 2 people can have completely different views of the same restaurants

      i really hope you complained about the crumble, possibly thats why my wife has such a lovely version on 16th feb. if we dont let them know whats wrong, how can they raise their game ?

      1. re: pecandanish

        Oh, I always complain. Oh yes. I do like the City Inn, it is one of the better places in the city, just have been disappointed (perhaps by high expectations) on a number of occasions. I did once have a sublime pea soup there though.

    2. It was the foodie-in-the-making nephew’s 16th birthday this week and we decided he needed a restaurant meal that offered something a little more sophisticated than he usually gets. We also wanted to go somewhere new for us. So we showed him the online menu for the City Café and the Modern and asked him to pick. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a table at his first choice so it was off to the Café.

      Nice modern room, more formal than the “Café” description implies. Attentive, efficient and friendly service. And comfy chairs (important for old Uncle John). Main general note of criticism is that bread was poor.

      As to other food, the new spring menu had just been launched so we gave it a good seeing to:

      Nephew had a starter of smoked salmon, which came with capers, hard boiled quail egg and the now commonplace micro-salad. Capers cut through the richness of the salmon, Egg gave an interesting twist. Main was a Cumbrian pork chop which came with corned beef and black pudding hash. There was apple somewhere in the dish. The lad is half-Spanish and, as with many from that part of the world, loves his pork and declared this a winner. He had a side order of chips – which were the now fashionable over-fat things stacked in what can only be described as an unnecessarily poncy way.

      Mrs H started with potted Morecambe Bay shrimps which seem to be the only remaining item from the earlier menu. They came with roasted cherry tomatoes, sourdough toast and preserved lemon dressing. She also rated this highly except for the dressing which was tad bitter. Main was a fillet of Cheshire beef sat on a rosti which came with a small piece of foie, morels and spinach. I was allowed a small taste and can confirm this was a fine piece of meat which had been well cooked, although it had probably sat on the pass for a little while as it was not piping hot.

      Self had a “paysanne salad” (or, as we’re in Manchester, we should probably call it a "scally salad"). Anyway, it was some well dressed leaves scattered with croutons, black pudding, shreds of duck and the roasted cherry tomatoes. Black pudding was super – rich and unusually sweet and the hot tomato gave good contrast. But the rest was a bit bland – I prefer a punchier starter. I had Cumbrian salt marsh lamb as a main, which came as two chops, a bit of grilled liver and a small piece of indeterminate slow cooked lamb, with salsify and new potatoes. Good dish, well balanced, well flavoured and perfectly cooked (not easy with three different methods in play for the lamb).

      Nephew and Mrs H then shared a cheese plate. Four good slices of Brie, Kirkhams Lancashire, Stilton and Blackstick, came with oat biscuits and apple chutney. They then each had a custard tart which came with pecan ripple ice cream. Good tart, peculiar tasting ice cream. I had a very traditional jam roly poly with custard which was just how my mother would have made it (not that she ever did).

      A couple of glasses of wine, two bottles of water and coffees brought the bill to £137, plus 10% service charge which I thought very fair value. Nephew thoroughly enjoyed his meal. His uncle and aunt enjoyed it as well.