Buried breweries, Catalan pizzas and David Lynch ice cream – it’s an exciting street food line up

If you’ve walked past Albert Square recently, you can’t have failed to notice that preparations are well under way to transform it into Festival Square, a hub for this year’s Manchester International Festival (MIF.)

From Friday 5 to Sunday 21 July, Festival Square will be a free to visit, open to all food hotspot, open from noon until late each day.

Festival Square’s eclectic 2019 street food line up promises an exceptional and affordable food and drink experience for visitors to this year’s MIF. There will be guest appearances from popular restaurants serving street food versions of their dishes, as well as old favourites and exciting one-off collaborations.

Mif 2017 Festival Square

Festival Square promises to be an extraordinary food destination, as well as the place to check out the exciting free programme of live music, DJs, special events and to pick up Festival info and tickets. 

A series of special MIF supper clubs with some of the region's top chefs including Mark Birchall from Moor Hall, Michael Wignall from The Angel at Hetton and Lisa Goodwin-Allen, executive Chef at Northcote, Langho, have all sold out. So have a series of 'lazy lunches' hosted by Paul Heathcote and guest chefs. But this year, a range of independent street food brands will be based inside ‘The Barn’, a beautiful covered, and unique temporary space with rustic wooden beams that will act as Festival Square’s own bespoke food hall. Nicholas Henninger of OfCA and Paloma Gormley of Practice Architecture have specially designed it – the same team behind Festival Square’s new look in 2019.

Here’s a look at who’ll be there. 

Jw Lees Brewery

What to drink

Festival Square's official beer supplier, local family brewery JW Lees, will be serving beers, wines, Champagnes, soft drinks and a limited-edition American Apricot Pale Ale from The Boilerhouse, at JW Lees MIF Bar throughout the Festival.

The full range of local beers available include:  JW Lees Manchester Pale Ale, JW Lees Bitter,  JW Lees Ever Fallen in Love, JW Lees Cosmic Brew, JW Lees Original Lager, JW Lees Manchester Craft Lager and JW Lees Craft Pale.

JW Lees will be also collaborating with Manchester Gin, one of the city’s most successful contemporary artisan drinks producers, especially for MIF. The specially created result is a citrusy pale ale which captures the signature botanicals of Manchester Gin. 

The bar will also be serving a very special beer brewed as part of MIF’s commission ‘Drunk Pandemic’. The Manchester cholera epidemic of the 1830s is the unlikely inspiration for the first UK project by Japanese art collective Chim↑Pom.  At a time when thousands were buried in huge cholera pits around what is now Victoria Station and Angel Meadows, the people of Manchester were advised to drink only beer to avoid the infected water.  Chim↑Pomare building a temporary brewery in the tunnels beneath Victoria Station and holding tours of this secret venue as well as special events and more to be revealed.  The resulting brew - Chim↑Pom Craft : Asiatic Cholera - will be served at JW Lees’ bar on Festival Square. 

Idle Hands Coffee 3

Independent coffee experts Idle Hands will be hosting MIF’s first full-time coffee residency, creating Festival Square’s artisan coffee house, serving up fresh coffee during the day and espresso martinis by night using their own home-made coffee liqueur. The team's famous tray bakes and vegan cherry pie will also be on the menuas well as a special MIF-inspired deal - “A Slice of Cherry Pie and a Damn Fine Cup of Coffee”

2019 06 26 Honest Crust Pizza Mif

What to eat

Sour dough, wood-fired pizzas and summer salads will be served up daily from Honest Crust - Mackie Mayor and Altrincham Market favourites.  The Honest Crust MIF menu will include… 

Marinara (VE) - San Marzano tomato, fresh garlic, oregano, extra virgin olive oil and Maldon salt Margherita (V) -San Marzano tomato,  fior di latte mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil

Mushroom (V) - Portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, garlic oil, Maldon salt

Salami of the Day- Trealy Farm salami, tomato, mozzarella, basil

There’ll also be a special MIF collaboration pizza with Ramsbottom food stars - Levanter who started out as a mobile operation, serving paella, before setting up their Ramsbottom restaurants Levanter and Baratxuri. The two brands are good friends who have joined forces especially for MIF with a Spanish pizza.

Levanter x Honest Crust Collab (V) - romesco, chickpea, spinach, egg and Mahòn cheese

Serving a collection of ‘on-the-go’ food especially for MIF, this offers an opportunity to check out Kala’s understated cuisine in a laid-back Festival setting.  Visitors can expect Truffle and Parmesan chips; Chickpea Panisse, Harissa Yoghurt and Rocket; Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad with Sticky Walnuts;  Smoked Haddock Fishcake, Soft Boiled Egg, Peas with Mustard Seeds and Chilli; Braised Pork Shoulder, Salsa Verde with Israeli Couscous and Dark Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel and Honeycomb. 

Manjit's Kitchen  Superb Indian vegetarian and vegan street food and snacks, all inspired by Manjit's grandmother's recipes.  The award-winning team (previous winners of Best Street Food at BBC Food and Farming Awards) will be serving up their much loved Chilli Paneer Wrap as well as Bhel Puri, Bhajis and their Mumbai Burger (Vada Pav). 

Firebird Hope Chicken

Firebird Hope  Originally a favourite at food and drink destination Hatch, and now resident at music venue YES, Firebird Hope serve the best free-range chicken, and vegan ‘chckn’ burgers in the land. They’ll be creating a special Festival Square menu with free-range chicken thigh and homemade seitan…

Fried Chicken Burger ‘Bahn Mi’ - Free-range thigh with a polenta crust, sourdough ciabatta, pickled carrot/daikon, summer slaw, sriracha mayo, coriander

Fried Vegan ‘Chckn’ Burger ‘Bahn Mi’ - House-made seitan with a polenta crust, sourdough ciabatta, pickled carrot/daikon, summer slaw, sriracha mayo, coriander

Fried Chicken Pieces - Free-range thigh, jerk seasoning, apple & cucumber salsa, mango hot sauce, green onions

Fried Vegan ‘Chckn’ Pieces - House-made seitan, jerk seasoning, apple & cucumber salsa, mango hot sauce, green onions

Sweet Potato Fries with lime and chilli salt, plus all the sauces

2018 02 06 Gingers

....and for something sweet.

Inventive and irresistible artisan ice cream will be served up from the Ginger’s Comfort Emporium van. Ice cream crusader Claire Kelsey, founder of Ginger’s, has also whipped up some special MIF19 inspired flavours drawing on her favourite Director David Lynch, whose work is one of the festival highlights… Look out for Bob’s Big Boy Chocolate Shake with Blue Velvet Cake.