VALUE FOR MONEY: 7/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 6.8/10
NOTE: ALL MEAT IS HALAL, NO PORK OR ALCOHOL IS SERVED ON THE PREMISES.
NYE weekend – football, films, popcorn, chocolates and copious amounts of amazing food. That was the plan anyway. Everybody knows life doesn’t always work out the way you planned it, and for every up there will likely be a down, the ying has a yang, after rain comes sun, food follows fasting – you get the picture.
It started off great: clear roads, arriving in L4 in good time and some satisfying pre-match scampi and chips – happy days. Then came the down as Jamie Vardy rudely decided to have a party in our house 2 mins in. Much like when you were 16 and someone had a free yard, it’s all great until their parents come home and tell you to clear off. In this case Mohammed Salah provided the ‘up’ given he didn’t appreciate Vardy spoiling his clean sheet and after scoring a brace, Vardy and his mates cleared off back to Leicester.
So now we are on the up, it was only natural the balance had to be restored – enter Manjoros…
It’s worth noting the original plan was to grab a pizza or bucket and have a lazy night, but we got to Manchester pretty quickly, it was early and it felt like the right thing to do after an enthralling game with the adrenaline still high. The reason it’s worth noting, is because dining in a restaurant should always mean an increase in quality of food vs a chicken shop which may have shaped my expectations, but, at the same time we were under no illusions that this would be a Michelin star establishment.
Manjaros was pretty busy – a good sign. Unfortunately thats where the positivity ended. The food is billed to be a fusion of Caribbean and African flavours. In my head I’m thinking South African peri peri, some amazing BBQ meat with gravy and rice, or maybe a traditional Jerk seasoned chicken. I’m sorry to say what we received was an embarrassment.
Down: I’ll breeze through the poor service i.e. the fact that the waiter forgot our order and had to return to double check, or that when the food did arrive, it wasn’t our order, or even how Mrs Plug asking for a card machine to pay the bill resulted in the waitress giving her a look of horror like we’d just done a Zulu warrior dance on top of the dinner table just for the needle. To be honest I’m not really fussed over minor blemishes or mistakes in service – everyone’s human after all. I’m just in it for the food…
Up: This brings me onto the main event. To start, we ordered Lamb Flambè chops (seasoned with a mix of African and Caribbean spices and char-grilled). I have to say if we were comparing just the food we ordered in Manjaro’s, this would be the ‘up’ as factually, they were chops, they were chargrilled and they did have some spices which could have been African or Caribbean. It doesn’t mean it tastes good though. They were covered in sauce/marinade but it was OTT which kind of undid the effort of grilling chops as it resulted in them looking somewhat like a damp squid – plus the sauce didn’t do much to make up for the loss. They weren’t ‘bad’ per se…but put it this way, with the 50 eateries serving perfectly tasty lamb chops on Wilmslow road, there isn’t a single reason why these would stand out over any others.
Down: This didn’t bode well for the main courses and in my head I had already accepted that this was a mistake, but that there was nothing I can do about it except front it out. It was basically like when someone gets their head stuck in the doors of the tube, and they know they look a plank, you’re thinking they look like a plank, but they make out like nothing happened and they aren’t in pain – when really they desperately want to just rub their head. Once you commit, you have to portray the risk-based return is well worth it.
Down: Anyway, I realise I’m making this post less and less centred around the food review which in itself is an indicator of how wool this place is. For mains, I opted for 1/2 supreme chicken sizzler, mainly because i saw the menu describe it with words like ‘Jerk’, ‘authentic’ ‘signature specialty’ ‘famous sauce’. It was after I received my dish that I realized you can dress a Toyota MR2 up any which way you like..but at the end of the day…it will never be a Ferrari, (even if you whack the badge on). Nothing about this resembled Jerk chicken. which meant by default there is no authenticity, which in turn removed any chance of it being special. I did ask for ketchup with my chips, so at least I got the ‘famous sauce’ part – even my cat knows what Heinz is. The portion size was huge, which ordinarily is clearly a benefit, but in this case felt like a punishment. Again, it’s not nice to speak about food badly – but what I will say is this place has no clear direction of what cuisine they are trying to deliver, and it was like someone had just used ingredients already in the fridge even though they were wrong, and hoped nobody would notice. The chicken was soft and tender which provided some some comfort, the sauce was kind of peri peri if you squint and imagine being in rooster’s piri piri, but unfortunately, there was no hint of anything jerky.
Down: Mrs Plug ordered half mushroom topped chicken Parmesan, but all i can say is after a couple of bites, even she lost interest and turned her attention to coleslaw.
Down: Speaking of, who puts onions in their coleslaw??? Honestly, this just goes back to the fridge thing and using whatever you have. If they at least told you that was their plan, it would add some intrigue – mystery coleslaw with lucky dip ingredients – I would have been sound with that.
Up: The bill came to about £25 which was the small mercy of this bad decision – pretty much like how the person getting their head stuck in the tube would at least arrive at their destination 2 minutes earlier than if they waited for the next service.
Overall, with the amount of downs this experience had, I would suggest when looking for a place to eat on Wilmslow road, when you see this place, just keep walking – grab yourself a family bucket from Chicken Cottage, maybe a burger on the side and a milkshake from moonlight – then go home and eat your dinner in your PJ’s , whack on a comedy film and laugh till your heart’s content. That’s how to dodge the ‘what goes up must come down’ theory, for one more meal at least…