[Manchester] Lunch in the Northern Quarter
It’s a lovely day and I planned a train ride into the city for some quiet retail therapy, lunch and some ingredient shopping. Had I remembered that the city plays host to the UEFA cup final – nope, dozy pillock that I am. So I get off the train to find Mancunians outnumbered by large groups of Rangers fans intent on loudly enjoying themselves whilst they worked their way through the 12-packs that most seemed to have with them.
So, to food. The “This & That” is the small Asian caff that always gets the write-ups and perhaps rightly so. But I thought I would have a serious graze around the neighbourhood.
Hunters BBQ on High Street provided a starter of chicken tikka kebab @ £3.20. Knowing I was on a mooch, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to manage one of their legendary game curries – venison, quail or partridge – but will one day. Kebab arrived – good spicing. Moist yet well charred meat. Usual kebab shop type salad. Several different sauces offered – the mango one offering a nice change to the more common chilli. Nice naan – the rounder thinner takeaway type rather than the teardrop shaped restaurant sort – but still a good combination of crispy and doughy bread.
A few doors down is Alladin. Big enough only for 4 tables and few bar stools. And one of the exponents of the “rice and three” – I had a wander round the other places and everyone now seems to be charging four quid. You get a big helping of rice and your choice of three big spoonfuls of the day’s choices. I had a keema and peas (much as you’d expect), a nice almost dry spinach dish with garlic and some welcome heat, and a spoonful of something chickpea-y – not a complete winner this as I found it very salty which masked what may otherwise have been good flavours.
I then popped across the road to the Arndale Market which seems to have lost a couple of its good food suppliers (I’m sure Sillfield Farm used to have a stall there). Perhaps now more of a food court type thing than a market (although probably the best range of fish in the area) but a good range of different cuisines on offer. I needed coffee and dessert and found both at Boteco Brazil. Coffee was just OK – is it just me or does the South American influence make for weedy coffee ? Canary Islands are the only part of Spain where, IMO, there’s crap coffee and the folk there have many links with SA. And, seeing as I’d started lunch with a kebab, I thought I’d finish with one. What was described as “BomBom” was several skewered grapes covered in dark chocolate. Nice. Very nice.
Then I battled my way over to Chinatown to pick up some noodles and so on. And, of course, popped into Ho’s Bakery for some honey and chestnut buns. Three of each. £1 for three. Just on the off-chance that I might ever want to eat again this week, you understand. Nothing to do with greed.
I think Hunters BBQ does the nicest kebabs in that part of Manc - their naans and meat are consistently great, and I love the mango sauce. I have tried a couple of the game curries (venison and some kind of bird, maybe partridge??) but thought they were OK not amazing - a bit of a gimmick that but admittedly a good one.
I don't know what's going on with the Arndale food court either, but I agree that it was a little better when they first opened. I had heard that a NY style bagel place was opening there, and I keep hoping to see it when I go, but no dice so far. Would be nice to have some more bagels in the city centre, and an alternative to Barbakans.