Upstairs hidden bar reveals new aperitivo-style offering ahead of first birthday
Get yourself a man who talks about the new options on his cocktail menu as if they were his own flesh and blood. A man like Will from Wandering Palate.
He’ll tell you where they were conceived, speak fondly about the stories behind their names and go deep into respective traits, intricacies and characters. Most of all he’ll tell you how proud he is, especially of Dirty Old Town, which we’ll get onto in a moment.
It’s about having these amazing conversations and asking the suppliers, who know their product inside and out, what can we do with this?
If you haven’t been to the Wandering Palate in Monton, this weekend, 28 - 29 May, is the ideal excuse to visit. The neighbourhood deli, wine and cocktail bar on Monton Road will celebrate its one year anniversary with Trealy Farm bratwurst hotdogs (a free glass of bubbles with each) and plenty of wine. But don’t worry if you miss it, owners Emma and Will Evans have got plenty of reasons for you to pencil a trip in not least the launch of their new cocktail and snacks menu.
All roads lead to Monton
“I went to this place in Pisa and I still dream of it.” Will says, as we sit with him and his partner Emma in The Wandering Palate’s vibrantly coloured upstairs bar. The teal walls and a pink ceiling provide an unexpected and rather pleasant surprise when you get to the top of the stairs.
“It was the best sandwich experience of my life. So we’ll be having one sandwich on the menu and it’ll be like that one. It was all about the salsa verde.”
Inspiration for upcoming menu changes at Wandering Palate has come from far and wide. If you get the chance, ask Will and Emma about recent trips to Portugal and Italy. They recount the trips like poetry. Adventures sourcing ingredients and taste-testing. They’ve even been as far as Bridlington, lobster capital of the UK, not that you’d know from visiting. Culinary justice for Bridlington lobsters is a cause the couple are firmly behind.
Sourcing is important to the couple, who have recently opened Farm & Fish down the road, a fishmonger, butcher and deli in association with the Butchers Quarter NQ. Will also runs Manchester Union lager. So you could say, they know their onions.
All roads of course lead back to Monton and the resulting menus are an exciting prospect. A new cocktail menu packs six signature drinks all hovering around the ten quid mark with locally-inspired names that cater to a variety of spirit preferences.
Local cocktails inspired by near and far
Topping the menu is a Lemon Sherbert Daiquiri. Sweet, served in a coupette glass and described as “a white lady getting married to a lemon meringue pie”. A lot of effort has gone into the mouthfeel of the drink and it shows. None of that cloying kickback in your throat that you so often get with concentrated lemon. Smooth as you like. Prefer a vegan version? Just ask.
Elsewhere there are the floral botanicals of the Worsley Summer Ball. Gin dressed with orange blossom flowers, with orange liqueur, lime, lemon and hibiscus lemonade making it all the more drinkable.
The Eccles Spritz is a similarly sweet but fresh option, marrying sultana-infused French liquor (Eccles cake, anyone?) with PX sherry, fig liquor and topped with prosecco. Wandering Riddle packs dark rum and exotic South American spirits whilst Monton Rhubarb Society combines rhubarb-infused gin with rhubarb soda for a less boozy option.
Dirty Old Town is Will’s ode to the Penicillin, centred upon what can only be described as a quest for the ultimate smoky Irish whiskey. Hinch Peated Single Malt (available in bottles downstairs) is the star of the show, with coffee adding bitterness and Benedictine bringing sweetness to a rocks glass and ice.
'You should call it picky bits'
Although a name is yet to be settled upon for upcoming food menu changes, “picky bits” is a good way to think about them. Inspired by cicchetti and pinchos, there’ll be the aforementioned dream sandwich as well as the equally transportive combination of bread topped with goat’s curd, nduja sausage and orange zest. Quick, easy, picky bits that lend themselves to lunches and aperitivo timeframes.
Elsewhere there’ll be Palate’s trademark deli offering with cheese, meat and bread sharing boards. Meats from Northern Cure, bread from Holy Grain and cheese sourced nationwide by Manchester's Crafty Cheese Man. Combinations-wise, think mushroom pate and blue cheese, Gorgonzola with anchovies. Don’t be surprised to see tuna and chocolate on the menu either, further fruits of international recce missions.
“We’ve been adding a few new suppliers and they’ve all got really great ideas,” Will says.
“It’s not just about what we think. It’s about having these amazing conversations and asking the suppliers, who know their product inside and out, what can we do with this? Then I get excited about what we can do with it.”
The upcoming menu additions will be a natural progression of sorts. Using items from the counter downstairs whilst providing a handy edible walkthrough for diners on how to best use them in their own kitchens.
Life drawing, exhibitions and supper clubs
Looking ahead, Wandering Palate will be looking to cement itself further as a hub of the community with a programme of events, both foodie and creative. Life drawing classes are pencilled in weekly for Tuesday nights with a glass of wine on arrival and all art materials included. No experience required.
The deli’s upstairs space will be a continuous home to art exhibitions - something close to Emma, who is an artist in her own right. There's black and white photographic work by former Guardian photojournalist and close friend of L S Lowry, Denis Thorpe currently adorning the walls. Exhibitions will change monthly with plans for more supper clubs also in the offing.
If you haven’t been to Monton and Wandering Palate yet, you’re quickly running out of excuses.
Wandering Palate, 191 Monton Rd, Eccles, Manchester M30 9PN
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