Food: Eating out in Manchester

cottonopolis
I’ve recently noticed that whenever I pop a food related blog post on here and share it on social media, I get more interest than ever before. Wow – we really are a food and drink obsessed nation, and I for one am the main culprit. Whilst trawling through my iPhone’s camera roll this morning, I realised I have a stream of photos from various eateries week by week, and I really should start to share them with you all. So starting from today, here is a round-up of Manchester restaurants, cafes and bars I’ve been visiting, and my honest opinion of them…

1. Cottonopolis

I feel like a slow coach with this place, mainly for the reason that I feel every food blogger and reviewer went and visited this place as soon as it opened last year. Save the best till last I guess in my case, as I saved it for two visits during one week in mid February. In a nutshell, Cottonopolis is a Japanese tapas style restaurant and bar, situated on the corner of Lever Street and Mangle Street in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. It’s quite difficult to find – you really need to keep your beady eyes open for the tinted windows with the little bee logo.

Once inside, it’s a beautifully designed, dim lit industrial style place, with high wooden tables and corner seating in a range of deep browns and Earth shades. It keeps in with the quirky Northern Quarter theme, with original features, brick walls and metal wire features. The menu is straight to the point, with a nice refreshing difference. The options are split into sections: Ice, Fire, Steam and Oil. To save me explaining each section, take a look at the menu snippet below. I opted for a real mix of sharers for me and my friends, combining veggie dishes with meats and fish. Have a little gander below…

cottonopolis

cottonopolis
Soft shell crab tempura above – I’m a huge lover of crab, and this lightly fried version is devine.

cottonopolis
Blackened Mackeral Treacle – cured and blowtorched. If you are a fish lover, you would appreciate the soft texture and yummy taste of this mackeral. Full of taste and seasoned with pickled ginger, mooli and cucumber and a chilli jam.

cottonopolis
Shumai – Steamed Chicken Dumplings. These four dumplings are stuffed with chicken, mushroom and truffle, and are super soft, packed with the meat and vegetable mix. Quite a standard flavour on these – if you enjoy chicken dumplings without too much spice, then these do just the job.

cottonopolis
Gyoza – steamed prawn dumplings stuffed with chestnut, prawns and spring onions. I am a huge prawn fan, and these taste completely different to usual prawn gyoza’s I’ve had before. I think its to do with the chestnuts, which have a real strong flavour that works well with the juicy prawns.

cottonopolis

cottonopolis northern quarter
I actually can’t remember which one from the menu this dish above was, as it was ordered by my friend, but I know it was a vegetable order and it was so lovely! How about that for presentation?

cottonopolis
The above photos show the lightly battered prawn tempura with a spicy avocado dip, and then the Pork Yakotori – robato grilled pork belly. These two dishes are my very favourites. The prawn tempura isn’t too deeply fried, which I find can ruin the taste of any fried prawn dishes when they come with too much crunch and a touch of greasy batter. These were light and seasoned, and the avocado dip tasted absolutely amazing. As for the pork, this was recommend to me by friends before my visit, and although I don’t generally eat a lot of pork, this dish in particular was the most delicious. The pork just melts in your mouth and has a sweetened flavour, working well with the chilli jam dip.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Crab Bao Bun and the Pork Bao Buns, but clearly enjoyed them a little too much as to not take any photos! The bread is dense and has a sticky texture, working well with the meat and fish inside, giving it a Japanese taste with the seasoning. All these delicious dishes were washed down with a jasmine green tea….

cottonpolis
2. The Burger Kitchen at The Farrars
Ah I remember when The Farrars was just a typical homely countryside pub. Always a popular ‘boozer’ so to speak, it attracted a range of younger drinkers and older locals, mainly for weekend drinks and a spot of darts and slot machine playing. This pub is set in the stunning rural hills of Saddleworth, providing breathtaking views. Anyhow, this place has now transformed to market itself to a younger crowd and to offer something Saddleworth doesn’t really offer – an uber cool burger kitchen, inline with the menus you would expect to see at city center joints such as Almost Famous and Solita (which is pretty amazing – you can read my review here).

The Burger Kitchen at The Farrars offers tempting large sized burgers, from the El Nino, which is a chicekn or beef patty loaded with guacamole, pulled brisket chilli, jalapeños & jack cheese, the Dirty Burger, loaded with a beef patty, battered onion strips, ‘dirty’ chicken & jack cheese, and the mother of all fatty options; the Donut Burger, containing 2 thin beef patties, streaky bacon, tomato alioli, jack cheese & bbq sauce all on a donut. Yes – a donut! I didn’t try this so sadly can’t review it. I really wish someone near by had been tucking into this! Myself and my sister opted for The Mother Clucker, which was a yummy pile up of southern-fried chicken burger, BBQ pulled chicken, streaky bacon, jack cheese & house slaw. I tried to be semi-healthy and order mine without the cheese, which was possibly a little pointless.

Along side the extensive list of burgers, there are vegetable burgers on offer too, hot dogs, piled up fries and the slightly healthier option of hot bowls. Take a look at their menu here for a better idea. All in all, I enjoyed my food and it was nice to have this type of option up in the quieter area of Oldham. Not too sure the menu fits in with the cosy pub interior, but hey, I guess it’s a refreshing and daring change…

burger kitchen
burger kitchen
burger kitchen
burger kitchen
3. Snugburys, Cheshire

OK so this place is based in Nantwich so doesn’t quite come under Manchester, but I decided to sneak it in anyway. I’ll start this with a question: have any of you actually heard of Snugburys before? I for one hadn’t, but was shamefully laughed at for being a stranger to this place. As we pulled up to this dedicated Ice Cream place, I saw just how popular it is. Bear in mind it was a freezing cold February day, and the queues for a taste of the famous ice cream lapped the place!

Snugburys is set off the main road which drives through the Cheshire countryside, and I happened to pass it en route back from Chester. The menu is filled with all the tempting flavours you can imagine: ginger and honey, amaretto, chocolate orange crumble, creme brulee… you name it. They also have a selection of diabetic flavours, which is something that doesn’t get offered too often in the majority of ice cream places.

snugburys
snugburys
snugburys
After being majorly stuck what to order as I was literally overwhelmed with choices, I ended up going for the Maple and Walnut flavour. It was filled with crunchy walnuts and sweet lacings of maple syrup. Such a yummy treat. I can imagine this place would be a fantastic stop over point to any Spring/Summer road trips in Cheshire, so if you haven’t been before, put it on your list!

snugburys
4. Foundation Coffee House

I’ve visited Foundation Coffee House on one occasion before, and found it a super cool place to go for my usual soya latte, yet in a completely different coffee shop atmosphere. This new addition to Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which opened in 2015, has taken on a Scandi style interior and minimalist approach to it’s design. For Foundation, it’s out with the cosy, home-like coffee shops, and in with sophisticated, modern and clean interiors. Think metal wire chairs, industrial elements, and  a spacious setting.

I came here last week to kill an hour of catching up on emails, and was greeted by the friendliest barista. He offered to make me a green matcha tea with almond milk, as I literally stood at the bar and confessed I’d had enough green tea that day to turn myself green, but yet I didn’t want my usual latte. He promised I’d be impressed with his creation, and my word – this is the nicest hot drink I have had in a long long time.

This place is popular for it’s pancakes and breakfast offerings, so if you are in need for a coffee stop next time you are in the Northern Quarter – just go here please!

foundation coffee house
green matcha tea
And there we have it – a week in food! I hope you enjoyed it and it’s gave you some well needed inspiration…

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