We all know I love a doing a review, I get to have a look at a new place or try a new product and then dish the dirt or rave about it to everyone, so when I heard the corn exchange were looking for bloggers I didn’t hesitate to get in touch. This time however it wasn’t my opinions they were interested in (I know can you believe it!) the corn exchange wanted my children to test out the food and be the stars of their menu, both on paper and in video. One quick mention of a film crew and the boys were more than delighted to join in, having helped mummy with reviews on numerous occasions before they were happy that his time I could help them.
We headed over to Manchester in hunt of the corn exchange. Despite frequently visiting Manchester for the shopping, the Christmas markets and concerts I had never heard of the Corn Exchange and was unsure where it was. Once we found it I was astounded that I hadn’t fallen up on it sooner. It can only be described as a hidden gem in plain sight. From the outside looking in it appears to be an office block across the road from the Print Works, round the corner from the MEN and on the edge of the shopping area, the ideal location, yet tranquil and calm, hidden from sight and safe from the hustle and bustle of Manchester.
On arrival we were met by the film crew, a bizarre experience. But they soon put us at ease and explained what would happen, basically order food and drink whilst be filmed and let the children be honest, eeeek!!!! I was truly wondering if they had ever dinned with a 3 year old and a fussy 6 year old before and I’ll admit I was slightly nervous.
The restaurant we had been allocated was Gino’s, an Italian restaurant owned by Gino D’acampo and one I had wanted to try for a while. On entering the restaurant, it was clear that it was smart and sophisticated, somewhere you could romantically dine as a couple or have a family gathering, however I was still unsure about having the children with us. We were seated across from the open plan kitchen were the chefs genuinely looked to be enjoying their jobs.
I needn’t have worried about the children as every member of staff was engaging with them and explaining the menu to them as well as to us. For those cynics out there that think this may have been for the cameras, don’t, as they were the same with all the families that entered throughout the afternoon.
We were all given a menu and told that there wasn’t a childrens menu as such, instead you choose from the adults menu and get half the size for half the price. What a fabulous idea, too often restaurants assume that your child wants chicken nuggets and chips but this enables then to go for pizza or pasta like mine did or for those children who enjoy trying new foods they can order a child friendly portion.
We ordered a children size spaghetti bolognaise, a pepperoni pizza, a carbonara and a crab linguine from the specials that came recommended by the waiter. Whilst we were waiting we were served our drinks. I ordered a carrot and celery juice and wow it was fantastic, something I had never tried before but would definitely order again as it was delicious.
The food was amazing, my crab linguine was fresh, light and full of flavour and luckily for me my children refused to try it. Unfortunately, my husband was not as luckily and not only did the boys want to try his carbonara but our youngest decided that he needed to help daddy eat all his dinner. Despite eating his dads carbonara he also enjoyed his own bolognaise and our eldest thoroughly enjoyed his pizza asking when we could go again before we had even left!
One of the touches that I liked most about the restaurant was the menu and how Gino has added little one liners about why he or his children added a particular dish to the menu, why they like it or what inspired it, along with the recipe book it is published in and the page number so you can go away and we create your favourites at home.
All in all Gino’s was a huge success, not only would I say it is a family friendly restaurant with wonderfully tasty food and a relaxed feel in a prime location I would also say that it could be as equally impressive for a romantic meal or group celebration.
If you are ever in Manchester, especially with the little ones in school holidays, then I would recommend that you visit the Corn Exchange and make a bee line for Gino’s.
If Italian is not your first choice worry not as there are a selection of eateries to try and if you would like to see what else is on offer and see what our rather beautiful mini food critics had to say then please click here
One last thing leave room for pudding, always leave room for pudding…….