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Restaurant review: The Mandarin

Jonathan Schofield and the case of the lost £90

Written by . Published on December 2nd 2010.

Restaurant review: The Mandarin

WHAT could I have got with £90?

A flight to Amsterdam perhaps, lots of lovely books, loads of iTunes downloads, several pairs of jolly patterned Wellington boots, a digital camera, some dandy scarves, a small piece of original art, a saucy massage, a good shirt, 40 bacon sandwiches.

I could also – probably- have procured a jester with bells on his toes and a tickle stick with which to assault me and cry jovially in a camp voice, “you silly, silly man”.

That would have been better than the experience at the New Mandarin Restaurant in Victoria Street.

The restaurant’s website says of the interior: “An artistic blend of light and colour pleases the eye (f)rom our award winning window presentation to our stained glass, backlit ceiling, to our pillar of tropical fish.”

Arse-tistic more like. As for the pillar of tropical fish this comprises a picture of some fish printed on the kind of laminate you might find on a kitchen work-surface.

But the interior is sheer heaven compared to the food. This has two chief characteristics: dust and mush.

Dust was the starter of shredded lamb, which had lost most of the lamb flavour apart from the fatty, slimy, aftertaste that the beast can get if sat around too long chilling – and not chilling in a relaxing way either, more like in a dead whale beached on an Alaskan shore kind of way.

Mush was the rest. There were some rubbery prawns in some opaque goo for the other starter. Then there was a pair of oyster and pork mains which pushed mushiness to new levels and developed the oeuvre to such an extent that Milton Keynes University apparently now runs a course on the topic.

The oyster came with ginger and spring onion and the pork with seasonal vegetables. Aside from the gruesome oysters, there was hardly any flavour to these, just occasional random bits of heat, chewy meat, and radioactive levels of MSG.

Looking back the best parts of the meal were the lettuce that the lamb came with, the prawn crackers and the noodles. Problem is that a meal of lettuce, prawn crackers and noodles, may have appealed to early Methodists by virtue of its simplicity, but doesn’t make for a great, lush, 21st century dining experience.

We also had two bottles of wine, which in truth accounted for almost half the bill. There was a terribly plain Chateauneuf du Pape at £25 (worth £5) and something called Cape Promise Pinotage for about £16.50 which was worth £1.99. The latter was unusual in that it tasted of smoked haddock, a real first.

As for the service it was functional, amusing when the young waitress asked me if I’d like to try the wine and poured out a full glass.

Honestly folks, there’s nothing particularly nice in having to write all this.

But then there was nothing particularly nice about the experience in the Mandarin. Parts of the meal were offensive, at best it reached the level of poor take-away standard.

There are few moments when you play the theme to Hawaii Five-O in your head. Leaving the Mandarin was one, as we strode off with a spring in our step, happy to have escaped.

Rating: 6.5/20
Breakdown: 2/10 food
2.5/5 service
2/5 ambience
Address: New Mandarin
73-79 Victoria St
L1 6DE
0151 227 9011

Liverpool Confidential restaurant reviewers dine out unannounced and pay their own bills.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect, obviously

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12 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousNovember 9th 2010.

Totally agree with this review. We love Chinese food and recently took kids and mum-in-law there. It was embarrassingly awful in every sense - food, service, setting and atmosphere! What a shame - a total waste of time, energy and money! Don't go.

NickNovember 9th 2010.

Eating out in Liverpool just doesn't get any better, does it? You hear stories like this far too regularly (and from supposedly decent restaurants) for it not to be a city-wide problem.

But then maybe the city gets what it deserves...

DickNovember 9th 2010.

Nick, old sausage, do you know the meaning of the term "troll"?

MerseymikeNovember 9th 2010.

There are plenty of reasonable restaurants in Liverpool, and some which are very good. Clearly this isn't one of them.

FoodieNovember 9th 2010.

Mr Schofield, I do wish you'd stop beating around the bush and give it to us straight.

D. Nayland SmithNovember 10th 2010.

In the photograph it says "Sultan's Palace"! Is it the right photograph?

PeterNovember 10th 2010.

I have eated in the restaurant for over twenty years and this review just reads as a hatchet job, by the way the "pillar of tropical fish" is hand etched and coloured glass so if your review of the food is as bad is your description of "pillar of fish" you should stick to eating at burger king.

ADNovember 10th 2010.

Its a shame but the same review could be written about a great many of liverpool's chinese restaurants.

Jan KellyNovember 10th 2010.

I am not a Chinese food expect , but according to my dinning experience in this restaurant,I totally disagree with Mr. Schofield . I love chinese food and i always try different Chinese restaurants. However, Mandarin is always my first choice for Chinese meal.

I am a regular customer of this restaurant since 12 years ago when it was still down the street opposite the car park.
I am working in city centre and I go to Mandarin for Lunch regularly with my colleague. I also go there for dinner many times too with my family.

Their food is always fantastic, particularly their starters and duck (I would say their duck is the best that I ever had in Liverpool ). Their staff is always helpful and keep checking if we are okay.
As long as I remember , since my first visit 12 years ago, I never have any problem with their food nor their service. Therefore I really cannot understand why Mr. Schofield had such an unbelievable experience

What's the point for saying that 'how much I pay for it there and how much it actually cost' ? Everyone knows that drink in restaurant cost more than buying from Tesco. You can drink soft drink or tap water instead, can't you? When you order it, you already knew how much it was and you still chose to go ahead. That's your only will .

By the way, I am so curious that if the wine tasted rubbish, and the food was that bad, why didn't you tell the manager there or made a complain immediately?

Don't know if you guys have noticed that, but what I can see in the photo,the main course was not pork with seasonal vegetable as he said , that is obviously duck with seasonal vegetable (the right hand side one). I wonder how well Mr. Schofield knows about Chinese food if he cannot even tell the difference between duck and pork?

Agnes JonesNovember 10th 2010.

I have never been to this restaurant, so I have nothing to say about it. However, this review is too acerbic to be true. He even took photo from outside of the restaurant, worrying that people don't know which one he means! It seems that he is just taking a cheap shot at it.
Honestly, I would not drink two bottle of wine if I do not enjoy the meal. This is just so not convincing at all.

Yi Chyn ChanNovember 10th 2010.

I did not agree what Mr Schofield commented about the Chinese food in the Mandarin Restaurant. Firstly, I want to make correction that the main course was not pork with seasonal vegetable but is actually duck with seasonal vegetable. Despite I am not sitting there to have meal during that time, but I still can differentiate pork and duck from the picture. I was wondering how well to know of those kind Chinese food from Mr Schofield since he had awful experience in this Mandarin Restaurant.

Second, Mr Schofield had mentioned the bottle wine, Chateauneuf du Pape at £25 (worth £5) and Cape Promise Pinotage for about £16.50 which was worth £1.99. I felt that was funny! Frankly, even Tesco brand´s wines are not cheaper as that price you wrote. You can order soft drink or tap water when you think the price is expensive. But, why you still ordered wine? Did you get drunk? Two bottle wines you´ve chose! That´s hilarious!

Third, if you feel the food were not suitable or got some problems, you can tell the manager immediately but not silent all the time. You chose to write here, keep criticising the restaurant food, don´t you think you did in wrong way?

I am one of the customers to go to Mandarin Restaurant to have my dinner. The staffs are nice and helpful, the food are fantastic and tasty as well as the atmosphere is comfortable I feel when I been there.

Please think twice before criticise them because you will mislead others who read your article, and someone will miss up a choice who love Chinese food.

Fish you were hereNovember 11th 2010.

I wonder if this was a bad night and also your choice of wine was wrong for the food, maybe their choice of wine. I couldn't imagine wanting either of those wines with that food but that's my own taste. certain types of food will just ruin the taste of the wine. Could explain why it tasted of Haddock..Oysters, Prawns? I've never been to this place but have a few friends who are pretty much regulars. I know one of them when she and her colleagues have a staff night out they always go there. Quite a lot of them as well. I'd say to the two people above who are upset by this review,I don't see what Mr Schofield would have to gain by being so negative and if he had a bad experience that night,then so be it. It happens. If anything, it's made me want to try it for myself. I may even come back with a review.

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