It had been a little while since my last visit to Hispi. In truth, although I'd enjoyed my meal there (and of course, seeing my name on the wall), I hadn't really felt the urge to come rushing back. Admittedly I do have a general preference for trying new places when possible (you can blame this site for that) so that's not unusual for me. Given I had a planned trip to Manchester on a sunny April Saturday morning, it seemed an ideal opportunity to book for a return lunch on the way back with my wife and two young children.
Parking directly outside the restaurant is still a little bit dicey, but this time we wisely deposited our car just around the corner where there's a pay and display car park with plenty of space. The welcome on arrival was warm and they had a high chair ready at the table for our baby son as per my reservation notes (always a good sign). We were seated by the front window which I would say is a nice spot; the restaurant as a whole is still a decent space and a very pleasant place to enjoy a meal. It was even nice to see some past Elite Bistro team members on the toilet doors; a quirky touch.
I think the biggest change since my last visit is they now offer the full carte menu (well almost, minus the famed custard tart sadly) for lunch. That's a positive step in my view and certainly a sign of a good restaurant in my experience; lunch menus are often great value but I generally prefer to treat myself to the carte when possible. After a very nice 'House G&T' lunch began for me with the blackened mackerel fillet, complete with a variety of lovely accompaniments including pickled apple, lettuce and seaweed. It was a stunner, a delightful starter and the perfect dish for a summery day, I loved it. My wife wasn't quite as blown away with her tomato soup but she still very much enjoyed it.
There was a little bit of a wait for the mains, not huge but my daughter had finished her fish goujons and chips (which she very much enjoyed) before they arrived. It was just about worth the wait though as my nicely chargrilled pork chop was very tasty, complete with lettuce and pickled rhubarb. My wife too made favourable noises as she munched on her main of duck with potatoes, parsnips and mushrooms; it was a very accomplished plate of food.
Desserts, in truth, were not quite as strong as what had gone before. Whilst my wife's hazelnut praline with almond meringue biscuit looked pretty enough, it didn't pack a great deal of flavour. Conversely, my dessert of vanilla doughnuts, lime yoghurt, brown sugar jelly and a mint granita was very tasty but did lack a bit of visual refinement compared to my previous dishes. My daughter's shortbread with dipping chocolate was very, very basic, even for a kids menu. I think that was a general theme to be honest for the kids menu; although it's nice to have a menu at all, it seems very much an afterthought. It would be good to have a couple of starters on there and some better desserts. But alas, I suppose you can't have everything when you're five years old (well, not in every restaurant anyway).
And that was pretty much that. I think the food has improved since my last visit and is was pretty good last time, so that's a plus, and of course it's a welcome step to be able to eat from the carte at lunch. The service too is still good, we were well looked after, although they did charge me 50p extra for my dessert somehow (they put down carrot cake instead of doughnuts) but hardly worth making a fuss over that (and yes, I still left a tip).
Overall, there's very little negative you can say about Hispi; they've got a formula that they know works and they're implementing it successfully. Long may it continue; I'll certainly be back and look forward to my next dose of tasty food with good service.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||Listed||3|