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Food and Drink Reviews

Opulence, Celebs And Football Players - But Is The Food In San Carlo Any Good?

We tried their signature lobster dish

You've probably heard of the Manchester institution that is San Carlo. There doesn't seem to be a day that goes by without a celebrity or football player being photographed leaving the popular Italian restaurant. 

Rihanna has eaten there as have Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Russell Crowe. On any given night you'll find plenty of City or United players hanging out there with recent arrivals Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba already big fans. 

In short if you are famous, good at sport or have plenty of cash then San Carlo is probably the first place you are going to end up getting a bit of grub in Manchester.

But is it any good? Or is it all just style over substance? We headed along for a spot of lunch to find out...

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The room itself is buzzing with waiters (90% middle aged Italian men) carrying vast trays of seafood, pasta and meats out to tables with huge dramatic flare. The room feels like full theatre production is taking place as you are whisked past the gorgeous seafood bar and your jacket is removed and dispatched without you missing a step.

The tables are all white linen and nothing seems to have been left to chance when it comes to the set up. The crowd is very much a mixture of business folk, people out for a celebratory lunch (anniversaries, birthdays and graduations) with pretty much everybody in the room well-dressed. 

While the prices aren't over the top the clientele obviously see San Carlo's as a place to come and celebrate something (United help their title celebration party here in 2009.) Flutes of Champagne were popping up at tables all around me.

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I started with the carpaccio of Octopus and tuna. Both tasted as fresh as seafood possibly could and were a wonderful light start to the meal. Exactly what a starter should taste like. Not filling you up but a little slivers of deliciousness whetting the appetite for what was to come. 

For mains I plumed for the lobster pasta. This is the signature dish here and has been for over a decade. If I had to eat nothing else but this meal 3 times a day for the coming decade I'd be a happy man. Perfectly cooked fresh pasta, huge meaty chunks of lobster and a rich tomato sauce topped off with a little cream. This is what living and eating out is all about. Forget the gluten-free trends, the vegan desserts and the clean eating. When I go out and treat myself I want something like this lobster dish. An absolute triumph cooked and served by true professionals. 

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You can see why the rich and the famous like to come here and eat. The room is absolutely buzzing in a way that not many other restaurants achieve. The food is spectacular, over the top and all served with panache and theatre. You feel good about yourself while sitting here and being taken care of. 

The whole thing came to £35 with a large bottle of water and an espresso which is not expensive by any means when you consider the quality of the offering. 

We should all be dubious about celebrity culture in our world right now as it often means fake, tacky and lacking in quality. On this occasion though the celebrities have got it absolutely spot on. The food and service and experience in San Carlo speaks for itself. It has done for over a decade. 

If you have any sort of special occasion coming up do book it now. A superb treat.

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READ NEXT: 15 Unique Places to Book Your Manchester Christmas Party This Year

Written By

Niall Harbison

Niall founded Lovin' Dublin with a few fairly simple aims: discover new places to eat in Dublin and share simple recipes cooked up in his kitchen.

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