Jonathan Schofield takes it easy in a comfortable venue with a strange moniker
Costa, Starbucks, Caffe Nero gang up on UK streets like bullies. Or rather they did, there are fewer now as the pandemic hit food and drink chains hard. One victim was Caffe Nero at the corner of Peter Street and Mount Street. It's been replaced by a really competent and very good indie called Haunt.
I like Haunt, I like the price points and I like its tranquil atmosphere
The place styles itself as a "wine bar" which puts one in mind of the eighties and big-haired ladies with shoulder pads and men with mullets chugging on martinis and lager listening to Belinda Carlisle. Instead, this is a restrained establishment with tasteful fixtures and fittings aside from some cheesy prints of early twentieth century Continental booze brands. These are so small they're hard to spot though. The staff, meanwhile, know their stuff and advise accordingly.
The big thing here is the booze but the food platters are bloody excellent too. Indeed, they are some of my favourites of all time. And getting plastered with a platter is fine thing at any time of day at Haunt as the big windows allow cracking people-watching. Manchester is like a rain forest, it has a very diverse range of wildlife.
My dining partner had a Boulevadier (£9), a species of Old Fashioned with Buffalo Trace bourbon, bitters and Campari. She thought it was both attractive to look at and heady before changing tack and going for a Hugo Spritz (£9), a perfectly refreshing prosecco-based cocktail for summer.
I drank wine on this occasion, an excellent and again refreshing, Soave at £5.50 for a £175ml glass. I had three. The wines have an Italian accent. On other occasions, I've enjoyed a cracking Cannonau and Primitivo.
The platters are belters as stated. We enjoyed the meat and cheese one which comes in at £11.50 and easily works as a decent lunch for two, indeed we didn't finish it. This could be the best mixed platter around. There was nothing wrong with any of the components, all seemed to be high quality.
We fought over the artichokes which were a delight. I've always adored green artichokes (not Jerusalem) since I lived in Spain and fell in love with the Spanish name of this edible thistle, "alcachofas", as well the flavours they delivered.
As an irrelevant aside, I was looking up the Spanish spelling and found there's an album by Villalobos named 'Alcachofa'. Apparently "the album cemented Villalobos' place in the vanguards of microhouse and minimal techno". Not Belinda Carlisle at all then, in an eighties winebar.
The other elements, the salami, the prosciutto, the figs (dried and fresh), the balsamic onion, the Stilton, the goats cheese and the "Yorkshire" pecorino were equally excellent. It all felt fresh and wholesome and actively good for one. The tapenade, the truffle honey and the watermelon jam all added to that perception. Those add-ons, this time some fine pestos, also deliver with the cheese platter which is a pound less than the meat and cheese. There's a completely meaty platter that's a pound more.
Haunt has become a bit of a fave morning coffee stop for me. The coffee comes from North Star in Leeds which delivers a proper morning kick with real flavour.
The fact Haunt sits in the beautiful former YMCA, now St George's House offices, helps architectural freaks like me. Once you're plattered and plastered nip outside and study the lovely 1910 Art Nouveau detail with that cracking terracotta version of Donatello's St George and that superb stylised Manchester coat of arms.
I like Haunt, I like the price points and I like its tranquil atmosphere.
Haunt 58 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 3NQ
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
The meat food platter 8
Professional and warm
Cool and calm