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 tag “Piccolino’s”

Plain speaking wins the day

Frank Sinatra “I did it my way”
Stevie Wonder “I just called to say I love you”

Rumours of Wonder looking to open a shop in Didsbury have been dismissed. Picture www.biography.com)

Rumours of Wonder looking to open a shop in Didsbury have been dismissed. Picture http://www.biography.com)

Ronseal 5 year varnish “It does what it says on the tin”
All clear, successful and obvious. There is a lesson to be learned here. Many lives ago, pre Didsbury Dad, I promoted live bands. I shied away from trumpeting them as a cross between The Doors and Elvis invade people thought it was a band with food and intimacy issues that should not be left alone in the bath.
Does this crystal clear lesson get through to the not so mean streets of M20? Is this plain speaking Muswell Hill with less Moolah and Alderley with edge paying attention? No.
The Didsbury Village Farm Shop (RIP – the thought of your club sandwich fills me with… Well filled me with bread and meat) is a perfect example. It’s butchers may have been inspired by Smithfields, it’s sandwiches influenced by The Mighty Gregg’s and its cheese based on a book about cheese in the 80s but it was neither Axons (a butchers), The Cheese Hamlet (God’s Cheese Shop) or Fresh Save (a green grocers) . Now it is empty. The sign on the weighing machine saying “We will serve you shortly” a cruel reminder that this shop has been empty, or worse, was once the least well-run Carphone Warehouse ever.

Cafe Rouge is French (in a Whitbread way), Costa do coffee and Jo Padmore is an optician. She is not a lens-influenced, near nasal dresser who does shoe repairs if you are not keen on glasses. She also has a lovely window display. Effective and very obvious what it is there to sell.
So we come to Cibo. I really hope it works, that it is a great restaurant that is a huge success and brings people flocking to Didsbury. Well done to the Cioboans for taking the plunge. This space was previously a La Tasca which held a special place in the hearts of many of us. Before that it was Burns, a suburban fish restaurant way before there was a market for one outside of coastal resorts.
Cibo, in language that smacks of Mud Crab Cafe’s New York Australian food bakery coffee shop and hairdressers is going to be Venetian-influenced. This does not actually mean anything. As I pushed the double buggy past this morning my heart sank like an old Gondola.

Griffins, an Italian staple, are hard to farm.

Griffins, an Italian staple, are hard to farm.

Venetian -influenced? I am lucky enough to have spent time in Venice. The Mozarella Rice balls and espressos you get at the street stalls are delicious (they sell them at Piccolino’s on Lapwing Lane), but are they influential? Does Venetian influenced mean that the Ciboans are going to recreate St. Mark’s Square in the School Lame Car Park, pay homage to Paolo Lucio Anafesto, first Doge of the Venetian Republic or charge 10 euros for a coffee to the English? I once went to see Venezia play my team at football and our fans had coins and bricks thrown at us most of the game. If they are going to take their influence from Venezia’s Ultras then I think I won’t be the only one darting past anxiously straight to No. 4 on Warburton Street.
Venice, like Manchester has a canal, an airport and a strong sense of identity.
Cibo is an Italian noun meaning grub. Let us hope it is as vibrant as St. Marks, as beautiful as Florence, as tasty as the street food in Sicily and the staff don’t throw sharp objects at you if you are not local.

Paolo Luci Anafesto, tipped to be the maitre d' of Didsbury's new Venetian-infuenced restaurant.

Paolo Luci Anafesto, tipped to be the maitre d’ of Didsbury’s new Venetian-infuenced restaurant.

Didsbury’s Top 13 Coffee Stops for 2013

In a move as contrived as an inclusive multi-faith Nativity play.
In a year when nothing has yet happened  beyond changing nappies, patting babies and coping with Didsbury Son’s increasing technological needs, I present my guide to Didsbury 2013.
When I say a guide, I mean Part 1; places to park your buggy, rest your feet, work quietly and catch up. Coffee, cake, work, wasting time:
 1. Airyfairy Cupcake Boutique. Like the bumblebee that represents Manchester it shouldn’t work, but it does. In the space that housed the Withington Reporter when it was part of the community is a little haven. Quirky, but not Chorlton. Friendly, but not interfering and not cheap, but worth it. The free wi-fi helps and the Lemon Poppy Cake wooed Didsbury Wife into a  relaxed hour between feeds. Still not sure what a cupcake actually is but then I’ve never really understood why clowns were funny or Thomas the Tank Engine didn’t scare children.
We dressed one twin in white, one in black and lost them on the floor. (www.airyfairycupcakes.co.uk)

We dressed one twin in white, one in black and lost them on the floor. (www.airyfairycupcakes.co.uk)

2. Didsbury Deli. A little piece of The Balkans on our doorsteppes. Fearsome looking but genuinely pleasant owner reminds me of years spent running Nightime events and the staff are lovely enough to mask the eye-watering prices. The door allows for a double pram, always a good thing.
3. The Art of Tea. No room for a pram (not in a “No Room for a Crib kind of way) so is a baby-free, free wi-fi haven of uncomfy seating, indifferent service but none the less for this. The granary toast with peanut butter makes the springless sofas acceptable. The rest of the menu and the bookshop that Health & Safety forgot make them positively luxurious.
4. Didsbury Perk. A newbie, with big banquettes and some interesting art (not sure about the painting with a view from Costa Coffee including Usain Bolt and David ” The Werewolf” Weir passing each other outside Zizzi but it’s a personal thing). It is on School Lane only 8 barbers (1 furlong = a bushell = a barber on School Lane) away from AiryFairy and The Metro Stop and it has a musical link to RNCM. It’s also v v friendly and half the price of the corporates (£2.25 for a Panini, winner).
A view from Costa without Usain Bolt and David Weir

A view from Costa without Usain Bolt and David Weir

4. Cafe Rouge. Rouge may be a Whitbread chain but, like La Tasca, if you have lived here for a few years you will have a happy memory or two based here. When I was dating Didsbury Wife we would sneak here pre-work for coffee and a kiss on the red velvet seats. They are great with children and the food is worth a snoop. I walk past it and it stirs lovely pre Didsbury Dad memories. When it opened Rouge seemed an unfeasibly gauche addition to the village.
5. Albert’s Shed. I’m old enough to have had my first drink in The Barleycorn in the 80s and my own Didsbury Dad and Mum lived over the shop when this was a casino in the 60s. The building’s re-incarnation, mid credit crunch as a  Castlefield favourite was a little slice of genius. Good fun on a night out and for Sunday brunch on a bright day.
6. The Alpine Tearoom in Fletcher Moss. On a summer’s day, this is the centre of the Didsbury world. A gateway to Fletcher Moss, a great spot to people-watch and hark back to early times when an ice cream and a walk satisfied a child for the afternoon.
7. Fusion Deli. The coffee is genuinely good but the bonhomie shared by Pete and Tom amid the Olive Tofu, the proximity to Inmans and the chance to watch Blockbusters’ demise first hand make this a great stop.
8. Samsi Junior opposite The Red Lion. I think it’s Withington and its green tea not coffee but another fave yapping point.
9. Folk. A one-off. A bit like big curly hair. Whatever is done to decorate the place and smarten it up it still looks the epitome of 80s Didsbury scruffy boho chic and so it should. You get really good food, really poor service with a smile and a fine bar should your coffee need stiffening.
10. Piccolino’s. Replacing The Nose, even after its post Liz and Lawrence bastardisation was always going to be a tall order. This was a venue prime for the cynics and snobs to slate but against all odds it is a top hangout at any time of day.
11. Mr Marvel’s Cafe. It closed circa 1990 something but was Didsbury Wife’s fave hangout and a little scary in smokiest times.
12. Didsbury Mum’s House. There are some great coffee shops in the village but few, in fact none offer this level of service. I can let myself in and there’s always tea and cake. I am always told that I look fine and I’m a success, highly recommended.
13. The Bench at the end of the tree-lined path opposite the river. There’s no Wi-fi, no coffee, no one can bother you and if the sun is shining and contents of the double buggy are sleeping, it is perfect.
Only inverse snobbery prevents the sublime Caffe Nero and the sofas at Costa getting in. Both have their benefits, charms and free newspapers.
Next week we begin part 1 of a 644 part series on Didsbury’s Barber Shops.

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