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 “The Metropolitan”

Didsbury’s Dining Dozen 

Eating out in M20 has moved on a lot from Burns Restaurant and Silvio’s Cafe. From the artisan crunchiness of Pizza Hut at Parrs Wood, through the stripped back beauty of Urban Grille and its clients who can only park on traffic lights, throughto The Canadian Charcoal Pit – which opened when Didsbury last voted Tory and predates Channel 4 our culinary prestige has grown.
My twitter feed often has people putting out calls for recommendations and my own Didsbury Mum has told me to stop sending strangers round for Chicken Soup. I have never tried The Rose Garden on Burton Road but have heard it reported as the best food in the city. Jem & I is similarly lauded but last time I went it was for a Market Research pastie tasting and I’m one of the few who is not a fan of Albert’s Shed. I want to like it. As The Barleycorn it was the first pub I went into and as a Casino in the early 60s it has a proper history, but it always feels a let down.

So your Christmas 2015, early 2016 top 12.

12. Volta, Burton Road. Nothing specific, not a single dish or a bauble but the whole experience of accessible urban chic and good cooking in an atmosphere that feels big city.

11. The Third Eye,Wilmslow Road. Squeezed in between the beatific Bisou Bisou and the mysterious Conservative Club, this is a Didsbury Legend that evokes strong feelings of loyalty. Making me a Third Eyer rather than a Great Khatmandu fan is a combination of the smiley women who welcome and remember you and the Makhan Fish.

10. The Mud Crab Cafe, Wilmslow Road. I wanted to hate it, replacing the much-loved and euphemism friendly Felicini’s but it is great. A proper diner experience, less showy and deep fried than Solita and they do a mean cocktail.

9. Sangam 2, Wilmslow Road. It shouldn’t thrive, but it does. This 70s Indian Restaurant throwback is perennially popular, reasonable and full. The Fish Tikka is a bit gorgeous, the service is crap and it’s the perfect group outing venue in the village.
8. Fosters, Dene Road. Pablo Zabaleta (hard as nails, Cheshire-based Argentinian footballer) has been quoted as saying he wants to bring Lionel Messi (Deity) to Didsbury for Fish & Chips. They could go to Burton Road, less likely the back room at The School Lane Chippy, but I think he meant Fosters. An American cousin once tried and was beaten by The Whale; I think he’s still there still there. Great combination of chips, chippiness and a little Didsbury.   Messi on the menu

7. Cau, Wilmslow Road. This building has struggled since it stopped being The Old Grey Horse, somewhere in the early 90s. I like Cau. The staff seem to come from the same stage school as Chalk’s skinny-hipped servers but the food is fab and the decor works. With a bit of luck they’ll stay a while.
6. Japan Deli, Wilmslow Road. Technically Withington. Lacks atmosphere, variety and very often clientele. But the sushi is fantastic and the Chilli Squid makes it all worthwhile.
5. Pinchjos, Burton Road. They say you never forget your first kiss, where you were when Princess Diana died and your first Morcilla, mine was at Pinchjos.

4. Healthy Spirit Cafe, Barlowmoor Road. Go in hungry, come out cleansed. Take out the gluten and the dairy, add a little touch of hope. How many places around here offer meditation followed by lunch and aren’t sheltered housing? The only downside is being pram-unfriendly, which may be an upside.
3. No 4., Warburton Street. Nestled far enough behind Urban Grille to be out of its shadow and near enough to The Dog and Partridge should you need to check the football scores. This was my backstreet retreat in pre-Didsbury Dad days when I would read the whole of the Saturday newspaper whilst tucking into the weekend brunch. It still feels like a treat to go in for an occasion.
2. Piccolino, Lapwing Lane. Somewhere between independent and a chain; nestled between Rimmer’s Green’s and the sublime Lime Tree and parked next to the monolith that is The Metropolitan is Piccolino Didsbury. Wilfully expensive, they do things with Scallops, Prawns and Carpaccio that make me happy to forego the children’s college funds. Reasonably priced Chianti and Linguine can transport you to Sardinia, whilst being able to nip into Tesco Express on the way to the Metro home. Go for an intimate lunch.

 My Blue Peter Badge table designs.
1. Peking House, School Lane. Not strictly a restaurant but definitely a tourist attraction with views across the piazza to the Violin shop I’ve never been in. When I first went there School Lane had an art shop and the Metrolink was science fiction. Go for soup and anything with broccoli or cashew nuts. You always get treated like a friend AND prawn crackers.

 The 9th Wonder
There are others that are fighting for a place and this has Ben a bit like choosing a Fantasy League team. The Japanese Restaurant on Burton Road has my admiration for sticking a handwritten piece of A4 on the door during Westfest to announce they were closed for a bit; and the seaweed’s good. Bourbon & Black, want to love it but being the only person in there not on their phone on Tinder or Snapchat was hardwork. Pizza Express is always worth a visit to bump into old friends, happens every time and Saison and Azzure bring Euro chic and Aladdin’s starters make them the most interesting of dilemmas to chose where to go.
So, as we stock up on antacids, prepare to indulge and miscook a Turkey or two – I’ll be realising that if I stick to my budget it’s a Chicken Kebab from Turkish Delight in Chorlton and another six viewings of Cinderella on Amazon Prime.

Advertisements

Return of the Mooch

One of my greatest joys in life over the years has been my Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son. This meander down the old railway line in search of a Tesco sausage with my little blondini squeaking life’s joy next to me was a little slice of heaven.

Metrolink Mania, which is still sweeping Didsbury with rash tales of Breakfast in Rochdale has unwittingly returned this to me.

Didsbury Son has caught a large dose of Metro Fever – tempted by names such as Pomona and Exchange Quay. It is shiny, new and it offers the opportunity to eat a Subway in a bewildering range of locations. The carrot is that we will walk the twins until they are asleep, then get the Metro back to Didsbury. It is simple, not expensive and we all get some fresh air and exercise.

One half term morning we assembled – a buggy with two domes, one pearl, one massive. They now sit forward in the trolley scanning Didsbury like the google street car. My bold-headed boy a meerkat whilst his pearl-bonced sister smiles regally as the world rolls by slowly.

As we left Camp Didsbury Village a lovely change occurred. Although now without squeaky voice and that lovely lack of self-awareness that makes pre nine year olds so open – he was back.

Didsbury Son jabbered endlessly and actually took in my dad jokes and dull tales as we pushed our wide-eyed cargo through Manchester’s Olive Oil district. By Fog Lane, Didsbury Son had hold of my hand and as we pulled into Fusion Deli on Lapwing Lane for a bagel I had one hand-holding and two chirruping children and felt 10 feet tall.

The babies sang, so we walked to Burton Road and I told him all about The Metropolitan being The Midland and the legendary MVITA nights. I felt the joint aches diminish as we strolled.

We ventured even further west. When my boy asked what about the prison-like development at Didsbury Point (possibly the only part of M20 Estate Agents will not own up to) our bond was re-sealed and our mooching time back. It used to be Withington Hospital now its an eyesore.

I can’t wait to start doing this with both hands held.

This Much I know:
1. Money, fame, smaller clothes sizes – none of them are as big a motivation as a snooze when you have twins.

2. The last few months have increased my understanding of body issues exponentially, every joint hurts.

3. You can try. You can plan. But an eight-month old baby in a walker has a reach like a JCB digger.

4. When you have babies, for no real reason you sing everything. My full repertoire of football songs has been re-assembled without swear words for every act during the day.

5. At 7am in Didsbury Village, Cappucino in Didsbury Deli with froth to share is a little haven.

6. I love and hate Boots with a passion.

7. The Metrolink is best chain to open in Didsbury

Next week: Didsbury Festival is back…

20130601-093006.jpg

20130601-093059.jpg

Didsbury Dad’s Three Part Guide: 1. West Didsbury

Part 1: The West…

None of the research in this piece is specific, scientific or socially significant. Any misconception, misrepresentation or misanthropy is purely there for alliterative reasons and I blame the 80s.

Mooching M20 with Didsbury Son has always been a favourite pursuit and I have had to start thinking about routes that will take a double buggy with a coffee holder as we prepare to welcome twins into the family tradition of wandering aimlessly; all this wandering – it’s my cultural heritage.

Clyde Road. A three-storeyed gateway linking Barlow Moor Road’s former cutting edge with Lapwing Lane’s BoHo entry to Westworld. Barlow Moor Road used to host The Barleycorn and Mr Marvel’s Cafe. The Barleycorn, a former casino where my own Didsbury Dad and Mum lived as a young couple was the first pub I ever went into. At occasional stages I was almost cool enough to go downstairs. Mr Marvel, a now empty basement opposite Moor Allerton pre-dated Art of Tea and Costafication by several generations. Its lure for older kids and its promise of smokey naughtiness, pinball and … coffee was enticing and a little scary.

But Clyde Road. Now that was West Didsbury; a combination of dance school, studio flats and huge houses seemingly packed with dressing up boxes, tobacco and wannabees. Clyde Road leads to Lapwing Lane and Burton Road – the heart of West Didsbury. Once faded, now sought after and a go-to place for boys with big cars, girls with big heels and developers with an eye for renovation.

Lapwing Lane has always held a fascination for me since childhood. I always thought that Withington Town Hall would make a great nightclub. Lapwing Court’s flat roofs and balconies were chic beyond belief and the venue now known as The Metropolitan was a monolith in the heart of my world.

Piccolino’s was The Nose. The Nose was groundbreaking. When Liz owned it, Henry worked the kitchens and Sonia served it was the daytime Madchester office cum hangout. The Midland, first with Bilko’s and then MVITA brought the world to West Didsbury and a party to every weekend.

Duwe’s brilliant bakery is now Pete’s stylish Steranko and where I cycled with my Didsbury Dad for bagels from Somers is now a wooden furniture treasure trove. The impressive Withington Hospital may have been diminished and hawked for a development with the look of an open prison but Burton Road is a journey through Didsbury’s past through to its future. The Canadian Charcoal Pit has been there from a time when cup cakes being global currency was as improbable as Manchester being a destination city, but Folk fits seamlessly into Westworld and from the mosque to Withington Baths is a cultural journey with room for both of us, coffees and a pram with more gadgets than a James Bond Aston Martin DB7.

Didsbury Dad’s random recommendations in West Didsbury:

Folk: great vibe, great food, service so bad it’s entertaining.

Ghurka Grill: the extension gives more menu sampling opportunity.

Orchard Street: I like a mooch up and down.

Crazy Wendy’s: I like to walk past.

The Shop on the corner opposite Piccolino’s. always something beautiful.

The Metropolitan: I like to go there to watch the beautiful people and count my blessings I am married and Didsbury Son means I have to go home early.

The Boden Supremacy and The South Manchester Reporter

Dateline 1/10/11… Didsbury son and I were up early today. The battle for pinch and punch on the first of the month; slip slap can’t hit back has become competitive. There is finally an advantage to being past 37 and needing to get up early through force of nature. 1-0 to Didsbury Dad and a good start to the weekend. We decided to do the great dad/son sitting on the dorstep not saying much and doing less – sun coming up slowly over the new Metrolink, bottles clinking into bins in the village’s pubs and cats, squirrels and early risers mooching about with a hint of a smile. A rare and lovely Manchester morning.

Anyway 30 seconds of bliss before Didsbury Son began talking to me about cartoons and asking questions, generally interrupting my stupor. I decided it was time for some proactive, interactive, inventive and patient parenting. I got him the iPad, a glass of juice and brought myself 15 minutes of silence. Aah back to the bliss.

The South Manchester Reporter was delivreminiscent was my turn to bother Didsbury Son by reminiscing about a time when Didsbury Dad thought he was a media darling. The Withington Reporter had it’s office on School Lane and held the pulse of M20. From The Midland (now The Metropolitan), to the dole office (Withington Community Hospital). From The Old Grey Horse (now Zizzi’s) to The Dog and Partridge (still The Dog) we would wait for Trelawney’s Sound of the Suburbs – where wannabe Indie moppers, Madchesterians and DJs would wait for their first publicity and we would find out which band was hot and whether we went to school with them.

I even had a brief reign as Trelawney and begin to waffle at the poor boy, sharing my 20s with an increasingly bored Didsbury Son. My “Do you know what we used to do where Cafe Rouge and O’Neill’s are now?” was a final straw. Didsbury Son decided it was time for my pacifier, the sports section of the paper and a cup of coffee. We went back to comfortable silence.

But this day had more in store for us. The scourge of modern man, the true love of modern family woman, Boden and this time it was in town. Didsbury Wife had a flyer through the door for one of the most excruciating yet car crashingly entertaining mornings fo the year – The Boden surplus sale. For one morning every year or so Boden take over the George Carnell Leisure Centre in Urmston; one of the finest culture clashes of the season. 4X4’s, Freyas and Archies and lots of middle aged women in matching umbrellas descend on an unsuspecting gym near The Trafford Centre to fight over remnants of the Boden Catalogue. At any one time there are 4 Henrys and 3 Jemimas being squeezed into colour coordinated two pieces. Didsbury Son and I make a half hearted attempt to join the melee, find something and then retreat into a corner to watch the tears, tantrums and purple satin lining. This is a precision operation for both shoppers and sales staff. Do not be fooled by a sea of stripes and deep pastels, this is like running with bulls in Pamplona, hesitate and you are lost.

 

As the temperature and the pitch rises I am transported back to my front step and morning sun that welcomed October. It may only have lasted the first few days but when this week’s South Manchester comes through the door with rain and cold accompaniments, I will be recreating the Sound of the Suburbs and boring Didsbury Son with why a Guy Called Gerald beats Olly Murs, hands down.

20111011-213158.jpg

Festival Fever Favours sunkissed Didsbury

It’s Didsbury Arts Festival (DAF) this week. This is a great and evolving event and the organisers do a brilliant job. But there is a schism in Didsbury and festival fever is afoot.

In a Grand Designesque gesture the TSB/Oddbins has re- emerged as Caffe Nero at The Manor Park end of the village. A blue chain to offset the deep red Costa at the railway end. Will the mums of Broad Oak and Didsbury C of E Nero, whilst Beaver Road and St Catherine’s Costa? Is this attack of The Clones (courtesy @wordsandpics) going to see off the Art of Tea, that link to Boho West Didsbury and their obtuse named indies? Time will tell and caffeine will spill in the fight to host the cognoscenti …

Anyway back to the festival. Following The Didsbury Festival, Cav. Fest and West Fest (see the pattern?), DAF and the French Beer Festival are the official end of summer and the M20 festive season. With many in our media friendly village heading to Edinburgh at some point in August we now redress the balance.

The Cheese Hamlet has added 10p to the price of Longley Farm Virtually Fat Free Cottage Cheese in line with the festival savvy West Didsbury Delis. Big Issue sellers are combining origami with flyering; the cider possee outside the co-op have added mime to their routine and the bench outside the library has been renamed Arthur’s Seat.

My only disappointment is that Evans Fishmongers has no recreation of The Little Mermaid in festival themed Bream displays, The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon has no DAF-themed cupcake and The Metropolitan is not hosting Late n Live.

That’s why I love Didsbury. Tonight I have the choice of the Poet Laureate at Church or The Champions League at home and Didsbury Son is out playing tig amidst the Boden, Havaianas and Sea Salt of Cornwall.

Time for a festival drink on the doorstep

A picture of my installation suggestion: seabirds and house brick near Aldi

20110928-214326.jpg

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: