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Food & Drink Roundup Wk 20: Major New Restaurant And Vegan Piety

Jonathan Schofield patrols the city with his mouth full

Written by . Published on May 14th 2013.

Food & Drink Roundup Wk 20: Major New Restaurant And Vegan Piety

Ambitious New Restaurant, Art Space And Music Venue To Open

Living Ventures are preparing for the birth of ‘their most challenging restaurant to date’. Artisan will open towards the back end of June, in a 12,000sq ft, semi-industrial space on the first floor of Avenue North in Spinningfields (above Neighbourhood). The idea is ‘loft studio meets concrete warehouse’ and alongside food and drink it will showcase sculptures, murals, art installations and furniture from artists and craftsmen. There will be two wood ovens burning throughout the day and night and a rustic menu serving flamed meat, fish and ‘unusual pizzas’. These will come straight from the fire via pyrotechnic chefs.

Drinks include a collection of ‘innovative cocktails’ served from a 20 foot long bar together with wines, spirits and beers. DJ’s will play throughout the week. There’s even going to be a Captain’s Table and a photo booth. According to Tim Bacon, Living Venture’s Managing Director, Artisan is “The people, the art and the food (because) you should always leave with a story.” 

The picture below shows Tim Bacon getting ready for 'a story'. He's got four glasses lined up and he's clearly planning a big one. Go on lad fill 'em up. Let's get this show on the road. If not on the waggon.

Mr Bacon lines up the glassesMr Bacon lines up the glasses

39 Steps Site Occupied

Speaking of fires Braai, the Old Trafford-based South African barbecue specialist we reviewed earlier this year (click here) and admired its meats, has arrived as we predicted in the city centre. It’s taken the old 39 Steps unit on King Street South. It’s taken a considerable risk too. We wish Braai all the best but this site with its small frontage, low footfall, and basement location has been a kiss-of-death site for several years. And please Braai, remove the palisade window timbers soon.  

Braai site on South King Street - a success at last?Braai site on South King Street - a success at last?

The Times Are Changed For Food And Drink

Why do some traditional and formerly successful restaurant sites in the city centre fail? The situation in the city centre has changed that's why.

For decades property owners got better returns from offices and shops facing onto main streets. When I first started eating out in Manchester there were no bars and restaurants on King Street and scarcely any on Deansgate and in Albert Square. 

So in the central business district bars and restaurants hid away in basements, Leonis on Bow Lane, the Armenian Taverna in Albert Square, Koreana on King Street West, Corbieres on Half Moon Street, Sam's Chop House on Chapel Waks. Or the 39 Steps on South King Street. 

Because there was nowhere else to go for food and drink these places flourished. Now there are restaurants and bars and cafes and takeaways all over principal streets as retail has contracted and office staff numbers have dipped. Braai may have problems reversing this trend by taking its basement backstreet bet. Mind you the prices on the menu look competitive, so as we say, we wish them all the best. 

Part of Braai menuPart of Braai menu

You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round Like A Kebab Rotisserie

This is the cute video in which Turkish Delight in Chorlton is shown receiving its award at the recent British Kebab Awards. 

Terrace Blind Spot

Terrace is a lovely looking place. It’s situated on Thomas Street extending all the way back to Edge Street in the Northern Quarter. It’s been open several months but it’s not easy to notice. This is because either a) the management is trying to all canny and mysterious or b) they’ve not realised that in an area filled to the brim with food and drink establishments they need to SHOUT out some more and get themselves NOTICED. 

Terrace has great beers and a lovely design, but they need to work on the food, such as the pork and black pudding burger I had on Friday lunch. Everything was right about it from the point of view of condiments and coleslaw, perhaps the finest range in the city, but the burger was a poor dry thing and blurred in flavour with the black pudding not coming through strongly enough. We’re getting used to big, powerhouse burgers, filled with slop, goo, and moist meat in these days of The Great Burger Revolution. Terrace needs to energise its burgers similarly. 

Terrace pork burger - dryishTerrace pork burger - dryish

Earth Cafe’s Vegan Simplicity

The Buddhist Centre’s in-house dining space round the corner from Terrace on Turner Street offers a good £4 deal with lots of choice. The Earth Cafe also offers a sweet sanctuary of a room with booths to hold meetings within and the gentle tinkle of a Buddha crowned fountain. The food is ok but a little like Terrace needs to give itself a spark of life. A daal and an aloo scoop on a plate with basmati rice and other vegan additions was simply a mush that filled the stomach but ignored the tastebuds. I felt like a car filling up at the garage, this was means-to-an-end food, simple fuel, without a scintilla of flair or passion or joy. Ascetic food. Perhaps appropriately. 

Cheap, filling but characterlessCheap, filling but characterless

Vegan Piety And Cornerhouse Awards

We received this press release recently.

‘Manchester – Forget about stale popcorn, processed hot dogs and fizzy drinks: today's cinemas, recognising that patrons enjoy healthy meals and snacks during films, are offering a wide variety of creative, delicious meat-free treats. And nowhere is this growing trend more evident than at Manchester's Cornerhouse, which PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has just named one of the top five vegan-friendly cinemas in the UK. "If there were an Oscar awarded for compassionate catering, Cornerhouse would be a tough nominee to beat", says PETA's Mimi Bekhechi. "

Good for Cornerhouse. But the tone of the message was troubling. There was lots of stuff about compassionate catering and eating.

‘The problem I have with this press release,’ I wrote back, ‘is over the phrase 'compassionate eating' which implies that non-vegans lack compassion. Why use this loaded phrasing in an innocuous story about an award?’

Ben from PETA wrote back: 'As people become aware of the horrors involved in factory farming, transportation and slaughter, which the meat and dairy industries clearly keep hidden (Do they? Editorial.), they are opting to leave animals off their plates, in favour of vegan meals.’

He then had his ethically killer fact. He underlined it for extra effect. ‘UN officials say that everyone will have to go vegan eventually in order to alleviate hunger, fuel poverty and the worst effects of climate change’.  

When's 'eventually'? And which UN officials stated this? The vegan ones?

There is a whiff of millenarianism about extreme vegans.

They peddle impending doom. They have an incontrovertible dogma that cannot be denied like the very worst religion botherers.

They put one in mind of those loons who believed a Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world in 2012. A calendar that people couldn’t read properly. That probably wasn’t a calendar.

This is a shame because extreme vegans cloud a debate that is important over the use of resources and how to feed an expanding human population. Nobody likes being shouted at and having a finger jabbed at them. Especially when the finger pointing comes from fanatics.

New Restaurant On Deansgate 

If you didn't see Sleuth this week then you might have missed the news about 3TwentyOne above The Crown pub. The latter Deansgate pub now has a restaurant, smoke house and liquor store. The bosses are Ed Lowe and his tattoos and Jason Latham and his menus: manager and chef. They've been let free to create a smart looking place with a smart looking grill menu, tight cocktail range, real ale and good wines. The meat comes from that excellent Lancastrian butcher Jack Wood.

As stated in Sleuth you can read the menu below, it's deceptively simple. Note the less usual cuts of meat, hanger and flat iron as well as full length ribs not baby back stuff. All glazes, sauces and dips are made inhouse. The smoker is working well apparently and Latham swears by his whisky and his hickory smokes. He would of course. Confidential will be in to judge very soon. 3TwentyOne is open now.

Grill menuGrill menu

Most Elegant And Literary Tea

In Sleuth this weekend we also mentioned the Portico Library and its cakes. The beautiful 1806 space also features Kathy the cook's astonishingly perfect cakes. The orange and chocolate cake I sampled was a perfect balance within a cake mix that was floaty and moist. You don't have to be a library member to enjoy these either, just ring the bell on Charlotte Street climb the stairs. Even better on Saturday from 11am-3pm you can enjoy cakes, scones, tea, coffee, wine and beer in the usually private members room. 

Lovely cake nice platesLovely cake nice plates

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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

Swiss JamesMay 14th 2013.

You might want to go back to Terrace on a Friday or Saturday night before you give them advise on how to fill the place. Rammed it is! Rammed!

IanMay 14th 2013.

'unusual pizzas' Unusual for a reason. Sounds like it belongs in Printworks along with Neighbourhood

IanMay 14th 2013.

It's ok to serve mediocre food as long as something comes in an enamel mug or metal bucket.

PaulMay 14th 2013.

You might want to consider food hygiene rating when recommending a restaurant. The Braai restaurant in Old Trafford has 1 star.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldMay 14th 2013.

Paul I only really care about the flavours. Have you personally been ill because you ate something at Braai? I haven't, so come on spill the beans, have you been food poisoned?

AnonymousMay 16th 2013.

I ate at Braai after seeing the recommendation here and had possibly the worst steak i've ever eaten, in fact it was the worst steak i've ever eaten. The purported "home made" sauces didn't taste very home made either.

AnonymousMay 14th 2013.

Ate at terrace last week and it was wonderful - fish finger sandwich and the rarebit were both spot on and inexpensive. Lovely staff, too. Don't be put off!

Poster BoyMay 14th 2013.

Another shallow theme-park artifice from Living Ventures. "Tonight Matthew I'm going to be..."

AnonymousMay 14th 2013.

Agree about the food at Terrace- had a pizza there last night and it was dire. Great bar though.

AnonymousMay 14th 2013.

Swiss James - being busy on a Friday/Saturday night and not during the week doesn't scream success. Maybe the advice will help the place expand its customer base and replicate that atmosphere during the week? #justsayin

AnonymousMay 15th 2013.

Oh those crazy vegan extremists, how ridiculous to suggest that killing animals for pleasure & destroying the planet at the same time somehow shows less compassion than not doing those things. Dogmatic too. No, wait...the other thing!

AnonymousMay 15th 2013.

The gaping hole in the vegan enviromental claptrap is that you only save on resources if you stop eating meat and get rid of the animals. What they are really suggesting is that we slaughter our populations of cows, pigs, sheep etc, condemn them to engangerd species lists and set the last few of these highly domesticated animals loose in the countries national parks. Compassion my arse.

AnonymousMay 15th 2013.

Went to braai last night.total pleasure from the cheerfull greeting to moment we left.spotlessly clean.food was excellent,chicken juicy an flavoursome,steak same.the sauces are full of flavour,not just hot like some places serve. Ill be returning.great service.

AnonymousMay 15th 2013.

Tim Bacon doesn't look very happy.

nices wolkchenMay 15th 2013.

thats his trying to look cool face

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