22-08-2015-La Bandera

My trusty fish eating friend and I decided to sample the culinary delights of Manchester again last Wednesday night, so it was my turn to come up with a suitable venue. I had been assured that the recent lapse into the eating of meat was a definite one-off caused by too much wine and not enough self-control, so I needed to ensure that wherever we went was in a position to cater for both our tastes. Not difficult Ÿ?? we’re easily pleased! I consulted my old friend Google, and was soon in the process of booking a table for two at La Bandera ( http://www.labandera.co.uk ) which is located at 2 Ridgefield, Manchester, M2 6EQ. I have to admit, the address vaguely rang a bell, but as my research told me that this was a relatively new Restaurant, I wasn’t sure. When we arrived, we both remembered having eaten here a few years ago when it was obviously a different name. If I get chance I might trawl through my previous blogs and see if I can remind myself what it was called. My research also told me that it was a top quality restaurant that was frequented my local footballers in both red and blue shirts. Only time would tell if this was correct! Wednesday night soon came around, and after a quick drink and Ÿ??helloŸ? in Concord, we found ourselves stood on Sackville Street waving our arms and anything else that seemed appropriate at a passing cab. In we jumped, and off across town we sped, looking forward to the adventure ahead. We soon arrived at Ridgeway, and it didn’t take long to find La Bandera, or to confirm that we had in fact eaten in this property before. It had changed, however, and was a lot more modernistic and Ÿ??posherŸ? than when we last visited. We were welcomed at the reception desk, and quickly shown to a table. The surroundings are crisp and clean, and the d€÷cor is good. There were quite a few other diners in, and it was obvious that there was a bit of a clique going on. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and most of the customers seemed familiar to the staff. Apart from us that is. As yet! We made ourselves comfortable, and studied the menus we had been given. The young lady who had shown us to our table took our drinks order, and briefly explained that we could have Tapas, or we could have one of the main courses and use the Tapas section as a starter menu. We decided that we would do Tapas. She did explain that the Tapas would arrive at the table as and when it was prepared, which sounded a bit as if we were going to get it piecemeal. I couldn’t imagine this happening, and decided that she just meant it might take longer to arrive due to it being fresh, Time would tell. We set about sharing the glasses and reading the menu, and had soon managed to cobble together an order of several Tapas dishes. We decided to start with Toasted baguette with fresh tomato and garlic, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and we then followed on with Patatas Bravas – Deep fried potatoes served with alioli and spicy Ÿ??bravaŸ? sauce, Parrillada de Verduras – Grilled seasonal vegetables, Champi€¤ones al ajillo – Saut€÷ed mixed wild mushrooms pan-fried with butter, garlic and parsley, Gambas al ajillo – King prawns in a garlic and parsley sauce, Rabas de Calamar – Deep fried fresh squid in batter, served with alioli, and Alb€ndigas de la Abuela – Traditional Spanish meatballs in a rich vegetable sauce (which were obviously just for me!!) We felt that that little lot should fill a corner! Within a couple of minutes, we had our worst fear confirmed Ÿ?? our waitress delivered a solitary plate of Patatas Bravas. It looked like things were going to be piecemeal Ÿ?? we hadn’t even had the bread yet! I was just about to protest when she returned with some form of chicken dish. Aahh! We had got the wrong order; maybe things were going to be OK after all. She apologised, moved the food along a few tables, and soon returned with the bread. Normal service had been resumed. We tucked into the bread, and before long, she returned, this time with our Patatas Bravas, and one of the other dishes. Just one of them. It would appear that our interpretation of her explanation was in fact correct. Basically, we got the rest of our meal in dribs and drabs as and when it was ready. This meant that you had finished one dish before you got the next, denying you the chance to mix and match on your plate. I have to admit we weren’t impressed by the idea. We would prefer the chance to mix our potatoes with our fish, and our vegetables rather than eat them one at a time in the order the chef decided to prepare them. The food was good, but that’s all it was. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special. We continued to eat as it was served, and it didn’t take long before we had emptied all the dishes, and sent them all back gleaming to the kitchen. Our waitress was very friendly, and when she came to try and tempt us to some desserts, she also took the opportunity to strike up conversation and Ÿ??sussŸ? me out. Once she saw how open I was, she poured out a thousand questions! All inoffensive, but all relevant to a young girl who very clearly didn’t understand how the Transgendered World works. Why would she? Most of us don’t understand how it works! I answered every question honestly as I always do, and she kept apologising and asking more. I told her not to apologise Ÿ?? it was nice to meet someone who wasn’t afraid to broaden her knowledge base in such a straightforward way. I’m not embarrassed to say that I honestly think she enjoyed our chat, and I hope that somewhere in her life she will benefit from it. It also worked two ways Ÿ?? it sort of created a diversion that helped us to avoid the dessert trap. We actually managed not to have one! It was at this time that my fish eating partner decided to nip to the facilities (which I didn’t visit, so can’t really comment on Ÿ?? I don’t want to rely on hearsay). And it was also at this time that the owner / manager made his move. As my friend quite eloquently put it, he moved across to me quicker that a rat up a drain pipe! Very friendly and quite charming he was too! He asked how our meal had been, so I felt it best to be honest and explained that food in dribs and drabs wasn’t our thing. He seemed surprised, and informed me that it was usually very popular and that both Manchester United footballers and Manchester City footballers frequented the venue and loved it to bits. I pointed out that it wasn’t as much a criticism, more of a preference, and I also agreed that what suits some doesn’t always suit others. I also pointed out that football was far too masculine a game for me, and that I wouldn’t recognise a footballer if I saw one! This was my ploy to see if there were any in for me to meet, but as he didn’t rush to point anyone out, I can only guess that he is very discreet, or there weren’t any in. In view of the fact it seemed to be the major point of his marketing strategy, I think it’s safe to say there were none in. Once the Pescatarian returned, he seemed to disappear quickly, leaving an awkward conversation where I got accused of once again flirting with people I shouldn’t. As if I would. He was just keeping me company whilst I was alone. That’s all. Honestly. Our waitress returned with a free liqueur each and of course the bill. We drank the liqueur, paid the bill, said Ÿ??thank youŸ? and Ÿ??good byeŸ?, and walked off into the Manchester night in search of a cab back to the Village. The only bit I have to do now is answer the three questions that summarise the night: Is La Bandera TV friendly? It was before we arrived, and it most certainly is now Ÿ?? at both staff and management levels! I also went pretty unnoticed as far as customers are concerned. Value for money? A difficult one. The bill with a tip was ô?80-00. In view of the fact that we only rated our evening as Ÿ??about averageŸ?, I don’t suppose it was as good a value as we have had elsewhere. Would I go again? I wouldn’t scream Ÿ??kidnapŸ? if someone tried to take me there, but I have a feeling it’s further down the list than most