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REVIEW: Southern 11 | Spinningfields

Gordo on deep south Americana finally done right

Written by . Published on November 13th 2014.

REVIEW: Southern 11 | Spinningfields

MANY YEARS ago when Gordo was a teenager, he and his pal, the aptly named Pete The Pot, heard about a new type of restaurant opening in London. It was called The Great American Disaster.

Independent butchers the length and breadth of the country are laughing their bollocks off. They haven’t made money as fast as this since rationing.

‘American style’ burgers were the order of the day. And, by all accounts, WHAT burgers. You could even have one with chilli on top!

Another came with some weird American cheese that was said to taste of heaven. Even more so with some great bacon, not warm and wet, but crispy strips that danced on your tongue.

Oh, and the ‘fries’. Oh yes. 

Such promise was only a four-hour drive down the M1 with the surety that the girls down there were eager. Not only that, there were loads of them, ready and waiting and spinning in the streets with flowers in their long, golden hair and dresses that floated. Legs as long as Christmas day.

Everything was just groovy down in that there London, on that street paved with nirvana, The Kings Road.

So one Sunday we did the trip.

On the way back up the M1, with no groovy chicks in tow and the realization that we really should have worn holes in our jeans and tie-dyed our Ts, we were both pretty quiet.

Pete broke the silence around Northampton.

“Jesus man. Its just fuckin’ mince”.


Southern 11Southern 11


Oscar Wilde once said: 'Fashion; a thing so ugly we have to change it every six months’. The food industry ain’t much different but with a longer lead time.

So, currently we have the burger back, bigger, better, brasher and dirtier than ever. Gordo is getting pretty tired of it. Restaurants and pop-ups abound with mince beef in every form. The current fad of dirty southern US food, the food that has turned America into the fattest, grossest nation on earth, is getting right on Gordo's wick. I mean, have any of you lot been to New Orleans or Atlanta for chrissake?

Add to that a new, foul, near inedible meat, so bland that it needs to be mixed with all sorts of sweet, sticky, acidic and rancidly spiced ‘sauces’.

Traditionally this cut was only fit for sausages. Now it’s known by the name the devil himself coined.

Pulled Pork.

Independent butchers the length and breadth of the country are laughing their bollocks off. They haven’t made money as fast as this since rationing.

Dear The Lord, please stop pissing about with us will you? We all know we’ve been a bit naughty, but seriously, Pulled Pork?

However, in amongst all this peptic acid, there are places that deliver the honest article. They are, reader, few and far between. So Gordo has recently been on a mission to try them out, find the good ones and report the false gods.

Let's start with Manchester’s least hyped, but first to arrive.

Southern 11.

Southern 11Southern 11

Strangely, Gordo has always liked this one, particularly for its correct rendering of a Southern chicken dinner. Though it’s always had a weird fit out and was never that comfortable in Gordo’s mind.

But, it’s had a makeover recently. The plans to knock through to The Avenue at the rear have been shelved. The fit-out took place under the watchful eye of co-owner Karina Hitchen (who also runs Neighbourhood) and has a warmer feel to it with murals that soften it up along with a friendlier and more sensible table lay out.

Unusually for this management team, the music is at a level where people can have conversations.

The menu is deep American south, with added Texican to boot. The other half of the team, James Hitchen, suffers from OCD (a handy affliction in restaurateurs) and spends time researching his dishes properly.

This is why this restaurant is the only place in the North West that serves Chicken Dinner (£10.95) correctly. Buttermilk fried chicken thighs (never breast, too dry) - think KFC by Heston - on creamy mashed potato with sausage gravy. Gordo hasn’t got the faintest clue why this is called sausage gravy, but when done well is the difference between meth by Mexican Henry and meth by Walter White. Sublime. A funny colour, mind you.


Chicken Dinner (£10.95)Chicken Dinner (£10.95)



Tortilla chips (£3.95)Tortilla chips (£3.95)


The home fried tortilla chips (£3.95) glistened, topped with pico de gallo and a dollop of guacamole on the side. The first time around this dish scored an unprecedented 9/10. Gordo had to go a second time. This was because he got comp’d by a well-meaning management team, however, Confidential rules dictate that all scored reviews have to be paid for.

On the second (paid) visit they were slightly different. Pico de gallo - when done properly - is a magical salad of room temperature tomato flesh, chopped onions and coriander with, crucially, a squeeze of lime. Maybe Jalapenos. That first time was spot on. The second time around someone had under-squeezed or forgot the lime. Boo.

Maybe Gordo was dreaming, but he is pretty sure that the first time had no melted cheese, the second certainly did. Whatever. Bin the cheese folks, totally unnecessary. It also goes cold pretty quickly. But, dear reader, ask for extra guacamole. It is the best Gordo has had in his memory.

The Chicken Cobb salad (£8.25) on the first visit and in just one mouthful demonstrated delightful flavour balancing, as did the Chicken Caeser (£8.95) on the second.

The kitchen has a deft touch with the chicken breast in those salads, moist.

It's suicide'Suicide' Wings (£4.95)

Sothern 11 Burger (£10)Southern 11 Burger (£10)

Gordo’s guest on the second visit decided he was man enough to try the suicide wings (£4.95). He wasn’t. He only managed half the bucket. Gordo has no idea if these are any good. He does know, as with all ‘suicide’ saucing, that they can be described as simple fuckwittery. He doesn’t get involved.

Loaded baby skins with chilli beef, sour cream and chives (£4.00) missed the mark for Gordo; too much potato flesh, not crispy enough but heroic chilli beef. These could do with a re-design, which should include the sour cream on the side and more chives.

The Southern 11 burger (£10.00) was ordered nude, just to check on quality, the real test. Very, very good basic ingredient, minced flat-iron, well seasoned. The Cowboy pie (£10.50) needed to be slightly wetter, even so it delivered big on flavour. The cheesy mash on top was, well, top.

Desserts were the NY baked vanilla cheesecake with cherry pie topping (£4.95); beautiful consistency, crunchy bottom, real vanilla seeds shot through and really, really fantastic topping. Ice cream worked well, presented in one of those waffle cones; two scoops for £4.95; maybe a bit pricey that, folks.

So, on reflection, this is Americana that works. It isn’t a fad. If the quality is kept up, the brand will be around for a while.

The difference?

It ain’t all just fuckin’ mince.

A Gordo Go.

Follow @GordoManchester on twitter.


Southern 11, 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields M3 3EB. 0161 832 0482

Rating 15.5/20

Food: 8/10 (Tortilla Chips: 8, Potato Skins: 6, Suicide Wings: refused to get involved, Cobb Salad: 8.5, Caesar Salad: 8, Fries: 8.5, Pulled Fuckin Pork: refused to get involved, Chicken Dinner: 9, Cowboy Pie: 7, Burger: 8)

Ambience: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

Cowboy pie (£)Cowboy pie (£10.50)

NY baked vanilla cheesecake with cherry pie topping (£4.95)NY baked vanilla cheesecake with cherry pie topping (£4.95)

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

James DunnNovember 13th 2014.

That Southern 11 burger is a sorry looking thing I know you were tasting the mince, but you have fallen into the trap set by the very places you were against with the "Pulled Pork" nonsense with your "MINCED FLAT IRON" deary me! Pete the Pot was right, “Jesus man. Its just fuckin’ mince”.

pollolocoNovember 13th 2014.

Remeber going to GAD in Manchester...have a faint recollection it was down a dark alley somewhere? Wooden plates as well!

Poster BoyNovember 13th 2014.

Gordo; swimming with the tide.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2014.

the chicken dinner dish looks yummy and it's nice to see a non-brioche bun on the burger

Helen TaylorNovember 13th 2014.

What happened to the humungous portions of ribs and rotisserie chicken? Have they stopped doing the barbecue stuff?

JimtoNovember 13th 2014.

Always enjoyed this place, saturation of this type of food in the rest of Manchester has put me off this genre all together, though I might venture back now I've been reminded somewhere does it to a restaurant standard. That's the problem with the other places. No standards.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2014.

Go to ths place quite a lot for their lunchtime takeaways, really good value for money. Not keen on the refurb though, the trees outside are a bit to much (thought I was in Narnia) and the bear inside is a bit.....odd!

AnonymousNovember 13th 2014.

I remember reading they were to open a new speakeasy in Spinningfields and an American Brasserie elsewhere in town, plans on hold?

Ralph BoweNovember 13th 2014.

The Great American Disaster was on Chapel Walks. The site is now 35 years later occupied by Grinch.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Bob HampsonNovember 14th 2014.

I remember it being a great place to eat. Great food and atmosphere!

mrsplimNovember 13th 2014.

Food here was much better when it first opened. I tried it again back in January and the food was no where as good as before...and whats the obsession with tin plates!!!

Mark BoardmanNovember 13th 2014.

mircowaved ribs with shop bought sauce. avoid.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2014.

Home fried tortilla chips my arse. They're not rolled and fried, good grief, you can see that from the photograph. Awful review.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Mark GarnerNovember 15th 2014.

Well done for that Anon above, love constructive criticism

Karina DouglasNovember 14th 2014.

Sod the food, it's OK at best! But...their Gin & Jazz cocktail, oh my goodness gracious me, ruddy beautiful!

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