Palmiro, Whalley Range restaurant review

Palmiro, Upper Chorlton Road, Whalley Range. Tel: 0161 860 7330

Palmiro, Upper Chorlton Road, Whalley Range. Tel: 0161 860 7330

Is it just me or do others find it really irritating when people keep recommending various restaurants all the time? Ooh! It's REALLY good they enthuse. You MUST go. And when you are finally granted a table within the hallowed portals of this esteemed eaterie you wonder why you bothered. So excuse me if I am going to jaw on like the above mentioned about how really fabulous Palmiro was and how you MUST go. A friend of mine said a visit a couple of months prior to ours was disappointing, but maybe they've tightened up their act because when we went, it felt like a celebration.

Palmiro has been around for six years now, but warrants another look as it only recently built an extension onto the original premises still surprisingly on the Whalley Range/Chorlton border - though its existence has encouraged others to follow suit and there's now a nice little bar next door. It bills itself as a trattoria, but instead of designing a menu around the usual suspects like pizza, lasagne and spaghetti bolognaise, the cooking is rustic while refined.

This is down to owner Stefano Bagnoli, who have conjured up something rather magical, a local restaurant not necessarily for local people. It's simply decorated without making you feel that they didn't have the cash to make it swanky, somewhere you might imagine dressing up in white linen suits on hot summer days to pretend you're in Tuscany. But you're not. It's cold, and

Palmiro shows it can deliver the sort of food you crave in the deep mid-winter too, warm and comforting, but a million miles away from the meat and two veg and stodgy pudding that becomes the norm on menus at this time of the year.

Because we are the moaners we asked if we could have a table beside the wall rather than in the middle of the room and our wish was swiftly granted. After that, we could find little to moan about until they forgot one of the starters, but then promptly had its price swiped off the bill in an impressive show of customer care.

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The bill of fare changes with the seasons so we started with a brown shrimp and bay leaf tagliatelle and a garden pea and mint risotto. The shrimps were those little tiny ones you get locally and really pack some flavour while the pea and mint risotto was delicate in contrast, but no less memorable. A main of Sicilian marinated sea bass was impressive while a grilled mushroom starter with caciocavallo cheese was transformed into a main with truly fresh and lively side dishes of fine green beans with garlic, rocket, Parmesan and sunblushed tomatoes and chickpeas and spinach, the latter a kind of broth that could easily be eaten alone for lunch with a hunk of bread and glass of wine.

Our waitress demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of wine in relation to the food and I'm afraid to say that we were so impressed with the drinks menu that we found it hard to stop at a fabulous bottle of Lacryma Christi Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio 2004. So we didn't.

We had another and pudding wines to accompany divine desserts, a fruits parfait and sticky chocolate torte with true vanilla sauce, then Grappa with our final cheese course. It all came to �50 a head, but we had pushed the boat out and I have no hesitation in saying that

I'll be pushing the boat out there again as soon as I get rid of my post-Christmas spare tyre(s).

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