Saturday 29 June 2013

Cibo, Manchester

“If you don’t’ have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

After a spate of what I feel were ‘average’ ‘meh’ and, on some cases, utterly ‘pants’ meals in and around Manchester recently, I’ve become a little disillusioned with “Hungry Hoss” – to save me from quitting it altogether, yesterday, I made the decision that I simply wouldn't bother writing up such experiences.

I’m going to concentrate on revisiting some old favourites; whilst writing about the best of the new places and hidden gems; exploring the surrounding counties more and continuing with tales of my travels. Bog standard burgers such as those from Byron will no longer feature on my blog!

The thing is, I never set out to be a “Manchester Blogger” – in my first couple of posts, made over two years ago now, I stated how I intended to use the blog to share ‘excitement and enthusiasm for food’ and in this respect, nothing has changed.

I’m aware that I created a rod for my own back when I started blogging about the ‘less special experiences’ and rattled off a post every time I popped out for a spot of lunch or a bite to eat.

When I have a great experience at a restaurant or discover somewhere I feel deserves more attention, I love to tell people about it – shout it from the rooftops! In the last few months, meals at Simon Rogan’s The French (see here), Pie & Ale (here), Grenache (here) as well as many on my travels have fallen into this category. 

Early on, after accepting a couple of freebies and invites to PR launches and events, I realised that this aspect of blogging was not for me and no longer get involved in it all by always insisting on paying for my meals… simply put, it makes me feel ‘uncomfortable’.

CIBO in Didsbury is just one of a number of new places that has ‘been courting the bloggers’ since it opened - of course, this is a strategy that can backfire at times.

We are lucky in Manchester because the majority of the better known food bloggers such as Dolly Bakes, Mrs Petticoat, Bacon on the Beech, Food Geek, Mcr Foodies and Good Gobble are a well travelled bunch who ‘know their onions’ and are not afraid of being honest, even when presented with a free meal!

But, from another perspective, an ‘invited blogger’s’ experience is never going to be same as the on of the next ‘average Joe and his hard earned cash’ who walks through the door…

When restaurants have invited the bloggers in the staff will have often been notified of their arrival; said blogger will have been greeted extra warmly; given the best seats in the house; plied with alcohol; schmoozed with, and extra attention to detail would have been paid to the ingredient selection, cooking and presentation of their meal.

So, why am I writing up about Cibo, if I decided yesterday that I wouldn’t?

Well, I do have some nice things to say about Cibo. (Note: ahead of ordering, the restaurant did not know I was a blogger but asked later once I started taking pictures of the food.)


The service was great – from the off, every team member was smiley and seemed genuinely interested in providing a welcoming atmosphere and positive experience.

I love what they have done with the place – the décor and general styling is clean, fresh and comfortable. Tables are well spaced and welcoming. For me, it’s a huge improvement on the previous occupant, La Tasca.

The menu reads well and is reasonably priced. Especially the ‘Cicchetti e Fritturi’ menu.

The Zucchini Fritti, San Danielle Ham with Burrata Cheese & Umbrian Virgin Oil and Baccala Mantecato were decent enough, as were the Stuffed Artichoke wrapped in “Lardo” despite their ‘lardo’ being more pancetta like and not the white fatty goodness, I am familiar with.  


Fried Fennel I found the batter too doughy and stodgy. Arancini Siciliani – for me, these needed more rice; I found the filling too wet and hollow tasting.

Lamb & Pistachio Meatballs – these reminded me of dog food in appearance with compressed, smooth, dull grey meat and a lacklustre sauce. They would have been better texturally if they had been made in a little more of a rustic fashion; there wasn’t even any bite in the pistachio.

Calves Liver Veneziana – the liver was pinkish but the sauce for me was again uninspiring and lacking in depth.

Panfried Fresh Sardines – a reversal on the liver dish, the accompanying dressings was fresh and zingy but I found the sardines overcooked.

So there it is… whilst I enjoyed the place this is what could be my last post about “meh” food… let’s hope I can find more places that can refresh my excitement and enthusiasm’ – when I do, I’ll share them here. 

P.S. I am not planning on cutting back on the amount I eat out so I'll still be sharing my views on all places I eat via Twitter: 

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