Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Bertie's Shed

When I told my Dad I'd be taking him to Albert's Shed for his Father's day treat, he responded with a long drawn out breath, followed by a loud guffaw, followed by something that sounded like a snort, followed by a sentence that roughly went as follows, "Who the fuck eats in a shed?"  Except, of course, there was no expletive.  That, dear readers, is my own, small embellishment.  Incidentally, never trust a writer who directly addresses his readers.
So Bertie's Shed is a lot more than a shed.  It's part of the Duke's 92 establishment and will, as chance happenstances, provide the food for my forthcoming wedding.  Impress it must, then, for I will not eat shit at such an important event; not in front of the world's press anyway.
Did it impress?  Did it manage to tickle my taste buds into a frightful frenzy?  Nope.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Could You Pass the Tea?

With great joy and with glee radiating through my heart and throughout my body, I recount my latest tale of adventure:  My visit to Mr Scruff's Teacup in Manchester's Northern Quarter.  I have been a fan of Mr Scruff for a long time.  As I write, I question whether that is true.  I have a couple of his records but they're nothing brilliant.  His club night has gone down hill too.  I'm getting older; his clientele are getting younger; many annoying people dancing to many annoying songs; the grumpy old man in me is revealed.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Akbars: The Ghee Monster Stampedes Through the Kitchen and Dumps its Load into Every Meal

Short follow up to Friday's post:

I was born into a world of ghee.  Ghee!  If somebody told the chefs at Akbars they were not allowed to use ghee, they'd probably kill themselves.  Jesus Christ!  There's a lot of ghee in an Akbars' meal; my balti was swimming in it; if a small child were to fall in, t'would never be seen again.  I placed my knife in, to ascertain some kind of depth, and it completely disappeared, consumed by the grease, destined to roam the murky underworld for eternity, seeking the princess who could set him free (where have I gone with this?)  The Naan bread was a victim too; covered, head to toe, in ghee; dripping in it. 
All this ghee makes a young boy sick.  I spent the night, head over toilet; I spent the next day degreasing toilet.  Nothing to do with the whiskey of course.  Oh no sir!  All to do with ghee; the vast quantities of ghee; the disgusting, repulsive ghee.

Friday, 10 June 2011

But it's Really Cheap and the Food is Alright

Time and again I go to Akbar's and walk away pissed off.  Thus, it is with some trepidation that I return this evening, unable to convince my other half (I refrain, on this occasion, from calling her my better half) it would be better to go someplace else where they don't treat you like cattle at feeding hour.
"But it's really cheap and the food is alright," she insists.
"But they treat you like shit!"
"But it's really cheap and the food is alright," she repeats.
"But they only care about your money; quick in; quick out; food dumped on table!"
"But it's really cheap and the food is alright."
Heads banging against brick walls.
The trouble is, as I write this, I know I will have to go.  I know I will have to hold one of those ridiculous beeper things in my pocket before it finally vibrates and I walk, like an idiot, up the ramp to my table.  And then I suffer, like a pleb, the discourteous waiters.  And then I agree, like a dick wad (80s revival moment), to purchase naan bread that could feed 5,000.
And it's so loud; and it's so dark; and it's full of people having birthday parties; and every one of them thinks it necessary to sing that dreadful Hill sister's song.
And all the time, whilst I experience these thoughts of hatred, I hear the sensible voice of my better half explaining, "but it's really cheap and the food is alright."
On Monday I shall write about my experience.  You'll be able to read about it.  Rest assured, I will be taking very detailed notes.  Be warned Akbar's!  I'm coming.  You better be on your best behaviour.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ooh, I've just remembered its name: Saahil

Banana Slop
At the weekend, I made the grand error of travelling to Southport to eat my tea.  Southport is a bit of a stinker.  It reminds me of Trafford Park; it lacks grace and elegance; it's full of coffin dodgers; and it lacks a decent restaurant.  It does have an extraordinarily long pier but who cares?  I suppose if it were shorter, Southport would have a higher suicide rate.

Altrincham (or would it be too much trouble if we could go to a remote Scottish island instead?)

Not a sound to be heard; not a soul to be seen; there's only one place; Altrincham
No decent meal to be had; no hearty drink to be found; there's only one place: Altrincham
Not a joke to be told; no tale to be wove; there's only one place: Altrincham
Altrincham: The dullest place on Earth. As a sage once said to me, "there is more life on a remote Scottish island than there is life in Altrincham."  It's a place where cockroaches are so bored it actually kills them.  Not even a nuclear missile can achieve that.  Yet, it comes to my attention, like perpetual bad tides, like clouds of locusts, like plagues of rats, that people, if we must call them anything, love Altrincham.  There is no manner in which one can begin to calculate the workings of their stupidity. 

Alternative Realities are More Interesting

Jam Street cafe is in Whalley Range; some people, having no desire to be associated with said place, claim it's in Chorlton.  "On no, I couldn't possibly go to a cafe in Whalley Range; imagine the muck on my shoulders and the stench t'would contaminate my body!"  Yet, Chorlton, in full, is called Chorlton-Cum-Hardy.  Cum?  My Fiance has the same attitude.  We don't live in Chorlton-Cum-hardy; we live in Chorlton Green; we live in a place of trees and ponds and grass and skipping children and kite flyers and quaint pubs and clock towers.  Anyway, I do believe we were talking about Jam Street Cafe.

The Place Leaves My Stomach in Knotts

It's Wednesday; I'm watching Channel 4; a programme called Superscrimpers.  Advice: want to book a cheap restaurant?  Check out toptable.com.  Great!  A site full of restaurant deals.   A bit of searching and I find something I like:  The Place Restaurant on Ducie Street.  To the Place we would go.  Days are spent in preparation:  I get my hair styled; I get my legs waxed and eyebrows plucked; I have scent enhancement treatment; my tongue is kept free of contaminants; I buy a suit; I buy some brogues; I invest in a taxi so I can arrive in style.  Disaster strikes; The taxi fails to turn up; a sign that events are turning bad.

The Rapture: How to Guarantee You'll Be Left Behind.

Jesus with children, early 1900s Bible illustr...
Idiots are gearing up for the rapture, this weekend, certain they'll be travelling to heaven in a beautiful pea green boat.  The sinners, 6.9 billion of us, will stay behind and witness the greatest show on earth.  Earthquakes, famine, war and plagues will ravage the earth for five months before our beloved planet goes "pop" in October.

The Kids of Croma

Croma is heavily populated by adults but it's the kids who dominate.  Go there between five and seven and you'll be forgiven for thinking it's run by kids.   On a recent trip I was happy to witness a kid, scampering about, weaving in and out of tables and crawling under chairs like an insane cockroach.  His brothers and sisters and friends cheered him on.  It made me glad to be there.  But then he proceeded to eat his chocolate cake by smearing it all over his face and I thought, this is worse than watching a baby eat a banana.  Sat next to him and looking rather startled was a young girl, hair plaited down to her bum, smile graced by a lack of  front teeth, freckles so dense she looked sunburnt.  I'm sure she must have said something horrible to the young, disgusting boy for he turned to her and sprayed ice cream all over the flower in her hair.  Crying, ladies and gentlemen, followed.  Plenty of it.  Not just from the plaited girl but from her companion who took it upon herself to beat the boy over the head with some leftover pizza before rubbing the rest in his face to create a chocolaty, tomatoey, mask.

Yara, Altrincham

Yara, in Altrincham, is a hustley-bustley sort of place.  It's bursting at all hours.  It's so full, people pop out of the front door when it's opened.  Try to get up and you'll realise you're stuck in a dreadfully tiny area.  Everybody is happy too.  Why is everybody so happy?  This is Altrincham.  People in Altrincham have more sex than any other group of people in the world.  Go to Altrincham for a day trip and you can quite easily score yourself a shag.  Yet, beyond the large quantities of sexual behaviour, there is another, more disturbing reason why Altrincham folk have smiles etched permanently across their faces.  They're all zombies.  Anyhow.  This isn't a review about Altrincham and its people, it's about Yara.

Red Alert: St Petersburg Restaurant

My friend at St Petersburg:  Pickled tomato on fork; tomato in mouth; friend's head...disappeared; sucked out of existence.  Conclusion:  Pickled Tomatoes are capable of creating mini black holes.  QED! as the scientists say.

Quick Pick: Chorlton's Salt Mine

My friends adore Yakisoba:  It's cheap; the food is great; the portions are huge; you get these little, bento boxey thingy wingies that have all sorts of goody woodies in them.  Everything is so cutesy pie.  Of course it is, it's Japanese.  One of my friends, who shall be known as Miss W_____, squeals every time it's mentioned like she's experiencing a Lawrentian crisis.  Think about this men; if you aren't managing with your willy, simply drop in the name of a good restaurant.  Anyway, back to Yakisoba

1847 Felix and Fanny's

I've been informed by everybody!  The sausages at 1847, Manchester's newest vegetarian restaurant, are not made from quorn.  I'm gonna let you in on a little secret.  Are you listening?  They may not be made from quorn but they sure as hell taste as though they are.  But what does it matter?  Quorn sausages are perfectly decent fayre.  I daresay I've enjoyed a quorn or two with my girlfriend.  And 1847 has so much more to offer.

A Slice of Manchester

Here's something to do on a Saturday: slice through Manchester on the 41 bus.  Let's start outside Sainsburys, Fallowfield, on Wilmslow Road.  It's probably raining and there is a good mix of drunks, smokers, students, old men and older women crammed beneath the bus shelter.  The smell is intense.  Cheap perfume, cigarettes, sweat and other unsavoury aromas invade like a molecular battalion, punishing your nose with every advance.  Once, when I was in my heyday, I dismounted a bus at this stop and witnessed a female student taking a shit.  That, in essence, is all you need to know about the area in which you are standing.  Yet, this horribleness only exists beneath the shelter.  Move but an inch away and one will experience the sights and smells of the local kebab houses.  These may look rundown with their garish, pink displays and their damaged neon lights but the smell coming from them is a delight. 
Yay, here comes the bus.  Stand back though.  The magic bus drivers are crazy.  Their vehicles bounce along like nodding donkeys and are likely to jolt hither and thither, causing panic as they go.  Fortunately, we are boarding a Stagecoach which, by comparison, provides a plush and leisurely journey.  Wave goodbye to Fallowfield, or say Au revoir, as we begin our journey towards Altrincham.

Lime Trees are Absolutely Bloody Marvelous

Somebody once told me, never start a review with logic.  So I won't but I will come close.  The Lime Tree in West Didsbury is the best restaurant in Manchester.  That isn't my opinion.  That is your opinion.  Almost every internet site that ranks restaurants, ranks The Lime Tree as number one.  Trip advisor, for example, ranks it at number one.  Actually, Number one is Sapporo Teppanyaki, but having been reviewed by drunkards and hen night veterans, it can be ignored.  The Lime Tree is number one.  As far as I can tell, it is number one for a variety of reasons:  the food is amazing;  the service is top notch; the atmosphere is pitched just right; they manage to squeeze people in even when it's full; it'll be the best duck you've ever eaten; the list never ends.  Trying to find a bad review for The Lime Tree is impossible.  Until now.

The Palace of Burton Road

I'm walking down Burton Road, in West Didsbury, and I notice, with happiness, that it's bustling.  It's like Beech Rd but more chilled.  There are some kooky shops but they are not full to the brim with posh accents.  There are a great many restaurants but they are not full to the brim with pooping babies.  I walk past Crazy Wendy's and notice, once again, that it's host to a huge party.  Pink and white balloons hover above the tables; some, which have escaped their noose, flitter hither and thither in the currents of the air conditioning.  But the smell coming from inside is distinctly Thai: One can detect lemongrass, galangal, coconuts and tamarind.  Yeah, like anybody can smell the tamarind.  As much as these smells delight my olfactory glands, they are not enough to tempt me to stop; I don't want Thai tonight.  Across the road I notice Rhubarb.  This has a decent looking crowd, both inside and out.  I've never been.  Maybe I'll change that one day; somebody gave me a bad review though; one bad review outweighs ten good; how unfair is that?

Quick Pick: The Lead Station

Beech Road in Chorlton has a vibrant community. Or, at least, that is what the estate agents would have you believe. Really, it is a road that has people walking down it. On their way they'll see many ladies' boutique shops, many kooky shops selling kooky goods that only a kooky person from Chorlton would buy, and a number of restaurants amongst which is the Lead Station.

Chinchilla world: Altrincham

The people of Altrincham are of strange stock.  If one were to delve more deeply into the fractured reality of their genes one would discover many a sordid detail.  For example:  humans share 98.5% of their genes with bonobos; the people of Altrincham share 92%.  In fact, after years of research, it has been discovered that Altrincham people are much more closely related to the rest of the animal kingdom than any other group in humanity.  It should come as no surprise, then, that one should find, amongst its pampas lined avenues, the exciting and never visited attraction of Chinchilla world.

Episodes: From the world of the Saigon Halong Hotel

Entering the Saigon Halong Hotel is like entering a bizarre world where all the people behave like early prototype robots from Japan circa 1968. Gaze into the staff's eyes for long enough and you'll begin to wonder whether there is anything behind them other than an old network of wires, capacitors, and transistors; watch them move and you'll swear you can hear the gentle whirring of servos mindlessly going about their business.
More on the staff later.

Greenhouse Vegetarian Restaurant.

Much as it pains me, to the very core of my soul, I am not a vegetarian.  The idea of giving up meat is akin to the idea of giving up masturbation.  Wait!  Can I publish that?  What does it say about my private life?  Anyway, I love a good sausage; I love a good bacon sandwich; I love a good joint; I love getting roasted; and so on and so forth.  So, why on earth should the Greenhouse Vegetarian Restaurant be one of my favourites?  Why indeed?  More on that later.
The Greenhouse is on Great Western Street about a minute's walk from the curry mile.  Do you ever find yourself on this stretch of road and think, "There's just too much choice," or, "These places are all shit!"?  I do.  The Greenhouse is your alternative.  Yet, it is not easily discovered.  It looks, from the outside, like an abandoned house; the kind of place where squatters might reside.  There are cracks in the windows.  Big ones.  Cracks that are framed by rotting wood, peeling paint and faded signs.  Yet!  Occasionally, over the ten mile blast radius of the curry mile stench,  you'll receive the gentle whiff of a homecooked pie. 
Enter with me, hold my hand as I take you into the glorious atmosphere of the Greenhouse Vegetarian Restaurant.

Quick Pick: Proof

In Proof one can buy oneself an Old Fashioned.  At this point, if I were a little scallywag, yet to enter the world of proper, adult conversation, I would say, Nuff said.  But, onwards, I must continue.

Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant.

The lift door opens and the first thing you see is a very cramped looking eating area full of people with balloons and drunken looks on their faces. This horrific scene is what one experiences when arriving at Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant. And yet, the horror does not last for long as this area is, apparently, not the restaurant but a holding pen for plebians to enjoy their last meal before they are sent to the gallows. Needless to say you will be whisked past them.

Horse and Jockey - Chorlton Green

Your typical male Chorltonite is a scruffy fellow. Despite being fairly well off, he usually dresses himself in well worn jeans, a well worn hoody and well worn shoes. The fact that most of these garments are well holed should come as no surprise. He also has unkempt, long hair that last saw scissors two or three years ago. His smile is pleasant though, and you know you could have a reasonable conversation with him about Chorltonite issues: veganism; renewable energy; nuclear power. And even if you are not interested in any of these things you wouldn't mind because, hey, this guy is harmless.
Your typical female Chorltonite is pretty much the same as the male. She buys her clothes from charity shops and she gets her hair cut by anybody who'll do it. She's definately pregnant and she wouldn't be seen dead eating meat.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Great Grace Jones Bum Juggling Act of 2011

150 FIFA delegates sit in a grand conference hall to witness the arse of Grace Jones wobble, to witness the arse of Grace Jones bobble, to witness the arse of Grace Jones weave a merry tale that questions the laws of physics. 
“I say,” speaks one delegate to another, pointing to the slack butt cheeks of Grace Jones ”do you think you could perform such a trick as that,”
“Only, my dear boy,” replies the other, “if I attached a weighted spring to each buttock,”
“I say,” speaks the first to the second, “Do you think she’d be up for a merry dance later…say, on my willeeee?”
“Only,” says the second, “if you payed her.”
“Well,” says number one to number two, “that’s the way it’s done around here!”

Carlos Tevez is a Fucking Idiot

File:Eva peron official state portrait 3.jpg

Carlos Tevez is a fucking idiot.  First, he leaves United for some substandard team across town; then he confirms his stupidity by claiming Manchester has nothing to offer. Let’s take a look at Carloz Tevez’s home town.  He’s from Ciudadela, Buenos Aires.  In this small town there are two Jewish cemetaries and a shopping street.  That’s a bit shit isn’t it Carlos?  But let’s be fair.  We should look at Buenos Aires (BA) and compare it to Manchester.
In BA you can learn about Eva Peron, learn how to tango, watch football matches, visit museums, visit Shopping centres, go to the theatre, eat and drink in top restaurants and cafes.
In Manchester one can learn about Eva Peron by watching the shit Madonna movie; One can learn how to Tango; One can watch Man Utd; One can visit the Manchester Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the People’s History Museum, Urbis, the Imperial War museum, The Lowry, or the Whitworth Art Gallery; One can shop at The Arndale Centre or The Trafford Centre; One can watch a play at The Royal Exchange, Opera House, or Palace Theatre; Or one can eat and drink in many top restaurants and cafes.
In short Manchester offers many of the same attractions as Buenos Aires; or, even shorter, Manchester has many things to offer.