Pineapple salsa, deep fried cheese and cheek you could slice with a spoon
As always, we've been navigating our way through Greater Manchester and its many surrounding regions via food in all of its forms. With everything else that's going on at the moment, it turns out that eating our feelings definitely wasn't just a pandemic thing.
A varied and eclectic mix of cheese, cheek, and Chinese takeaway for breakfast, the best things to eat in Manchester this March are about as diverse as the lineup for this year's Highest Point festival. Mad March can now commence.
Read on for a selection of the best things to munch in Manchester this March
Poached hake fillet, Mount Street Dining Room (£19.50)
Grand surroundings deserve grand food and Mount Street Dining Room at The Midland Hotel delivered both last month. Eating there is how eating in a prestigious hotel should feel. All splendour and wow factor. All pleasant music volumes and staff so confidently assured, they could do their job blindfolded on a tightrope. An old woman taking her granddaughter for lunch, seemingly of the aristocracy, sat nearby and bellowed out her archaic opinions throughout, giving the meal the cinematic quality of a Truman Capote vignette.
But what of the food? Impressive. Everything arrived at the table dressed to a tee. Not a fibre of garnish out of place. Sunday best on a Friday afternoon. Poached hake fillet was washed ashore on a beach of lemon-infused creamy mascarpone orzo, indulgence in every bite, flake by masterfully cooked flake. A cluster of tempura tender-stem broccoli brought colour and crunch to a plate that if I had at any point forgotten where I was, I would’ve licked it clean. Davey Brett @dbretteats
Charred pineapple, ginger cream, pineapple salsa, 10 Tib Lane (£5.50)
I’ve eaten at 10 Tib Lane twice this month. The first time with my boyfriend, the second time I dragged a couple of friends along to prove that I wasn’t making it up.
It’s busy whenever I try to book a table or even sneak in for a cocktail, but it still feels like my little secret. Tib Lane is an overlooked thoroughway just off Cross Street in the middle of town and I love leading my confused companions down here, only for them to be greeted by the warmth of the dimly-lit bar on the ground floor.
On the menu, you’ll find French-inspired small plates of perfectly cooked steak, plump duck breast with red wine sauce and artichokes swimming in olive oil broth. Oh, how I could swim in olive oil broth.
While it would be possible to enjoy the whole offering three or four times over, a dessert is the dish that I must recommend. Charred pineapple with ginger cream is a simple pleasure that I wish would never end. The blackened fruit loves the kick of ginger, and the sweet salsa makes this whole thing a "scrape the bowl” kind of situation. A very grown-up childhood favourite. Sophie Rahnema @sophieshahla
Creta, Yamas (£7)
At first glance, it could be SpongeBob lying facedown in the gutter after a particularly wild night. But this sozzled cuboid is in fact the Creta cheese starter from Yamas, a relatively new Greek restaurant in Sale. The restaurant itself is rocking some very sophisticated Y2K club vibes, all marble and purple mood lighting, and the main menu is an ode to every kind of grilled meat stuffed in a wrap and served with chips (gyros fans need look no further). But a bit of digging through the menu reveals this crispy block of feta, wrapped in light filo pastry and drenched in honey with sesame seeds. While it’s a simple dish, the cheese is the good stuff and frying takes it to a new level. Lucy Tomlinson, @hotcupoftea
Slow roast rump, Hawksmoor (£22)
A Sunday roast out of the house is something I always say I’m going to do and then never do. I have a list of places I want to get to for their take on the classic but always seem to find myself otherwise engaged. With a free lazy Sunday and a rousing phone call from a couple of my favourite, very hungry lads, I seized my moment and legged it through the horizontal rain to Hawksmoor - surely the monarch of Manchester’s bovine kingdom.
I always feel a bit like I’m in London when I’m at Hawksmoor - in a good way. It’s got that grand but pubby thing going on, all clattering cutlery and buzzy young wait staff who are just a bull’s whisker away from being too friendly. All mahogany and marble, stylish but comfy like velvet sweatpants. The wine list is decent even if you resist the higher-end bottles, a bold Portuguese red was a treat with our thick slabs of sanguine meat. The veg was buttery but retaining essential crunch, the Yorkies and spuds Barbados bronze, and the gravy glossy. But the best bit was the cauliflower cheese, which would have been my cheese pull of the year if I hadn’t been strictly off Instagram duty for once in my life. Let me have my Sundays, for god’s sake. You’re lucky I managed a photo at all. My phone back in pocket afterwards, eye contact and conversation ruled. I must go out for a Sunday dinner more often. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
Crispy pig's cheek, Street Urchin (£18.50)
I always try to deny that I’m a “scour the menu before we arrive” kind of dinner guest, but when Street Urchin sent over the menu on the morning of my booking, I dissected every dish and ingredient on there about six times. I wanted something fresh and fishy and I’d made my mind up on my walk over to Ancoats, but then I sat down, had a glass of white, and changed my mind in a last-minute panic as the waitress stood over me. I didn’t regret it, though.
I opted for the crispy pig's cheek with a homemade black pudding cobbler, creamy Madeira sauce, and charred pear. The opposite of the light, fish-fuelled cravings I’d had an hour beforehand, my dish of the month was rich, hearty and borderline nap-inducing. The cheek was crispy on the outside, but flaky and soft on the inside - the kind of meat that you could slice with a spoon. The homemade cobbler added some stodge to the whole affair, allowing me to mop up all of the sacred juices, and a seesaw of flavour swayed to and fro as half a charred pear competed with hunks of black pudding in a duel between sweet and savoury. All wrapped up in a silky melted-butter-like Madeira sauce, this whole skillet of pig, pear, and cobbler left no room for pud and a yearning for something face-scrunchingly sour to cut through all the rich earthy vibes. Ellie-Jo Johnstone @elliejoj
Crispy chilli beef, The Rice Bowl (£13.50)
The Rice Bowl, a Cantonese delight, has been around an awfully long time; my pal Jenny Lau is the gaffer and third generation of the family who own and run this little Chinese gem. Situated in the cellars of the magnificent old Lloyds Bank on the corner of King St and Cross St, it's been going for over 40 years. It's an unfashionable belter.
Poor old Jenny despairs of me as I am addicted to her beef in black bean sauce, along with, yes, all hipster food writers cringe, sweet and sour chicken/prawns/pork. They all go well with The Rice Bowl's special fried rice. The other all-time favourite of mine is the crispy chilli beef. It's always good, but this last time it's gone straight into my hall of fame. It comprises of worm-sized strips of beef, marinated and then covered in a sticky sweet coating, heightened by chilli, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and deep-fried 'til crunchy. The crunchier the better, Jenny knows.
It's a massive portion and I had to get a doggy bag. Three days later, straight out of the fridge for an emergency breakfast, it was still a disgustingly sticky, tangy, saucy, sweet, crunchy delight. Perfection. Gordo @GordoManchester
Escargot, Chez Jules (£7.50)
You can often hear my voice echoing around Manchester’s streets. Sometimes that’s as a tour guide taking people around the city and sometimes it’s as a forlorn food writer wailing in French, “Où sont passés tous les escargots à Manchester?” You see I can’t find snails anywhere in the city, so I ask again, where have all the snails gone? I am a fan of escargot and their earthy profundities. Eating snails is like falling face forward in the thick undergrowth of an oak grove and burying your nose in the soil beneath. It was a pleasure, therefore, on a quick train ride to Chester, to find a French restaurant called Chez Jules with snails on the menu. These looked the part in a rich garlic butter lodged in a classic snail plate designed for the little lovelies. They delivered the requisite earthiness I was seeking and more. The only downside was the beasties were out of the shell when part of the fun is extracting them like ear wax with a satisfying plop from the aforesaid shell. Still, it was a joy to find them and a joy to eat them during a splendid lunch at Chez Jules. Thus: “J'ai trouvé les escargots à une soixantaine de kilomètres et ils étaient bons”. Jonathan Schofield @JonathSchofield
Read next: Cafe Sanjuan, Stockport's amazing secret Colombian cafe
Read again: Top things to do in Manchester: March 2022
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