Really surprised at the positive reviews seen here. I've been on several occasions with friends in the last couple of years, and we've agreed it's inconsistent in quality, but the most recent trip put the nail in Sweet Mandarin's coffin for us. On arrival the place was more than half empty yet we were given a table at the door - freezing. We asked for another and were seated right next to the loos - just unnecessary, as there were no major bookings. Drinks - we went for the cocktail menu as it was a special occasion - this was a mistake. Our first choices met with 'we haven't got the ingredients'; second choices - lukewarm (never had a non-chilled cocktail), ice-free and blatantly a readymade syrup mix. They came without the fresh lime/lemon described (and needed - they tasted vile) and on asking for a slice of lime - none of this either (really??) and offered, ahem, cordial. So - cocktails were awful at £6.50 starting price.
Food - nice starters of S&P tofu/spring rolls, but staff interrupted our eating and conversation about 4 times asking if they could be taken away (in about a 10 minute period). We clearly hadn't finished - even had a comedy tug-of-war on the last occasion. This was typical of careless and unwelcoming service throughout, from seating to ordering and to the bitter end...
Mains dumped unceremoniously in the wrong places were underwhelming and about half the size/half the remembered amounts/variety of fresh veg and seasonings they were a year ago. And lukewarm. I have had so much better, livelier food at many of Manchester's cheap & cheerful takeaways - and never seen a single portion of steamed broccoli at £6.50.
By the end of the meal we were as keen to go as the staff seemed for us to leave - which is still a mystery as the place was still more than half-empty and we were a party of 3. I was annoyed that service charge had already been added to the (hefty) bill as I would not have added more than a token round-up (out of habit). We paid up anyway, and to add insult to injury a member of staff - before we had our coats on - blocked our exit counting out and checking money and bill, note by note and item by item, at the table. I've never seen that before and I have been about a bit. Not even a 'goodnight' on the way out. We really aren't going back. But I don't think they care.
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