Manchester has once again been brutally mocked by a footballer’s wife.
This time specifically aimed at the food scene. Sara Gündoğan (formerly Arfaoui), who married the Man City captain, İlkay Gündoğan, said in an Instagram Q&A that she had “tried so bad to find a good restaurant” but that Mancunian ‘ristorantes’ were focused on “making money with drinks and shot[s] like a nightclub” instead of serving quality food.
The Italian model has since been told to stop choosing restaurants on the basis of their Instagram appeal, after claiming food in her new northern English home town was “horrible” and “all frozen”.
Never afraid to have an opinion, renowned national food critic Jay Rayner defended the Manchester restaurant scene: “This is a ludicrous point of view. Manchester’s packed full of brilliant, independent restaurants.
“It’s an absolute gem of a place to eat and comments like this during difficult economic times are not helpful to businesses struggling to make ends meet.”
“We have two restaurants in Manchester & I’m genuinely delighted that footballers & their wives don’t come because I’d be questioning our offer if they did. Good taste & class is hardly synonymous with footballers wives & their leopard print themed cinema rooms,” he tweeted.
Ben Chaplin, whose food at the Black Friar gastropub was praised by Jay Rayner for being “profoundly beautiful and profoundly eatable”, said footballers’ wives tended to stick to a small number of restaurants with food designed more for Instagram than refined palates. He insisted Gundogan and his Mrs were welcome to visit, saying the ex-Manchester United captain Gary Neville was already a regular. “I don’t think they’ve looked for decent places. I think they’ve looked for places that look good on Instagram,” he said.
Simon Wood, the head chef of fine-dining restaurant Wood Manchester, said: “I’m going to call out Sara Arfaoui on the fact she hasn’t been to every restaurant in Manchester. I know for a fact she hasn’t been to mine. We do get frequented by some City players so they are obviously not chatting in the dressing room. She’s very welcome to come in and try us and if it’s not up to her standard she can come in the kitchen and show us how it’s done.”
Bev Craig, the leader of Manchester City Council, said Arfoui was talking “nonsense”, adding: “Manchester’s restaurant scene has been transformed over the last decade. That’s one of the reasons why, from Time Out to the Economist, Manchester consistently ranks as a top global city – so thousands of people across the world would disagree.”