7 Weird and Wonderful Dishes You Should Be Devouring In Manchester Right Now
This lot are odder than Willy Wonka's Factory
1. The Blackpool Tower Burger - The Shack
I love fish and chips. It's in my blood (I'm from Grimsby fishing town. Yes, the place from the Sacha Baron Cohen film and yes, I'm a little embarrassed about it.)
So when I saw the option of beer-battered fish, chips and mushy peas IN a burger - I naturally had to give it a whirl. Now, I fancy myself as a bit of a fish connoisseur, it's haddock over cod any day for me (which any true Grimbarian will understand) but after spending a few years in the South and accepting both that cod's the norm and not everyone knows what a 'scrap' is (glorious fatty bits of batter that you can sprinkle on your chips) I've learned to be more open-minded.
The Shack's so-called 'Blackpool Tower' burger did not disappoint (though I'll confess to having a few drinks before and being so damn hungry I could have eaten a whale.)
Speaking of which - the size of the thing! More aptly named 'Shamu' - I had to dissect it before I could fit it into my mouth. But after a few glorious gobfuls, was happy to note the fish was nicely battered (not too excessive, not too stingy) and the chunky chips cooked well. Decent beer, inventive cocktails and reasonable prices - I'd recommend the Shack to anyone looking for a chilled place to spend a Saturday or weekday evening grabbing a bite with friends or playing a bit of beer pong.
2. Sage and Onion Daiquiri - Arcane
Who doesn't love a good daiquiri? I prefer mine frozen, but like I said, I'm learning to be open-minded.
Flummoxed by the refreshingly unconventional menu, I asked Arcane's own Andy (the cheeky chappy featured below) for some advice. A sweetie-pie at heart, I decided to be bold and change things up with the (still surprisingly sweet) Sage and Onion Daiquiri. Yep, turns out Roast Dinners aren't just for Sundays.
Arcane are changing the name of the game with their bizarre specials.
This one combines Diplomatico Anejo Rum, home-made sage and onion sugar and a dash of lime for good measure. It’s not for everyone – the tunnels and bridges visitor to Manchester might not even stumble upon this speakeasy-style cocktail cellar. But I bloody loved it.
A tad on the pricier side at £8.50 per cocktail, Arcane is worth it for the quality home-made ingredients and definitely one for a special occasion or a dimly-lit romantic date-night with a difference.
3. The Lay-Away - Dusk Til Pawn
Under-rated next to the glorified 'Pawn Star Martini', the Lay-Away sees the classic British Rhubarb and Custard dessert get a positively pawn-ographic makeover. Served with a side shot of frozen house-made custard, it is truly orgasmic and gives any plain old Screaming Orgasm cocktail a run for its money.
If you're feeling uber-adventurous, give Dusk Til Pawn's take on the classic Old Fashioned a go. The secret ingredient? Pepperoni!
Dusk Til Pawn is open 4pm - 1am daily (3am close Friday and Saturday) and is hands down one of the coolest bars in the Northern Quarter.
Styled like an old-fashioned pawn shop, the former fortune-teller's den is concealed on a kooky row of similarly vintage looking bars and eateries.
4. The Donut Burger - Red's True Barbecue
Two beef patties, melted cheese, smoked peppered bacon, crispy onions and Dirty sauce with a capital D - all wedged between two sweet glazed DONUTS. Yes. It's the stuff of Homer Simpson's dream.
The dirty porker is served with a side of frickles (that's fried pickles, to me and you.)
Quite frankly I wasn't sure whether to be revolted or impressed, but once I'd cast aside thoughts of early diabetes and put my green-eating morals on snooze (for all of the 10 minutes it took me to devour the beast) I tucked in and felt like I was in childhood paradise.
That's until the sugar rush hit...
Not for the faint-hearted - eat and revel at own peril.
Red's True Barbecue Hours of Worship are between 12 and 11pm Monday - Thursday, 12 - 1am Friday and Saturday and 12 - 10pm Sunday. You'll find it in Manchester's Albert Square.
5. Snickerdoodle Peanut Butter Lushbrownie - MilkJam
It's a bit of a mouthful - but your gob NEEDS to meet this jackpot cracker-jack of a dessert sensation if it knows what's good for it.
Peanut Butter jelly ice-cream, crack sauce, cinnamon scratchings and home-made lush brownies combine to create a Great Gatsby level carnival of flavours in your pie-hole.
It's Friday ... snickerdoodle peanut butter lushbrownie, PB jelly ice-cream, crack sauce, cinnamon scratchings pic.twitter.com/WdFDiXssrh— MilkJam (@MilkJamMCR) September 2, 2016
MilkJam call themselves the 'best cakeshop in town' - and we can't say we disagree.
Claiming to be Manchester's first dessert and milkbar pop-up - Milkjam marries the culinary excellence of Gingers Comfort Emporium, Lush Brownies and Bakeorama (because who doesn't love a three-way dessert.)
MilkJam are hosting the Manchester Bake Off this Sunday from 12 - 6pm (check out The Manchester Bake Off Is Coming This Sunday - Here's How To Enter) but if you can't wait until then you can find them on Oxford Street - open 12-8pm daily (12-6pm on Sunday.)
Warning: sugar rush guaranteed.
Open 'til 8pm tonight for your sugar fix pic.twitter.com/CLyyeuw8Hk— MilkJam (@MilkJamMCR) September 6, 2016
6. Reese's Monkey Split - Black Milk Cereal Cafe, Afflecks
Defying all laws of food gravity, Affleck's Black Milk dive is Manchester's first cereal cafe, serving up edible chocolate bowls full of canadian, american and british cereal, specialist milks and all manner of Freakshakes that you'd better get your hiking gear on for - because you'll be climbing 'em rather than eating them.
Everything's sinfully good - but the Reese's Monkey Split (fresh banana, oodles of caramel, Reese's pieces and banana milk) is a personal favourite.
So stop monkeying around and get your fat pants on - Black Milk are open daily on the 2nd floor of Afflecks on Oldham Street. They've also recently announced their goodies are Deliveroo-able.
For their latest updates (and more food porn) check out their Instagram.
7. Pig On A Lead - Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
This ain't your average toastie shack.
The UK's first gourmet grilled cheese restaurant has been enjoying rip-roaring success on Manchester's busy Church Street.
"BANGING OUT KILLER EATS AND RARE BEATS"
The humble folks of Northern Soul have been flipping their hearts out to make the small pop-up style venture a success, and with the local public already truly smitten, looks like they're going to be the next big cheese.
Open Monday - Wednesday 11-8pm, Thursday - Saturday 11-9pm and Sunday 11-6pm you HAVE to try their 'Pig On A Lead'- with 'mac attack' special macaroni cheese, 9-hour BBQ pulled pork and the option to add a sausage patty for an extra £1.50 (rude not to) I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven (cheesy I know.)