Street Food Eating in Manchester

Manchester: ‘Madchester’, ‘Granadaland’, ‘Gunchester’.

Credit: Paul Grogan Photography

So many nicknames that are so rarely used by anyone anymore.

Each one of them is attributed to a specific time or period in the city’s history. It was Granadaland when the Granada Studios were the city’s biggest claim to fame during the fifties, the media named it Gunchester during a spree of violence during the 1990s and it was Madchester when the Happy Mondays, amongst others, were riding a hallucinogenic high during the late 80s. These landmark moments (as well as two iconic, competing football teams) have coloured the city with a vibrant cultural history which has sustained it’s tourism trade for the last 40 years.

It’s this cultural significance that has made it a magnet for big brands (including the one I work for) who see the huge retail boroughs as a golden opportunity for creating awareness and generating income. ‘Going out’ as a culture, is a well-refined art up North and each major city (including Newcastle and Liverpool) has it’s own take on this past time. The importance that the citizens of these cities put on eating and drinking out make places like Manchester a perfect place to open a restaurant.

Whilst a number of high-profile chefs have opened fine dining restaurants in the city, hoping in vain to attain the city’s first Michelin star in 40 years, there’s still enough retail space in the city centre to accommodate for all kinds of establishments. With the foodie revolution well in swing this has lead to the rise of a new kind of restaurant: not quite fast food, not quite restaurant.

The street food eatery is an ideal business for first time owners who wouldn’t feel confident running a full-size restaurant or kitchen. The fare served these places are simple to cook and quick to eat, encouraging a high turn over of checks and reducing pressure on chefs.

Although most street food places mostly serve interesting takes on World foods such as Indian or American-styles, there’s still room for innovations in the game. Manchester’s regular food markets are often the best places to try out these new tastes, although some of them might not always be worth the price tag.

Like many other modern ‘innovations’, such as self cleaning ovens, there might be a few misses that don’t quite warrant their existence (I’m looking at you Mac Daddies – mac’n’cheese really isn’t that great), but there’s always something mind-blowingly awesome that will stay with you for a long time to come (Dim Sum Su – I owe you a lot).

Not that I’ve effectively beaten round several bushes, I’m going to rundown my top five street food places that you need to check out should you find yourself in Manchester. This list is of establishments only, so no street food vendors I’m afraid (sorry Su!):

Changos Burrito Bar

Credit: @dineuk

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese

Credit: @eatingmanchester

Mowgli

Credit: @emilyisabaker

Viet Shack

Credit: @samsays_uk

Bundobust

Credit: @jadehadden

New Year Food Goals: 2018

If you’ve not clocked it yet, 2018 is here – time to make some goals!

Credit: Anna Morais

For some people eating is simply a necessity, it can even be a chore for others.

I don’t fall into either of those categories.

I’m passionate about the food I eat: where it comes from, what it looks like – everything. So it makes sense that someone like me will be pretty regimented when it comes to making a list of goals for the New Year.

Now I know – making lists, especially concerning something so subjective and personal as ‘goals’, is such a typical girl-blogger thing to do. I can almost hear your eyeballs rolling in to the back of their head. Well before you lose your sight altogether, just wait a minute and hear me out.

This post is not just an excuse for me to nostalgically reflect on how amazing my 2017 was. It’s certainly not an excuse for me to obsess over how much weight I need to lose and I will personally promise you right now that there will be no desperate wishes for my life as a singleton to end – this is a food blog first and foremost, no drama, no bragging: I promise.

So, here we go – my FIVE FOODIE GOALS FOR 2018:

Prepare and cook a Beef Wellington

Credit: @elliotjamessmith

The Beef Wellington is one of my all-time favourite British meals, but it’s one of those things that I’ve always been told is so much better if you make it yourself. Now, I don’t spend much time at home, so much so that I probably cook for myself 5 times a month – tops. So, you might be able to guess that my cooking skills are somewhat lacking now…so the prospect of preparing a Beef Wellington from scratch is more than a little intimidating. Fingers crossed Jamie and YouTube will see me through it!

Host regular dinner parties

You didn’t think I was planning on eating the whole Wellington myself did you? I’m hoping to spend more time at home this year and that means I’ll be able to invite people round more often. I’m always mercilessly ripped into for never hosting parties, so I’m going to chance that this year and try to do dinner at mine at least once a month. It might take me a while to build up to the Beef Wellington, but I can always fall back on a few classics from my student days if needs be. Spag bol’ anyone?

Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant

Credit: @countingmichelinstars

My first (and only) trip to a Michelin-starred restaurant was a life-changing experience. It opened my eyes to how a simple meal could be transformed into something other worldly and led me to starting my career in the industry. To my great shame, that was years ago and I’ve not been back to a Michelin recognised establishment yet. I’ll still be zipping all around the UK this year, so I’m hoping to get a last minute reservation at a first-class restaurant at some point – I just hope my bank account will be ready for it…

Hit up a Summer-time Food Festival

Credit: @singerfood

Food festivals are all the rage now for families, young people and old folks alike. Last year I was lucky enough to get invited to a couple of Festivals, unfortunately I was working at the time, so I spent most of my time schmoozing instead of stuffing my face. This year I’m going to get a group of girls together, find a perfect sunny weekend and hit up one of the big ones. Although there are some great events being planned every year, the one I’ve got my eye on is the Great Indian Food Feast in London – watch this space!

Become a BBQ Queen

I’ve got a fantastic back garden which is slowly but surely starting to resemble a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the centre piece of all this chaos is a rater forlorn red-brick barbecue which my Father built for me nearly a decade ago. I’d like to say that I made great use of it when I first moved in, but the truth is that I’ve not even used it once. In truth, fire does scare me just a little bit, so the notion of digging out the barbecue and then filling it with coals just doesn’t appeal to me. Still – I’m going to fight my fear and do what I can do become a true BBQ Queen come the end of this Summer.


I’ll make sure to keep you guys updated if I manage to cross any of these off my list!

Three Not-So-Square Meals in Cardiff

The absolute best thing about my job is that I get to travel (and eat) all over the UK.

The brand I work for sent me out to Cardiff to check up on a few potential locations for new restaurants, which was the perfect opportunity for me to book a hotel room and get three utterly filthy meals out – all on the company’s money of course…I ain’t no sucker.

Cardiff’s one of those towns that I’ve visited many times but have never quite got to grips with. Whether that’s because of the confusing* nature of the streets (*they’re really not confusing at all), or because I’ve always left the place in a half-drunk post-hen do stupor will forever be a mystery to me. Regardless, I was more than keen to head back once more to Wales’ capital, especially after I heard from a pal that there were a whole raft of new, hip places to eat there.

So without further ado – here are the 3 Not-So-Square Meals that fuelled my very productive day of company funded research:

Breakfast @ Anna Loka

Credit: @lunnonjhl

When I roll out of bed there are only two things on my mind: Food and Coffee. I found both of those things in abundance at Anna Loka, probably one of the most typically hipster places in Wales, if not the world. Roll up, roll up! We got your rough-hewn tables, we got your battered-to-shit uncomfortable chairs, we’ve even got an open plan kitchen with white-tiles and tattooed chefs. And top of the bill – what you’ve all been waiting to see for the thousandth time…EXPOSED RED BRICK WORK!

Decor snobbery aside the *cough* vegan *cough* menu is drop dead gorgeous. I eat Banana & Blueberry Pancakes – I then forget myself and order a Scrambled Tofu Bap which is silly-tasty. As I leave I promise to myself not to take the piss out of vegans for at least a month (the can’t even eat bacon!…damnit).

Lunch @ Katiwok

Credit: Wriggle

I had to go just a little bit out of my way to find KatiWok, a cornershop shack serving possibly the best kati rolls I’ve ever tasted. I’m sorry – what’s that? You don’t know what a kati roll is? Oh, I’m sorry. I am so sorry. Kati rolls are basically are as fashionable as burritos were last year, about as cool as gourmet burgers were 5 years ago and 10-times tastier than both combined. I understand that’s not a very helpful answer…

The team at KatiWok have been serving up quality pan-asian food (kati rolls, noodles and the like) for the last 3 years. They offer fresh, fun twists on great Asian classics and have easily made my Top Eats list of the year. Their katis (a gorgeous kebab wrapped in doughy, stretchy paratha bread) are the reason to go there, but I was also surprised and elated by their spicy masala fries and excellent ‘bhajees’ (why isn’t there a standardised spelling for these things?!).

Dinner @ The Clink Restaurant

Credit: @Kelsey Reanne Lewis

The Clink’s premise is akin to a shitty new, BBC soap-drama that only your Dad watches because ‘that guy from Spooks is in it’: a group of convicted prisoners in a Welsh prison are given a chance of redemption by cooking in a restaurant. “Yes Dad, it sounds…cool – yes, I’ll make sure to watch it on iPlayer so we can talk about it next time.”

Fortunately for humanity, this concept has not been green-lit through The Writer’s Room – it’s the basis of a whole charitable organisation that runs four restaurants across the UK. All the chefs are serving time and are also working towards their NVQs in Food Preparation, Food Service and Customer Service. I order a pigeon salad with lardon salad, quails egg and black pudding – they’re classic ingredients, well pre-prepared and cooked. The main is a roast supreme of hake with potato rosti and pickled griolles – this surprises me. It looks like a £30 dish, tastes amazing and costs half the price.

Although I’m tempted by the Trio of cherry, I can literally feel my waistline expanding by the second – so I demurely decline and donate a fiver to The Clink – a truly tasty, worthwhile cause.