Saturday, 30 August 2014

Croma Chorlton.

Good pizza should be made with love, with care and attention with the very best ingredients. Some people think, it's just pizza, it doesn't matter. It does matter and can be such a real joy when done properly. It'll never be those things at Croma. Croma is not that bad, it's just not a proper restaurant. It's a chain run by accountants in restaurant form.
It wasn't our choice to go there. Our conversation went something like this;
Her; "all our friends are going to Croma tonight for pizza. Shall we go"? Me, "You're paying then." So we went. She wasn't happy about paying. She was even less happy afterwards.
That's another thing about Croma, people say it's cheap. It is not cheap, costs mount up and you're left £60 down for two, money you could have spent in a proper restaurant with a proper chef, you know, like cooking you stuff.
It certainly looks like a proper restaurant inside, it's busy busy busy. It's the most popular restaurant in Chorlton. There are proper napkins and tablecloths. The huge, long empty table(s) next to us, looked like a bomb had hit it, and about 30 screaming kids 'expressing themselves'. Luckily they'd left by the time we arrived. People always say that about Croma, it's great for kids.
I ordered a carafe of house red, I was going to have a good time, despite myself. I did actually enjoy our evening but not because of the food. I was with friends chatting, wine was flowing and the conservatory area is quite a pleasant space if a little noisy. The carafe of cheap red house wine comes in at a whopping £18.95 for a litre, but she was paying like I said.
For starters I got a Mushroom Bruschetta (£4.90). It wasn't really too bad. It's the smallest portion they could get away with for a fiver though. Mrs Bacon's prawns were even worse. You can see the accountants there saying 'no, it can never ever be more than four prawns'! Four tiny prawns. Everything is counted out precisely to maximise profit. Mrs B said the prawns were ok.
The pizzas are the same. Why are they so small? Because they've reduced it down to the smallest it can be. I had my usual, a Garstang Blue with Chorizo added. It comes in at £7.30 plus £1.95 for three pieces of chorizo. I counted them like they had done. It wasn't a bad pizza. Those accountants have been in snipping cheese back here and there though, so it was very thinly spread. You could just about taste the Garstang blue. All around me people were struggling to cut their pizzas up, the base is thin but springy. I just picked mine up and pulled it apart. It took me about 3 minutes to eat it. The Tiramisu was standard supermarket in taste. It used to come in a large coffee cup, no longer. Economics again I'm guessing. 
Croma isn't that bad, it'll do for some. Like Pizza Express does, or Costa Coffee will do. Not for me though. It represents everything that's crap about modern chain restaurants. It's run by accountants not chefs. There's no love in there, no passion for food. It's bland, it's uniform, it's safe. But people do love it. Me, I can't stand the place.

Croma Chorlton on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

New menu at Mughli.

We traditionally go for a curry after a weekend away and this bank holiday Monday was no different. So we went to sample some of the new dishes on offer at Mughli (easily my favourite Indian restaurant in Manchester). They now have one whole menu page devoted to Street food and the other side for larger mains curries. Haz is persuading people to order a number of smaller dishes rather than just one, as Indian families would tend to do at home. Being greedy pigs, obviously we ordered from both.
Chilli Paneer. Mixed peppers, onions and baby corn. (£4.50). I got a delayed reaction to the spiciness, then it kicks in. Wow, it's a hot one this! A nice crispy, zingy texture as a starter dish.
Keralan Fish cakes (£4.50). Salmon and haddock fish cakes, seasoned with potato and ginger and coated in puri crumb. (£4.50).
The problem I have with fish cakes generally is that they can be bland and dry with the potato and breadcrumbs in the mix. These weren't bland by any means, but they were a little dry and I'd have liked to have seen a little more spice in there to lift them.
Pau Bhaji. Smashed and spiced vegetable and potato. (£6). I'd never have thought from the description how good this actually was. Possibly one of my most favourite Mughli dishes ever, it has that same comforting silky smoothness that the aubergine mash has. The vegetable and potato has been mixed down to a gorgeous spicy mash. So addictive, I wanted to gobble it all up but the three of us were sharing.
Saagwala (£9). Paneer in a spinach based sauce. We've not had this before, although it's been on the menu for a while. It's a true classic. I love how the velvety spinach congeals into the sauce and the squidgy cheese.
Nihari. (£9.90) Lamb shank, marrow juices, roasted spices, onions, ginger and coriander.
How do you improve on perfection? By leaving the lamb on the bone and serving it that way. (Actually easier for them, and we get the joy of gnawing on the bone and pulling that sumptuous, delicious fatty meat off). One of my best dishes of last year, doubtless will be this year too. Just lapping up that meaty stew with a spoon was a joy. Superb.  
Also, the Laziz. (£8.50) Chicken in Malai sauce, gently spiced with ginger and creamy yoghurt. This was fine mixing it together with the other dishes, a good alternative to the (quite rightfully) banished khorma but we wouldn't order this again. I'd prefer the more kick ass butter chicken personally.
Goan Fish Kari. (£9.50). Haddock slow cooked in creamy coconut sauce, mustard seeds and fresh bay leaf. Our second favourite mains, a gorgeous creamy sauce and delicate soft tender fish.
We waddled off in the rain, another successful trip to Mughli under our ever straining belts. I can guarantee we'll be back for more, addicts always do.

Mughli on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 August 2014

El Capo, Northern Quarter.

We returned to El Capo to preview their new restaurant in the basement last night. It's potentially very exciting, so much so that we booked another visit next week when they'll be open properly (with 50% off food too).
Chicharon - Crispy Pork and Chicken skins with chili vinegar.
Macho Nachos. Pork Chicken, chilli con carne, Xocolate chilli.
Los Pollos El Capo. Wings.
"Mi Corazon". Pan seared Cow's heart with aji pepper oil.
"Big cohones". Sweet spiced meatballs, habanero chili tomato sauce.
Almojabanas. Puerto Rican cheese and chili fritters.
Moronga - Paraguayan slow cooked pork stew with pickled chiles.
Ice creams and mojito sorbet.
Click to enlarge menu.
El Capo on Urbanspoon