Posted by: Richard Frost | April 7, 2018

Chorlton Festival Calendar 2018

Every year, I pull together a list of festivals happening in my backyard – the Chorlton area of south Manchester – so that everyone can get the dates in their diaries nice and early.

This year sees the usual suspects joined by a couple of festivals that are making a welcome return following a break in 2017. It’s good to have them back.

Here is the Chorlton Festival Calendar 2018.

Chorlton Big Green Happening 2018

Saturday, 14 April 2018

A celebration of sustainable living at St Clement's Church

Chorlton Big Green Happening

Also known as the Chorlton & Whalley Range Big Green Happening, the successor to Chorlton’s Big Green Festival took a year out in 2017 but is now back with a bigger focus on Whalley Range.

Whereas most of the action took place at St Clement’s Church on Edge Lane in Chorlton last time around, this time the Carlton Club on Carlton Road in Whalley Range will host the majority of the programme.

Unusually, the free daytime events between 1pm and 5pm are split between St Clement’s Church and the Carlton Club – Chorlton’s offering includes Dave Bishop from the Friends of Chorlton Meadows and cultural masterplanner Dan Dubowitz, while Whalley Range is promising live music, food and drink stalls, book and toy swaps, and yoga. The evening event from 7pm till late also takes place at the Carlton Club and is ticketed, costing £5 via TicketWeb, with various DJs and musicians taking turns to entertain partygoers.

As ever, the Chorlton & Whalley Range Big Green Happening seeks to celebrate the environment, sustainability and wellbeing in a fun and accessible way.

Chorlton Arts Festival 2018

18-26 May 2018

Chorlton Arts Festival's new logo

Chorlton Arts Festival

Chorlton’s biggest festival, Chorlton Arts Festival, features a myriad of activities over the course of a week in May 2018.

The mantra of newly appointed director Thomas Moore is ‘Excellent Art for Everyone’ and the 2018 festival aims to appeal to a broad audience with a programme spanning the theatre, music and film, comedy, food and family-friendly activities. A dynamic new festival logo has already been rolled out and standout projects in the calendar include bringing Richard Dawkins’ bestselling book The God Delusion and Netflix documentary film Cowspiracy to the stage for the first time, and collaborating with Sunday Brunch presenter and Chorlton resident Simon Rimmer on a three-course dinner to showcase food’s credentials as an art form.

Some of the events at Chorlton Arts Festival, including the trio mentioned above, are paid-for so you’d best get in early if you want to bag a ticket.

Chorlton Open Gardens 2018

Sunday, 24 June 2018

A show garden on Claude Road in Chorltonville

Chorlton Open Gardens

Chorlton Open Gardens took a year out in 2017 but it’s back for 2018, with 23 private gardens, a communal alleyway and a communal allotment opening to the public from 11am to 5pm.

Some of the participants sell hot drinks, homemade cakes and pottery, and a few even put on live music to entertain visitors, so it’s always an enjoyable day out. There’ll also be a plant swap at the community garden next to Chorlton Library in case you’ve been inspired to grow your own.

It costs £5 to buy a Chorlton Open Gardens programme, which gives you access to all of the gardens. These programmes will be sold by Creative Recycling, Chorlton Bookshop, Blossom Florists and Chorlton Plant Nursery from mid-May, plus outside Unicorn Grocery in June at the weekend.

Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival 2018

12-14 July 2018

Chorlton Beer and Cider Festival

Chorlton Beer Festival

The Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival, to give the event its official name, returns to St Clement’s Church on Edge Lane in mid-July.

Also known as Chorlton Beer Festival or simply Chorlton Beer Fest, this annual institution is organised by the church in association with Trafford & Hulme CAMRA. This year’s punters can choose from more than 200 real ales, beers, ciders and perries at the festival, which will also hold the North West round of the Champion Speciality Beer of Britain competition.

The event will start with a quieter preview night on Thursday, before ramping up the atmosphere with the help of live music throughout Friday and Saturday. The Thursday and Friday sessions will run from 6pm-1030pm, with the marathon Saturday session running from 1pm-930pm (children are welcome until 7pm on Saturday and there’ll be special activities put on for them).

Entry prices for the 14th Chorlton Beer Festival are being held at the same level as 2017 – £10 per person, which includes a souvenir festival glass, a programme with tasting notes for the beers, and a £4 beer token. Card-carrying CAMRA members also get a free beer voucher.

Beech Road Summer Fete 2018

22 July 2018

Logo for the Beech Road Summer Fete on 22 July 2018

Beech Road Summer Fete

The Beech Road Summer Fete is a community fundraising event to help raise money for Beech Road Park.

Activities are split between Beech Road Park, Beech Road, Chorlton Green and the Bowling Green and take place from 11am to 5pm. In the park, there’ll be a family fun day featuring a bouncy castle, kite-making, a penalty shoot-out, belly dancing and Zumba while, on the street, several of the bars and restaurants will put on live music. On Chorlton Green, meanwhile, there’ll be a fete so keep your eyes peeled for the hook-a-duck, coconut shy, raffle and tug-of-war among other things, and last but not least the Bowling Green will host yoga and tai chi (bring your own mat and towel).

It looks as though entry to the Beech Road Summer Fete is free, though I imagine you may have to pay for some of the activities.

Chorlton Bonfire Night 2018

5 November 2018 (presumably)

Spectacular fireworks on Bonfire Night

Fireworks display

For years, the biggest free Guy Fawkes Night party in Chorlton was organised by the Horse & Jockey pub on Chorlton Green – there wasn’t a bonfire as such, but there was a spectacular fireworks display and outdoor food and drink stalls.

Last year, however, the pub announced that it wouldn’t be hosting an event on Chorlton Green “following advice and detailed consultation with all relevant authorities” and specifically concerns over “the safety and welfare of the increasingly large numbers of people attending”.

At the last minute, the Lead Station pub, the Chorlton Fireworks shop and West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC stepped in to collectively organise a replacement Guy Fawkes Night fireworks display at the Recreation Ground off Brookburn Road in Chorltonville.

It’s too early to say what’ll happen this November – but be sure to check the latest before setting off to avoid disappointment.

Chorlton Book Festival 2018

November 2018?

Chorlton Book Festival celebrates Manchester's most literary suburb

Chorlton Book Festival

Chorlton Book Festival traditionally takes place at the end of November.

The festival’s coordinated by the Chorlton Book Festival Group, which comprises representatives of Manchester’s libraries, galleries and culture, councillors, businesses, schools, community groups and residents, and I’m just waiting to hear back from them about what’s in store for 2018.

In previous years, Chorlton Library on Manchester Road has served as the Chorlton Book Festival hub and hosted a lot of the main activities, albeit ably supported by other venues across the suburb on specific events. There are usually poetry slams, author readings, literature talks, writing workshops and a literary pub quiz.

Many of the events are free, but a few are paid-for.

Chorlton Christmas Lights 2018

Winter 2018?

Christmas tree on Chorlton Green

Christmas Lights

There’s typically some sort of organised activity around the switching on of the Chorlton Christmas Lights.

The Beech Road Christmas Lights Switch-On, for example, has in the past featured a lantern parade by local schoolchildren led by Father Christmas.

This procession starts in Beech Road Park at around 545pm, moves down Beech Road and ends up on Chorlton Green for the big switch-on at about 615pm, with revellers tucking into mince pies and mulled wine as they listen to a church choir performing a few festive carols.

It’s usually a free event.

Posted by: Richard Frost | February 21, 2018

Strawberry Studios Forever

Newly updated Strawberry Studios Stockport sign and blue plaque

Strawberry Studios

Manchester’s contribution to music needs no introduction but what’s less well-known is the role that Stockport played in bringing it to the masses.

I recently popped into a brilliant exhibition at Stockport Museum that recounts the story of one of the UK’s first professional recording studios outside London.

Strawberry Studios: I am in Love covers the studio’s complete history – its origins as Inner City Studios on Underbank, its rapid growth following investment from the likes of Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman (who would later go on to form 10cc), its relocation to Waterloo Road, its renaming after Stewart’s favourite Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever, and finally its closure as a recording studio and conversion into offices in 1993.

Strawberry Studios Stockport was founded in 1967

Introduction to the Strawberry Studios exhibition

Strawberry Studios Stockport memorabilia

Original material on display at the Strawberry Studios exhibition

Artists with links to Strawberry Studios in Stockport

Artists mural at the Strawberry Studios exhibition

A New Order

I’ve been thinking a lot about Strawberry Studios lately having just started a new job as assistant editor of a magazine called Supper. Its office is based in, you guessed it, Strawberry Studios.

The building’s recently been given a makeover to better reflect its musical heritage, which includes recreating the famous ‘Strawberry Studios Stockport’ sign and updating the blue plaque outside.

Strawberry Recording Studios updated blue plaque in Stockport

Strawberry Studios’ new blue plaque

Strawberry Studios Stockport pictured in 2018

The Strawberry Studios building today

The offices within aren’t open to the public (they’re home to various magazines as well as a data research consultancy and even a radio station) but there are plenty of nods to the past such as meeting rooms named after stars with links to Strawberry Studios – Morrissey, Marr, Hook, Curtis and so on. What’s more, the distinctive wide-angle window that once linked the rehearsal space with the studio control room is still there to this day.

Unknown Pleasures

I could go on, but instead I’ll just leave you with some of the artists that recorded at Strawberry Studios. It’s impressive stuff:

  • 10cc (including I’m Not in Love)
  • Joy Division (including all of Unknown Pleasures, and Love Will Tear Us Apart)
  • The Stone Roses (I Wanna Be Adored)
  • The Smiths (This Charming Man)
  • New Order
  • James
  • Inspiral Carpets
  • 808 State
  • Happy Mondays (legendary Factory Records producer Martin Hannett remixed and remastered their Bummed album here)
  • Lisa Stansfield
  • Buzzcocks
  • John Cooper Clarke
  • Simply Red
  • The Charlatans
  • Paul McCartney
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Ramones
  • Grace Jones
  • Neil Sedaka
  • Bay City Rollers
  • Echo & the Bunnymen
  • Manchester United (Glory Glory Man United)
  • Manchester City
  • Liverpool FC
  • Everton
  • Danger Mouse (theme tune)

Strawberry Studios: I am in Love runs at Stockport Museum until 28 February 2018. Free entry.

Posted by: Richard Frost | August 10, 2017

Tony Wilson – 10 years on

Broadcaster Tony Wilson hosting After Dark in 1988

Tony Wilson

Today’s the 10th anniversary of Tony Wilson’s death.

The Factory Records founder, Hacienda nightclub manager, In The City music conference organiser, broadcaster and professional Steve Coogan impersonator (ok, so I may have made that last one up) passed away on 10 August 2007 but his legacy lives on.

Tony Wilson, perhaps more than anyone else in modern times, helped to kickstart the vibrant arts scene that Manchester now takes for granted.

Tony Wilson’s headstone

I was walking through Chorlton’s Southern Cemetery a few days ago when I spotted a rather stylish-looking headstone.

On closer inspection, it turned out to be none other than Tony Wilson’s famous black granite headstone designed for his grave by Factory Records stalwarts Peter Saville and Ben Kelly. Describing him as a ‘broadcaster’ and ‘cultural catalyst’, it also features a brief quote from ‘The Manchester Man’ by Mrs G Linnaeus Banks (aka Isabella Banks):

Headstone for Tony Wilson's grave at Southern Cemetery in Chorlton

Tony Wilson’s headstone

The Manchester Man

I only saw Tony Wilson in person once, not long before he passed away.

It was a public debate, something along the lines of ‘Would the rest of the UK be better off without London?’, and in truth I only went because he was speaking. I don’t remember much about it now, although I do recall his answer when asked to name his favourite part of London:

“Euston Station, on a train back to Manchester”

Anthony H Wilson 1950 – 2007

Posted by: Richard Frost | June 16, 2017

Amma’s Canteen restaurant review in Chorlton

Amma's Canteen cafe-bar and street kitchen on Chorlton's Barlow Moor Road

Amma’s Canteen

You could be forgiven for thinking that south Manchester doesn’t really need another Indian restaurant.

But Amma’s Canteen, which only opened its doors six weeks ago (29 April 2017), does things very differently to Asian Fusion, Sher Akbar, the Great Kathmandu, the Original Third Eye and the rest. Forget your preconceptions about gut-busting kormas, baltis and vindaloos because you won’t find any of those here – instead it’s all about small plates and south Indian street food served as and when it’s ready.

A street-cart named desire

And make no mistake that Amma’s Canteen is all about the food. The street-cart menu is far more adventurous than your average Indian restaurant covering everything from lentil donuts to crispy okra and tamarind wings to madras masala mussels, alongside larger dishes such as dosas, fish curries and slow-cooked spring lamb, and a smattering of desserts like ras malai and poached plantain.

We shared four street-food dishes and a dosa between five of us (unannounced and paid for in full), which was more than enough and came to a very reasonable £25.

Amma's Canteen serves Stuffed Kozhukattai filled dim-sum

Stuffed Kozhukattai

Delicious dosas

The slow-roasted Beef Sukka (£6.25) packed a rich meaty flavour, and the Spiced Sundal (£2.95) slow-cooked chickpeas had a pleasant bite to them while the chilli and lime did a good job of getting the tastebuds tingling.

Perhaps the falafel-like Madras street snacks, Masala Vadai (£4.25), were a bit dry and dense for my taste although the accompanying red cabbage coleslaw provided an enjoyably creamy companion. And the Stuffed Kozhukattai dim sums filled with garden vegetables (£5.75) were superb, combining the delicate flavours of dim sum with a hot and fiery sauce.

Masala Dosa crispy savoury pancake

Masala Dosa

But the star of the show was undoubtedly the Masala Dosa (£5.95). This was every bit as good as the dosas served in award-winning restaurants like Indian Tiffin Room, with a crispy savoury pancake hiding a satisfying crushed potato filling and a choice of spicy or cooling sides to keep things interesting. It really is worth visiting Amma’s Canteen just for their dosas.

Oh and while we’re on the subject of food, kudos to the kitchen for providing so many vegetarian, vegan-friendly and gluten-free options and clearly labelling them all on the menu. This will go down a storm in Chorlton!

Lassi orders at the bar

What else?

Well there’s room for improvement on the drinks front I’d say. They don’t serve alcohol and while you’re welcome to bring your own, I was a bit underwhelmed by the choice of soft drinks offered in-house. I plumped for a mango juice which was fine but nothing special.

And the atmosphere as a whole was good with the near-full restaurant generating a nice background buzz. However, we were sat directly underneath an air-conditioning unit which was blasting out cold air throughout the evening – not really conducive to a relaxing environment.

A trio of dishes served at Amma's Canteen

Beef Sukka, Spiced Sundal and Masala Vadai

Then again, the service was very good with members of staff more than happy to offer recommendations (even to the extent of advising us to order fewer dishes when we got carried away!) and coming back after each dish had arrived to check that everything was ok.

Amma’s Canteen is an independent restaurant that’s hit the ground running and I for one hope that it builds on a very promising start – I’ll certainly be back for those dosas.

Food rating: 9/10
Drink rating: 6/10
Service rating: 9/10
Atmosphere rating: 7/10
Overall rating: 8/10

Amma’s Canteen is located at 285 Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton. It’s next to the original Coriander restaurant opposite Southern Cemetery, less than 5 minutes’ walk from Barlow Moor Road tram stop.

Menu of Indian restaurant Amma's Canteen in south Manchester

Amma’s Canteen menu

Posted by: Richard Frost | June 9, 2017

Labour’s Jeff Smith wins Manchester Withington

Labour's Jeff Smith and the Liberal Democrats' John Leech await the poll results in Manchester Withington

Manchester Withington’s declaration

In the early hours of this morning, it was revealed that Labour’s Jeff Smith had beaten the Lib Dem’s John Leech in the race to become MP of Manchester Withington – the constituency that covers Chorlton, Didsbury, Withington, Old Moat and Burnage in south Manchester.

Not only that, Smith massively increased his majority in a seat that he first took from Leech in 2015.

Smith’s total of 38,424 votes was a long way ahead of Leech’s 8,549 votes, giving Labour a hefty majority of 29,875 on an impressive turnout of 71.9 per cent. That’s around double the majority of 14,873 that he secured on a turnout of 67.5 per cent in 2015.

I caught up with him during the count at Manchester Central.

Jeff Smith hails “rejection of negativity”

Jeff Smith's Manchester Withington victory speech with John Leech and Sarah Heald in the background

Jeff Smith’s victory speech

Smith said: “The majority’s about doubled so we’re obviously very pleased. It’s a vindication of the campaign that we ran both locally and nationally.

“This has been a remarkable rejection of negativity in politics from the Lib Dems in Withington and the Tories nationally.

“We offered a vision for the country that offered hope and the Tories didn’t offer anything.

“I’m hoping to carry on as a Labour whip – I’d be happy to do that again if I’m asked. Jeremy Corbyn’s fought a really good campaign and what’s important now is that the Labour Party comes together.”

John Leech promises Lib Dem fightback

The Liberal Democrats' John Leech concedes defeat in the Manchester Withington constituency

John Leech addresses supporters

Smith’s re-election came at the expense of Leech who had hoped to take back the seat that he previously held from 2005 to 2015. Leech, who is also a councillor for Didsbury West on Manchester City Council, remains the official opposition to the Labour-held council.

He said: “The election campaign feels more like seven years than seven weeks.

“It’s been another difficult night for the Lib Dems in this general election. But we will be back.”

Posted by: Richard Frost | May 20, 2017

Chorlton Festival Calendar 2017

For the last few years, I’ve put together a list of dates of festivals happening in the Chorlton area of Manchester.

This year’s a bit trickier than normal because many of the usual suspects aren’t taking place, or they’re scaling back, or they’re just keeping their cards a bit closer to their chest. But where I have been able to find details, I’ve included them below.

Here is the Chorlton Festival Calendar 2017.

Chorlton Big Green Happening 2017

Deferred for 2017

A celebration of sustainable living at St Clement's Church

Chorlton Big Green Happening

The Chorlton Big Green Happening, the successor to Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, isn’t taking place this year.

This celebration of sustainable living was also known as the Chorlton & Whalley Range Big Green Happening when it last took place in April 2016 in recognition of the fact that activities were split between St Clement’s Church on High Lane in Chorlton and the Carlton Club on Carlton Road in neighbouring Whalley Range.

Here’s hoping the festival returns in 2018.

Chorlton Arts Festival 2017

19-29 May 2017

Logo for the annual Chorlton Arts Festival

Chorlton Arts Festival

Chorlton Arts Festival is ringing the changes in 2017.

The team behind the festival want to “create a more sustainable event and to work on new ideas to support artists, the local community and our creative programme” with a view to developing a bigger, better and more locally engaged arts festival.

As a result, it’s running a scaled-down version of the Chorlton Arts Festival in 2017 while the Chorlton Weekender, the mini music festival within the festival proper, and possibly some other fundraising events won’t now take place until later in the year.

Having said all that, there are still quite a few events planned in 2017 including a screening of classic vampire film Nosferatu with live organ accompaniment at St Clement’s Church, comedian Juliette Burton’s Edinburgh preview at the Lloyds pub on Wilbraham Road, and the tenth and final appearance of the Smallest Sculpture Park in the World on Corkland Road.

Some events are free while others are paid-for.

VON Manchester Vegan Fair 2017

Saturday, 27 May 2017 (11am-5pm)

What to expect at Chorlton's upcoming vegan fair

VON Manchester Vegan Fair 2017

The annual VON Manchester Vegan Fair, or just the Manchester Vegan Fair for short, is moving to a new home in 2017.

Formerly at the Chorlton Irish Club on High Lane, the 2017 edition is switching to a bigger and more central venue – Oswald Road Primary School. A host of family-friendly attractions are promised on the day including an outdoor stage, live music, stalls, film shows, a beer tent and of course vegan cuisine.

Tickets are £3 while under-16s go free.

Chorlton Open Gardens 2017

Deferred for 2017

A show garden on Claude Road in Chorltonville

Chorlton Open Gardens

The popular Chorlton Open Gardens event sees gardeners across Chorlton throw open their doors for one day only and all for a good cause.

Members of the public typically pay £5 in aid of Freedom from Torture to buy a programme that includes maps and write-ups of each of the 30+ gardens taking part, which you can then explore at your leisure.

The organisers are having a break this year but have promised that the event will return in the summer of 2018. For those who can’t wait that long, they’ve suggested checking out Burnage Open Gardens 2017 on Sunday, 4 June or Old Trafford Open Gardens 2017 on Sunday, 2 July.

Beech Road Festival 2017

Deferred for 2017?

The Family Fun Day has succeeded the Beech Road Festival

Chorlton’s Family Fun Day

Beech Road has played host to a variety of festivals in recent years.

First there was the Beech Road Festival which gave way to the more family-oriented Beech Road Family Fun Day and then in 2016 Living Local, a celebration of independents and shopping locally. Whatever it’s called, the event is traditionally held on the first weekend in July and free to attend.

However, I’ve yet to come across anything to suggest that a 2017 edition is currently being planned unfortunately.

Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival 2017

6-8 July 2017

Chorlton Beer and Cider Festival

Chorlton Beer Festival

The 13th Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival, more commonly known as Chorlton Beer Festival or just Chorlton Beer Fest, takes place once again at St Clement’s Church and is already shaping up to be a big one.

Organised jointly by Trafford & Hulme CAMRA and St Clement’s Church, the 2017 festival promises to offer more than 200 beers and ciders. There will be around 100 draught beers served from cask and key-keg along with bottled beers from around the world and more than 50 ciders and perries.

The event runs from 6pm – 1030pm on Thursday, 6 July, 6pm – 1030pm on Friday, 7 July, and 1pm – 930pm on Saturday, 8 July.

Entry each day costs £10 which includes a souvenir festival glass, a festival programme with tasting notes for the beers, and a £4 beer and cider token. And if you really want to test your stamina, a new addition for 2017 is the introduction of a season ticket giving entry to all three days for £20.

Chorlton Bonfire Night 2017

Early November 2017

The new logo of the Bootleg Brewing Co in Manchester

Bootleg Brewing Co

The biggest Guy Fawkes Night party in Chorlton traditionally takes place on Chorlton Green.

Admittedly there isn’t an actual bonfire, or a Guy Fawkes effigy come to think of it, but there are some spectacular fireworks.

A free event organised by the Horse & Jockey pub, Chorlton Bonfire Night typically involves two fireworks displays, one at 630pm for kids and one at 9pm for adults.

You can usually expect to find a couple of outdoor stalls doing a roaring trade in beer, hot drinks, barbecued meats, festive favourites and so on – or you can duck inside Horse & Jockey to try the beers from the pub’s onsite brewery Bootleg Brewing Co.

Update: The Horse & Jockey pub has announced that it will not be hosting a fireworks display this Bonfire Night because of safety concerns.

On its Facebook page, the pub said: “With regard to Bonfire Night 2017 at the Horse & Jockey, we have been working closely with the relevant local authorities and also our health and safety advisors.

“This event started out as a small community event and has grown significantly over the years Following advice and detailed consultation with all relevant authorities we have sadly concluded that the Horse & Jockey will not be hosting a fireworks event this year on Bonfire Night. The main factor of this decision being specifically the safety and welfare of the increasingly large numbers of people attending.

“We hope that you understand that the safety of all our customers is paramount.” (31 October 2017)

Update 2: The Lead Station pub, the Chorlton Fireworks shop and West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC have teamed up to organise a replacement fireworks display. Chorlton’s new fireworks display will take place at the Recreation Ground off Brookburn Road in Chorltonville on Sunday, 5 November 2017.

Chorlton Book Festival 2017

17-25 November 2017

Chorlton Book Festival in south Manchester

Chorlton Book Festival

The 13th edition of Chorlton Book Festival will take place at the end of November.

Details of what’s being planned for the 2017 Chorlton Book Festival haven’t yet been released, but based on previous years we can expect a range of events in Chorlton Library on Manchester Road as well as various other venues across Manchester’s most literary suburb. Events typically include poetry slams, author readings, literature talks, writing workshops and a literary pub quiz.

Some events are free while others are paid-for.

Christmas Neighbourhood Jam 2017

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Chorlton's Manchester Road hosts Christmas Neighbourhood Jam on Saturday, 16 December 2017

Neighbourhood Jam

Every once in a while, the businesses along Manchester Road in Chorlton join forces to throw a Neighbourhood Jam – basically a mini festival with everyone putting on something special to create a party atmosphere along the street.

This year, there’ll be a Christmas Neighbourhood Jam in mid-December. The event will run all day long and feature DJs, live music, food tastings, special offers and more.

Businesses taking part include The Beagle, Marble Beerhouse, Blossom Flowers, Tea Hive, Pi, Gray’s Larder, Unicorn and Barbakan.

Chorlton Christmas Lights 2017

Winter 2017?

Christmas tree on Chorlton Green

Christmas Lights

No word yet on whether there’ll be a Chorlton Christmas Lights event in 2017.

In recent years, we’ve had the Beech Road Christmas Lights Switch-On which features a lantern parade by local schoolchildren led by Father Christmas. The procession winds its way from Beech Road Park at around 545pm over to Beech Road, passing rows of children, parents and friends on the way, to Chorlton Green for the Christmas lights switch-on proper at approximately 615pm so there’s no hanging about.

A free event, there’s usually a church choir, carol singing, mince pies and mulled wine to keep people entertained.

Chorlton New Year’s Eve Party 2017

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Exterior of the Horse & Jockey pub in Chorlton

The Horse & Jockey

Chorlton has a huge variety of bars and restaurants, and you can be sure that plenty will be organising special events and offers in an attempt to draw in paying punters on New Year’s Eve.

If it’s a free event you’re after, though, one of the most popular places to go is Chorlton Green.

Organised by the Horse & Jockey pub, the Chorlton New Year’s Eve Party typically features an impressive fireworks display. In previous years there’s also been a New Year’s Eve menu and bubbly on offer inside for those happy to spend a few quid to see in the new year in style.

Posted by: Richard Frost | February 25, 2017

Hispi owner Gary Usher – in profile

Chef Gary Usher at work in the kitchen

Gary Usher

As I make my way over to Didsbury to see the owner of the highly regarded new bistro Hispi, I can’t help but wonder which Gary Usher I’m going to meet.

Would it be the impulsive chef who makes a virtue of never planning anything, the guy who indulges in sweary tirades, boisterous banter and public spats via the @StickyWalnut Twitter account? Or the hard-working chef-patron (a title that he shies away from incidentally) who’s building up a mini-empire of bistros across the North West?

First came Chester’s Sticky Walnut in 2011, then Heswall’s Burnt Truffle in 2015 after a £100,000 Kickstarter campaign. And now we have Hispi on School Lane in Didsbury Village, a £350,000 bistro part-funded by another Kickstarter campaign that raised almost £60,000.

Hispi bistro restaurant open for business

Inside Hispi

Serious about food

In the event, I’m struck by how serious Usher is about what he’s doing. Sure there’s a liberal smattering of swear words, but this is clearly a man who takes genuine interest in the food produced by his kitchens, the team that makes it happen, and the customers that keep returning to eat it.

No dish is allowed on one of his menus until Usher approves it first.

It’s an approach that seems to be working. Sticky Walnut was given a rave review by Marina O’Loughlin in The Guardian, as was Burnt Truffle by Jay Rayner in The Observer and Lisa Markwell in The Independent on Sunday, and Hispi recently secured a five-star write-up from Simon Binns in CityLife.

Sticky Walnut also won Menu of the Year at the 2013 Catey Awards and AA Restaurant of the Year for England in 2014, and Hispi picked up two AA rosettes just weeks after its opening on 7 October 2016.

Gary Usher, chef-patron of Burnt Truffle in Heswall

Gary Usher in the kitchen

“Business is good,” he told me, “Sticky, Burnt and Hispi all make money. In particular, Hispi has got off to a fucking amazing start.

“We’re only a couple of months old but Hispi’s opening couldn’t have gone better. It’s been so well received.

“Getting two rosettes straight away in the kitchen after what fucking eight weeks, they’ve nailed it here, they’ve fucking nailed it here in my opinion. And then also, regardless of my opinion, financially they’re doing well. The place is making money, it was making money straight away.

“And Sticky’s a little machine, it just looks after itself. Burnt makes money as well, it’s still on the up.”

I spy an excellent bistro

I was already a fan of Sticky Walnut having paid a visit to Chester on the strength of friends’ recommendations alone, but I finally made it along to Hispi a couple of weeks ago (unannounced and paid for in full). I was bowled over by the quality of the place.

The homemade bread (£3) is worthy of any bakery it really is, and the hugely popular Braised Featherblade (£18.50) is hands down one of the tastiest dishes I’ve had in Manchester – melt in the mouth just doesn’t do justice to this perfectly cooked hunk of meat:

Hispi Braised Featherblade with Curly Kale, Celeriac Puree, Truffle and Parmesan Chips

Braised Featherblade at Hispi

If I was looking for faults, the desserts didn’t quite live up to the same high standards. Both the Barley Malt Beignets (£6) and Poached Yorkshire Rhubarb with Whipped Fromage Blanc (£6.50) felt unbalanced to me, oversized and slightly out of keeping with the finesse of the rest of the menu.

Hispi Barley Malt Beignets with Malt Ice Cream and Whiskey Sultanas

Barley Malt Beignets at Hispi

But that’s a minor quibble, it’s still one of the best restaurants in the steadily improving foodie destination that is south Manchester (alongside Greens, Chorlton Green Brasserie, Gray’s Larder, Bar San Juan and Thai Spice since you ask).

Wasn’t Hispi supposed to be in Chorlton?

The main problem with Hispi for many – the elephant in the room – is its location. It was never supposed to be in Didsbury.

Usher’s original plan was to open Hispi at a site near Oddest on Wilbraham Road in Chorlton. He launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 towards the opening costs, and ended up receiving pledges of £58,650 from no fewer than 718 backers on Kickstarter.

But then disaster struck – he was unable to secure the Chorlton premises that he’d crowdfunded for due to problems around the ownership of the site. He looked at more than 20 other sites around Chorlton and put in several offers but couldn’t get anything over the line – until somebody suggested he check out the former Jem & I site in Didsbury Village.

“What happened with us, we did a project for an area, a specific area and a specific site,” he said. “It fell through after we achieved our goal, after we’d successfully crowdfunded our £50,000 target the site fell through. There was nothing I could do, it was completely out of my hands.

“When we told the crowdfunders that we had to move it, a lot of them were justifiably really unhappy that we couldn’t then open in that area. It was only a few miles away but still it wasn’t what we’d told them.”

Hispi bistro mirror showing the names of Kickstarter supporters

Mirror featuring Hispi’s crowdfunding backers

The age-old Chorlton/Didsbury rivalry

At this point, I really feel for Usher. For a time he was public enemy number one on the Chorlton Facebook group – a Chester chef unwittingly wading into the age-old Chorlton/Didsbury rivalry – and it’s clear that the criticism he received back then still stings.

He apologised to those who pledged money to launch Hispi in Chorlton. More than that, in fact, he offered to reimburse any backers who didn’t want to support Hispi opening in Didsbury – around £700 of pledges were duly returned.

“Some people were really unhappy that it wasn’t in the original area that we’d crowdfunded,” he explained. “So I said anybody that’s really pissed off, we’ll give the money back. It was probably quite a dangerous thing to do because if £20,000 of pledges had to go back, we’d have been fucked.

“It made me feel really down because I thought I’d let everyone down. The thing about crowdfunding is that it’s such a positive thing and it’s supposed to be positive.

“It’s a group of people that you don’t even fucking know who are coming together to make something happen. For that to be overshadowed by people wanting their money back, it just made me feel quite down about it.”

Champagne bar anyone?

But time moves on, Hispi’s now up and running, and Usher’s already looking ahead to the next challenge.

At this point his body language transforms and he’s full of enthusiasm again. It’s obvious that he has big dreams for Elite Bistros of the World (the parent company for Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle and Hispi whose self-important name was meant “as a pisstake”). Turning dreams into reality is clearly a big part of what motivates him.

Hispi Bistro on School Lane in Didsbury Village, south Manchester

Hispi Bistro’s front entrance

One idea in the works involves transforming Hispi’s flat roof fronting School Lane into a terraced area, creating a champagne bar of sorts.

“At some point there’s going to be a terrace, we’re possibly going to do it this year,” he revealed. “We’d have it mainly for lunchtimes and summer dining. It’d be lovely if someone could have a couple of glasses of champagne before their dinner.

“Hispi’s making money. We’re only a couple of months in but we’ll have a look at the terrace idea and, if it works, we’ll do it this summer.”

Ushering in a new restaurant

There’s also the small matter of a fourth restaurant on the horizon, provisionally called Wreckfish, which is earmarked for a former watchmakers’ building just off Bold Street in Liverpool city centre.

If it comes off, the site would be by far Usher’s biggest restaurant to date. Sticky Walnut has 45 covers, Burnt Truffle has 60 covers with another 30 on an outdoor terrace and Hispi has 80 covers, but Wreckfish has capacity for a whopping 200 covers.

Gary Usher's Liverpool restaurant is provisionally called Wreckfish

CGI of Gary Usher’s Liverpool restaurant

Making this happen requires still more money so he’s going back to crowdfunding again. The 35-year-old’s just getting started with his latest campaign to raise an eye-watering £200,000 for the Liverpool restaurant (the crowdfunding page is due to go live soon).

It’s still early days, of course, and he’s not the sort of chef to wax lyrical about any high-minded concept for Liverpool other than to confirm that it’ll stick with the same ethos as Sticky, Burnt and Hispi.

In his words, “neighbourhood bistros, unfussy food, all prepared by us, in a relaxed environment”. Sounds like a plan to me.

Chef Gary Usher is the owner of the Hispi bistro in Didsbury Village

Hispi’s owner Gary Usher

Posted by: Richard Frost | February 11, 2017

Brewski bar review in Chorlton

Beer coaster at Brewski bar

Brewski beer coaster

At what point does a bar-restaurant really become a restaurant-bar?

It’s a question that immediately springs to mind at Chorlton’s newest bar-restaurant Brewski when I make a beeline for some empty seats with my pint only to be told that this area’s reserved for restaurant customers only. Which is strange considering it’s around twice the size of the bar area.

Despite the name, Brewski’s a bar where the restaurant very much takes centre stage.

What’s your beer?

But as I’m just here for drinks, keen to try what this swish new North American craft beer bar has to offer, let’s stick to that for now.

Brewski's restaurant area

The restaurant area

We don’t get off to a great start, admittedly, when I have to wait a good five minutes for the barman to finish off a big round of cocktails for one of the restaurant parties (cocktails and gin flights are a big part of the drinks selection here…). Just bad timing I guess.

Things momentarily pick up when I ask if they’ve got any good stout and am enthusiastically recommended Millionaire by the Wild Beer Co, a sweet chocolate and salted caramel milk stout, only to discover that they’ve run out.

Craft beers available at Brewski

Craft beers

Unfortunately there are no other stouts going (the closest they’ve got is a bottle of porter in the fridge). There’s also no cask beer at Brewski. So I’m left to choose between their many different North American pale ales and India Pale Ales on draught.

They’re all pleasant enough (I alternate between Sleeman Breweries and Stevens Point Brewery), but it’d be nice to have a wider range to choose from especially given they’ve chosen to launch in the middle of a cold snap in February that’s crying out for a big wintry stout.

Still they get plus points for giving tasters without prompting and for offering beer paddles to let you try a selection of beers in more manageable quantities.

Hunting for tables

I’m pleased to see that the bar area at Brewski has a good atmosphere. It’s been fitted out to a high standard with a sort of North American hunting lodge-type vibe (not unlike Canadian bar Elk on Beech Road).

The seating maybe feels a bit close together if you don’t know everyone on your table of four, but overall they’ve done well with the space available. It’s inviting without being overly fussy and they’ve not got carried away with the decorations, which is a trap that so many themed bars fall into.

The bar area at Brewski in Chorlton

The bar area

Chips ‘n’ gravy Canadian-style

The position of the bar area between the kitchen and the restaurant area also does a neat job of showing off the food offering, and I immediately regret having eaten beforehand after seeing some stunning pizzas come past. Personally I think £20 for a 20-inch pizza is too much, but I’d happily stretch to £4 for a slice – I just wish more places offered pizza by the slice.

The other big food options are all-American brunches and something called poutine, Canada’s national dish apparently, which is basically just chips, gravy and cheese curds with various add-ons. Not my thing at all I’m afraid but hey each to their own.

The Brewski bar-restaurant's food menu

The food menu

Brewski for two please

So that’s Brewski then. It only opened a week ago on a prime Wilbraham Road site opposite Morrisons (replacing the Jam Inn formerly The Shak formerly The Gallery formerly Abode…you get the picture) and it’s been packed every day since so they must be doing something right.

I’m sure I’ll give it another go soon enough – although it’ll probably be to try the food rather than just for beers. Anyone for pizza?

Drink rating: 6/10
Service rating: 6/10
Atmosphere rating: 7/10
Overall rating: 6/10

Brewski replaces the Jam Inn

Brewski on Wilbraham Road

Posted by: Richard Frost | March 28, 2016

Chorlton Festival Calendar 2016

Every year, I compile a list of dates for the biggest festivals in the Chorlton area of Manchester along with a brief overview of what you can expect to find there.

Here’s the 2016 Chorlton Festival Calendar.

Chorlton Big Green Happening 2016

Saturday, 23 April 2016 (1pm – 1030pm)

Chorlton & Whalley Range Big Green Happening 2016

Chorlton Big Green Happening 2016

The Chorlton Big Green Happening, the successor to Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, is back after taking a year off in 2015.

This year’s celebration of sustainable living is being promoted in some quarters as the Chorlton & Whalley Range Big Green Happening 2016 to recognise the fact that activities are split between St Clement’s Church on High Lane in Chorlton and the Carlton Club on Carlton Road in neighbouring Whalley Range.

Admittedly most of the action takes place in and around St Clement’s Church with live music, food and drink, stalls and so on in the daytime, followed by a varied entertainment programme inside the church including live music, dance classes and the Stitched-up Big Green Fashion Show from 6pm – 1030pm (early bird tickets £5).

Those with more stamina than me can then make their way over to the after-party at the Carlton Club.

Bootleg Beer Festival 2016

Sunday, 1 May 2016 (Midday – late)

Bootleg Beer Festival 2016 at the Horse & Jockey pub on Chorlton Green

Bootleg Beer Festival

A new addition to the Chorlton Festival Calendar, the Bootleg Beer Festival is being held by the Horse & Jockey pub and its in-house microbrewery Bootleg Brewing Co on Chorlton Green.

The Bootleg Beer Festival 2016 is promising a day packed with entertainment. There’ll be an outside bar serving ales brewed onsite between midday and 9pm, a chance to make your own cider or apple juice with the Moss Cider Project from midday till 4pm, brewery tours, food, giant games on the green, live music throughout the day in the pub and on the terrace, and a DJ set in the evening.

Bootleg Brewing Co is also brewing a special beer for the big day. Interestingly, the exact type of beer (fruity, lager, hoppy or dark) is being decided in true democratic fashion by a public vote on social media.

Chorlton Arts Festival 2016

20 – 29 May 2016

The Chorlton Arts Festival takes place in May 2016

Chorlton Arts Festival 2016

Now in its 15th year, the annual Chorlton Arts Festival is firmly established as Chorlton’s biggest festival.

The 2016 instalment is working with more than 30 venues across Chorlton. Expect everything from live music and comedy to visual arts and performance with a mix of paid-for and free events.

There’s also a welcome return for the Chorlton Weekender, the mini music festival within the festival proper. This year’s headline acts are Ren Harvieu and Romeo Stodart (The Magic Numbers) at St Ninian’s Church on Egerton Road South on Friday, 27 May (tickets £15 or £13 concessions), Owiny Sigoma Band at St Clement’s Church on Saturday, 28 May (tickets £10 or £8 concessions), and PINS at St Clement’s Church on Sunday, 29 May (tickets £10 or £8 concessions).

A Chorlton Weekender Wristband costs £25 and gives you access to all three gigs.

Manchester Vegan Fair 2016

Saturday, 28 May 2016 (11am – 5pm)

Vegan Organic Network's Manchester Vegan Fair

Manchester Vegan Fair 2016

The annual Manchester Vegan Fair is being held for the third time at the Chorlton Irish Club on High Lane.

Organised by Chorlton-based charity Vegan Organic Network, more than 3,000 people attended in 2015. The 2016 edition aims to go one better with more than 70 stalls, live music and poetry, vegan speed dating, wind-solar rickshaw rides, films, talks, workshops, and of course lots of vegan food and ale.

Tickets are £3 but kids go free.

Chorlton Open Gardens 2016

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Programme for Chorlton Open Gardens 2015

Chorlton Open Gardens

Chorlton Open Gardens is an annual daytime event in which gardeners across Chorlton throw open their doors for a good cause.

More than 30 sites took part in the 2015 Chorlton Open Gardens, with most attracting over 300 visitors.

Members of the public pay £5 in aid of Freedom from Torture to buy a programme from places across Chorlton (Creative Recycling on Beech Road, Chorlton Bookshop on Wilbraham Road, Blossom Flowers on Manchester Road, and Chorlton Plant Nursery on Vicars Road), which includes maps and write-ups of each garden.

Then it’s simply a case of checking out as many as possible, or taking it easy and relaxing at the ones that put on homemade cakes, drinks and live music.

The 2015 event raised more than £8,000.

Update: Chorlton Open Gardens organiser Merryn Cooke tells me that the event currently has 31 sites lined up including six new gardens, a communal alley, the roof of Unicorn Grocery and a communal allotment.

Programmes will be on sale at Chorlton Bookshop, Blossom Flowers, Creative Recycling and Chorlton Plant Nursery from the end of May. They’ll also be available at Creative Recycling, Chorlton Plant Nursery and Unicorn Grocery on the day.

Festivalgoers are encouraged to buy programmes in advance to help them plan their day. (04 April 2016)

Beech Road Family Fun Day 2016

Deferred for 2016

The Family Fun Day has succeeded the Beech Road Festival

Chorlton’s Family Fun Day

The free Beech Road Family Fun Day, the family-oriented successor to the Beech Road Festival, won’t be taking place on the first Sunday in July this year.

In its place, it’s envisaged that there’ll be a celebration of independents and shopping locally on both the Saturday and the Sunday. Details are still being worked out.

Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival 2016

7 – 9 July 2016

Chorlton Beer and Cider Festival

Chorlton Beer Festival

Chorlton Beer & Cider Festival, also known as Chorlton Beer Festival or just Chorlton Beer Fest, is being held once again in and around St Clement’s Church.

This annual institution is organised by Trafford & Hulme CAMRA and St Clement’s Church. It features dozens of real ales from local and national breweries, as well as an impressive selection of world beers, ciders and perries. There’s also street food and live music.

The event runs from 6pm – 1030pm on Thursday, 7 July (which is usually a quieter preview night), 6pm – 1030pm on Friday, 8 July, and 1pm – 930pm on Saturday, 9 July.

Organisers say prices will be the same as 2015 so by my reckoning that means Thursday tickets will be £10 including £5 of beer tokens, while Friday and Saturday tickets will be £10 including £4 of beer tokens.

Chorlton Love Beer Festival 2016

Summer 2016 (presumably)

The organiser of the Chorlton Summer Beer Festival

Love Beer Festivals

Love Beer Festivals, founded by five beer-loving friends, usually stages one beer festival a year in Chorlton.

The Chorlton Summer Beer Festival 2014 took place at South West Manchester Cricket Club in June and the Chorlton Summer Beer Festival 2015 was held at Chorlton Irish Club in August but there’s no word yet on what if anything is planned for 2016.

The most recent instalment featured more than 30 cask and keg beers, 15 Belgian beers, 15 American beers, cider, street food, live music and family activities such as a bouncy castle and face-painting. Advance tickets were £5 and the event ran from 5pm – 1am on Friday, 12pm – 6pm on Saturday (family session), and 6pm – 1am on Saturday.

Chorlton Bonfire Night 2016

Saturday, 5 November 2016 (presumably)

The new logo of the Bootleg Brewing Co in Manchester

Bootleg Brewing Co

The largest bonfire night in Chorlton takes place on Chorlton Green although some local residents might argue that size isn’t everything.

Chorlton Bonfire Night 2016 is a free event organised by the Horse & Jockey pub. It traditionally comprises two fireworks displays, one at 630pm for kids and one at 9pm for adults, and the 2015 instalment also featured an outdoor bar and two outdoor BBQs in collaboration with Sailor Jerry rum.

The Horse & Jockey and its in-house microbrewery Bootleg Brewing Co usually sell a fair few beers too!

Chorlton Book Festival 2016

18 – 26 November 2016

Chorlton Book Festival in south Manchester

Chorlton Book Festival

An annual celebration of all things literary, Chorlton Book Festival is scheduled to return at the end of November.

Details are scarce about what we can expect at the 2016 Chorlton Book Festival, but there’s usually a range of free and paid-for events in Chorlton Library on Manchester Road and venues across the suburb including poetry slams, literature talks, author readings, writing workshops and a literary pub quiz.

Chorlton Christmas Lights 2016

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Christmas tree on Chorlton Green

Chorlton Christmas Lights

It’s still early days but it looks like there’ll be one Chorlton Christmas Lights event this year.

The free Beech Road Christmas Lights Switch-On traditionally involves a lantern parade by local schoolchildren, which is led by Father Christmas.

The procession makes its way from Beech Road Park at around 545pm and heads down Beech Road, passing lots of children, parents and friends along the way, to Chorlton Green for the big Christmas lights switch-on at 615pm.

There’s also usually a church choir, carol singing, mince pies and copious amounts of mulled wine.

Chorlton New Year’s Eve Party 2016

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Flyer for the Chorlton New Year's Eve Party

New Year’s Eve in Chorlton

Chorlton has so many bars and restaurants that you’re spoilt for choice over where to see in new year if money’s no object, but in terms of free events one of the most popular places to go is Chorlton Green.

Organised by the Horse & Jockey pub, the Chorlton New Year’s Eve Party features a spectacular fireworks display. You can also reserve a table inside if you fancy splashing out on the New Year’s Eve menu and bubbly.

Horse & Jockey festivals

Throughout 2016

Exterior of the Horse & Jockey pub in Chorlton

The Horse & Jockey

The Horse & Jockey pub holds an ever-changing calendar of events throughout the year. These typically include:

The Horse & Jockey Summer Solstice 2016 (June 2016)

The Horse & Jockey Winter Solstice 2016 (December 2016)

Check out their website and social media, or sign up to their email newsletter, for more details as and when they’re confirmed.

Important note: If you see anything that needs updating in the Chorlton Festival Calendar 2016, or you’ve heard of another festival that’s on the way, drop me a message in the comments section (below) and I’ll get it sorted. Thanks!

Posted by: Richard Frost | February 13, 2016

Whole lotta Lead – The Lead Station hits 20

The Lead Station recipe book

The Lead Station Cookbook

Bars and restaurants come and go in Chorlton with alarming speed but The Lead Station seems to have been around forever.

In fact, it’s just celebrated its 20th birthday. To mark the occasion, the Beech Road venue and its owner-operator Nick de Sousa hosted a small party to say thank you to suppliers, staff, regulars and friends on Wednesday and I was lucky enough to be invited.

Police encounters

Now The Lead Station may be 20 years old (21 technically – it opened in 1995) but the building itself is much older, built by the Lancashire Constabulary as a local police station way back in 1885.

What I like about the place is that it hasn’t abandoned its roots. Witness the 1885 datestone with the Lancashire Constabulary inscription above the entrance, the old police cells converted into a kitchen, and even the name (the ‘Station’ refers to its police station origins, while the ‘Lead’ relates to the material used within the bar apparently).

The Lead Station bar-restaurant on Beech Road in Chorlton

The Lead Station

Scramble on

I’ve been to The Lead Station countless times over the years, usually for lunch because their Eggs Benedict is the best I’ve had bar none:

Eggs Benedict with poached egg, bacon, muffin and Hollandaise sauce

Eggs Benedict – an old favourite

But really it’s not just a lunch place – the restaurant has a seasonal menu of “simple, classic and honest” food served till late and there’s also a well-stocked bar, which makes its own cocktails. What’s more, The Lead Station has just published a recipe book (RRP £20) showing how to recreate dozens of its most popular dishes and cocktails, as well as containing interesting facts about the place and random things like an old interview with Chorlton resident Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) about how much he loves The Lead Station.

There are also profiles of their suppliers (JB Richardson’s Bakers, Barbakan, Hill’s Bakers, Amato Products, Jack Wood & Sons, The Easy Fish Co and Cheshire Wholesale Fruit & Veg in case you’re wondering).

Trades and Tariffs

As an aside, if you like The Lead Station, you might want to try sister restaurant Tariff & Dale in the city centre.

Instead of a police station, this time Nick converted a former cotton spinners warehouse into a trendy Northern Quarter venue on the corner of Tariff Street and Dale Street. It’s been getting lots of good PR recently and was nominated for Newcomer of the Year at the Manchester Food & Drink Awards 2015 and included by The Times in their 25 Coolest Restaurants in Britain list.

Tariff & Dale in Manchester's Northern Quarter

Tariff & Dale

All about the bass

During the party, The Lead Station invited guests to sample some of their food and drink.

My favourite dish on the night was the Seabass and Scallops – difficult ingredients to get right but both were cooked to perfection and they were nicely offset by a minted edamame and pea puree (it would seem their definition of “simple” food is very different to mine).

So good in fact that it’s in danger of tempting me away from the trusty Eggs Benedict.

Mixed salad

The Lead Station Salad

Seabass and Scallops with minted edamame and pea puree

Seabass and Scallops

Chocolate Truffle Cake with strawberries and cream

Chocolate Truffle Cake

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