“ Address: The Printworks / 27 Withy Grove / Manchester / M4 2BS / Tel: 0161 834 8668 „
It would seem that The Printworks in Manchester are finally beginning to take a sensible step towards encouraging independents to set up shop. Nestled in amongst corporate microwaving giants such as Hard Rock Café, Old Orleans and Lloyds Bar is Papa G's, a Mediterranean bar and grill specialising in Geek cuisine. Having read a couple of favourable reviews, I decided to treat the future Mr Kitschkitty to a meal, having forced him to endure a day's worth of shopping.
The neon lighting and ultra modern furniture starkly contrasts with your stereotypical Greek restaurant. There's no chintzy lace, save for the few pieces that are displayed in homage to the family run restaurant's lineage, no candles in wine bottles and certainly no clatter of smashing plates. This is Greek with a contemporary, chic twist and sat alone in an empty restaurant (admittedly on a Sunday afternoon), it seemed stark and soulless. The musical accompaniment to our meal was an interesting Eurovisionesque sound track which added a certain kitschness to the proceedings.
Fortunately, what Papa G's lacked in atmosphere, it made up for in flavour with a relatively comprehensive menu which was reasonably priced. Papa G's Meze Starter was a generous combination of calamari, spicy sausages, dolmathes, aranchini, halloumi, chicken wings, houmous, taramasalata, tzatziki and flat bread and the flavours were sublime.
The calamari was nigh on perfect, not at all rubbery and served with a delicious lemon mayonnaise whilst the chicken wings were sticky with just the right amount of spice and the aroma and flavour of a genuine chargrill. The flatbread and dips were out of this world with the houmous taking the prize as the best I have ever tasted. The aranchini (mushroom risotto balls coated in crispy parmesan) had the perfect texture, and a sweet and nutty flavour courtesy of the parmesan and a herb which I couldn't quite place. Papa G's dolmathes (stuffed vine leaves), although not a personal favourite, were flavoursome and filling. It was only the halloumi which proved to be a slight disappointment. Covered in sesame seeds and served with a somewhat bland red pepper salsa, it lacked a certain oomph, nothing a bit of mint wouldn't have sorted out I'm sure.
Having gorged ourselves on the very generous Meze, we chose not to indulge in a main course, although that's not to say the menu didn't appeal. Freshly prepared, homemade pizzas, barbecued souvlaki skewers as well as a selection of family favourites will certainly be tempting us back again.
The service, as you would expect in an empty restaurant, was excellent and attentive. The food was served reasonably quickly with a sufficient delay to assure you that it was all freshly prepared and cooked to order. The chefs worked in an open kitchen area without a microwave in sight. The atmosphere was lacking unfortunately, although I have no doubt that much of this was down to the timing of our visit - it would have been altogether different on a busy Friday or Saturday night. The décor was perhaps a tad too modern for my liking and made the restaurant feel almost clinical. A contemporary take on a traditional Mediterranean restaurant would have perhaps been more fitting and more homely.
The food and affordability of the menu though means we'll definitely be giving Papa G's a second chance. The restaurant's passion for food shone through and made a refreshing change from the usual fare served at the Printworks and what it lacked for in atmosphere, I'm sure will be made up when we take a table full of friends next time to create our own.
This family owned Greek and Mediterranean restaurant opened about a year go in the Printworks (If you don't know Manchester this is an entertainment complex in the city centre) and is a welcome change to the chain restaurants and bars and provides a different option. The owner Angelo Gabrilatsou (presumably Papa G!) is apparently the grandson of Cypriot immigrants who arrived in the North West in the 1930s and began by selling lace before entering the restaurant business in Bolton and Cheshire. There are some pictures of his family in the restaurant.
Papa G's is located opposite the cinema so perfect for a pre/post cinema meal (service is quick enough for you to not worry about missing the start of your film!)
It is nice and colourful inside with brightly coloured glass lightshades and painted walls and there is a mixture of booths (both small for couples and large for big parties) and tables. I'd say the decor was a mix between modern stylish and family friendly.
They have an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant which I always think is nice and we were sitting close enough to see the chefs in action and were encouraged to see that most of them appeared to be Greek so should know what they're doing!
The food is mostly inspired by Greece with a bit more of Europe thrown in here and there. We started with some warm pitta with a choice of 3 dips for around a fiver; we chose Houmous, Feta Chilli and Tzatziki but there were others to choose from too. There was plenty between 3 of us which made it pretty good value and a nice start to the meal. You can alternatively choose to share a Meze platter for around £12. Or if you're not willing to share your food there are plenty of individual starters including stuffed vine leaves, Mediterranean fish cakes and chicken wings. These were around the £5 mark.
For mains, 2 of us had the vegetarian moussaka which was filled with thick chunks of mushrooms and aubergine and topped with halloumi cheese and was absolutely lovely. It was a very generous portion in a deep dish and served with a side salad (Greek of course) which was a nice addition. It cost around £9.
Other mains on offer included various different Souvlaki skewers which came with fat chips, pitta and dips for around £13, burgers and pizzas for around £8 or £9, traditional dishes such as Stifado, steaks and a few pasta dishes, and I also remember seeing 'Greek Lasagne', whatever that is! Sides include fat chips, greek salad and mediterranean veg.
Portions are very generous but if you can fit in a pudding they serve home made Baklava which was all I needed to know and managed to force down a gorgeous portion of the stuff after asking the waiting staff for a bit of a delay because we felt so full! Other puddings include pancakes with a choice of toppings, ice cream and Tiramasu.
If you're there with kids there is a children's menu where they can choose a main, a pudding and a drink for £5.50 which is pretty good really, and there is also a mini library and activity books on offer to keep them entertained while they are waiting which is a nice touch.
As for drinks, there are some European bottled beers and San Miguel on draught, a decent sized wine and cocktail list, all the usual soft drinks and a fully stocked bar with an impressive choice of spirits for a restaurant.
The staff were all friendly and efficient. We got a nice welcome, service was quick without being rushed, and we were generally well looked after.
The music was a mixture of uptempo Greek and pop and was just at the right volume to add a little to the experience without being intrusive.
The restaurant wasn't that full when we got there but it was the middle of the afternoon (we missed lunch) and it started to fill up as we were on puddings with families with young kids who looked like they'd just been to see a film. Whenever I've been passing in the evening at weekends it always looks really busy and I did have to abandon going there one Saturday night before the cinema recently because it was packed full at around 6pm and we didn't have time to wait for a table.
If you do arrive and have time to wait for a table they have a pager system where they let you take the pager away and it will buzz when your table is ready. This means you can go for a drink nearby while you wait which is a great idea.
There is a promotion on until the end of this month (July) where you can enjoy a 3 course meal from a reduced menu for £14.99, or £19.99 on a Saturday. You just have to book a table through the following Manchester website:
Excluding the offer, the prices may seem a little high at first but the portions are generous and the food freshly prepared so I think it represents good value. They are also on a par with most of the other restaurants in the Printworks such as Old Orleans (where we ended up the other Saturday) and Hard Rock Cafe. You could get a cheaper meal next door in Lloyds of course but I don't think it would be as nice!
I think Papa G's differs from the other eateries in the Printworks in that you might choose to go here even if you weren't going to the cinema whereas the other eateries in the Printworks are mainly just for passing trade and I don't think the quality is as high.
So overall I think it's a great addition to the Printworks. It's good to have an independent in there and they offer a really friendly (and tasty!) dining experience.
My only criticism would be that I don't think they need the pasta dishes on the menu and should stick more to the Greek but I understand that in their location they need to try and cater to as many people as they can and so want to offer a range of dishes.