THIS WEEK we Confidential lot have been masticating like a pack of hyenas with utter disregard for our own well-being (and girth) to bring you the best the city centre has to offer in the way of dirty, filthy, sloppy, trashy, naughty grub.
God this was so dirty I felt like a sewage worker who'd been caught in a flashflood and was looking for a steam clean.
Dirty food doesn't mean literally unhygenic (although see Hunter's below), but it probably isn't too good for you. To quote Morrissey it's probably enough to make 'a shy bald Buddhist reflect and plan mass-murder'. It's never vegetarian.
And by the way we are NOT including burgers here. We will soon be updating our best of burgers article so you can wait for that.
The food below is listed in alphabetical order of venue not in ranking order.
Chicken Run: Chicken Split - dumpling and fried chicken (£3)
Chicken SplitYes this is outside the city centre a tad but we wanted to include something naughty from the Carribean. Open this up and it looks like a rather large, deformed doughnut. Turn it over and you’ll see the dumpling’s axe wound - deep filled with golden, fried chicken (not your Kentucky crap) and coated in salad cream. It's hard to navigate and as soon as you get it in your grasp, bits of fried chicken run free and salad cream gets all over your already grease-heavy hands.
The chicken split is the sweetness of the dumpling, the sharp tang of the salad cream and the finger lickin’ chicken – it’s probably a month’s fat and calories in one, but it works. Oh how it works. It’s an adventure in brown paper. LM
6 Yarburgh Street, Moss Side M16 7FJ. 0161 226 6714.
Dogs’n’Dough: The Gladiator Hotdog (£6.50)
Since its opening last September this underground cavity of a venue has become one of the city’s foremost find-me-if-you-can-pal venues. Once you do track it down (on Bow Lane, a ginnel off Cross Street by Subway) you’ll find a fantastic Cheers-like underground cavity that’s criminally underused as a bar space.
Dogs have just rolled out a new extensive menu (£4.50-£8) with more dirty doggy than a Battersea Xmas party. You’ll find hotdogs splayed with chilli, pastrami, doritos, chipotle, sauerkraut, corned beef, Bombay potatoes, tikka masala, BBQ beans, peanut butter, poached egg and ginger along with enough cheese, onion and sauce to fell a Texan toll-booth attendant. The pick of the bunch is The Gladiator hotdog (£8), a hotdog that thinks it’s a calzone. Utterly gooey with dog, pizza sauce, chipotle, pepperoni and mozzarella. It’s a dirty food transvestite. DB
Bow Lane, City M2 4JW. 0161 834 3996. Menu here.
Gorilla: Half Chargrilled Chicken (£12)
"How is the food?"
"I think this chicken with its moist flesh, its superb thyme and garlic skin, rich with rock salt and elevated with side pots of excellent aioli and chimmi churri is a thing very worthy of high praise."
"Wow, mate. Great. Do you talk like that all the time?"
"Verily. Especially when eulogising."
"Er...ok. You're right about it being moist though, that's down to the oven we have."
"Why's the oven so good?"
"I don't know, but it's magic. Proper magic. The chef's good too but he said it's the oven that makes it taste so good. Listen mate, I don't understand how it does what it does to that chicken... I just live with it... like believers do in most major religions."
"Wow, do you always talk like that?"
Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, City M1 5WW. 0161 407 0301. Grub here.
Greggs: Sausage and Bean Melt (£1)
Greggs? Dirty? Surely not.
We're sorry but we had to. Greggs has grown to become arguably the largest retail baking chain in the world, and all from one small bakery in 1950s Newcastle. The great British bakery full of baked treats may look as wholesome and innocent as its sweet and sugary little iced fingers. But if you’ve ever experienced the oozing, gooey, flakey goodness of the sausage and bean melt getting in your hair and down your clothes, you’ll know that Greggs can be as filthy as a Navvies boot sock.
Greggs is there on every single corner of the British high street when you’re skint and hungry. With a £5 note you could feed the 5,000. No wonder we Brits were ready to burn effigies of George Osborne when the ‘pasty tax’ was first considered. Rightly so, Britain should not have to pay extra for a fresh-out-of-the-oven baked delight. There’s NOTHING more disheartening than a lukewarm sausage roll. We shall overcome. LB
Pure filth: Gregg's sausage and bean melt.
Happy Seasons: Chicken Chow Mein (£7)
Wall kebab artGod this was so dirty I felt like a sewage worker who'd been caught in a flashflood and was looking for a steam clean. Hunters was dirty in every way, not just with the food. In one booth in this High Street takeaway the wall was adorned by a piece of kebab stuck hard to it like a forgotten Christmas decoration. Looked like it had been there since Christmas too.
The chicken tikka and donner (seemingly from several various Halal animals) came on chips (you can have it with rice but that may have strayed into being healthy). There was a garlic mayonnaise over the top and some chopped lettuce. It was a massive meal, the size of a laptop. To begin with it tasted of generosity, half way through it tasted of anxiety, at the end it tasted of despair. Abandon all hope ye who enter here, here be kebabs. This boy is only for the very deep blue hardcore dirty food fan. JS
Koffee Pot: Manx Kippers - whole grain mustard, poached egg, thick cut toast (£5.50)
The haggis hadn't arrivedThis place combines dirty food with creativity and, even, a certain elegance. It's the Northern Quarter's best social club, where the transport caff and the 21st century collide. It fills with creatives, musos, suits and ladies called Gladys waiting for the number 24 bus.
This dish combines the massive smoky strength of kippers with the massive bitter-sweet bite of whole grain mustard and then lifts the whole lot with a runny egg that breaks over the rest like a tasty Vesuvius, saturating the toast beneath. It's a wonderful plate of food costing almost nothing. JS
(By the way this entry should have been about haggis but the haggis delivery man hadn't turned up. This more than made up for it.)
21 Hilton St, Northern Quarter, M1 1JJ. Look here.
Luck, Lust, Liquor, Burn: Dirty Chicken Street Taco (£6.50)
LLLB is the ever so slightly more abstaining Mexican sister of the Almost Famous give-a-shit steam rolling burger party bus. Stress is on the slightly. The taste of Beautiful Drinks' (Almost Famous, LLLB, Home Sweet Home, Keko Moku) off-the-cuff it'll-be-alright-on-the-night demeanor is certainly still there - that's their appeal - but this time it has table service, pens, pads, the lot. No giant ape either. Shame.
Still, LLLB's grub, although less notorious, can be just as filthy as their sister brand. Their main pull are burritos and nachos so loaded it's hard to see the grub for the sleaze (and cheese). Surprisingly though their stand out dish is more genteel and less punch-in-the-gob Mexican: the Street Tacos. Not those 'orrible big bent crispy nacho things, but soft wheat flour tortillas astride with well aimed flavours. The Dirty Chicken Street Tacos (£6.50) are top of the class. Juicy chips of chicken amongst fresh pico (chopped Mexican salad bits), the now ubiquitous chipotle with sour cream and coriander. The three of 'em last as long as a nympho in Patong. They could do to add a fourth.
And just as you thought this lot'd gone as soft as their tortillas, they slap 'em on a Americanised license plate. Radical. DB
100 High Street, NQ, M4 1HP. 0161 832 8644. Menu here.
Mumma Schnitzel: Chicken schnitzel and halloumi burger meal (£8.50 with fries and coke)
The chicken schnitzel: the Austrian cousin to the Russian chicken kiev. Both breaded chicken and both underestimated in their wonderfulness.
Blame Iceland and Tesco’s Own.
Austrian street food traders, Mumma Schnitzel, serve the sexiest hot schnitzel from a van on Hardman Street, Spinningfields. It’s so sexy, Mumma regularly lure lunchtimers away from nearby Pret A Manger and towards their van for a hot romp with a hearty and fresh Austrian dish like a dirty chicken Siren.
The schnitzel topped with melted halloumi, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, homemade sweet chilli and laid on a toasted brioche bun is so tasty it makes you want to take up skiing, hum Mozart and quote Freud just to impress it. LB
Find the Mumma Schnitzel van on Hardman Square, Spinningfields, M3 3EB.
Pancho’s Burrito: Pork in Lime Burrito (£4.99 Large, £5.99 with beer)
Probably the most stuffed you can get in the city for a fiver. There’s two Pancho’s within jumping distance of each other here, which seems odd, but means they’re doing something very right. At least if queues are anything to go by.
A Pancho’s burrito is a boulder of food. Roll it down the El Pixo de Orizaba and it would level villages. Great not only in quantity but quality. The pork in lime burrito finds level ground between the meat and the acidity of the lime. The sweetness of the pork, onions and peppers toy beautifully with the sturdy thick flavours of the homemade pinto refried beans amongst the calm of the sour cream. If you find yourself peckish around the Arndale, avoid the food court as though it were a beserk leper and seek out Pancho’s. Olé. DB
Arndale Food Market, High Street, M4 3AH. Menu here.
Pieminister: The Mothership - pie, mash, mushy peas, shallots and cheese (£7.95)
It’s 43AD, the Romans have just begun their vanity-driven conquest of Britain, bringing with them the modern world: roads, aqueducts, central heating, bathhouses, togas, Gaulish wine and… pies. Inherited from the Ancient Greeks who’d pinched them from the Egyptians, the humble pie has buoyed all the greatest empires in modern history. Somebody should have told the Third Reich. The pie did lose a bit of steam (and gain a lot of smoke) when a pie shop began the Great Fire of London. Still, how can you stay mad at a pie?
There's been a pie resurgence in recent years, it's gone 'hip', and Bristol-based Pieminster have led the charge. Spawned from a basement in 2002 by a cheffy bloke and a pubby bloke, they cropped up in NQ last year and were recently caught flogging their wares at the recent 6music Festival at Victoria Warehouse. Avaliable from the NQ branch, the Mothership is a mountain of naughty food: pie (we went for the tip-top british steak and craft ale 'Moo' pie), creamy mash, a dollop of mushed peas all splayed with sweet crispy shallots and a hefty streak of cheese.
Don't plan to do anything, anything at all, afterwards. Sit down and stay there.
53 Church St, Northern Quarter, M4 1PD. 0161 819 1279. Info here.
Solita: Rooster Scratchings (£2.90), Bacon Fat Popcorn (£1.90), Deep Fried Man’n’Cheese (£5.90), Buttermilk Popcorn Shrimp (£6.90)
Their signature, the Big Manc (a Big Mac dun’ good) is about as dirty as it gets, but it’s also a burger and we're saving them for our updated Best Of: Burgers. So we picked four bites, because we can and because you’re unlikely to find them on any other menu (ok so you will find mac’n’cheese but Solita fry the buggery out of it). Also because Solita is the only place we’ve seen a type of cock on the menu with the rooster scratchings - which knock those Mr Porky’s out of the park. The bacon popcorn is the Ronseal of snacks, the deep fried MnC are great but could do with more packing but the buttermilk popcorn shrimp... cor’ blimey... somewhere between calamari and those scampi fries crisps, we could scoff this until we keeled over. Then get up to polish them off.
Hearing about our dirty list, Franco of Solita sent out with much fanfare the Mac Daddy (£12.90). Patty, bacon, pickle and cheese wedged between two bits of fried mac’n’cheese (instead of bap). We left feeling so filthy we had to call in a fireman to hose us down. DB
37 Turner St, Northern Quarter, M4 1DW. 0161 839 2200. Menu here.
Wrights: Haddock, Chips and Black Pudding (£6.90)
What a cracking combination. Surf'n'turf'n'tuber. Pig'n'fish'n'chip. Flesh'n'blood'n'spud. Dirty grub. Filthy fatty filling food with no hint of a scintilla of a pinch of green. Pasty yellow and deep black in a cardboard box. Crap presentation yet deeply lovely. Bunch fish, pig and chip on a fork and let the tastes and textures take you on a satisfying scoot through doctor disapproved food. Mouth watering eh?
Wright's chippy on Cross Street is relatively new to a northern city centre strangely shy of decent chippies unlike Yorkshire cities which make a virtue of nostalgia. It's been busy since it opened and only needs a proper rag pudding to really shine, but this mad combination wins brownie points. JS