Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the category “Piccolino Didsbury”

The Didsbury Dozen

It’s that lovely M20 time of year. Those preparing to queue fromq

6am on Christmas Eve morning to collect their turkeys from Evans are planning their wardrobe. The white elephant formerly known as Chalk and Nido harks back to being a small and popular Turkish  restaurant with a belting takeaway and the price of a pint of milk in the Shell garage (now a Londis? In Didsbury?) finally gets more expensive than a barrel of oil. Didsbury Park is packed with Freyas and Archies chasing French Bulldogs and residents of Cavendish Road, Elm Grove and Beaver Road count down to schools closing and being allowed to use their own parking spaces without abuse – its Christmas.

turkeyA turkey this morning in training for the Evans challenge

By any popular account 2016 has been momentous. Never mind politics, celebrity death, refugee crises and hacking becoming more fashionable than Vogue. 2016 will always be the year when, after a quarter of a century as a flyposting board – Sweaty Betty’s reopened as Nueve.

stop-inn The Ghost of Christmas Past

It’s also been the year I became a part-time Didsbury resident for the first time… this century. So here is my 2016 Didsbury Dozen. Not the pub crawl but the 12 places I think fly the flag for us.

There are loads of great places missed out here and some dodgy ones that we won’t namecheck. But for family reasons Croma, Solita and Folk are always good. for cheeky drinks I love Wine & Wallop, The Charlie George or whatever its called on the edge of Burton Road and The Fletcher Moss is still ace. The Third Eye is always a winner, Sangam 2 always better than you’d ever imagine and Copson Street has a great Japanese Restaurant and a Halal Butcher that sells the best hot wraps in Manchester. Bourbon & Black is still open and Cau never seem to have a table when I want to go.

This is not based on anything over than personal taste. But in the year when Stop Inn and The Mud Crab Cafe went, Jade Garden and Laughing Buddha look as though they are near wheezing their last and I’ve barely made it to Dot’s Cafe in the park – these are all worth checking out.

 

  1. Casa Italia: A Finnish owned, Italian cafe with a nice line in wooden boards to eat from; brilliant. Has been busy since day one and hits the mark in quality over quantity sending you out sated not pogged (it’s a technical term).

 

  1. Pizza Express on Lapwing Lane: It had a refit (I think) to cope with the pincered challenge of Chilli Banana at  Inman’s (heard great things but you can’ buy a Chanucah card there any more) and the latest pointless pub refit at the Greenfinch in Hand. You can’t beat the Tuna Nicoise, everyone’s always friendly. A visit is also a chance to catch up with at least five old friends as you all now get the same discount vouchers.

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  1. Volta: Burton Road chic and design at its finest with the added bonus of good service from people who know how to treat customers.

volta Don’t waste a visit on children

  1. Art of Tea:  Indifferent service, uncomfy chairs, expensive coffee. The best toast and peanut butter, something I can’t define and one of the best places to contemplate life or write a masterpiece or two.

 

  1. Costa on Wilmslow Road: This is down to the manager. She’s lovely. Always slightly hassled but stretched like a good pizza base rather than a spring. When Costa opened in the old Boots home it was revolutionary. Now there are 38 coffee outlets and 2 Costa vending machines within coughing distance. It holds its own.

the-ghost-of-christmas-past If only they’d sold coffee

  1. G’s Gourmet Kitchen on Fog Lane: Curried Goat. Horse Carriage. Morecambe Wise. This is a great addition. Friendly, tasty, spicy.

 

  1. Khandoker: From its table settings to its car park it does not look Didsbury. The view from the window of 4 traffic lights, a walking bridge and the less glamorous view of Parrswood’s entertainment centre do not bode well; but it’s superb. Affordable, well-cooked and friendly. Each visit I learn a staff member’s life story.

 

  1. La Cantina: The Green Cafe Rouge. My only report says it’s muy bien but it’s like looking at an old friend made up as something you know they could never be.

images And Lo, a star appeared in the sky where Cafe Rouge had been

  1. Refresh: it’s tiny and tucked away behind the Co-Op but it’s worth turning off at Carmello’s for China cups, gorgeous bread, a range of sandwiches worth the carbs and a decent chat. No sausage sandwich should ever be taken for granted; they don’t.

 

  1. Fusion Deli aka Pete’s: Pete, Tom, Claire and the cast of privately educated teenagers who work have created a little world. It’s a community resource, a commuters’ drop in, has the best 24 hour matured reduced sandwiches in the city and I love it. A caffeine comfort blanket.

 

  1.  New Peking House: there are other Chinese food outlets and restaurants in the area but then again you can buy Norpak Butter at Aldi. I’ve watched the children grow up, serve and leave – but the Hot & Sour Soup and Salt ‘n’ Pepper Ribs have never dropped in quality.

hot-and-sour-soup This is in my diary next to a picture of the children

  1. Piccolino Didsbury: Francisco, Nico and the team get it right every time. It’s worth saving up for a visit and hard not to write this as a fan letter. They are even patient when the twins are losing it loudly and it’s busy. I always walk out feeling a little bit special. I never thought anything would be better than The Nose on this site. But The Nose didn’t do pasta like this or make foil animals to entertain my kids. piccolino-didsbury Clam Place Calm Place Calm Place Calm Place

With the pearly princess distracted by the attention she gets I can flirt with Didsbury Wife. We can pretend we shall sweep home full of joy, good wine and passion fruit sorbet and our first thought won’t be “Do you know where the pull-ups are?”

Goditi il pasto, ci vediamo presto.

 

  • No bribes were taken in compiling this list but I would like to thank Omeprazole for helping me through.
  • images-1My hero, putting the Aaah into acid reflux.

A Brief History of Time (With Snacks)

Is it autumn already. Everyone went back to school and brought home brand new infections. Last week we had summer, winter and storms so vicious Facebook asked me to confirm I was safe. Safe? This is The North. I sent the children out to chase the lightning and see if there were reductions on any rain-damaged produce around the city. Staff at Fletcher Moss dress up for “Bring Your Kids to Work” day. 

The nights have drawn in. I don’t know what “drawn in” means. Certainly not coloured in. The boddlers are back to waking up in the dark. Didsbury Son’s teenage retreat to his room now has the cover of darkness and Didsbury Wife is eyeing up the central heating and (breathes out) Match of the Day is back. 

Didsbury continues to evolve quickly and sometimes surprisingly. Those old enough to remember 2014 (we were part of Europe, Scotland was part of the UK and BBC owned Great British Bake-Off) will recall the shock as Co-Op rebranded, toyed with the idea of being called Copo and even had tables outside for a couple of weeks. These primarily provided easy dog lead tying and Big Issue displaying opportunities. 

Now Greggs are following suit. On Saturday 8 October it bursts out from the shadow of 3 Little Pigs and Toni & Guy as a new “Artisan” Greggs. With Bisou Bisou’s bespoke Gallic beauty and Casa Italia’s specialist nosh this could be a disaster waiting to happen (Or a “Nido” as we call it). Is the Gregg’s Sausage Roll about to become a herb-infused Wild Boar Empanadas? Are the staff getting polo necks? Time will tell. 

Picture courtesy of @craftwords

There’s more. The MMU site has developed from desolate to building site via a short stint as a Caravan Park. This is going to bring an awful lot of middle-class professionals and relocating aspirational suburbanites to Didsbury. How will they ever fit in? 
Elders foretell of the great Manchester Storm of 2016.

The roads into the centre of the village become ever more blocked. Nero and Costa’s Red and Blue bookending of the village now makes them seem like old, established family businesses. 

The beard epidemic which spread (it’s an apparently chin-borne virus) has now infected the majority of Didsbury’s under 30 males. This is how they look to me. 

but I still think a mullet looks good. 

But this is M20. Autumn is arguably our most beautiful time of year. Fletcher Moss and the leafy streets lend themselves to the change in light. The shops may change, the make of car parked across your road at school time may change but… there will always be Axons, Evans and The Cheese Hamlet and someone smoking a ciggie outside The Nelson. 

My WellBeing and Happy Place

The 7 O’Clock tram is a place of truth. Although easier, smoother and infinitely less hassle than driving or the bus – it still exposes all those physical scars and joint weaknesses that accrue.

Life, children, football and the wrongly held belief 20 somethings have about physical invincibility come back to you with each bend and stop/start. If I ever need to fill in one of those forms with an outline of a body on to mark where it hurts, I get the 7am tram. After having children after the age of anything, this is the most accurate and medically proven method of analysing weak spots.

In my more Media-luvvy, work work work days I would always end each production with a short health spa visit, have a regular massage and generally try and keep my wheels oiled and moving.

Nursery fees, school costs, the price of nappies and lack of time have all put paid to this. BUT. I promised to take one for the team and am always true to my word.

Didsbury’s First Day Spa still languishes like a half-built, post 2008 Spanish holiday complex. The rolls of insulation in the window promise nothing, but the windows look good quality. I decided to try MyWellBeingPlace at The Waterside Hotel. Free parking and a river running by it are powerful attractors when one hopes to leave jellied and at one with nature.

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Didsbury’s First Day Spa – not quite got the visual look to work

To anyone raised on the pampas grass and wide horizons of M20, The Waterside Hotel is still The Galleon. A Lido in South Manchester in the middle of the River Mersey’s flood plain. It has always been a tribute to optimism and an example of early adopting. With Global Warming starting to head our way – an open air pool could finally be back on the agenda.

I liked the promise in the name of MyWellBeingPlace and its website called me to Bali trained, Stockport raised mindfulness and treatment of boss and head masseuse Amanda.

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Early artist view of the Waterside Hotel refit

It worked. Amanda put me at such ease it reminded me of going to one of those hotels that is so posh, they don’t make you feel like a Northern Monkey. After a chat about my infirmities and allergies I had half an hour that reminded me why I used to save my pennies and expectation for a bit of me time.

aa4 happy pizza

Post massage selfie

A good masseuse can be as important as a good dentist. You have to go in trusting that you can handover the reins of your life, whilst you lie face down and let your mind go. It’s the same reason I like swimming. You are under water in your pants – there are only so many things you can control or worry about so you may as well relax. I did.

One benefit of working on productions was the ability to blag a massage if you have a masseur coming for talent or crew. I have had good, bad and indifferent pummels across the globe. Finally I’m coming home.

This was lovely. Amanda put me at ease, did a fantastic job and then brought me gently back to reality before sending me back into the world fully conscious and lissom. I am usually wary of recommending anything inedible but I can endorse a visit to MyWellBeingPlace (which only opened in September) before getting a booking involves bribery and involves a waiting list.

20140720-224929-82169895.jpg

I stepped limber, spent that evening in Teletubby land and the next 2-3 days ache free and uplifted; no chemicals.

This would be my happy ending but I’ve booked in Didsbury Wife for a pre half-term treat and I’m wondering which of the children’s birthdays can be sacrificed for a more regular trip.

A Piccolino Pepped Pre-Christmas

aa4 happy pizza

How to make a three year old eat their dinner; happy pizza.

After working out which were my current Didsbury Dining Dozen I decided to put my money where my keyboard finger was, a family trip to Piccolino Didsbury for a pre-Christmas treat. Didsbury Son grunted his unavailability early in the weekend and then there were four. Our midday booking got pushed back to 1 as I fell asleep, 2 as the twins fell asleep and we arrived promptly about twenty past; followed by a twin charge around the restaurant looking for chocolate coins.

aa1 head with menu

If only I had studied school books with the same intensity…

Piccolino’s Didsbury incarnation was always a potential winner, fitting into the refurbished site of The Nose. The late 80s, early 90s Nose, opened by Liz, featuring the wonderful Henry, Sonia and the cast of Didsbury was way ahead of its time as a freelance meeting place for the Madchester cognoscenti keen to notwork with each other. We’re all 20ish years older and Piccolino is a catch-all for the city now and for M20 especially. It brings a little touch of Sardinia to West Didsbury, I always get to talk food and football. The bar is stocked and loud enough for a night out’s start or finish and for family purposes – they have cushions, staff who will dance with your toddler between courses and know how to balance the equally pressing needs for a kids’ bowl of pasta, a Pinot Grigio and an accessible changing table for emergencies.

I think what I like is the general upbeat, welcoming and engaging atmosphere. Beautiful  20 somethings impress each other on dates or in groups, cheek by the jowls of couples re-invigorating their domesticity, parents connecting with returning offspring and the young families hoping it’s someone else’s child who runs into a waiter delivering a full tray of glasses. It is a snapshot of South Manchester putting on a clean shirt for a warm welcome. Whenever we go I feel like its an occasion. Being a dad I like being able to tally that with Pizza and Pasta for a tenner a plate if I am feeling a little strapped but need to get out.

aa5 christmas diner

Just a little number I knocked up – in a different lifetime with a different set of hands

For our Christmas lunch Didsbury Wife and I went for the set menu, three courses for £21.50, which turned out to be a bargain worthy of Poundstretcher. The food was and is always spot on. There is a little I wouldn’t recommend. We had Bresaola with Pear and Walnuts and The Calamari followed by Tacchini Arrosti (Roast Turkey) and Merluzzo (a crunchy, melty, tangy Cod with something sausagey and gorgeous). We decided our Aldi frozen bird for 25th needs a rethink.

This turkey came to the table on a plinth of butternut squash with mini mushrooms of size and taste I have rarely seen. Its nonchalant ease made sweating in a cold kitchen with a Jamie book, guessing which end to stuff, seem a little sad. The cod tasted of…  what cod should and The Pearly Princess’ Pizza was a spaceship with smiley face; calmness descended. We slurped wine as though we didn’t have to look after toddlers and they were quiet, munching and playing with the decorations.

Ice cream, Tiramisu, dancing with the staff and watching them greet each new child as a VIP with natural ease took  us through until the sun went down and we had to brace the air and talk to the moon.

This was really our first successful dinner out with the toddlers since, ever. The quality of the food sits on a plate next to a team who genuinely made all of us feel a little bit special. Piccolino heralds itself as an ” Upscale chain restaurant with a contemporary interior and a menu of classic Italian specialities.” I’d go for top nosh and family friendly. In true Mighty Headed Boy style, he wants to go back today to play with the lights and eat ice cream. In true Didsbury Dad style, I saved a biscotti to have with a brew for after bedtime.

Piccolino Didsbury, 6 Lapwing Lane, Manchester M20 2WS. Phone:0161 434 7524

 

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