Sole has become one of Manchester’s most talked about new restaurants having opened up in a quiet back street of the Northern Quarter a few months ago. Big things have been said about this small place, so I was very excited about trying it out. Even more so as it was my birthday. Well, did it live up to such high expectations? Short answer: no. Long answer: keep on reading.
The rather bizarre experience began the week before we even walked through the front door. Having booked a table for 11, I was emailed a menu and asked to get everyone’s order before we arrived. A bit of a pain, sure, but with there being a large group of us I could sort of understand this, if they didn’t want to run out of anything. Fair enough. I spent the next week chasing people, only to be told the day before we were due to dine that the menu had changed and I’d wasted my time hassling my friends over razor clams. Not cool.
Now, on to the meal itself. Most of us opted for the grazing menu – which is a very keenly priced selection of dishes that each go for around the £6 mark – order two each and you’re nicely full. “#fishytapas” we called it. The food frankly didn’t live up to the hype and rave reviews that I’ve been hearing about. I ordered two dishes – mussles and chilli prawns. The mussles, while tasty weren’t anything particularly special and the waiting staff didn’t bring an extra bowl for the shells or lemon water to wash our hands with when done. This being a seafood restaurant you’d think they’d remember that. The chilli prawns they actually completely forgot about until I reminded the waiter, and when they did arrive were quite overcooked and had an overwhelming taste of burnt garlic. Now, for £6 a place I’m not going to argue too much as it does represent good value but considering the image of contemporary fine dining this restaurant is trying to create, the food just wasn’t up to scratch by a long way. If anything it was comparable to pretty decent home cooked suppers. Okay, but nothing too memorable.
Average food at a decent price is fine if the atmosphere and service are something to savour though, but sadly for Sole this is where things get a bit worse. They forgot the wine, forgot one of my dishes and then tried to charge us £12 for bread we didn’t order and were told was complimentary. Add to that the rather sterile atmosphere and surly waiting staff, and I probably won’t be returning in a hurry. I still had a great evening, but this was down to the company, and sadly not the food.