I was with some friends and family celebrating a mate’s birthday at Jamie’s Italian on King Street in Manchester. I’ve tried Mr. Oliver’s food back in November when I was in Oxford, and after enjoying a selection of the simply sedap dishes on the menu, I was more than happy to return. The Manchester restaurant was previously a bank. In fact, you could actually book The Vault, a private section of the restaurant which used to be, well, a vault. Booking a table for 12 on a Saturday evening requires some planning well in advance, hence our 1PM rendezvous. As I entered the massive eaterie, the bar on the ground floor reminded me of tapas bars in Spain, especially with the ham hung on the ceiling, following which the friendly assistant maître d’ ushered me upstairs to where the party was.

I opted for the crispy squid which came with a garlic mayo with sprinkle of paprika on it. I daresay the menu was different to what it was the last time I was at Jamie’s. Whilst a substantial number of our party went for the same, some went for the cured & crispy fish which appears to be a mini-smörgåsbord that also includes some shellfish and mackerel pâté. Wanting something different, I ordered the sea bream (bream acqua pazza)[1] and to my dismay, it was served on the bone. Yup, serves me right for not reading. The fish was superb, mind you, but my experienced was subtly marred by making sure I didn’t tercekik tulang ikan (so not a terubuk man). As a side, I went for the polenta chips (they don’t have the old funky chips anymore). If I had a second chance, I’d prolly ordered the tuna fusilli. How I wish I could order the 8oz Angus steak though.

We didn’t order dessert as birthday boy had a massive choc cake from Pâtisserie Valerie. I’ll be back soonish, and hope to try the chocolate & vin santo pot!


I actually stayed at a hotel when I saw Radiohead a couple of weekends ago as you’d probably gather. One thing about hotel room prices are that they are obviously more expensive in the more popular times of the week, but worse when there is a big event in town, for example when there’s a very well-known band that is playing somewhere in town. I think I chose the wrong time to book a room at the Hilton on Deansgate, but what the hey eh? I have never stayed at a Hilton before. I think. The closest thing I ever had to being at the Hilton is sitting with my parents whilst they were enjoying rojak at the Hilton “Drive-In” in the 1970s, and that colorectal cancer symposium at Hilton KL Sentral. It is obvious you pay for the entire experience I guess. Everyone was all smiles and polite, and that included the staff polishing the lift doors. My room on the, err… 4th floor (hey, I was very happy OK) had the view of the adjacent AMC cinema but for a few quid more, I could’ve upgraded myself to a room 10-15 floors above with a better view I guess (scared of heights, remember?). The room was spacious. The bed, most importantly, was superbly comfy. The bathroom was all Villeroy & Boch. No expenses spared. It could’ve been made more worth the money if I had time to do a few laps in the indoor pool on the floor below my room or a pre-brekkie session at the fitness room.

Breakfast at the Podium Restaurant on the ground floor which starts at 7AM was nice. The spread was massive and you could only have so much. I was told that they’d be happy to make me an omellette or fry some fish if I like. I was sure I’d be so kenyang with what I was about to have, so I politely declined. Check out was a breeze and they gave a small discount for the parking at the NCP next door. Overall verdict – I enjoyed my stay, and it was like flying business class, ie I’ll do this again only when I have extra cash. Heh.


[1]The menu described the sea bream as “pan-fried” but acqua pazza (literally translated as ‘crazy water’ in Italian) means the fish is poached, which is obvious from the photo.