Skip to main content

11th April 2016

Review: Gino D’Acampo, Corn Exchange

Eva Katz investigates the extent to which this celeb chef’s restaurant is to be celebrated

An exceptionally busy restaurant at 5:30 on a Monday evening seemed like a good omen. Gino D’Acampo’s addition to the newly refurbished Corn Exchange bubbled over with chatter and the clink of glasses, while those surrounding it were only just beginning to fill their tables. From the menus to the stools, nearly everything was doused in a chic shade of Tiffany blue, which contrasted beautifully to the bare wood tabletops. We were seated in the wine bar, a view of the square behind us, the outside light beamed in on the otherwise sultry restaurant lighting.

Despite these serene colours, there was no harmony between the backdrop and that that took place within it. Originally, this dining experience was supposed to be a leisurely one. But our waiter resembled a rabbit in the headlights, and flitted from table to table seemingly failing to please any one of them. Hundreds of photos with Gino lined the walls, his sparkling eyes staring out at diners, gleaming in the blue neon signage. The majority of the staff were also Italian; however, that’s where the similarities end, otherwise, they couldn’t be further from the celebrity chef’s rather camp and approachable demeanour.

From the moment we ordered our drinks, the veil of the polished interior began to lose its glimmer. You’d have thought Prosecco and water was a rather simple drinks order. Rather no fuss, but also one that gives the server an inkling to the nature of your visit: Clearly some kind of celebration or special occasion. So when your starters are placed before you prior to your thirst being quenched it’s difficult to not feel a little saddened by this basic failure. To make matters worse, when the Prosecco finally arrived, it fizzed not in a sleek flute, but a rather all-engulfing wine glass.

Working in a restaurant under the umbrella of an advocate for classic, simple Italian specialities, you’d think that the chefs here had an easy ride, with a clear emphasis on fresh ingredients, naturally, doing half the work. Unfortunately, a lack of attention to detail really let the restaurant down. Our bruschetta was ill-prepared: The ciabatta had not been toasted and the toppings had merely been thrown on; the flavours of the ensemble simply hadn’t been given the chance to merge.

To follow, I selected the rather plain-sailing dish of risotto with scallops. The scallops themselves were well cooked, retaining the slight saltiness of their origins. The risotto, however, was less than satisfactory. Underseasoned and undercooked, I was forced to ask the table next to us to pass the salt and pepper (since our own were nowhere to be seen). My guest’s Buffalo Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato salad, too, might have seemed like a rather manageable demand. Yet, once again, attention to detail faltered, leaving the rather inoffensive yet unimpressive dish begging for more. The missing pecorino, the mozzarella too fresh from the fridge and a rather sparse offering of walnuts and sundried tomatoes did nothing to sweeten our souring palettes.

All in all, Gino D’Acampo’s restaurant left me eager to leave; even the bill was forgotten and in the end I had to corner another frantic-looking waiter who didn’t even give the opportunity to recount the experience. Apart from the celebrity chef’s presence within the photos that cover every inch of the walls, there is nothing of the cheeky, relaxed Italian charm that brought him fame to be found here. Prior to the visit, the reasonable prices had lured me to this selection; however, the extent to which the restaurant has cut corners in order to reduce costs is now stark naked before me.

More Coverage

Another tequila bar lands in Manchester, as Casa Pomelo opens its doors in Freight Island

Casa Pomelo delivers an array of tequila-based cocktails, with George Clooney’s ‘Casamigos’ as the main ingredient

The Alchemist Cosmic Supper Club review: Unlocking celestial delights

The Alchemist have launched an exciting new way to experience their magic with the new Cosmic Supper Club

Brunch at Santé: A slice of sun

Santé offers the perfect spot for a sunny al fresco brunch, topped off with student-budget friendly deals and a brilliantly Mediterranean inspired menu

Giving ‘Too Good To Go’ a go!

Is ‘Too Good To Go’ the sustainable, money saving app that students need to download?