Bacchanalia

baccan.jpgTime can be a funny old thing. We all claim to not have enough of it, try to cram things into it and all too often make futile attempts to manage it.
In ancient Rome they did things differently and they made time for wild and mystical festivals – exactly five times a month – dedicated to the God Bacchus AKA the Greek God Dionysus.
These festivals were soon outlawed because they offered too much power to women and the underclasses of society, worrying the Roman leadership about being overthrown.
But since those times, the term Bacchanalian has been extended to refer to any drunken revelry so the newest oddly-named restaurant in the city centre seemed to be promising a memorable night out.
But I say night out, it was actually late afternoon when we arrived at the former site of Simple in the City and time was already against us.
16.45: We sat down in the outdoor area and were told that dinner wasn’t yet being served.
16.50: We decide to wait it out by ordering a platter to share (£4.95) as a starter and then wait for the main courses when the a la carte menu was available. We were in no hurry.
17.00 A large plate of assorted bread – pitta, tomato, olive, focaccia, breadsticks – arrived with humus, guacamole, tzatziki and olive tapenade was served up.
The portions were generous and we were happily enjoying this selection, admiring the view in a leisurely way.
Being pedestrianised, Chapel Walks is probably Manchester’s main “cafe society” street, a place to dwell and pass some time while always being conscious of time’s constraints thanks to the town hall clock looming into view.

Sandwiched between the French sounding Le Figaro (which isn’t French) and Grinch (which isn’t a bitter, green-coated, cave-dwelling creature), a restaurant which sounds Italian or Greek turns out not to be either thing.

17.30. The waitress brings us the evening menu. The a la carte menu is available from 6pm and revealed dishes from across Europe. There was moussaka but also linguine, salads but also black pudding mash. These main courses are all billed as “wholesome meals” – a description which seems more suited to Jamie Oliver dishing up in the nursery than to the orgy of revellery the moniker might suggest.
The waitress ( who managed to achieve that friendly, relaxed and knowledgeable mixture that seems to be sadly so rare in the Manchester Mcjob waiting staff) informed us that the “mash of the day” was with shallots and leeks while the “stuffing of the day” was chutney and mushroom.
A place that does a daily mashed potato recipe! I think that must be a new definition of comfort food especially if they really can come up with 365 different forms of crushed spud. Sounds like a food blog just waiting to be written to me.
17.45. We order our main courses. I don’t need any extra invitation – it’s the mash of the day and the pan-fired chicken(£11.95) with the stuffing of the day for me, while Himself orders up a medium fillet steak which is offered with sweet potato dauphinoise (£18.95).
We also ordered two vegetable dishes which further point out the eclectic mix on offer – creamed greens and Mediterranean vegetables.
18.00. The town hall clock was chiming. My chicken was succulent and well-cooked and, while I did have some doubts about the potential of a chutney stuffing, I was pleasantly surprised – enough sweetness to be complimentary but not an overpowering flavour at all.
Himself was very pleased with the way his steak had been cooked (something he seemed to feel needed to be mentioned with every mouthful) and found the sweet potato a refreshing accompaniment.
18.30. Things were going swimmingly. The chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio was long finished but the night was young. It was time to order deserts and then………… what was that I could spy out of the corner of my eye? Sitting there throughout our calorie indulgent meal, keeping quiet on the opposite side of the street but suddenly the centre of everyone’s attention – a gym. And not just a gym building, but one with scores of tracksuited runners with stop watches tearing out into the streets on some sort of challenge.
Now if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to put me off pudding its an athletic reminder that the gym membership is paid on standing order with “standing” being the operative word too often.
I passed on puds but Himself, being of stronger constitution decided to re-visit the Greek feeling with Baklava.I made the right choice as this was the only disappointing dish of the day – burnt on top, dry and extremely uninteresting, the accompanying ice-cream the only saving grace.
19.00. We paid our bill (£75.45 including drinks). The town hall clock was chiming, some determined runners are still timing some achievement with stop watches but our time has run out.
STYLE: City center swish.
COOKING: Good pub food.
PLUS: Location and good service.
MINUS: A name which leads you to expect something different. Mystical, drunken revellery is not on the menu.
VALUE: Top price for pub-style food.
Bacchanalia is at Tudor House 15-17 Chapel Walks, Manchester. M2 1HN 0161 819 1997.

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4 thoughts on “Bacchanalia

  1. i am a nurse from mauritius who has just opened a restaurany in ashton under lyne. i heard about your restaurants reviews from a friend.would be very grateful if you could please review mine.
    The Blue Marlin
    A taste of Mauritius
    29 Old Street
    Ashton-Under-lyne
    ol6 6la.
    Thankfully and respectfully yours
    peppe.

    Like

  2. i am a nurse from mauritius who has just opened a restaurany in ashton under lyne. i heard about your restaurants reviews from a friend.would be very grateful if you could please review mine.
    The Blue Marlin
    A taste of Mauritius
    29 Old Street
    Ashton-Under-lyne
    ol6 6la.
    Thankfully and respectfully yours
    peppe.

    Like

  3. Re: Sarah Hartley’s article – Friday
    evening news 18th August 2006.
    My husband and I read her article on the above – middle page spread.
    Last evening we had a meal in the restaurant situated on the second floor of
    the building.
    We were greeted with professional pleasant staff who escorted us to our
    seats and presented a good menu which I understand to be seasonal and will
    change for the Autumn.
    We are amazed, therefore, to read in her article that she rated this bar and
    restaurant 3 stars for good PUB FOOD!!
    The food was served professionally with a knowledgable ease and was
    exceptional in it’s contents.
    The bourbon mushrooms were out of this world and the feta cheese parcels
    were delicious for starters. We then followed with a well done fillet steak
    and a chicken and choritzo pasta which was done to a ‘T’.
    We both had Baklava for pudding and the only fault we could find with that
    (if it’s a fault at all) was that there was too much on the plate!
    The quality of the food and the service was not in our view PUB FOOD! We
    have yet to experience pub food of this quality and style anywhere, and we
    suggest you re-visit your article to examine some of your comments and
    whether they are in context.
    Bacchanalia offers good wine, good service and has an excellent cocktail
    menu.
    It’s leaps and bounds above the previous owner’s concept of style, decor and
    quality of food – oh! and incidentally everything that is cooked on the
    premises is completely fresh – the only thing that is frozen is the ice
    cream!
    The quality of food prior to the previous owners was dreadful. Now that WAS
    PUB FOOD!!
    Ask Sarah this question:
    What has a leisure centre opposite the restaurant got to do with it??? It
    suggests she was looking for something to write about and forgot the real
    reason why she was there!
    Our message to the public – go and see for yourself and enjoy a good quality
    meal in a relaxing atmosphere.

    Like

  4. Re: Sarah Hartley’s article – Friday
    evening news 18th August 2006.
    My husband and I read her article on the above – middle page spread.
    Last evening we had a meal in the restaurant situated on the second floor of
    the building.
    We were greeted with professional pleasant staff who escorted us to our
    seats and presented a good menu which I understand to be seasonal and will
    change for the Autumn.
    We are amazed, therefore, to read in her article that she rated this bar and
    restaurant 3 stars for good PUB FOOD!!
    The food was served professionally with a knowledgable ease and was
    exceptional in it’s contents.
    The bourbon mushrooms were out of this world and the feta cheese parcels
    were delicious for starters. We then followed with a well done fillet steak
    and a chicken and choritzo pasta which was done to a ‘T’.
    We both had Baklava for pudding and the only fault we could find with that
    (if it’s a fault at all) was that there was too much on the plate!
    The quality of the food and the service was not in our view PUB FOOD! We
    have yet to experience pub food of this quality and style anywhere, and we
    suggest you re-visit your article to examine some of your comments and
    whether they are in context.
    Bacchanalia offers good wine, good service and has an excellent cocktail
    menu.
    It’s leaps and bounds above the previous owner’s concept of style, decor and
    quality of food – oh! and incidentally everything that is cooked on the
    premises is completely fresh – the only thing that is frozen is the ice
    cream!
    The quality of food prior to the previous owners was dreadful. Now that WAS
    PUB FOOD!!
    Ask Sarah this question:
    What has a leisure centre opposite the restaurant got to do with it??? It
    suggests she was looking for something to write about and forgot the real
    reason why she was there!
    Our message to the public – go and see for yourself and enjoy a good quality
    meal in a relaxing atmosphere.

    Like

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