* Prices may differ from that shown
And apologies to Mr I Like Blue Himself for the blatant ripping off of his name…. Didsbury is not exactly known as the forefront of fine cuisine, but we ended up there just before Christmas anyway, probably because when I’m present the choice of restaurants is limited, and we’ve already tried the majority of Italian places in the city centre. Est Est Est is located on Wilmslow Road which, as most Mancunians will know, is quite long. It’s in the centre of Didsbury, near HSBC and Pizza Hut and is pretty hard to miss from outside due to the fact that it’s, well, fairly blue. Inside the blueness continues – teemed here with white and wood to create a very modern setting. Lots of geometricness and mirrors and purposely wonky pictures on the walls which was a refreshing change after the rustically authentic places we’d been frequenting of late. As I said, we went in December, and on a Friday night, so it was fairly busy, but not unbearably so. We arrived at 7.30 pm and were told there was a table available, but that they’d need it back by 9pm. This was fine in the event, since we had eaten loads, paid the bill and were walking out of there only an hour or so later. I don’t know if they served us more quickly than normal because they knew they needed our spot, but the service was certainly speedy enough. Est Est Est is a chain of Italian places, with restaurants throughout London and the rest of the UK (Bury, Liverpool, Newcastle, Shrewsbury and Hale all have branches, Leeds even has 2). The menu is the same throughout the country and includes : ** Anti-Pasti and Side Orders ** A wide selection of soup, seafood, meat and vegetable dishes, complemented by a selection of breads (Ciabatta, Bruschetta and garlic bread), salad and, ahem, chips, ranging in price from £1.75 up to £5.75. We had the Insalata Di Speck E Mozzarella, (which for those of you who don’t speak f
luent Italian is warm Mozzarella served wrapped in smoked Italian bacon on a bed of mixed leaves and walnuts) and a garlic bread which was more the thin-and-crispy than light-and-fluffy variety, but delicious none the less. ** Insalata ** There are 4 items in this section, and although we didn’t have one (neither of us believing that salad constitutes a meal), if we had we could have sampled spinach, gem lettuce or rocket leaves served with a selection of cheeses, bacon, chicken, tomatoes and garlic croutons. Any of these would set you back between £6.75 and £8.75, so I imagine they would be fairly generous portions. ** Pizza ** The pizzas looked fabulous, but since we didn’t have them I can’t be certain they tasted as good as they looked (although I’m sure they did). For between £5.95 and £7.50, you could stuff yourself with thin-based creations topped with everything from normal cheese and tomato to Frutti di Mare – prawns, mussels, anchovies and tuna. ** Pasta ** There are a good dozen pastas on offer, including spaghetti, fettuccine, cannelloni and lasagne, finished with tomato, seafood, meat and vegetable sauces. I opted, as per usual, for something not on the menu (Spaghetti al Burro) which was mmmmmmmmm wonderful. You can almost always taste the difference between freshly cut and grated pasta and Parmesan, and the Tesco Value variety, and this was certainly true here. Better than the pasta I had in Milan once, and when Didsbury produce better Italian food than Italy itself, you know they’re doing something right. Prices here range from £4.95 if you order them as a started (or sauceless a la me) to £7.96 for Farfalle and smoked salmon. ** Est Specialities (aka meat and fish dishes) ** Prawns, tuna, salmon, chicken, veal and steaks all made an appearance here. We (ok, he) had the Bistecca al Pepe which I didn’t try, what with bei
ng vegetarian and all, but which seemed to be enjoyed by its orderer As you’d expect, this was the most expensive section, but with prices only ranging from £9.95 up to £13.95, it still wasn’t unreasonable. ** Dolci + Fomaggio ** One of these days I will have room for pudding, and I hope that day comes in the near future, but as yet I’ve always been too stuffed. If we hadn’t on this occasion, we could have chosen from ice cream gateaux, pies, sorbets and a cheeseboard, all for around £3.50 each. We paid just over £30 for two courses each (and for once I got my full two courses – normally 4 courses ordered equals 2 and 2 halves for him, and the remaining 2 halves for me….) with 4 cokes thrown in (hey, eating can be thirsty work). They accept most cards – the menu I picked up says Switch, Visa, Amex and Diners, but since I put it on my MasterCard, and on checking my statement at the HSBC website a few minutes ago found it has come out, they must accept that too. I liked this place, and will definitely be going back to either this one or a different branch at some point. The staff were attentive and helpful without being too in-your-face, and the food was wonderful, The only real down point was the music – normally lively and up beat (“Mambo number 5” and “Living La Vida Loca” were both played) there was the odd occasion when their choice of accompaniment left a little to be desired – “Nobody Wants To Be Lonely” and “Private Emotion” both seemed just a little to depressing for this place. These were by no means enough to ruin the night though, and it has to get 2 very enthusiastic thumbs up from me.