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Soup Kitchen, Northern Quarter, Reviewed

David Blake still doesn't know what it is, and likes it

Written by . Published on July 31st 2014.


Soup Kitchen, Northern Quarter, Reviewed
 

I’M STILL not entirely sure what Soup Kitchen is.

And that’s how I like it.

And although filling up on bread may make you feel like Timothy Cratchit, leaving with a warm, full belly for under four quid will make you feel like a winner.

Some of the city’s most intriguing openings in recent years have been multi-armed operations that keep you guessing: Twenty Twenty Two, Gorilla, Kraak, each at times a bar, club, cafe, gallery, stage, office, catwalk, studio.

Soup KitchenSoup Kitchen

The type of venue where you could be chuffing a pastry Monday lunch, propping up the bar on a Wednesday evening, supping craft beer and watching a Canadian 'ukulele-slinger' perform, or getting your ears slapped about on a Saturday night down in the sweaty basement club by some scrawny, obscure pubescent French DJ you’ve never heard of and couldn’t pronounce even if you had. 

Northern Quarter's Soup Kitchen is one of this ilk.

On this laid-back Tuesday Soup Kitchen is playing at school canteen. Long wooden benches, steaming food trays, pastries under glass lids, chalk on blackboards and 70s wooden panels pulled from the staircase of The Brady Bunch. People chew each others ears off, tinker on laptops and read The Skinny, naturally.

And no, the place isn't packed to the rafters with Hips.. I'm not even going to say it, because it's too lazy and contrived. Except at weekends. Then you can't move for 'em.

Soup KitchenSoup Kitchen

Today though there's a healthy spread, a continental 40-something tour group, a preppy couple swooning over Farrow & Ball colour cards, a young Labour City Centre Ward councillor and around six trendies that seem to know everybody that works here.

The grub is simple and all the right side of £7, slipping perfectly into our latest Cheap Eats series of under-a-fiver-food - we'll be publishing our Best of Cheap Eats soon.

As you'd expect, there's a good few soups on offer. Garden pea and mint, minestrone, sweet potato, jerk chicken broth and ale, onion and cheddar, all for £3.75.

I opt for the hindmost on my first visit, served in that white and blue rimmed indestructible prison enamel tinware that seems to be having a moment currently.

Ale, onion and cheddar soup (£3.75)Ale, onion and cheddar soup (£3.75)

Pesto chicken sarnie (£4.50)Pesto chicken sarnie (£4.50)

The soup is stout, that'll be the beer (of which SK has loads, good cask gear from £3.40 a pint) and sweet from the caramelized onions. The cheddar is a necessary touch to buoy the dish and add sharpness, but tends to sink to the bottom and form little hot, gloopy gatherings of cheese. No matter.

The soup, at £3.75 is a reasonable eat helped by unlimited bread, collected from the counter, to become a solid cheap fill - ask the server to slice you some fresh bread, the stuff that's been sat there could be put through a bank clerk's window.

And although filling up on bread may make you feel like Timothy Cratchit, leaving with a warm, full belly for under four quid will make you feel like a winner.

The sandwiches too fall under the fiver bracket, as well they should for a sandwich. My pesto chicken with salad on multigrain sufficed for £4.50, but could have done with more guts to take on the bread.

Still, if an under-fiver-feed is your game, Soup Kitchen cuts the mustard.

What's more, Sylvan Esso is performing later on with 'heartfelt human electronica that pulses with folksy emotion and thrums with a layered lushness'.

Yep. Soup Kitchen is that sort of place. 

Soup KitchenSoup Kitchen

Follow @David8Blake

Caribbean mains like jerk chicken and curry goat are £7, sandwiches are £4.50 (five of eight sarnies are veggie), jacket tatties £3.50. Pints from £3.40.

ALL OUR SCORED FOOD REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL. REVIEW VISITS ARE UNANNOUNCED AND COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF ANY COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP.

Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear Street, M1 1DF. 0161 236 5100

@soupkitchen_mcr

Rating: 13/20 (Remember venues are rated against the best examples of their kind; fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes)

Food: 6/10. Does the job for under £4
Service: 3/5. On-hand
Ambience: 4/5. Trendy

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

Blackboard

Blackboard

Soup KitchenSoup Kitchen

BeerBeer

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

TimbucJuly 31st 2014.

6/10? I thought you compared like for like?

AnonymousAugust 1st 2014.

"Garden pea and mint, minestrone, sweet potato, jerk chicken broth and ale, onion and cheddar, all for £3.75. I opt for the latter" Grammar, stupid boy, you patently don't know the difference between 'latter' and 'last' - and nor do any of your colleagues who proof-read your copy - or perhaps didn't...

2 Responses: Reply To This...
EditorialAugust 1st 2014.

You're right. Changed. Stupid boy is a touch strong, mind.

Henry VAugust 1st 2014.

Grammar Police Alert... AKA cock

AnonymousAugust 3rd 2014.

Why do the grammar police think trolling everything for the slightest of errors makes them intellectually superior to everyone else. My theory is they do this as they have an insecurity complex about the fact they have a pointless English Language degree from the University of Cheadle Hulme

1 Response: Reply To This...
TimbucAugust 5th 2014.

Not even very good pedantry. There's a worse error in that very sentence they could have picked up on.

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