"The area around Burton Road and Lapwing Lane in West Didsbury offers arguably the best collection of restaurants in Manchester. Predominately independent family ran affairs with barely room to shake a crab stick, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in mainland Europe. And this description could also be used for the excellent Bistro West 156.
With little over 20 covers, and an equally small service team, it has that rustic, friendly 'eating in somebody's front room' feeling that you often find in France, Holland, Belgium and Italy. Having just spent 15 days cycling down the Rhine, Bistro West 156 was like an extended holiday in the Alsace for us. The place was packed (if indeed the collective term for 20 diners is a pack), yet the very friendly waitress, found space for us and made us feel very welcome.
The European feel continued with the menu - both in choice of dishes and price. The 2 course set dinner menu was ridiculously cheap at just £14.95 (3 courses for £16.95) and I couldn't help but realise I'd spent almost twice that amount on one ungarnished steak at Brasserie Blanc just a few days earlier. This realistion returned later when my 8oz Chargrilled Rib Eye Steak arrived, complete with mushroom & black pepper cream sauce, delicious homemade chunky chips, beer battered onion rings and vegetables. It also tasted far better than the one I had spent so much more on at Raymond Blanc's Manchester establishment.
The quality of the food was consistently impressive all night - the Baked Field Mushroom topped with Cheese & Ale Rarebit on dressed leaves was fantastic as was the perfectly cooked French style Duck Leg Confit, served with a delicious creamy mash, braised red cabbage, root vegetable puree, and honey & orange glaze. What's more, all the ingredients were sourced locally and apparently organic. The desserts were also gorgeous and generous in size - the Baked Banana Cheesecake with Honeycomb Ice Cream & Toffee Sauce was worth the trip alone, whilst the Warm Sticky Ginger Parkin, with Rhubarb Ice Cream & Treacle Syrup was perfect for this Autumnal evening.
Whilst Bistro West 156 certainly know how to offer delicious dishes, fantastic friendly service and an inviting ambience, I'd question their business acumen. Using the theories of supply & demand, I'm confident every one of their customers would have been more than happy to pay a lot more for the massive portion sizes of superb food and great wines, but then again that's one of the reasons we love this place - the European charm of a love in what they do rather than 'selling out' for the love of making money. Besides, who are we to preach? We spend more reviewing restaurants than what we actually charge them to be listed on this website!" - Restaurants Of Manchester 29/10/08 (visited on a wednesday evening)