M-Z: the second part of our alphabetical guide to the best of Manchester scran
It's not all Eccles cakes, Vimto and pie barms you know (though you'll find at least two of those below). Not read part one? Get to it, then continue your aimless gastronomical journey below...
M is for Mackie Mayor
The team behind Altrincham’s award winning market have been working with Muse Developments over the last couple of years to convert the historic Grade II listed former meat market, aka ‘Mackie Mayor’, into a contemporary, two-storey Northern Quarter market space. Bench-style seating for around 400 people will be surrounded by various market counters and kitchen units selling produce, street food, coffee and booze. Traders already confirmed for the project include: Fin Fish Bar, run by Alti market’s Tender Cow, Little Window from the people behind Honest Crust Pizza, Black Jack Brewery, Reserve Wines, Wolfhouse Kitchen and French rotisserie chicken specialists Nationale 7. They are scheduled to re-open in mid-September. Return of the Mack...
N is for New openings
Thanks to the perpetual onslaught of new opening news and our attempt at trying to keep up with it all, our poor writing team often has to go home and soak their tired fingers in an ice bath. Read our latest lowdown here, but among the 25+ places we know about, who are planning to open in Manchester by spring 2018, include several big wig London-based companies (D&D, The Ivy), an ocean of coffee and cocktails, basement bars, suburban independents making the move into town (Sugo) and even some street food vendors branching out into bricks and mortar (Eat New York, Hip Hop Chip Shop) plus an opulent pan-Asian restaurant complete with enormous suspended wingless dragons. Keep an eye on our New Opening section here.
O is for Oast House
After recently securing a long term lease from Manchester City Council, The Oast House, jointly owned by property developers Allied London and New World Trading Company, is set to stay. Since opening in Spinningfields in 2011, this hugely popular food-boozer was only ever meant to be temporary, but instead of being demolished, it is to undergo a dramatic redevelopment by Barcelona-based landscape architects Arriola & Fiolcome. By January 2018 its makeover will incorporate two permanent bars, heated canopies and a raised outdoor ‘fire pit’.
P is for Pie Barm
Wigan has its own culinary micro-culture where vinegar comes with everything and double carbohydrates are the norm. The Wigan Kebab is not just a meat and potato pie in a barm, but a way of life. Stand anywhere in Wigan and you’re never more than 100ft away from a pie shop apparently. The bread barm has a triple function; it protects your hands from the heat of the pie, soaks up any gravy and adds an extra layer of insulation to protect against wet Wigan winters.
Q is for Queue
There are a few places where you have to be prepared to queue to get good food and drink in Manchester. Popular neighbourhood gaffs such as Rudy’s Pizza or Seoul Kimchi which operate a no booking policy often have customers queuing out of the door, as do more niche venues like Chaology Japanese tea bar. Even the small Pollen Bakery in an archway behind Piccadilly train station has a line of people forming on Saturday mornings for fresh bread, pastries and speciality croughnuts.
Also worth a mention is the queue of London based operators waiting to open a branch in Manchester. After working from their Soho-based venue for twenty years, seafood celeb haunt Randall and Aubin chose Manchester as the venue for their second branch, and as we mentioned above, D&D and The Ivy are patiently waiting for their Manchester venues to go up in Spinningfields, while capital coffee chops such as Black Sheep Coffee and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs also have plans to open here in the next month.
R is for Rice 'n' Three
It seems that this famous institution is uniquely Mancunian; small canteen-style outlets which offer rice topped with three curries chosen from a selection of six or so. The traditional curry caff sprang up from a need to feed the hundreds of local garment industry workers who began arriving from the Indian sub-continent. You’ll find a smattering around the Strangeways area, but the beating heart is in and around the Northern Quarter where you’ll find boltholes where you can enjoy slow-cooked home-style curries, made from scratch.
Customers line up to choose from that day’s specials before adding their own garnish (usually raw onions, green chillies, fresh shredded ginger and chopped coriander) and finding some space to eat it. Each caff has a daily-changing set menu and many curry caff enthusiasts have their favourite day of the week at places like This & That, Al Faisal, Yagdar, Kabana and Maharba. All make fantastic chapatti, roti or naan breads too. Expect a delicious, no-frills feed for around a fiver and you’ll never look at a Meal Deal in the same way again.
S is for Street Food
Informal dining at festivals, events and markets has improved tenfold over the past few years and Manchester’s street food scene is absolutely buzzing right now. You can find everything from triple layered artisan burgers that’ll drip from wrist to elbow, to virtuous vegan dishes and food from almost every imaginable culture; Mexican, Malaysian, Taiwanese, Turkish and so on. Here's sixteen local street food traders (here and here) you should keep an eye out for.
T is for Manchester Tart
Apparently this sweet treat is based on the Manchester pudding, an earlier recipe by Mrs Beeton, the Victorian cookery writer, but we’ve always been a little confused as to what makes a shortcrust pastry shell, spread with raspberry jam, custard and coconut flakes, topped with a Maraschino cherry, particularly Mancunian. Some people even add a layer of thinly-sliced bananas under the custard. Perhaps it harks back to our mercantile history when goods from all over the world made their way over here. But then who cares, it's ace.
U is for Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls
Back to Wigan again, and apart from being famous for vinegar and pie barms (see above), it is the home of the famous peppermint sweets. Starting in 1898, William Santus and Company is now a fifth generation family confectionary business who make and ship out a range of traditional sweets all over the world. The early mint balls were originally made by William’s wife, Ellen, before production moved to a factory near Wigan’s Wallgate railway station in 1919. Their distinctive packaging, a sealed can with a logo of a smiling man in a top hat, is instantly recognisable and on 16 February 2011, the Dorning Street factory produced its two-billionth Uncle Joe's Mint Ball which was encased in resin and placed on display at the Museum of Wigan Life.
V is for Vimto
What would this list be without our trusty Vimto? The original recipe was invented in 1908, in Manchester’s Granby Row, by John Noel Nichols from Blackburn. It was first manufactured as ‘Vim tonic’; a healthy, non-alcoholic cordial containing grape, raspberry and blackcurrant juice flavoured with herbs and spices. It was so successful that they soon outgrew Granby Row and moved to a warehouse on Chapel Street Salford in 1910, then to Old Trafford in 1927 and finally to a state of the art plant in Wythenshawe, in 1971. Vimto is currently produced by Cott Beverages in Leicestershire and Yorkshire, but there’s a sustainable oak sculpture by Kerry Morrison entitled "A Monument to Vimto" marking the original spot on Granby Row.
W is for Warburtons
Warburtons family bakers was founded in Bolton in 1876 and the company now has a whopping 24% share of the UK bread market. After embarking on a significant expansion program in the late 1990’s, Warburtons products are currently the second-best selling food and drink brand in the UK after Coca-Cola - putting it ahead of famous British brands such as Cadbury's and Walker's. For much of its history Warburtons only had bakeries based in Lancashire, but due to the demands of mass production from supermarkets based all over the country, and the manufacture of bread, rolls, crumpets and potato cakes etc, they have opened new plants all over the UK. Not bad considering it all began from Ellen and Thomas Warburton’s small grocery shop.
X is for PintXos
Ok, so the X is not at the beginning this time, but it still counts thanks to Greater Manchester’s recent wholehearted embrace of Spanish and Catalonian cuisine. In the Basque Country, you are never served tapas, only 'Pintxo', from the verb 'pinchar', or 'to pierce' – usually with a cocktail stick. Some of the best can be found in Ramsbottom at Baratxuri (see, those Catalonians have more X’s than Katie Price) the second venue for the folks behind Levanter in the same town.
Y is for Yeast
We’re not short of fantastic bread in Manchester but as opposed to the mass-produced, fast track stuff spewed out by the market leader (see W above,) this time we’re talking slow-proved sourdough using only specially selected flour, salt and water. The yeast in this case is more the natural airborne variety and some of the best bread in the region can be found courtesy of artisan producers such as Pollen behind Piccadilly, Trove in Levenshulme, Blawd Bakery below Common, Campanio in Ancoats or Flour, Water, Salt, further away in Macclesfield.
Z is for Zero waste
Confidential predicts that this will be the next big thing in hospitality, with restaurants and their customers becoming more aware of the need to reduce food waste. The Real Junk Food Project Manchester intercepts waste food and makes nutritious meals for everyone, on a pay-as-you-feel donation basis and is poised to open their first permanent venue on Oxford Road. We’ve also just discovered ‘Too Good To Go’, a revolutionary new app which connects restaurants to customers to prevent any leftover food from being thrown away by offering it at a vastly reduced price at the end of the day.