Tag Archives: salted caramel

Five Guys – Arndale, Manchester

“Not sure my valet would approve but this fast food burger chain can certainly turn out a decent burger”

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Its become a bit of a Friday treat. Even become known as burger Friday. Working in Manchester I have been gradually schlepping round the hip burger joints with a group of like minded cohorts. We’ve done the usual suspects Byron, Solita, Almost Famous, Yard and Coop, Common, Reds, Westcorner and others. However, nagging away at the back, big ‘Dazzer’ kept banging on about Five Guys. “Where is it?”, “in the Arndale” he quipped. “Good Lord, my valet wont let me go in there, thats for the youngsters, how will I dress? What jacket will I wear?”, “No honest its ace, just keep with me you’ll be fine”.

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The Arndale is Manchester’s compendium of garish retail emporiums, so loved by the ‘yoof’. I felt so out of place in my Harris tweed. Dazzer led on, armed with a full hipster beard, he took looked the part and soon led me to the double height cathedral of glass and red panelling. Five Guys cuts quite a dash, you cant miss it.

We queued in. A riot of formica with the odd daub of oak. I was encouraged by the claim that ‘chips are hand formed and sourced locally,’ from some farm in Huddersfield today by all accounts.

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Dazzer clearly experienced in the protocol quickly ordered the burger with a riot of extras (there are 15 to chose from!), lettuce, jalepeno, cheese, onion, hot sauce and various other ingredients. To avoid confusion and embarrassment I simply ordered the same, but with a salted caramel milkshake instead of one of about 170 different coca cola flavours!

We then waited out front whilst the uniformed operatives set to work. It’s an impressive set up. All the workings are on show. A huge metallic range applies the necessary heat to the foodstuffs whilst an overhead cowl hoovers up the steam and sweat of honest toil. Within minutes our number is called and we grasp our feed. Its all wrapped in brown paper.

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Have to say it was very good. The burger was tasty and moist. Probably overdid it with the extras as it disintegrated into a gooey mess. A lovely gooey mess though. The skin on chips were historic. Proper fantastic. The milkshake was up there with the best too.

Came it at around £12 a head, so whilst its fast food, it’s not necessarily fast food prices, but well worth it.

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Whilst I went to the Arndale in Manchester there is one in the Trafford Centre too. That said they are sprouting up everywhere, emanating from London as ever. Worth a try if you happen to be in the type of place they happen to be! Not sure Jeeves will let me out again, but that doesn’t stop you though…..

Five Guys
Somewhere near you soon….
http://www.fiveguys.co.uk

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Albina – Crosby, Liverpool

“I’ve never had a Sunday roast to the strains of The Divine Comedy before!”

As Alex, our muscular front of house scouser says “we have an eclectic jukebox here, we run competitions to guess the tune”. I didn’t do too bad. Anyone remember ‘It’s my Life’ by Talk Talk? Anyway it made for some entertaining banter between The Flame, Granddaughter Jess and myself as we enjoyed a rather splendid luncheon at Albina in Crosby. Crosby is a smidgen north of Liverpool on the old dock road.

Gormleys nudes, the outside
Gormleys nudes, the outside

Albina itself nestles amidst a fairly mundane set of shopping emporiums just off a main trunk through Crosby. It’s a smart enough frontage, rustically emblazoned with its previous moniker ‘Albion….’. Sadly the poor chaps were forced to change the name after some bizarre disapproval by a London based outfit.

It’s a leisurely stroll through some leafy bits from the beach which sports the now famous ‘Gormleys Another Place’. These are a series of metallic, naked gentlemen which stand alone in an attempt to hold up the raging seas. As this was a cold, windy May afternoon they needed to make a good fist of it.

The reduced menu, some organic improvements
The reduced menu, some organic improvements

As with many of my gastronomic sojourns they germinate from a mere quip on Twitter. This time it was a ‘sarky’ prompt that dozens of love struck couples were swarming hand in hand towards Albina for another slap up feed. This was a wet Tuesday night! It would seem that despite the accolades (an AA rosette has been bagged already) Albina would heartily welcome a bit more trade. I hope it gets it because it’s good, very good.

We stepped through the open door on a Sunday at 12.30. The young relative was heading south at 4.30 hence the early timing. We were the only ones in. It was pretty bleak at first but the aforementioned Marcus soon had us at ease. It’s a growing space. A space that is developing organically. Alex is slowly adding it’s personality by scouring eBay. It’s coming together. There’s some nice simple touches. Simple furniture, simple walls, simple paint scheme. Despite the lack of punters, it was easy to imagine that full it could be a very special place.

Chicken faggot, mackerel, coffee filler images
Chicken faggot, mackerel, coffee filler images

We picked from the basic Sunday menu. Two courses for £15 or three for £18. The youngster picked all my choices. Jess started with the braised chicken faggot on a sage and onion cake. It came with the finest mushroom and bacon cream sauce I’ve ever tasted. Yes, I did get to taste it. Part of the deal of picking my choice was that we swap half way! I had a legacy from the previous night special, mackerel on a warm beetroot and potato salad. Both dishes presented beautifully and simply on a plain dish. Both dishes sublime.

For mains the youngster went for plain fish and chips. I say plain, for it was a fine hunk of soft white hake encased in a soft, seasoned batter. My fork full was superb. Young Jess didn’t quite share the enthusiasm she had for the fish with the skin on wedges. But they were great for me. The Flame went for fish pie with Mrs Kirkhams smoked cheese topping. Bit of an expert on fish pie. Thumbs were mainly up. Liked the fact it was all white fish, but missed the egg that The Church Green put in! I went for the roast beef. As with all the dishes, simply presented, hot and beautifully cooked. It was a good roast with a boat of real meat juices to slaver over if things got too dry. Top stuff.

Simple British Sunday fayre
Simple British Sunday fayre

We all went for puddings. I went old school, Jam roly poly with custard. Proper suet job this, and blimey what a portion! The Flame went for sticky toffee pudding complete with all the dates and butterscotch sauce. Jess had what turned out to be the star of the show. Chef Dave’s homemade salted caramel ice cream. Three truly sumptuous boules of creamy goodness. Thankfully she was full at this point so I was able to sweep to the rescue and scoop up a fairly decent sample.

Ice cream, toffee pud, roly poly
Ice cream, toffee pud, roly poly

The only disappointment for me was the lack of choice. The full menu (available at all other times barring Sunday) really is a treat. Historical British recipes using fresh, local, british produce. It’s a striking offer.

The standard menu.
The standard menu.

Despite being an hours run out, we will be back to go through a bit more of the card. If you really appreciate simple British food cooked and presented well, it is hard to beat. Make a day of it. Stroll through the Gormleys on the beach then up the road to Albina. Learn some Cerys Matthews tunes though, theres bound to be one on and you will get asked to name that tune!

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Albina Crosby
55 Coronation Road,
Crosby,
L23 5RE
0151 932 9460
http://www.albina.co.uk