Updated: Saturday, 19th January 2019 @ 5:38pm

Review: Kro @ Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

Review: Kro @ Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

By James Toney

King Erik Klipping was my sort of King. It could be argued he was a visionary, a man of his people, even if history books rather unkindly recall him as untrustworthy (a bloke named Stig viciously slayed him for sleeping with his wife).

But Erik is a man with a legacy - worried about his marching army, he demanded that for every mile of land travelled an inn should be built to provide decent food, drink and a place to rest.

These 13th century establishments, with their thatch roofs and half-timbered walls, can still be found across Denmark and are known as kro.

I was a weary traveller myself this week, but I wasn't in Ærøskøbing or Ebeltoft or Ribe. I was in Manchester, home of Piccadilly Garden's Kro Bar - exactly the sort of place Erik didn't have in mind when he made his rather inspired royal decree.

Apparently Kro Bar prides itself on good food, good beer and a warm welcome. Three counts on which it spectacularly failed on my visit.

It's bright lighting gives it all the charm of a polytechnic refectory in the 1960s, don't expect any half-timbered walls either, just high ceilings, exposed concrete, wonky tables and uncomfortable chairs.

The bartender's personal skills did not mark him out for a future career in sales, he yawned three times and looked at his watch twice in the time it took to pour a flat pint of Amstel. 

The seafood risotto had a striking resemblance to a recently soiled baby's nappy - and it didn't smell much better either.

Nothing wrong with smoked fish but those destined for this dish had clearly been weened on Lambert and Butler.

Beneath the sloppy watery mess, I excavated a generous two rings of squid, which had the texture of a Pirelli tyre.

Six mussels had been scattered across this sorrowful soup, three were unopened, their contents having had the good sense not to surrender themselves to such a sad end.

Those that were edible were as emaciated as a supermodel and grittier than a Glaswegian cop drama. Or perhaps it was that chip from the side of the plate that I'd mistakenly masticated.

Risotto is not a hard dish - it's about technique, good stock, a lot of butter and a generous fist of parmesan cheese. Seafood risotto also requires something radical like, er, seafood.

Incidentally, many kro in Denmark were often run by the local vicar, on this evidence Manchester's equivalent certainly needs some divine intervention.

Main image courtesy of Treevis, with thanks.

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