A genuine local secret. A dodgy-looking curry place on the edge of the trendy bars in the Northern Quarter, Hunter's curries a frankly astonishing range of animals: quail, venison, grouse, all advertised on fluorescent card signs. It's cheap with enormous portions and makes a change from the sometimes indistinguishable curry houses in Rusholme. All the better for being so out of place next to Socio Rehab and Odd. Bizarre.
94 High St, Manchester
Don't let the exterior put you off - the authentic taste of southern Italy awaits within. Highly recommended: the incredibly generous antipasto misto followed by an amazingly pneumatic calzone contadina. Excellent 'just like in Italy' coffee too - especially if accompanied by a grappa. Great ambiance, Italian mood music, friendly staff, excellent value. Be warned though - come here hungry and prepare to eat for England.
21 Friar Street, Worcester (01905 612211)
Great food, sandwiches with top meats and a deli counter with all things veggie and spicy. The large carvery style cooking makes the meat sandwiches amazingly tasty. Try it out.
Deansgate corner with John Dalton Street.
Great healthy cafe in the Northern Quarter - lovely decor and good quality wholesome vegetarian wholefood served by friendly gentle people. Good value - two people can eat for under £15. I think it's closed Mondays.
Manchester Buddhist Centre
16-20 Turner Street
Manchester M4 1DZ
t 0161 834 9232
f 0870 134 7356
Reconstructed using original plans and materials from a pub that was destroyed by the IRA (the pub was originally called 'The Shambles' which is funny because that's pretty much what was left after the IRA were done). This place has nice ale and German lagers (not much for the ladies here though) at very cheap prices. The inside has a very comforting authentic 'ye olde English' atmosphere and the outside (equipped with those head-toaster heaters) is very popular in the summer. The menu also features oysters quite prominently, hence the pub's name.
Exchange Square, in front of selfridges and to the left a bit.
A fine pub. Very good selection of drinks(increasingly featuring real ales, on rotation) at reasonable prices, 2 pool tables and a very friendly landlord who cooks up a lovely pizza. The pub also has a big poem on the side of the building... if you're into that sort of thing.
Wilmslow road, right at the south end of the curry mile, Rusholme.
Tel: 0161 248 1941
Matt & Phredds is an excellent jazz bar on Tib Street with live jazz every day (except maybe Monday). It has a wide range of European beers and international wines as well as really nice food - Middle Eastern style - pittas, olives etc as well as pizzas and various other snacks.
To get there head north along church street and go right at the intersection with Tib street, it's a black door on the right.
Takeaway - highly recommend chicken kebabs, made with everything fresh including the naan, incredibly delicious! Have various other excellent meat & veggie dishes too. Whenever I visit Manchester (I live in the USA now) I always return to Abduls; it is the absolute best. You will not be disappointed!
Three of them are on Oxford Road, one near the old Poly, one opposite the Royal Infirmary (133-5) and one in Rusholme.
Next time you get that flight with Ryanair to Santiago de Compostela. Leave the city behind you and visit the countryside. I would recommend the area known as the Ribeira Sacra (holy river banks). Great wines, food and a very peaceful countryside, which looks and feel ancient. They say there are Celtic connections between Galicia and Ireland.
A stay at Casa Santo Estevo is a great central location for this visit. Located near to the Rio Mino it is easy to travel to Lugo, Ourense, Monforte de Lemos plus the Ribeira Sacra. The house is run by expats, from the U.K. and The Netherlands, so language will not be so much of a problem!
The food is out of this world, mainly local receipts but with some from other parts of the world too. Look at the website for the house. Not only is there information about the property but the area around too. I had a great time there letting time wash past me.
While in town, visit the farmers market in the Place Marcadieu, Thursday mornings, and search out the cheese man with the longest queue. I say nothing about the hygiene of his set-up, which would probably break multiple EU regulations, but his cheeses are astoundingly tasty. The Halle Marcadieu has recently been renovated, and is the perfect setting for this bustling market, sheltering around 200 stalls selling fruit, veg, honey, meat, fish, bread and cakes.
More goods, edible and otherwise, are sold in the square outside, including clothes, old and new, and bric-a-brac. In the adjacent Place du Foirail, also on Thursday mornings, is a flower and live poultry market - the latter not recommended for vegetarians!
Run by the very friendly Yui in her house, you get picked up in the family camper van, taken round the local markets to buy ingredients and then taught to cook (and eat) a whole range of classic Thai dishes.
Courses are from half to 4 days (1 day course is 800 baht - £12) and are in small groups (max 8) and you also get given a recipe book so you can try it out when you get back home.
165 Soi 9 Lampoon Rd;
Tel: (66) 053 800724;
Bell’s Diner is friendly little restaurant in a converted 1950s grocery shop in the heart of Bristol’s most bohemian neighbourhood, Montpelier.
Chef/Owner Chris Wicks serves innovative contemporary food which features wild, organic produce that he sources locally. The menu includes dishes such as red onion and goats cheese tart, with frisèe and walnut dressing; grilled best end of lamb with harissa, roast aubergine and cous-cous; pot roast guinea fowl with orange, sage, anna potato and green beans; char-grilled squid with black bean sauce; licorice parfait with saffron pears and almond.
Only the freshest produce is used on the daily-changing menu.
There's a fantastic wine list and a knowledgable sommelier for those who want recommendations.
1-3 York Road, Montpelier, Bristol BS6 5QB;
tel: 0117 924 0357; fax: 0117 924 4280;
It's a wonderful, superb restaurant in the lanes. Its colonial in look but the most impressive thing is the food. The 5 of us all chose different starters, mains & puds and they were all divine. Especially mine: squid with ink risotto - yum! Expensive but wonderful as a treat. Oh and the staff were brilliant too.
32 Duke Street
Tel: 01273 773388
9am-11pm 7 days
We went on the basis of the Guardian readers' guide recommendation, already posted. It exceeded all expectations and we went several times. The fagioli al forno was a taste sensation, the ribellita was glorious... need I go on? Does lunch only.
Via Rosina 2r, near San Lorenzo and the Mercato Centrale;
tel: 055 210 916
Get there early as queues build up by 8pm. Locals and tourists alike crowd in for the fantastic Tuscan cuisine and super friendly staff. The bill came to 45 euros for two, including wine, fantastic value for money - not to be missed.
Via dei Palchetti 6r, just off Palazzo Rucellai;
tel: 055 210 916;
A five room B&B situated in the historic - and picturesque - town of Burlats near Castres.
Okalani is ideal for families with small children. The large, toy-filled garden features a hugely popular trampoline and leads down to the river. The room we had was plain, to the point of being bare, but large with an ensuite bathroom.
Dinner was served outside on the terrace and was a delicious stew of Toulouse sausage and lentils. The children had potato wedges, sausages and pasta so no need to feel embarassed over their food fads.
The kids all played together and as we were outside chatting and eating together, it was easy to make friends with the other guests. All in all, a very friendly and relaxing stop.
Okalani Chambres d'hotes
15 Route de Castres
Tel: +33(0)563 516 401
Fish dishes are a speciality and highly recommended. One of the best South Asian restaurants in the region. Located in Clent Hills which is ideal for a long walk before or after lunch.
Jaipur Cottage, St Leonards Square, 92 Church Avenue, Hagley, West Midlands, DY9 9PN. About 8 miles from Birmingham.
01562 882 456
An authentic Punjabi restaurant that's very popular with Asian Londoners. Noisy, bright lighting but fantastic food, just like being at your Auntie's house. The place is so popular that they've had to extend it. BYO.
Lahore Kebab House
2-4 Umberston St, London, E1 1PY
Tel: 020 7481 9737
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