PLUS: Campagna at The Creameries, more award-winners and a visit to Ramsbottom
Thank god January is over and done with, but here comes boring old Feb (from accounts). February is the Tuesday of the year, isn't it? Not quite as soul-crushing as Monday but it certainly ain't no Friday.
Nevertheless, the cheesy lovers among you will be turning your thoughts towards V day - we did a round-up of Valentine's dinner options this week ICYMI. You might also be welcoming in the year of the tiger, we have spent some time jogging up and down steps this week as well as wearing our best stripey clothes to try and embody some of that big cat energy.
And if you think Feb is going to be boring other than that, think again because we have a bumper haul of food and drink news with loads of eating and drinking activities for the month ahead.
Read on for this week's snackable, bitesize Manchester food and drink stories.
Sauté it again, Sam
Legendary Manchester gastropub Sam's Chop House has announced it is finally reopening - hopefully before Valentine's Day. The subterranean post-work stalwart famous for its brass statue of world-renowned Manchester artist LS Lowry sitting at the bar has been so far denied the chance to reopen following the pandemic. This has been due to ongoing renovation works in Cavendish House.
The well-loved pub managed to keep its spirit alive during lockdown and beyond with an excellent home-delivery range as well as a wine club from arguably the city's most famous sommelier George Bergier - who will return to the pub to pour the wine and tell stories of his 50 odd years in the biz on Thursday and Friday lunchtimes.
We have to admit, with the Albert Square Chop House having been sold to Greene King and turned into The Fountain House, we did fear for the future of good old Sam. So it's brilliant news that it's back. We can't wait to pull up a stool alongside ole Laurence Stephen and see what he made of the pandemic over a pint of Guinness and a corned beef hash.
Levenshulme indie beer and wine bar, Nordie has launched a proper, permanent evening menu. The sleek neighbourhood boozer has been firmly on the list of great places to drink in Levenshulme since it opened in 2019. It's always had a fluctuating food element with pop-ups and supper clubs but this new seasonally changing menu will be a more permanent fixture and it looks dead good to us. Chef Heath Linn is a Chorley lad. He was formerly at Roots in York, The Black Swan at Oldstead and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons - impressive.
The small plates menu which changes almost weekly might include the likes of heritage beetroot with linseed, soured cream, dill and horseradish (pictured above); cavatelli with ham and winter greens; or chicken wings with chickpeas, Espelette pepper and harissa. We have very much got our eye on the Garstang cheese custard on sourdough too. Supper is served Fridays and Saturdays 5-9pm and this joins the breakfast menu which is served Friday to Sunday until 3pm. Owner Oddie McClintock says he hopes to be able to extend these hours to other days in time. Show 'em your support if you can.
Great Brazilian Menu
You are of course over the moon that Great British Menu is back on our screens with a new and much cooler cast of judges - restaurateur Nisha Katona, comedian Ed Gamble and chef Tom Kerridge take the helm along with Andi Oliver on the 17th series of the popular foodie BBC2 show.
Next week the North West chefs take to the kitchen with honorary Ancoats resident Caroline Martins cooking her menu for a mystery veteran chef. You can read our interview with the Brazilian Masterchef star, but rest assured that she’ll be bringing her trademark visual flair to proceedings. Catch Caroline on Great British Menu from Tuesday next week at 8pm on BBC2 and get down to Blossom Street social to try out her Sao Paulo Project fine-dining pop-up now.
Chef Exose Grant takes over kitchen at BLVD
In more TV chef news, Masterchef 2019 finalist Exose Grant has taken over the chef duties at Manchester restaurant BLVD in what will be his first major solo venture. The former Chef de Partie at James Martin Manchester takes over the kitchen at BLVD on a permanent basis having worked for parent company Tokyo Industries at the group's other venues Gorilla and Impossible.
The new a la carte menu, which launched yesterday, is made up of pan-Asian tapas-style small plates featuring the likes of tempura curried calamari with curry mayo and teriyaki fillet steak. Snacks include prawn crackers with sweet chilli jam and nori and lotus crisps with chilli salt. Dishes will be available in two sizes to be shared among large and small groups.
Local love from Milk & Honey
Oxford Road’s favourite good ethos caf is taking things to the next twinkly level with an exciting announcement for 2022. Extending its opening hours into the evening, non-for-profit spot Milk & Honey is hosting a “local love” supper club with a three-course, plant-based menu and matching organic wines courtesy of Le Social. If you fancy basking in “the glow of good folk” with a side order of proper vegan food, this community haven is a great spot for your supper in the coming weeks. With the first supper club scheduled for Friday 17 February, advanced booking is essential and discounted tickets are available for students/concessions for £15. Normal tickets are £18, and the evening runs from 7.30 pm ‘til 9.
A moo-vy kind of love
We know, we know, it's Valentine’s Day soon. Luckily, we’ve already compiled a massively extensive list of love sausages, melting cherubs, and enough "love feasts" to have you vomming til March. But if you want more, there’s also a sneaky collab between Eccles-based bar Wandering Palate and “the world’s smoothest vodka” (if there is such a thing). This tipple comes in the form of an oyster shaped shot with glitter, kiwi, and a load of faffing about. Naughtily named "The Night Before", this oyster shot comes with a splash of Black Cow English Strawberries vodka, chunks of fresh fruit and a sprinkle of glitter. Available in a set of two or six, depending on how crap the date is, this scoop is coming to Monton Road on Sunday 13 February, just in time for V-day.
For the love of buns
If you don’t know the story of the twins from Great Harwood near Blackburn who turned a uni hobby into a national success story and cult baking business, you’re flipping well about to. Lauren and Rachel Finch are bringing the goodies from the amazing Finch Bakery to the bright lights of the city with a six month pop up at Harvey Nichols.
Starting from 7 February, you’ll be able to get your hands on their trademark cake jars, cupcakes, brownies and blondies on the first floor of the luxury store on Cathedral Street. There will be pink vinyl, there will be neon lights and there will be fights over cake jars. So get there early, hun.
The Creameries welcomes the flavours of Italy
The Creameries has been a destination in Chorlton since its opening in 2018, bringing casual but downright wonderful dining to Wilbraham Road. We have to admit, the decision in late 2021 to change the offering to more of a neighbourhood bar concerned us slightly, but we need not have worried.
Emerging like the first snowdrop in early spring, the little restaurant built on the site of an Edwardian dairy is now Campagna at The Creameries. Bringing the flavours of southern Europe to the kitchen, Head Chef Mike Thomas has built a menu around seasonal ingredients and most importantly, pasta. Dishes like wild rabbit ragu, confit duck and roasted Jerusalem artichoke are on the menu for now, and tables are available to book on The Creameries website.
Suppher for your heart
Another last-minute V-day idea for couples, throuples or don't give a fuckles. This "Galentine's Day" event comes from the brilliant team at Suppher which is an inclusive supper club powered by women. Its co-founders are sommelier Kim McBride and chef Anna Sogaard and they team up with other talented women around Manchester to put together some stonking set menus and matched wines. The event will be held at newcomer Ancoats natural wine bar Kerb. Tickets are £40 and include four drinks with snacks to match. All profits will go to The Pankhurst Trust in partnership with Manchester Women's Aid. If this one doesn't pull on your heartstrings, look out for other Suppher clubs at places like Erst and The Creameries.
Harden's guide celebrates Manchester restaurants
UK restaurant guide Harden’s has released the 2022 edition of its Best UK Restaurants list. Two Manchester restaurants feature in the Top 100, mana is at No.9 and is summed up in the guide as: “Fantastic Nordic-inspired dishes are assembled and cooked in full view and served by the chefs to create a unique and highly enjoyable culinary concept using exclusively British ingredients.” Adam Reid at The French is at No.40 with the blurb: “Adam Reid’s food is consistently top-notch – modern, but with lots of classic technique, and there’s often a witty note to the dishes”.
Four Manchester restaurants received top marks for their food in the printed guide – Erst, Eddie Shepherd’s Walled Garden, Sugo and Yuzu. There are over 50 Manchester restaurants mentioned in the printed Hardens guide. The decision-making process for entries and ratings is slightly unusual in that it is based on an annual survey of 30,000 ratings submitted by 3,000 diners - as opposed to an industry panel, visits from inspectors or a peer recommendation system. Harden’s printed guide calls itself “the most comprehensive print guide to UK restaurants” and contains nearly 3,000 entries.
More Northern hospitality folk celebrated
CODE Hospitality has announced its sixth annual 30 under 30 list and it features a couple of notable Mancunians. The first, Dan Schofield is one of the two Schofield brothers behind Manchester’s chic Schofield’s Bar. Dan and his brother Joe have bartended all over the world. Their eponymous bar was anticipated for a long time before it finally opened against the odds during the pandemic. It’s a Confidentials fave.
The second, Connor Slater is Head Chef at mana which should need no introduction but in case you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, bagged Manchester’s first Michelin Star in 40 years back in 2019. At 23, Slater already has stints at Rogan & Co and Manchester House under his belt. Some industry insiders might say he deserves an award for working with Simon Martin. Oops, did we just say that?
Other notable Northerners celebrated were Luke Murray of Tommy Banks group and Luke Payne, Chef-owner, The Pack Horse Hayfield. Nominations for the 30 under 30 are open to the public but can be made by colleagues or employers. The CODE Hospitality team assess all the nominations and choose the 30 winners they feel have made the most significant impact.
Well done all.
Adventures in: Ramsbottom
This week’s out-of-town ramblings took us over to Ramsbottom with its clean air, vintage petrol stations, and a load of indie food spots. We started the day with some proper coffee and potato cakes at Grind & Tamp whilst chatting to owner Connor about the Rammy food and booze scene (which proved to be poppin’). If you’re after an anti-inflammatory hot bev, this spot’s turmeric latte is the one.
Trekking up and down the misty hills of the West Pennine moors with phones in hand, we also realised that these streets are filled with cheese, chocolate, and a giant bronze urn. We popped into Mousetrap Cheese Emporium for a natter with a whiff of natural cheddar, had half a pint in Casked whilst we checked our emails, lost ourselves in Memories Antiques, bought some coffee for the office in re-fill shop Plentiful Wholefoods, and met Lee the beer fanatic from Northern Whisper. Ever the snackers, we also popped into The Chocolate Café on our way back to the car for some local salted caramel choc and a diabetes-inducing hazelnut special.
To top the day off with a final dose of hill starts and scenic views, we headed over to Eagle & Child to present the awesome staff with their Confidentials award for “the best roast dinner in Greater Manchester”. We ordered way too much from their tapas menu, but some highlights included the snag bangers with homemade brown sauce and the vegan black pudding.
Although we tried our best to cover every nook and cranny of Rammy, there are probably some spots that we missed whilst staring at google maps and getting lost in re-fill shops, so do get in touch if you’ve got a hot spot for us to hit up on our next visit.
Also in food and booze news this week:
If that's not enough for ya, our week's stories also included a review of a no-frills neighbourhood Portuguese in Salford, the Manchester bars that made the Top 50 UK cocktail bars, a Liverpool favourite opening in Manchester, some ideas for Valentine's Day dinners, our Hot 50 most popular restaurants from our sister site Confidential Guides, and our round-up of restaurant discounts in February.
Read next: Hip hip Maray! Liverpool hit restaurant to open in Manchester
Read again: Meal kit review - Sam's Chop House Sunday Service
Get the latest news to your inbox
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email by signing up to our mailing list. This is one of the ways that Confidentials remains free to our readers and by signing up you help support our high quality, impartial and knowledgable writers. Thank you!