Wings (July 2004)
It takes some courage to open a new Chinese restaurant in the heart of Manchester. The city already has dozens of decent and one or two superlative places to go, catering for all kinds of budgets and appetites. Newly opened Wings, housed in what used to be The Lincoln, is thus a pretty brave venture. The Lincoln was ritzy and a lot of money has been spent transforming it into an equally upmarket Oriental-style eaterie with lots of brown leather chairs and pastel murals on the wall depicting pandas and Chinese scenes. The staff are exquisitely dressed and the service is sensational. But in the end all that is just so much window dressing if the food doesn't deliver.
Proprietor Mr Wing has a good track record. He already runs a very successful restaurant of the same name in Cheadle, which buzzes with customers and families enjoying a night out. This is a very different market. They are obviously aiming big-style for executive business so the menu is mainstream Cantonese. Not much to frighten the horses and no visits to the wilder shores of Chinese cooking, like duck's web or fried intestines. But of its kind, it's excellent stuff. Seafood dim sum at £6.80 features seaweed, a prawn and ginger dumpling, prawn sesame toast and a piece of sushi-style fish. There's also the usual range of soups at £3.90 apiece and aromatic crispy duck with pancakes starting at £8.90 for a quarter portion. Spare ribs and deep-fried squid also feature. Mains check in at about £9 each (add another £4 for seafood). You might try the lamb, ginger and spring onion in a clay pot or Hot Shanghai sliced lamb, which comes replete with chillies and onions. and was crisp and tasty - if not that hot. The cheaper cuts in the one-pot dishes (there's brisket and belly pork on this list) might be worth a go as the ingredients here are all excellent quality.
Those on a large budget can have the like of quick-fried scallops and Dover sole and baked lobster with ginger and spring onion. Seafood chow mein is £9.90. House wines are very reasonable indeed - a spicy white, ideal with Chinese food, is just £12.90. House reds the same. At the other end of the scale, Bollinger is £44 a bottle and Sancerre £23 -- neither an outrageous mark-up. More than can be said for the off-menu steamed pak choi, which is a way over-the-top £6.90. But that's a minor quibble. Wings deserves to take off as a lot of investment and thought has clearly gone into its establishment. There's a lot of competition out there but it would make a great place to go for a romantic meal or special occasion lunch or dinner.
1 Lincoln Square
Tel: 0161 834-9000
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