The chefs are turning up the volume and the heat at this anticipated new opening
Maria, I’ve just met a grill called Maria. And suddenly I’ve found how wonderful ground beef can be.
I’m chatting to chefs Jamie Pickles and Frankie Clarke at the new Jimmy’s in Ancoats, Manchester about the christening of their new kitchen kit.
The kitchen is insanely hot, almost, but not quite, the temperature of my mum’s living room at Christmas
You might know Jimmy’s in its former incarnation as a neon-lit, sticky-floored Newton Street music venue. It was unfortunately short-lived as it was given its marching orders by landlords in 2019.
But now Jimmy’s is back, bigger and bolder in a multi-storey Ancoats building. There’s one catch - at the moment, it’s not doing gigs. Long story, residential area and so on. But what I’m here for today is the food.
The aforementioned Maria - a Santa Maria grill - is a fiery, badass grill. She brings a lot of flavour to the ribs, burgers and wings heavy menu. She does this in collaboration with Greg, a Big Green Egg and Marcus (named after Rashford), the rational oven more familiar to most kitchens.
Some of you will be nodding sagely like the smoke nerds you are, others will be all WTF is a Big Green Egg?
“We mainly use it for smoking,” says Jamie. “At the moment we've got brisket in there. Frankie's spraying it with beef stock, apple juice and cider vinegar to keep it moist. It’ll smoke in there for about eight hours. and then once it reaches 70 degrees we wrap it in foil or butcher’s paper and leave it for another four or five hours when it starts to braise. It's a really classic American way of smoking briskets. Usually, they'll do them in big barrel smokers in America but we just do them in our egg and it retains its heat really well. We use apple wood or cherry wood to smoke things so it has a lovely flavour and then we finish most of our food on the grill.”
This is thirsty work making holy smoke
The kitchen is insanely hot, almost, but not quite, the temperature of my mum’s living room at Christmas. The endurance involved in cooking in such heat alone is impressive but the lads tell me they love it and it almost feels therapeutic.
Man and fire is a classic pairing. It’s appropriate too in a rock n roll venue like Jimmy’s given that fire has been a running theme in rock music from Arthur Brown to The Prodigy to Kings of Leon.
Jamie and Frankie launched the Liverpool menu and took the time gifted to them by lockdown to really spend time refining it. They developed their own barbecue sauce range and explored what they wanted to do, taking inspo from classic American BBQ cookery but bringing it up to date with a modern approach.
Not just for dads - BBQing is a real skill
The people of Manchester likely aren't expecting good food from Jimmy’s, and Jamie and Frankie love how pleasantly surprised people are. They’re deadly serious about their cooking and it shows in the dishes we try.
Their CVs reflect this, with Frankie having cut his teeth at the contemporary modern British restaurant Ox Club in Leeds and Jamie working his way around the gastropubs of the Peak District. This is not just a couple of dads throwing frozen bangers on a BBQ and brandishing a pitchfork for a few macho points.
“It's a real skill to learn how to smoke things - we've been cooking for years but this is a skill we'd never learned before. It's a style of cooking on its own that like takes a load of training and knowledge of how to do it," says Jamie.
“Right now the fire is lovely, you've got little flames that will kiss the meat or whatever we've got on the BBQ. If it gets too hot we'll burn things and you have to build a fire again. There's a real art to controlling that heat.”
What’s on the menu at Jimmy's Ancoats?
On our visit, Jamie and Frankie kindly cook up a feast for us to try. Highlights include huge, juicy smoked buttermilk wings - brand new to the menu - that are panko breaded, fried and served with hot sauce and blue cheese. There’s a sensational Mac n cheese that incorporates smoked onions, jalapeños and bone marrow - this comes as a side on The Works which also features a slab of smoked meat and grilled corn to share. There’s plenty for vegans and veggies - a vegan burger eschews the usual insole-textured fake meat and instead celebrates veg (hallelujah!) with a corn and chickpea patty that’s packed with flavour.
The smoke doesn’t settle after the headline acts though, it returns for an encore weaving its way into a superlative smoked sticky toffee pudding and a brand-new, condensed milk-based “Crack Pie”.
There’s also a bottomless brunch that has become legendary in Liverpool and a Sunday roast that might have some of Jimmy’s neighbours feeling the heat. We've not tried these in Ancoats yet but we will be back, oh yes, we will be back.
Jimmy’s Ancoats is open now on Blossom Street.
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