Although Stockport is minutes away from Manchester, I’m not very good at breaking the routine and going somewhere new. Last time I head that way was the Robinson’s brewery tour (well worth it) a few years ago. This time it was The Allotment that brought me back, teased by the the chef, Matthew Nutter’s, bold claim that “I can make aubergine taste better than steak“. I’m not particularly looking for something that tastes like steak but I love the cheek of that statement. Continue reading “Dinner at the Allotment vegan restaurant in Stockport”
Last weekend, I played tourist in my own town. Manchester has so much going on, it’s easy to live here for years and still say, ‘oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to go there, I heard it’s good’. Add that to the new things that are opening all the time, new pop up shops, restaurants, gigs and art nights, and you could stay up all night every night and still not see the whole city.
On this occasion, we started with the Makers Market. This is a regular event that tours round parts of Manchester, including the Northern Quarter, Spinningfields, Didsbury and more recently, Chorlton. There’s a good mix of food and drink vs other arts and crafts, and all the traders are excited to talk to you about what they’ve made… and share some samples. I had a pumpkin samosa with sweet potato fries on the side (carb heaven) to wash down some amazing rhubarb gin tasters. There were loads and sweet treats, cookies and brownies, but not much for the vegan sweet tooth waaaa.
I’d only recently been complaining that all my jewellery is cheap, years old and is getting a bit tarnished. I don’t really have much ‘grown up’ jewellery. I like the unusual, but not too gimmicky – which is why I found and fell in love with the Nordic Muse stand. Based on geometry and using a combination of metals it’s really simple and really striking. I treated myself to a little gift from me to me.
After nosing our way around every stall, from Beauty and the Beast style rose-in-glassware necklace, to paintings and postcards of local artists, we crept our way out of the drizzle and to Pot Kettle Black on Deansgate. The only thing missing from the Makers Market was vegan brownies (*sigh*) and after seeing just about every other brownie variant there I had a hankering. I like good coffee, and though I don’t pretend to know much about it, if you tell me you love Starbucks, I will judge you. The guys at PKB are lovely, knowledgeable and do a great brew if real coffee. The whole experience is considered, with your espresso served with a wafer and lemon water, and it’s all situated in the grand Barton Arcade, just off Deansgate. As it was a Saturday afternoon, we went for espresso martinis. Yes, they have an alcohol licence. Ready to take your money.
From PKB we went culturing – I’d never been to the John Ryland’s Library even though I must have walked past it more than a 1000 times. Even though it’s a functional library, you can visit as a tourist to see the exhibitions and the architecture, it’s not just for taking out a book and sneakily checking out the vaulted ceilings. Anyway, at the moment they have an exhibition on magic, demons and witches through history, as well as history of printing. After years of living here and never having stepped inside it didn’t disappoint, with gargoyles on the walls, artwork on show, and a scrap of paper from the earliest copy of the New Testament ever discovered, dated between 2 and 3 AD. I’m not religious, but that’s pretty cool. Free entry too guys. And their gift shop is full of macabre, weird and wonderful stationery, candles and books.
As we left, the rain kicked in again (classic Manchester) and we moved on to Nexus Art Cafe in the Northern Quarter, which is also home to the Salford Zine Library (not in Salford). A zine, in case you don’t know, is basically a self-published magazine. The library has more than 1500 on all sorts of topics, typically a5 and printed in black and white for ease of self-publishing. Check out some of the titles and topics on their site.
Anyway, we were fortunate enough to get the Nexus tea garden to ourselves – even though it was raining (still), there was a covered section which was perfectly dry. While we sat there, a church choir were singing across the way, which felt very surreal.
Final stop was Dough. I’ve written about Dough before, they’re great for catering to every dietary requirement you could possibly have, but they’re just not actually that great at the dough part, which is ironic. If you like a very thin & crispy pizza you’ll love it. But I’m more of a chewy dough gal.
I’d love to hear your recommendations on best things to do – the more unusual and undiscovered the better! Bonus points for vegan brownies. xxx
We’re very lucky in Manchester to have some amazing vegan options, some healthy, some not so healthy. I’m in my fourth month of vegan-ing and I’ve not struggled too badly anywhere. I thought I’d share some of the amazing finds I’ve had around the city lately:
Pho have places all over the country, the Manchester branch is located in the Corn Exchange (previously the Triangle, and previously a bit crap). Pho are great because they declare pretty openly that virtually all their vegetarian labled dishes are also vegan, rather than hiding it away on a secret menu, and when queried the server I had was ready to answer vegan questions.
I had the bun chay hoey – hot and spicy noodle soup. You get the main soup in one giant bowl, the vegan option being tofu and mushroom, and a tray of fresh ingredients on the side to add as you like – lemongrass, coriander, beans sprouts, lime and mint. I’m normally pretty good with spicy things, and I optimistically added all the chillis I was given. A bit of a ‘nose runner’ shall we say.
The tofu wasn’t a texture I’d had before, to be honest, it reminded me of croutons, sort of ‘bready’. In spite of this surprise, it was delicious and I’d definitely have it again.
Evelyn’s is in the Northern Quarter, on Tib St. It has a pretty varied menu for meat eaters, and TWO vegan options. Apparently it’s a great breakfast/brunch spot, but it did appear quite egg-centric (not even a pun).
Another day, another new tofu format, this time breadcrumbed. It was amazing, pretty sure it was silken tofu as the inside was very soft and smooth, and the breadcrumbs were really crispy, what a contrast. Served with loads of spinach and blackened cauliflower, on sort of lentil Dahl thing. It was incredible. I could have eaten it twice, which I guess makes portion size the only slight negative.
Go Falafel is like vegan Greg’s. It’s fast, it’s delicious… Oh no wait, except that it’s incredibly healthy rather than greasy beige. There are rumours that a new one is opening on Deansgate which would be amazing, the current one is just off Piccadilly gardens. They serve all sorts of fruit smoothies too. Entirely vegan.
You’ll notice there’s something missing in the salad bowl above. I was actually not too hungry so I just went for the salad bowl rather than any actual falafel. But look at it, it’s beautiful. I ate this on my own on a bench on a sunny day I’m February listening to a guy play guitar. Highly recommend that ambience.
Deaf Institute has snook in a bit here as the meal I had was a special rather than on their normal menu. However, it was one of those sandwiches you think about for days afterwards so I couldn’t leave it out. Maybe if we all go and demand it they’ll make it regular.
This sandwich had the three As – avocado, artichoke and aubergine. Plus loads of red onion and grilled peppers. So fit. Look at the size of it. Needs a wooden stake to hold it together.
I’ve been telling everyone I know about Cowherds.Unfortunately I keep getting overwhelmed by the glory of their food and eating it before I can take a pic. They have a regular daily hit food item (Mondays are Thai green curry – try it) plus various snacks and All The Juices. I actually won one of their regular Facebook competitions a few weeks back and got 12 bottles of juices, and I never felt healthier. The green one below looks like pondwater yes, but it’s cut with apple besides all the kale, spinach and whatever else so tastes amazing. The orange one is ginger and carrot – if you weren’t a big fan of ginger I’d say it’s not the juice for you. It’s a great lick you up though!
Cowherds also serve Tyler & Hall chocolate vegan protein brownies – you would think that being vegan and protein heavy they’d taste like crap but you’d be SO WRONG. They’re so rich, almost like praline. Highly recommended.
Cowherds is currently just a van behind the cathedral, but they’re imminently getting a new portakabin type thing where you can also sit inside. They do a lot of community work too and are generally wonderful people.
That’s today’s round up complete – please do let me know of anything else you discover!
To start testing how this whole blogging thing works, here’s a post about when the sun shines in Manchester. Many people who think of Manchester think of industry and greyness, and more than likely, rain. Actually we do get (some) sunny days and I’m lucky enough to live near Chorlton Water Park – a beautiful outdoor space and nature reserve.
We were lucky enough to get some sun on Good Friday so I dragged the hub away from his PhD for a few hours to walk along the Mersey and the artificial lake. Apparently the lake was built in the 1970s from an old gravel pit, and now is home to swans, geese, cormorants, herons, moorhens, coots and more. I was even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher darting by.
Also I obviously had to take the obligatory pole picture!
To see how all the wildlife comes alive in sunny weather just like humans do is beyond cute. I love being outdoors and feeling part of nature – refreshes the soul for those of us with indoor jobs!