Four Day Tea Tour of Manchester

During the traumatic week that The Cooktwit was left marooned and had to fend for himself with a five day breakfast blitz of Manchester (see here) he also had to endure eating out straight after work for his tea as well. These things are sent to try us, but you’ll be pleased to know I gave it a good go. I deliberately chose either quirky, relatively new, or just plain different from my normal fayre.

If you’re canny Monday night in Manchester can yield a few bargains. I figured the 50% off food deal at Tariff and Dale, hip new pizza joint in the Northern Quarter would be a good start. And indeed it was. £9.60 all in for a rather fine Outstanding Brewery IPA, a rather generous plate of hot Njuda sausage and chilli pizza and a rather fine tublet of slaw. The pizza was a belter, typified by the rather fine ‘leoparding’ around the edge, ensuring the excellent dough base had been ‘caught’ at just the right time. I ate downstairs in the ubiquitous, NQ, industrialised decor. A thoroughly pleasant teatime feast.

Pizza and slaw
Pizza and slaw
More pizza with leoparding.
More pizza with leoparding.

Tuesday, it was over to another new, Northern Quarter outfit. This time Yard and Coop. It’s modus operandi is to ply the locals in buttermilk fried chicken. I’ve become fairly addicted to this stuff via streetfood favourites Mumma Schnitzel, so I was quite looking forward to compare. I had two decent chunks of boneless thigh. It comes with a much darker (and hence different tasting) crumb than Mummas, but it was nonetheless rather good. The chicken beautifully succulent. I had a couple of sides, a bean salad with creme fraiche which was rather good and a spicy slaw which was not. There was no mayo in it, so it was curiously dry, livening up only when a kick of spice became apparent. Had a corking vanilla milkshake with it. All in around £14. Loved the place, anywhere with a cartoon fox on the wall and some chicken coops to sit in has to be good right?

Chicken and milkshake
Chicken and milkshake
More yardage and the comedy fox
More yardage and the comedy fox

Sticking to the Northern Quarter I then nipped into El Capo for some Mexican tapas (via a rather splendid Seven Brothers Pale ale and a mojito at Beef and Pudding!). I can’t really tell you much about the decor. It was so dark down there I had to use my iphone torch to see the menu! That said I enjoyed the food. I had three plates, balls, heart and cheesy fritters. All really good actually. The cows heart with chilli was particularly good. Subtle liver taste and texture. The meatballs were massive. I imagined that size they would be too dry, but they weren’t. The cheesy fritters provided a lovely contrast to the other two spicy dishes. All in with a Shipyard IPA £18.

Heart balls and fritters. It's dark so apologies for the crap pics!
Heart balls and fritters. It’s dark so apologies for the crap pics!

A final touch of indulgence. Nipped into Hawksmoor (review here) for a lobster roll and chips. Slushed down with a Buxton IPA it was my biggest expenditure at £27.50, but Ye gods it was good. I recommend all to do this at least once! A lightly toasted brioche elongated roll (hot dog roll?) came stuffed with luscious chunks of sweet, garlic buttered lobster and a dish of buttery béarnaise sauce. I have waxed lyrically at the triple cooked chips before. Given it was sixish I had the exquisite restaurant to myself, I felt like a Lord! Forty five minutes of pure bliss.

Decadence, a lobbie roll
Decadence, a lobbie roll

The Flame came back Friday so it was back to a comforting salad for tea! Only kidding, we actually treated ourselves to a chippy tea. Rather good though I say so myself. Top week had by all. Spent a few bob but it was worth it. The new boys on the Manchester block delivered. Plenty more to come……..

http://www.tariffanddale.com   http://www.elcaponq.co.uk  www.yardandcoop.com   http://www.thehawksmoor.com

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Breakfast in Manchester – A Five Day Tour

“It seems you can get an early breakfast in Manchester, great start to the day”

The Cooktwit only earns his keep in Manchester. It’s an hours jaunt to the ‘metrop’. Breakfast is normally an early morning affair comprising semi skimmed milk and some wheat grains. For variety the grains may be flaked, branned, crusted or boiled.

The Flame took off for a week leaving the hapless cooktwit marooned. However, he doesn’t quake, he dusts himself down, gets out his credit card and hits town. An experiment ensued, what can Manchester offer for a mid-week pre office feed?

First up Pot Kettle Black, bit of a cheat this, I go here quite a bit for a ‘52diet’ porridge. Lovely little independent coffee stop in the Barton Arcade.  I’ve tried a few porridges in town. I reckon at £2.50 its good value for money, so I reckon this is the best. A good portion, still with a bit of bite and comes with a cup of honey and dried fruit. Could do with being hotter but you can break walls down with this. Good start.

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Tuesday I nipped down to Wholesome and Raw, one of the six new outlets awarded a stab at setting up full time at The Kitchens in Spinningfields. As the name suggests they specialise in organic, good for you grub. I had what turned out to be a cross between a salad and a toastie. Toasted sourdough bread with super scrambled eggs on one and sliced avocado on the other. Flanked by tomatoes and shrubbery dripped in balsamic and oils. An unusual breakfast but nonetheless another super start. Copped me £6.90 though.

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Wednesday over to surprise entry Per Tutti. An Italian restaurant by trade, but here it is offering a super breakfast menu from 8am. I dined alone in smart surroundings with great coffee. I plumbed for a smoked haddock, kedgeree scotch egg. Set on rocket it was a fair size and was very tasty. Came in at £8.50 with the brew. A surprisingly good start.

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Thursday its over to Bills. First chain of the week, but one I’ve always thought seems a bit better than many. Been to a few around the country. They all seem well thought out with an eclectic interior and a good menu. I had the eggs benedict. I love eggs benedict. I’ve had better than this to be fair; I prefer a thicker hand cut ham, rather than the thin sliced stuff. But I’m quibbling, there’s quite a few in here, the service is perky and smart and it’s a great view onto John Dalton Street. All in Dearest of the week £9.30.

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Final day, it’s a sunlit Carlucci’s in Spinningfields. Another chain, but again another quality one in my opinion. Had a corking fry up in Leeds once as well as several decent pastas around the country. Had a simple muesli and yoghurt which came with a dish of honey and a dish of berries. Good portion, great crunch and taste. Lasted me well into the day. Coffee always decent as well, spent many a time in Piccadilly waiting for train with one. All in £7.35.

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Have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my little tour of early doors eating in Manchester. Couldn’t fault any of them. If you’re on a budget probably best to stick to a simple independent. All in all I spent £34.65 but each time I was well set up for the day. Ill certainly be giving this a try again as a little treat.

http://www.bills-website.co.uk
http://www.potkettleblackltd.co.uk
http://www.pertutti.co.uk
http://www.carluccios.com
@wholesomeandraw

Freemasons of Wiswell – Lancashire

“I reckon you can fall out of bed and hit your head on an AA rosette in the Ribble valley!”

It is clear there is a plethora of fine eateries in this golden seam of rural Lancashire. The Flame and I chalked another Northern gem off the list last Sunday. This time ‘Freemasons at Wiswell’ to add to ‘The Parkers Arms’, ‘Assheton Arms’, ‘The Three Fishes’ and probably a few others. And once again, as with the others, it is well worth the hours drive.

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It was a chance tickle on the old ‘tinterweb’ to see where we could go for lunch when I saw Wiswell on the map. It clicked a few cogs and within seconds the ‘Opentable’ electronic platform confirmed we had indeed bagged a lunch time spot at the Freemasons. The steed sped North, an hour later the young lady in the dashboard led us up a narrow track past the fine, understated, terraced exterior.

We pushed through the cacophony of prizes on the windows. Ribands, rosettes, stars, cups they were all there. We knew we were entering somewhere rather grand. We were warmly welcomed and gently ushered to our upper floor table. A quick glance at the bar confirmed my first beverage would be manufactured by Propsect Brewery, a fine purveyor of light beers.

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Our table for two could have sat six. We had plenty of space and time to admire the plush, substantial décor. Pure countrtyside. Tweeds mixed with game, hunting, and racing images backed by crisp yellow ‘paintage’. This is a quality interior. This is where you bring your favourite Gran for a fine birthday feast! Great stuff.

First up, the breads. I concur with many that the quality of bread (and the butter for that matter) sets the tone. What a tone this sets. A platoon of warm, homemade delights festooned a steely slate. Quinelles of butter sprigged with salt lent a hand nearby. The combinations were tremendous. I could have carried on and just lived off this.

The bread, butter, the chips
The bread, butter, the chips

We ordered from the £25 per head, set three course lunch. It’s a sparing but nonetheless triumphant offer. The Flame went for the cod loin, set on charred and pickled melon which was set in a large bowl. The waitress then swamped the said ingredients in a warm pool of iberico ham flavoured broth. The Flame wasn’t initially convinced but soon warmed to the idea. I managed half a fork full of translucent cod, washed in ham. Wonderful. I had heritage tomatoes with English mozzarella salad. Except it wasn’t just that. It also arrived in a huge earthenware bowl. The tomatoes diced, the ice cold mozzarella set as a cream. It was more like a desert. It was crackingly good. A particular revelation being the warm ‘tomato essence’. Coming the day after watching Kenny Atkinson (House of Tides) prepare ‘tomato water’ the day before on Saturday kitchen it was a particular delight.

Cod, heritage tomatoes
Cod, heritage tomatoes

Main courses swept in. The Flame a huge pot of fish pie topped with vegetables and dotted with mash. Still a touch short of her all time favourite at The Church Green, but splendid all the same. She also had to test out the chip competition. A couple of weeks back we had lauded the triple cooked versions by Hawksmoor. These duck fat efforts were equally, if not more tremendous. Perfect cylinders of soft, golden potato. A true delight and an absolute must when you come.

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I had arguably the finest Sunday roast Ive ever had. The beef cooked to the prescribed vermillion  allied to a suite of beautifully cooked and remarkably tasty vegetables. A perfect Sunday roast for me. Thoroughly agreeable.

Sweet time. Two simple desserts. The flame a deep chocolate mousse with passion fruit ice cream, while I had ‘Alpine Strawberry’, a disc of mashed berries with creamy cream and vanilla ice cream. Both thoroughly delightful. A very decent coffee ended it all.

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We paid the £65 bill and marvelled to each other at the quality of what we had just eaten. We left already formulating plans to return for a special occasion and to go from the normal menu. The accolades are fully deserved, this is indeed a very special place. I’m afraid it’s another recommend from us.

Freemasons at Wiswell
8 Vicarage Fold
Wiswell
Clitheroe
Lancashire
BB7 9DF

t: 01254 822218
e: enquiries@freemasonswiswell.co.uk