10 - 12 Warburton Street, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6WA
East Didsbury's nightlife gets a bad rap sometimes. While its more bohemian sibling West Didsbury teems with independent restaurants, cafes, vintage shops and quirky bars, the larger East Didsbury has - save a couple of notable exceptions - become synonymous with charmless chain pubs and restaurants, and a general lack of imagination where food and drink is concerned. So when independent Venetian restaurant bar Cibo (pronounced 'chee-bo') opened up in the large two storey brick house formerly occupied by tapas chain restaurant La Tasca, we were excited to give it a go.
After being warmly greeted at the door, we were first shown to the bar to enjoy a drink while our table was prepared, where we perched on bar stools and took in our surroundings. The venue has a smart Mediterranean feel and is divided into two main areas; the bar with its high stools and tables, where couples and friends were enjoying drinks and bites of tapas, and the restaurant - with its comfortable booths, large wooden tables and leather seats for more formal dining. A spiral staircase leads upstairs to the galleried first floor, with more dining space and a large balcony wrapping itself around the length and width of the building. French doors along the front of the building let in plenty of natural light and - on sunny days like this - are opened onto the terrace, giving the place a real continental feel.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
We visited on a warm Friday evening, when the doors were flung open onto the terrace, and the place had a buzzing, holiday vibe with local residents of all ages enjoying the venue in different ways. A DJ playing great tunes in the corner give the venue a cool bar atmosphere - definitely the sort of place you could spend an entire evening.
The Food and Drink
CIBO is a true hybrid bar and restaurant, with a flexible, continental approach to dining. Whether you're looking for just drinks, drinks and cichetti (Italian style tapas), or a three course meal, everyone is welcome to enjoy the place for whatever kind of evening they choose. We took a stool in the busy bar and looked over the cocktail menu - which includes Venetian inspired treats such as the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto 421, Casanova's Weakness and the Venetian Breakfast. I've never been to Venice but I definitely like their approach to the most important meal of the day - vodka, campari, lemongrass and watermelon served martini style with a generous slice of watermelon. My companion went for the equally fruity Bella Mela Bellini; a delicious cinnamon apple concoction topped with Prosecco. Alongside the main cocktail menu there's also a selection of 'misty cocktails' made with dry ice to give a bubbling, witches cauldron effect. I tried the Nebbia di Fragola - translated as 'Strawberry Fog' which combined strawberry, lime and vodka with black pepper and dry ice, for some real hubble bubble in a glass. And speaking of bubbles, if you're in the mood for a drink and a few nibbles, CIBO do a great offer of a bottle of Prosecco and a cicchetti sampler platter for just £20.
Deciding that we needed to soak up some alcohol - and admiring the plates of food whizzing past us - we decided to order some for ourselves. Food is rustic and home made, using market fresh ingredients delivered every day. Six Ciccetti dishes are available at just £2 each - or one of each for a tenner. So obviously, we opted for the lot. The resulting plate of food offered six imaginative tastes of North Italy - the rubbery Scamorza cheese wrapped in juniper flavoured Speck ham and the Baccala Montecato - traditional Venetian dried cod - being particular highlights.
Straddling the gap between bar and restaurant, CIBO is a flexible drinking and dining space which caters well for everyone. Whether you're in the mood for a couple of drinks, a full blown dinner or something in between, CIBO will deliver. With its independent spirit and rustic approach to food it's breathed some much needed new life into East Didsbury's bar and restaurant scene, offering a great new hang out for locals - as well as a real reason for city dwellers to take the trip out of town. We'll definitely be back.