[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.
Honey and chestnuts buns were both good. Quite similar to a jam doughnut in concept but more bready.
They didnt last the day. I munched whilst watching the match on TV - you know Rangers Fans -v- GM Police.