From lucky katsu to Greek conviviality, Hatch's metamorphosis is almost complete
With the cooler-than-thou makeovers of The Northern Quarter and Ancoats, and the ever lively nature of Deansgate and The Printworks, the student end of Manchester (dubbed the Southern Gateway by developers, but never locals) has comparably been a bit limp for a while.
it’s the new food and drink openings that have got us clucking
When Hatch popped up on a bit of disused land a few years ago, it was a breath of fresh air, but stood out like a Londoner in Piccadilly Gardens.
Locals and students celebrated its quirkiness, great tunes, eclectic beer menu and constantly revolving food pop-ups. Some, perhaps, hoping that it would remain their little secret; away from the bandwagon-jumpers at the other end of town.
If you’ve spent any length of time around that end of Oxford Road lately, you’ll probably have considered buying a dust mask. As new high rises fly up in a cloud of fibreglass, wood and steel particles quicker than you can say ‘Jonathan Schofield’.
For better or worse, there is a lot of investment going on. The once dismal student precinct across the road with its stabby Spar and shabby (but well-loved) bookshop has been given a fresh lick of Ronseal.
A cluster of multinational food and drink outlets have moved in to feed off those frivolously squandered student loans (or Bank of Mum & Dad donations).
But why give your money to the chains? Over at Hatch, things are getting really exciting. We popped down for a nosey at their hugely expanded site and were seriously impressed.
In case you have yet to visit. Hatch is a development made up of colourful shipping containers, think a food and drink version of Affleck’s for the millennial generation.
Each container is provided as a blank slate for independent traders to make their own. Manchester being absolutely brimming with home-grown creative types, as well as visiting students who find their spiritual home here, the results are vibrant, inventive, and often unique.
It’s multicultural too, of course, with the current crop of long term food pop ups including Oke Poke’s Hawaiian poke bowls (it’s a bit like deconstructed sushi), Cypriot grazing from Mezze, sun-soaked Sicilian arancini from the lovable brothers at T’Arricrii and Get Chucked burgers from… Urmston.
This week sees Hatch treble in size, while the heavy-on-the-shellsuits reworked vintage shop Suzy Loves Milo is still going strong, there are eleven new retailers whose wares include handmade chocolate bars with packaging by local artists from Choc, sustainable and up-cycled gifts from Mindful Store, co-operative ceramics from Clay Studio, and body jewellery from Affleck’s fave Abacus.
There will also be workshops for DJing, crafts and more, cutting-edge floristry from Bulb Flower Studio and pampering by The Portland Barbers. A huge stage has been built, so expect to see plenty of live music too.
But it’s the new food and drink openings that have got us clucking. In addition to the existing outdoor picnic-style seating area, there is now a classy, smoke-free rooftop terrace, forming part of the summery Number 8 Cocktail Bar venture from London-based serial popper upper Jimmy Garcia.
This sits alongside the original (and top-notch) Ol Nano Brewery, new wine bar and shop Vin-Yard, and much loved Chorlton bar side project Electrik Box.
Meanwhile, you can live out your Grateful Dead fantasies by hanging out in a psychedelic double decker bus munching Banh Mi from Hanoi 75. If that’s not your jam, The Kitchen features a huge, communal, wooden table for a Greek-inspired gathering with modern street food like rabbit tacos and giant king prawn souvlaki.
Bright orange Japanese lucky cats line the jet black walls of the charmingly named Fukuu which promises modern Pan Asian junk food, and from the people behind the excellent Oishi Q, we’ve got high hopes. Herbivorous promise an ever changing vegan street food menu with the likes of ‘duck’ and hoisin wraps.
Just hatching as we speak are Get Chucked offshoot Hot Chick, for all your fried chicken cravings. While for dessert, Ice Alchemists will be rustling up their ice rolls ‘live’, alongside bubble waffles, milkshakes and cakes.
When you’re done for the day, you can keep the party going by taking home a few bottles from Beer Box. More new openings are to be announced as the final few units are filled.
See the transformation for yourself at Hatch, Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED