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Strada, Manchester - Good Restaurant but lacking in atmosphere
Member Name: beauty88
Advantages: Good quality fresh food, good value, modern clean surroundinhgs, excellent service
Disadvantages: Lacking in atmosphere, disapointing starter
It is located in the recently created Spinningfields area of Manchester, however isnt in the obvious centre part where the open air cinema is, but a few minutes round the back closer to the apartment blocks. Because this part of Spinningfields is slightly hidden from view it is as a result much quieter and was actually quite eerie, however it meant we could easily get a table in the place.
The restaurant was much bigger than I expected, it is a vast space including a large bar area and a long dining area stretching out along a glass wall of windows. I was really impressed by the look of the place and overall it looked modern and new. The furniture was modern looking and the tables well spaced out. We were given the choice of where to sit which was nice and we chose a table next to the window which was nice and light.
We noticed that the place was very quiet, other than a few groups of young professionals who looked like they had come direct from work, the place was deserted. This was a good thing in some respects as we hadn't made a reservation, and I suppose I would prefer that to the place being packed, yet it was almost a bit too quiet! Luckily there was subtle music playing while we were there which broke the silence in the place a little.
We decided we would share a bottle of wine with the meal. There was a nice choice of wines and 3 Rose wines to choose from which ranged from £17-£21 which was reasonable. The wine was brought by the waitress in a cooler and was poured out for us. We also asked for a jug of water which arrived chilled with ice and was also poured out. We were a bit disappointed that there weren't any cocktails on the menu. Most restaurants these days, particularly chains, have a few cocktails on the drinks menu so it was a shame they didn't as we may have stayed longer if this had been the case.
We all decided to order starters so I chose the Arancini Ragu which are risotto balls containing beef & tomato ragu and mozzarella and coated in breadcrumbs. It was £4.50 for this starter and I was a little disappointed in it. I got 3 of the breaded balls presented on a small plate with no other garnish etc, so they looked a bit odd just sat there on their own. They were nice and hot and I enjoyed the mozzarella element and the breadcrumbs they were coated in, but I could barely detect the beef and tomato ragu which I could only just see if I looked closely and could barely taste. Also the balls weren't too big and with only 3 of them it wasn't a very big starter considering the price.
For my main course I ordered the Rigatoni Siciliana which was rigatoni pasta servied in a tomato & basil sauce with aubergines, courgettes, peppers and finished with ricotta. This dish was £8.75 and worth every penny. To start with the portion was generous which was a relief considering the size of the starter. There was plenty of pasta served but also lots of aubergines, pepper and courgette pieces. I often find restaurants are quite sparing with the vegetables in pasta dishes, but that wasn't the case here where there was plenty of veg in my dish. Everything was cooked well and the dish was hot when it arrived. The vegetables had plenty of taste and had clearly been cooked properly and not boiled to death. The sauce was very tasty, particularly since it was simple tomato & basil sauce, it was very rich and enjoyable. I was also pleased with the ricotta which was a generous portion placed in the centre of the bowl and lasted me throughout the dish.
Therefore overall I had mixed feelings about the food but the delicious main meal definitely made up for the slightly disappointing starter.
Because the restaurant was so quiet, despite there only being a couple of waitresses they had plenty of time to see to everything we needed. The waitress was always present to take our order when we were ready, and empty plates were cleared away quickly but we never felt rushed. The food also arrived very quickly which was a relief as we were all hungry, but again I think this is due to how quiet the place was.
The waitress was also very helpful telling us the special dishes of the day and was always polite with us. We never had any need to complain or ask for anything out of the ordinary so I can't comment on how this would be handled.
We asked for the bill and it wad brought to us quickly. Considering we had 2 courses each and wine the bill was a reasonable price and worked out at roughly £20 each including a tip. I was more than happy to pay this amount for what had been an overall good meal. We all paid in cash which was straightforward. I thought the main course was on a par with a dish I would expect from a good Italian restaurant and the price was also similar. I wouldn't say this place is a complete bargain but for the quality of the food the price was very reasonable and good value.
The restaurant and all crockery, cutlery and glassware was immaculate and new looking. Despite the place being new, it is still clear that it is kept very clean and tidy which showed when we were there and gave me confidence in the hygiene in the kitchen area.
Overall this is a very good restaurant which service generally good food (depending what you order) which appears to be made from fresh ingredients and cooked freshly. The service was very pleasing and I really liked the clean modern surroundings. The only downside of the place was the lack of atmosephere due to how quiet it was, which isnt a failing of the restaurant and out of their control, but did make the whole dining experience feel slightly awkward. I can imagine this would be even worse if you went as a couple. But other than this I have no complaints and would recommend this restaurant for a good quality Italian meal at good value.
Tel: 0161 819 5691
Website: www.strada.co.uk/italian-restaurant/manc​ ;hester-spinningfields
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