Our writers and staff choose their favourite meals from October
ANOTHER month, another round of dishes that held our taste buds to ransom. The Manchester Confidential writing staff (and lesser-spotted species from the likes of social media and technical) share their favourite dishes from October.
Honey Roast Char Sui Cantonese Style, Man Tsuen Ho's, Liverpool (£11.50)
On a recent trip to Liverpool I visited Man Tsuen Ho's, the new Chinese restaurant on Nelson Street that looks like it's been there forever. I ordered the honey roast char sui cantonese style (£11.50). Dressed simply in soy sauce, this was an utter knockout with no bells and whistles needed. When the pork is properly tended to and the moisture of the meat kept locked in it almost takes on the texture of velvet, and this was a sublime example. The deep red hue on char sui is one of the most enticing sights in food for me, and can you really beat a classic? Not here you can't, as this was comfortably the best char sui I've ever eaten.
The flavours of the pork alone would have been enough, but then they nearly tipped me over the edge with the soy sauce. I've obviously been shopping from the wrong shelves as this soy wasn't your kitchen cupboard, flatly salty sauce. It was a deep concoction of sweet, slightly plummy notes that when added to a char sui with its own subtly sweet flavours was as satisfying a main as you could have, but with a giddy sugar rush all of its own.
David Adamson @davidadamson123
Jam roly poly with custard, Annie’s (£7.75)
I’ve not had a jam roly poly in about a decade and a half. Which is surprising actually, as, when I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of it. About once a fortnight we’d be given it as a pudding at school and I’d wolf it down, scraping the plate to get the last remnants of strawberry jam and custard.
I popped into Annie’s earlier this week and those childhood memories came flooding back in the form of a very rustic and festive-looking pud. Served with hot custard, a generous dollop of extra jam and a light dusting of icing sugar, this traditional British dish had me craving a cosy armchair in front of a log fire.
Harley Young @Harley__Young
Archchi's cauliflower bites, The Old Fire Station (£12.50)
It’s dish of the month and find of the month at The Old Fire Station. This sits in a very handsome building over the road from Salford Museum and Art Gallery on the Crescent. There’s excellent beer from the inhouse Lark Hill Brewery in the building and a sourdough bakery too.
The plan is to have pop-ups for food but at present and until March there’s the excellent Archchi. This is run by two lovely folk Chloe and Mark. Chloe is from Blackburn with a British dad and a Sri Lankan mum, Mark is from the East Midlands and Cheadle is their base.
They started cooking food inspired by Chloe’s heritage during lockdown in a Nottinghamshire village and advertised a curry Friday. Soon there were socially distanced queues of appreciative diners stretching from their village to the next with tongues lolling, mouths watering.
All the food is good but Archchi's cauliflower bites (£6) are at once and instantly the best cauliflower dish in the city. They are gently spiced and cooked tender not loose, just so, with a fabulous sambol, a traditional Sir Lankan relish that comes with parsley and coconut. The sambol lifts and invigorates. Next time I watch a match on TV I want a big bowl of these to munch during the game.
Jonathan Schofield @jonathschofield
Cured monkfish, celeriac, buttermilk and dill dressing, Restaurant Örme (£9)
There are sure signs of a new restaurant ‘shooting for the stars’. Not least a swift Michelin recognition but, while it surprised few that higher profile city centre Higher Ground was one of 15 establishments elevated to the UK Guide last month, the other Greater Manchester addition came out of leftfield. Especially to those who might regard Urmston as Ultima Thule for a meal out. Still two nominations (newcomer of the year and neighbourhood venue) in the 2023 Manchester Food and Drink Awards consolidate the real impact Örme has made since only opening in May.
My own extra judging criteria are twofold – a shelf full of cutting edge cookbooks (that have influenced the team) and the presence on the premises of a pet dog named after fermented soybeans. OK, maybe not the second, but it was a pleasure out in the yard to shake paws with Miso the shiba inu pup, who belongs to chef Jack Fields and sommelier partner Rachel Roberts. The pair launched Örme with co-chef Tom Wilson in the boys’ native ‘hood, offering £45 tasting menus. I trekked out (on a day when floods took out the railway line, bless) to sample the four course £35 Saturday lunch version, where the dish that caught my eye was an add-on of cured monkfish for a £9 supplement. Brief hesitation since the second course, after seriously good snacks, had been a cod in bisque but this dip in the deep was quite different, the pickled celeriac adding punch to the delicately dressed, diaphanous monkfish wafers. Very Nordic. On my return home it had impressionable me diving for my own copy of the Noma Book of Fermentation.
Neil Sowerby @AntonEgoManc
Pork broth combo Bun Bo Hue, The Mekong Cat (£12.50)
I’m not a fan of liquid based food. Soups, broths, stews – I usually can’t be bothered. Too much faff, too much concentration required, too much slurping. However after a recent visit to the excellent Mekong Cat in Stockport I was forced to eat my words. Or slurp them down even.
Bun Bo Hue are the most popular Vietnamese noodles after Pho and after a big bowl of this stuff I can see why. With lemongrass, chillies, garlic, shrimp paste, mint and a whole array of meats (sliced pork, braised brisket, Vietnamese ham) this dish really packed in the flavour. Along with the noodles and various accompanying vegetables there’s a lot going on here but it all blends together perfectly. The level of spice was just what I love, that fiery heat that gets the mouth tingling but enhances rather than takes away from the taste. This is South East Asian food worth taking your time for.
Jake Ogden @Mancogden
Buffalo chicken wings, The Blues Kitchen (£12.25)
The Blues Kitchen isn't an obvious lunch venue but it works for me, with its nicely dimmed yellow lighting, plenty of space and, well, 'bluesy' décor and comfy seating. It has a surprising introvert appeal during the day especially given the venue's past as Walkabout.
Full disclosure - I first had these on a comped freebie for a social photo shoot but they left an impression and I've been craving buffalo sauce ever since; teas becoming meat-thing soaked in the stuff and thrown in the oven. Addictive little orange beggars, they were so good I had to go back for more and the ones in the photo were paid for so I think this one ought to squeak past our rigorous editor.
The sauce has plenty of heat and a punchy, tangy, lime hit without succumbing to something vinegary which many a cheap chilli sauce gives into. It glues itself to the wings which are nudged to just the right level of crispy without being burnt. These dayglo belters are going on my regular lunch time treat list. Pictured is the large portion (small is £8.75). They also have a lunch deal, burger and drink style offering for £10 which is great value in the city centre.
Martyn Pitchford @Pitch_Blend
Roast Chicken Breast with sticky leg, charred corn, miso mushroom and rainbow chard, The Fox and Barrel, Tarporley (£20.95)
In a pub-like atmosphere, I had the pleasure of experiencing restaurant-quality food at my local haunt, The Fox and Barrel in Tarporley. This dish was a happy discovery for me, and it tasted just as good as it looked. The chicken was impeccably cooked, and I nearly couldn't manage the sticky leg that accompanied it. The combination of textures and the sweet sauce perfectly enhanced the crispy chicken. I highly recommend this dish for winter and will definitely be ordering it again when I'm next in, which shouldn't be too long.
Pumpkin spice pumpkin, Siop Shop (£4.50)
Why? It’s October.
I have a habit of writing medium length eulogies to food in this monthly article. Simply put this is exactly what I wanted. Pumpkin spice refers to the spice blend of a pumpkin pie, not the taste of pumpkin. So when eating these things it’s always a carefully precise first bite, you never know if you're going to get squash. This seasonal creation by an often overlooked titan of the NQ was perfect and not remotely like a perfumed, pumpkin-filled doughnut to box tick for yoga mums.
Hayden Naughton @HaydenNaughton
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