Lord, but the roads are quick at night. Mere minutes after leaving the Palace Hotel and the Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards dinner, I'm back at my desk with disappointment dwelling in my heart.
Despite the apparent best efforts of everyone at the Festival, the food and service at the Palace were absolutely shocking. If that's what they do to impress Manchester's hospitality high fliers - not to mention the Hairy Bikers - I dread to think what's on the menu at the annual industry bash for, say, the people who make plastic, or sell air conditioning.
Nevertheless, some joy was available. As ever, I was on the judging panel for the awards and although not all my first choices picked up gongs, it's lovely to see some hard graft, clever thinking and good cooking being rewarded. And the winners are:
Retail outlet: Barbakan, Chorlton
Healthy and sustainable: Gabriel's Kitchen
Coffee bar and casual dining: Folk, West Didsbury
Family friendly: Dough (presented, masterfully, to strains of Kylie and Robbie's Kids)
Wine list: Gaucho (presented by Corrie's Anthony Cotton, who said "I'm going to burp, sorry. After one bottle, they all taste the f*cking same")
Pub: The Lass O'Gowrie
Newcomer: Damson, Heaton Moor
Chef: Ian Matfin, Abode
Restaurant: The Modern
Henrietta Green, who was sitting next to me, rather sweetly enquired who Noddy Holder was when he took the stage to give the lifetime achievement award to George Bergier. Quite rightly, the silver charmer got a standing ovation as he extolled the virtues of education, service and product knowledge. Perhaps he could take The Palace in hand.