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Papa G's (Manchester)
Member Name: kitschkitty
Papa G's (Manchester)
Advantages: Tasty, authentic food. Reasonably priced.
Disadvantages: Lacked atmosphere.
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.
Summary: Chic Greek!