“The food is good, but it’s the atmosphere you go for” – that’s the consensus on this “beautifully decorated” city-centre outpost of the ever-successful San Carlo franchise (occasionally “abrupt” service notwithstanding).
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I am a bitter, cynical man with much to be bitter and cynical about. I read about a glossy chain of Italian restaurants, the Manchester branch of which is a favourite among footballers and John Prescott, and alarm bells go off. Jimmy Carr tweets from there to tell the world what a lovely time he's having. None of these things make me want to run in bellowing 'I'll have what they're having'. This is because I'm a snob. When I hear that this Manchester branch of the empire claims a turnover – around £170,000 in good week – which puts it on a par with the Wolseley as the highest grossing dining spot in Britain, the alarms are joined by flashing lights. It makes proper money? Something must be wrong. And when I take a look at the menu and discover it is slightly longer than one of Peter F Hamilton's space operas (a reference for sci-fi buffs who will nod knowingly; the rest of you just need to be aware that Hamilton's books are breeze-block thick) I start locking the doors and drawing the curtains. A chain like that can't be good.