Manchester's best food and drink from Sale to Hale and more
Who knows what the weather's got in store for us in August? We live in unpredictable meteorological times. But if it's refreshing drinks and great, reasonably priced food you're after, we can certainly predict you will like our picky team's recommendations.
Read on for a vegan take on a Chinese classic, unexpected veg showing up on a bagel and a flatbread dripping with butter. All of our best dishes this month come in at under a tenner. There's wine, cider and boozy Spanish coffee too.
It can only be the best things to eat and drink in Manchester this August.
Firepit Pot, Mud Kitchen at Platt Fields Market Garden (£8)
Pre-heatwave, Manchester was just a city enjoying some balmy summer days. The weekend before it the weather was lovely, but not too lovely. Lovely enough to walk a dog on a pavement, but not so lovely that said dog would spontaneously combust.
Platt Fields Park was basking in sun, and in particular Platt Fields Market Garden thrived in the UV rays. The iced coffees flowed, the bees buzzed and the Manc dads swanned about in Birkies and bucket hats.
The smell of the firepit beckoned me to Platt Fields Market Garden where breakfast at its Mud Kitchen crackled away in beautiful clay fire pots hand-crafted by talented potter and chef Meg Beamish. The Firepit Pot is made with beans, pulses and veggies from the garden itself. It’s topped with two saucy, runny eggs that marble gorgeously into a herby pesto-y sauce. All lovely and scoop-able with a simple, crispy flatbread dripping with butter. The kind of humble food that invites you to slow down every once in a while. Sophie Rahnema @sophieshahla
Divay White, Léah Anglès, Le Social (£29 a bottle)
I bought this bottle of white wine months ago from Le Social’s cosy shipping container at Pollard Yard. I bought it because when I was a bit drunk last time I was there - squinting through my crab-like, piss-hole-in-the-snow eyes - I briefly thought it said my name on the bottle. It did not say my name on the bottle. But it did say div, which is more apt.
Divay is a wonderful bottle of wine. It’s made from organic Grenache blanc grapes from the Banyuls, Languedoc region of France. What you notice about it immediately when you drink it, is this smooth, almost creamy taste which makes it super moreish. The taste is the result of a process called malolactic fermentation which essentially converts tart malic acid molecules into creamier lactic acid molecules. Apparently, chemist turned oenologist, Léah, only makes small batches of it so it’s worth stocking up if you see it. Davey Brett @dbretteats
Coconut red curry, grilled chicken, pickled mustard greens, Neon Tiger (£8)
Neon Tiger is “an urban drinking space” on Bridge Street. Nowt new there then, as next door was as well 40 years ago. Goblets, frequented by my brother, Chris "how many?" Garner, Mad Kenny Pilkington, George Best and Keith. Keith was just Keith, and you wouldn’t want him catching you talking to his girlfriend. Handsome Howard would have retired by now as World Chair of Price Waterhouse Cooper Accountants if every now and again he could have managed to keep on going past the front door.
Calling into Neon Tiger after lunch at The Black Friar (gets better, that gaff), I had an excellent old fashioned at the bar chatting to Dan Berger from the other excellent new bar, Blinker. Tiger isn’t just booze, it’s got food as well. Dan was woofing down the Thai red curry; It looked good. I was jealous.
Four days later found me sitting in the window eating the same. Red Thai Curry, with a separately grilled chicken breast, spiced, crispy skin, meat at 60 degrees, lush. The curry based on extra silky stock was all topped off with a neo-punk haircut of komugi noodles which you scrunch up with your bare hands and let fall into the curry to swell up taking a soak in the curry sauce. I had four brilliant dishes this month, Neon Tiger’s food side, Baan-Yang, with its Northern Thai BBQ style cooking delivered the best. Even being bothered by Thom Hetherington couldn’t diminish the sheer pleasure of eating in this excellent gaff. Stop shagging my leg Thom. Yes, it’s a Gordo Go. Gordo @gordomanchester
Imli cider, Bundobust Brewery (£4.50)
Despite being a punk rock cliché, I’ve not been one for cider for most of my life. This is mostly due to vomiting White Lightning down the gutter of a Chorley town centre street as a daft teenager, swearing in between retches that cider would never darken my door again. I did the same thing with Hock (beurk) and Southern Comfort (double beurk) in a series of lessons not quite learned that I continue to uphold the tradition of well into adulthood. But it’s been long enough now, and this summer I’m a cider girl.
I’m bored with earwax IPAs and I’ve completed the region's sours. Of course, I’m still a wino 4 lyf but for those moments when one needs far more than 175ml, it’s cider for me. Still complex and fruity, kinda like wine by the pint. But while the standard appley variety is all good (no to the ones that taste like Vimto) I do like a quirk. Enter, Bundobust’s Imli cider, belly dancing in on a wave of tamarind and ginger. You can see from the condensation on the glass that this was served on one of the hottest days ever known to Manchester, a day I had escaped my tinderbox of an apartment for somewhere with air con and cold beverages. Bundo, thanks for saving me from the heatwave. You’re alright, you are. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
Oyster mushroom pancakes, Greens (£7.50)
Completely by accident, I’ve eaten a load of vegan and veggie food this July. I even made a kale salad for tea by choice the other day, and I had a pretty impressive Beyond Meat patty at The Vurger Co. All I can think about is greens in all their forms, so I went to Greens.
Greens is a newbie in Sale’s Stanley Square complex from Simon Rimmer, and with a completely veggie menu that includes the likes of miso banana sticky toffee pudding and confit potatoes with capers and creme fraiche, I didn’t once think, I could do with a good slice of lamb. A standout though was the oyster mushroom pancakes with spring onion, cucumber, and plum sauce. If you’re a sucker for crispy duck pancakes when you order a Chinese, this is just like that, but crispier. Still packing that same meaty punch as shredded duck, the mushrooms were full of subtle spice, and all wrapped up in the classic wafer-thin pancakes. The sweet sauce also ties it all together perfectly with the syrupy stickiness. If I were doing a blind taste test, I'd fail to differentiate between these oyster bad boys and the real deal. Ellie-Jo Johnstone @elliejoj
Barraquito, The Embassy (£6.90)
Even though I could include every zany dish from my visit to The Embassy, Hale's Spanish fusion restaurant where you can't go to the bathroom with tripping over a roasted tentacle, I decided to pick the Barraquito coffee because it just looks so satisfyingly 70s. Caramac-coloured layers ripple through this Tenerifa take on an Irish coffee. There is strong coffee, of course, then creamy-sweet condensed milk, but what makes it special is the layer of Licor 43, a Spanish liqueur made in Cartagena, with notes of citrus and vanilla. It ticks the strong and sweet boxes of the old cliche, only avoiding the "black as death" part for fun stripes instead and is all the better for it. Lucy Tomlinson @hotcupoftea
Bagel with seasonal veg, roast garlic whipped cream cheese and sauerkraut, Primo (£6)
It might seem that all I ever do is eat out and show off about it, but actually, I spend many long hours a day chained to the office, contending with the never-ending noise from the builders downstairs, the capricious whims of Gordo, and a to-do list that seems to get longer by the hour. So I also snatch a lot of lunches while bog-eyed and frazzled, al desko.
Thankfully, Manchester can provide. After a quick coffee catch-up with one of my team at the excellent See Saw space before work, I grabbed a bagel to go from current residents Primo. Strong claim, but Coopers in Whitefield aside, I think Primo bake the best bagels in the city. They come in all manner of seasonings from seeded pumpernickel to marbled malt and are stuffed with a bijou choice of fillings. I’m working my way through the menu but it was this one with garlic cream cheese and seasonal veg that made my mouth form its very own impressed bagel shape. I’ve had a lot of different incarnations of the ole "seasonal veg" but I’ve never had a sugar snap on a bagel and do you know what? It really worked, a pop of grassy sweetness against the cream cheese. And because I am currently obsessed with sauerkraut, I added a straggle of that too, the serendipity of it being neon pink red cabbage kraut made for a very pretty lunch. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
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