Year Of The Handy Man

12 Feb 2010 – Manchester Evening News – Review Tao’s Restaurant Review

Yakub Qureshi, Journalist for City Life and the Manchester Evening News carried out an independent review of Tao’s Restaurant in Prestwich which was recently refurbished by Luci Living Design.

We are pretty delighted about what he had to say about the style and quality of our work.

Article 

Something happens when you get into DIY. The world as you know it changes slightly. Some previously anonymous detail around the home – an unbalanced shelf, a wonky tile, loose pointing in the brickwork – take on new and Cyclopean proportions.

Like Neo in The Matrix, when he chooses the white rabbit, when you choose the spirit level, things will never be the same again.

Prestwich restaurant Tao’s provided ample distraction for fans of home improvement. The menu was nothing special.

But the craftsmanship had me weeping into my fortune cookies with envy.

The restaurant with its Chinese roof slates – a long standing landmark off Bury New Rd was re-launched four months ago following a swanky make-over.

Past the immaculately rendered exterior you are welcomed into a well-engineered showroom for the construction industry. Bars and upholstered booths carefully punctuate the smart dining space. Back-lit box partitions, reed wall mats and oak panelling create a Kill Bill-style dining space.

The menu – also beautifully typeset – covers the standard range of your average out-of-town Chinese restaurant: OK, sweet and sour sauces, pineapples, cashews and the like.

The specials were mostly made up of seafood, including seabass, scallops and the alarming-sounding cheese calamari.

Bizarrely, a series of ‘bird’s nest dishes’ appeared to derive their name from being served with a baked potato rather than the coughed-up glutinous saliva of a cave swift, used in Chinese cooking for centuries.

However, there were some nice touches such as a better-than-average choice of dim sum as well as a reasonable selection of wines.

Early reports about the revamped venue had not been kind – with some locals complaining about over-salty dishes. The enthusiastic seasoning seems to have been mostly corrected and I found the menu to be decent although uninspired.

And bless the staff, they were making an effort. The starters of spring rolls and beef dumplings were served with a flower petal carved out of melon.

The rolls had a light crispy texture and a pleasant five spice-aniseed kick, although they were still a bit salty.

I’m a big fan of dumplings and the steamed wonton packages of beef and cabbage did not disappoint, delivering a pleasingly glutinous sensation without being too heavy on the stomach.

We also sampled a bowl of chicken noodle soup. The clear broth of spring onions and greens had the equivalent of an entire chicken breast swimming in it. They clearly hadn’t scrimped on the portions.

Our shared mains were so-so. My friend’s crispy duck was not so crispy – more like a piece of Sunday roast – and the pancakes were somewhat warm. The shredded beef – with a pleasing chew-crunch texture and a sticky, sweet sauce – made up for this.

Despite my companion’s scintillating conversation, I spent the evening distracted by the clean lines of the floor tiles and the expertly applied grouting. How did they get everything so perpendicular? The newly installed toilets were immaculate.

The staff were friendly and attentive and the atmosphere relaxed.

While the 60-odd cover restaurant was eerily quiet for a Friday night – although a small trickle of couples came and went – we are still post-

Christmas, post-credit crunch, so hopefully business will pick up.

Not content with putting their eggs in a single basket, the owners of Tao’s have envisaged the revamped restaurant as something of a party space, with an upstairs floor boasting karaoke and private dining.

There is also outdoor patio seating for dining Al Fresco when it stops snowing.

Both are nice touches but I couldn’t help thinking it a shame more time hadn’t been invested in the menu. With a vast concentration of Chinese restaurants in Manchester, it was always going to be hard for Tao’s to bring something new to the table. If you are on the hunt for authentic regional Chinese cuisine, try the excellent Red And Hot on Faulkner Street.

If I lived near Tao’s, I would certainly recommend giving it a go. If not, I’d certainly ask for the name of their building contractor.