Tag Archives: chilli

Wahaca – Manchester

“Ethical, sustainable, all round good egg, Mexican food restaurant chain from London Town…that’s come to Manchester”

I should set the record straight here. I’m not a connoisseur on Mexican food. (It’s chilli con carne in it? – Ed), but after keeping abreast of the hype surrounding this Northern launch of Wahaca, the excitement generated has been almost biblical. It’s one of the flagship signings for the Corn Exchange complex that has been transformed at the Victoria end of town. Accolades have flooded in from all corners, including a remarkable run of fifty odd five star reviews on Trip Advisor within minutes of opening! It’s been on the list ever since.

Smart upbeat exterior
Smart upbeat exterior

And so it came to be. The Cooktwit was at a loose end. He had to fill an hour between work ending and the start of a triumphant Motley Crue gig at the nearby arena. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out Wahaca. Working around the country as I do, I’m used to dining alone (awww – ed). Tonight was such a night. I ventured in from the front, it’s a smart welcoming entrance, colourful and loud. The pleasant front of house reckoned it would be twenty minutes for a table, even for one, on a Tuesday night at six! I was handed a bleeper and set up shop with a bottle of Corona. Within ten minutes I was whisked round the back to face the faceless atrium that is the ‘work in progress’ centre of the corn exchange. The place was rammed. Parties of mixed ages chattered loudly, families as well as business.

Facsimile of the extensive menu
Facsimile of the extensive menu

I settled in my table, beneath a metal mezzanine, upbeat tunes were banging forth, Maddy, my pleasant young waitress for the evening, explained the extensive, printed napkin come menu both verbally and by drawing all over it with a magic marker. She explained the cauliflower cheese was her favourite! I decide to go ‘street food’. It was recommended that three should be selected to satiate a frame of my size. It was also explained that the dishes would arrive as and when chef has prepared them. Sure enough mine all arrived together!

First up Taquitos. Two corn tortillas filled, rolled and fried into crispy cigars and served with shredded salads and salsas. I chose the Sweet potato and feta version (£3.95) which came with caramelised red onion and wrapped in crispy blue corn, dotted with salsas and chipotle mayo. It looked pretty good, very appetising, but my first venture into the plate with my selected utensil (a spoon) resulted in the whole thing exploding all over the plate, such was the crispiness of the cigar. When I eventually got a mouthful the temperature variance between the case (hot), the potato (warm) and the feta (cold) made for an unpleasant feeling on the palate. The flavours were good though. Some zing ventured forth from the various salsas but overall a little disappointing.

Taquitos, Picadillos, coffee
Taquitos, Picadillos, coffee

I then had a special. I think they were called ‘piccadilos’. Basically this was three, spicy pork and beef minced patties wrapped in a lettuce leaf (£4.25). Again it was tasty enough but once again suffered from the variance in temperature. Cold lettuce with luke warm contents.

Best of the three by some distance was the Beef Tacos. Three toasted soft corn tortillas filled with grilled British steak (£4.50), the beef was flash grilled skirt steak with a chipotle salsa. These were of even temperature and very good. I dotted some of the dishes with the chilli salsa and chilli sauce from the bottles supplied on the table. These added a welcome piquancy.

Tacos & Churros
Tacos & Churros

Having downed the lager I ordered up a coffee and a dessert. My coffee came almost immediately. My dessert some fifteen minutes later! To be fair the coffee was very good, but dish of the night was the Churros y chocolate (£4.25) Mexican doughnuts with a rich chocolate sauce (although fortuitously I got caramel sauce as well). These were excellent, clearly fresh and hot. They were arguably the best Churros I’ve ever had. The caramel sauce in particular adding a major touch of indulgence.

More churros
More churros

In conclusion the whole hour with drinks cost me £23. Pretty good value really. If I’m honest given the hype and my own expectations I left a little underwhelmed. It’s clearly a popular place. The service is bright and peppy. I reckon it’s more suited to a party night out. The first floor (which was shut tonight) looks pretty smart too. I reckon the view over the atrium would be good.

Smart first floor
Smart first floor

Would I go again? Yes, I’d give it another go, but I would go for a bigger plate meal, though I’d definitely go back for the Churros………

The atrium, the gents, the entrance
The atrium, the gents, the entrance

Wahaca
The Corn Exchange
Manchester
http://www.wahaca.co.uk

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Luck Lust Liquor and Burn – Manchester

It’s a blustery, cold, November, Sunday morn. The Cook Twit has succumbed to a virulent bout of ‘manflu’. Such is its ferocity that full blown ebola has taken hold. I doubt this blog will get finished. The flame, unable to accompany me on this trip, calls me a wimp and tells me to get on with it. I venture aimlessly into Manchester. A protracted visit to ‘The Hungry Gecko’ in Chorlton is curtailed as the local trolley buses are off due to ‘engineering works’. 

The Cook Twit is nothing if not a resourceful soul. When faced with such adversity, he brushes himself down, he doesn’t quibble, he quickly gets himself into a hostelry for an alcoholic restorative to ponder his next move. A pint of ‘The Governor’ quickly puts the old fish oil into gear. Never one to shirk new technology, google maps reckons I am a mere 170 yards away from ‘Luck, Lust, Liquor and Burn’. Handsome words have been scribed regarding the qualities of this Northern Quarter stalwart. Not least for its kind rescue act of the burger joint ‘Almost Famous’ whose burgers Liquor and Burn now feature.
Liquor and Burn (for short!) is housed in a quaint, corner plot close to the former market gates in the High Street in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. 
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In order to keep in trend it is not posh. Decor is strictly hip, up cycled, mis matched wooden furniture. The soundtrack is Marvin Gayeish and at a pleasant volume. The vibe therefore is very relaxed and the flashing young blades behind the bar made the cook twit very welcome. No real ale of course but a dark, Brooklyn lager kept the pipes moistened. The menu is printed in black on white A4. Courses have flash titles with hip tag lines, letting you know what you’re in for. Chicken Lickin, Beef Smackdown and Triple Nom just some of the names.

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Tucked away high on the left was my corking starter. A pint of shrimp and squid for £7.50. These exquisite pieces of succulent seafood came hot and deep fried in a light salted and BBQ batter. They came with two dips, one a hot sauce, and one a sundried tomato sauce with pieces of fresh lime to squeeze over. I have to say this was one of the best starters I’ve had in a long while. The effects of the death ridden strain of Ebola was subsiding fast.
For the main I had ‘Fire Alarm Chilli’ for £8.50. Again well presented in its own cast iron skillet set in a terracotta dish with tacos on the side. It came smothered in various sauces and creams (cheese and sour cream) which I may have preferred on the side. The chilli itself was delicious though. Very tasty with a nice heat. It had pulled beef, bacon and chorizo in there which all conspired to give a wonderful smoky flavour. I resisted the salted caramel brownie for afters.
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All in all a very pleasant hour and a half for the cook twit. Perched on my high stool by the window I had a great view of the bar in action. Obviously being a Sunday afternoon it was probably a little quieter than say a Friday night. I’m sure the action revs up a bit then, along with the volume of the music, but it had a great atmosphere and the service was fine. 
 
Manflu? What manflu!
 
Luck Lust Liquor and Burn
100-102 High Street, Northern Quarter
Manchester
0161 832 8644