The BBQ Pulled Pork & Mac And Cheese Toastie From This Manchester Hot Spot Is Better Than Sex
Northern Soul only opened it's little shack door to the public last year, but the lively grilled cheese joint is already oozing with locals and adoring fans who've heard the word on the grapevine. The latest on the hit-list being, love him or hate him - the Bieber himself - the marmite star came to Manchester for his gig last week and ordered 100 of the gourmet toasties for himself and his crew.
The place has a great feel to it before you even walk inside, it's set up in a little open-plan wooden cabin and literally radiates a hearty, friendly, salt-of-the-earth sort of vibe with actual soul music playing cheerily in the background amidst the sounds and smells of frying cheese and clattering trays.
It was also packed - good sign - walking into an empty caf or restaurant during peak lunch hours is a sure fire indicator you're in the wrong fucking place.
The happy-go-lucky staff are more than happy to advise on the menu (which to tell you the truth left me a little baffled - options such as 'Pig On A Lead' and 'Ragin Cajun' made me feel like I'd walked onto a farm homing particularly disobedient livestock.)
Friendly Grilled Cheese guy advised that the 'Pig On A Lead' (mac n' cheese with 9-hour BBQ pulled pork - in a toastie) is their signature dish, so I placed my order and sat on one of the little wooden benches. Surrounded by newspaper cut-outs glorifying their success and advertising Northern Soul's status as winner of the Manchester Food And Drink Festival 2016 'Cheap Eats Of The Year' they're a proud place without being arrogant about it and the staff were working bloody hard, to be fair. I don't think Friendly Grilled Cheese Guy stopped for breath while taking orders.
I have to say I was a tad skeptical - how good can a cheese toastie be for crying out loud? It's cheese and bread.
I also have to say that I was wrong. At the risk of sounding like an M&S advert - this is no ordinary toastie, folks.
Mine arrived golden brown on a red and white checkered tray (details matter) accompanied by purple slaw and speared with a gherkin umbrella, which I quickly discarded to get to the good bit. So heartily filled, a few bits of mac n' cheese fell out before I could even get the thing to my mouth, but when I did I felt like I'd died and gone to carb heaven. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork with just the right amount of BBQ (I can't stand it when there's so much it just becomes a sloppy overpowering mess) a sensational tasting 'secret 3 cheese blend' and hot macaroni spirals. The bread had just the right amount of crispness and moisture without being dry or oily.
Priced at £6.50, this is as close as you'll get to lunch perfection (plus there's the option to take-out if you're on-the-go.) I'll be returning again to sample their 'Ham 'n' Swiss' or (possibly and) the 'Proper Fish Finger' (three cheese blend with Captain's fish fingers, home-made tartare sauce and rocket.)
If anyone who's been here can tell me of a better place for a cheese sarnie, I'd like to be personally escorted there in a van full of doggy bags.
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Review was paid for by Lovin Manchester.