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GALLERY: B.Eat Street VS Guerrilla Eats

David Blake on MCR's 'street food' face-off

Written by . Published on October 30th 2014.


GALLERY: B.Eat Street VS Guerrilla Eats
 

THERE was a time when going out for food meant combing your hair, slipping on clean duds and ordering a prawn cocktail, stroganoff and a melon boat.

Guerrilla Eats were organising street food get-togethers in Manchester well before most had even considered pulling on their pork.

Then things got complicated. Low-fat became a 'thing' and we started ordering pasta salads, drinking diet coke and buying spinach in bags. We'd watch 'celebrity chefs' scramble around on Ready, Steady and suddenly cared not for the food but who was cooking it. The 'foodie' was born and started collecting restaurants like lapel pin badges to show-off at parties.

No-Carbs became more coffee, Heston started ice-creaming Chicken curry and if you didn't buy organic/fairtrade/free-range/locally sourced/low mile produce you were more of a toss pot than Pol Pot.

Then a good chunk of people said 'bollocks' and broke away from the tyranny of forks and linen and four walls and sitting on a chair. They threw gloop and bacon at everything and started serving 'dirty food' out the backs of vans and trucks in car parks, backlots and disused warehouses.

Food Fight MCR at Great Northern WarehouseFood Fight MCR at Great Northern Warehouse

And the people cheered and flocked to these newly-fangled 'food slams/parties/raves' because the people were bored of Atkins, Actimel and fifteen course taster menus (they were also broke) and just wanted to stuff their whistling pockets and have some fun.

So started the 'street food revolution'. Going for dinner, then drinks, then for a dance was a mug's game. Why not do it all? At once if you like, just don't wear a white shirt, don't wear any shirt, don't wear anything, it's up to you. This is 2014 and it's a street food party. There's no rules, man (warning: no short, no shoes, no entry).

Street FoodStreet Food

Manchester currently has two major food party players vying for your attention and your dough, the new(ish) all-guns-ablazing B.Eat Street lot and the city's original food party trailblazers, Guerrilla Eats.

So last week we took a camera along to both events to help you decide (you should probably just go to both)...

FOOD FIGHT MCR by B.EAT STREET

Before the B.Eat Street collective came along Manchester had never fully grabbed the food party concept by the goolies. It had always been a half-arsed, three or four vans in a puddled car park in Salford jobbie. Then Friday Food Fights, B.Eat Street's debut event, came along in March 2014 and blew people's socks off in the beautifully cavernous 'found space' of Upper Campfield Market Hall in Castlefield - see here.

We'd never be the same again.

Food Fight MCR in Deansgate's Great Northern is their third and latest venture, and comes right off the back of scooping the Manchester Food and Drink Festival award for 'Best Food and Drink Pop-Up or Event'... an award created solely so B.Eat Street could win something. No matter.

ROOM

B.Eat Street have stuck to a winning formula here. Find a neglected post-industrial space in the city, give it a spruce, throw food traders down one side, a lengthy bar down the other, place DJs up high, plenty of space for bottoms down low, pack 'em in and let them loose. It worked at Campfield, it (mostly) worked at their second whack in Brownsfield Mill, it works here.

FOOD

Unlike competitor Guerrilla Eats, B.Eat Street are happy to let some of the big boys - such as Red's True BBQ and Lucha Libre - let their hair down and compete with the small-fry. But it was the small-fry that won through on our visit, particularly MFDF award winner and everyone's new favourite, Viet Shack, that produced King Prawn summer rolls (£4, see below) of such dainty, fresh and deliciously crunchy joy that we got a second round in just to make sure. If they haven't been moved on yet try Papa Ganoush's beautifully warm fluffy-middled falafel in baked-on-the-spot flat breads (£5).

(Each week there'll be eight food traders, four residents and four weekly guests, ensuring no two line-ups are the same).

BOOZE

On the booze front the venue boasts two bars, a well-manned and lengthy affair inside and an overspill on the way in. Unlike their previous events, service is no hassle. Avoid the pish'ly 'Cooking Lager' (£4) and opt for the Yard Bird ale (£5), it's full of hops and named after US jazz legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, which makes you hip. Unfortunately the cider is that 'orrible Rekorderlig stuff (£4.80), but with wine (£4 by the glass) and cocktails (£6.50) on offer, there's no need to settle. The Lynchburg Lemonade is a belter.

Each week there'll be eight food traders, four residents and four weekly guests, ensuring no two line-ups are the same.

Food Fight MCR | FREE entry | Great Northern Warehouse (behind cinema box office) | Deansgate | every Friday (and now) Saturday night until 20 December | 5pm to midnight | @beatstreetmcr

Food Fight MCRFood Fight MCR

Viet Shack's summer rolls (£4)Viet Shack's summer rolls (£4)

Food Fight MCR at Great NorthernFood Fight MCR at Great Northern

GUERRILLA EATS by GUERILLA EATS

Guerrilla Eats were organising street food get-togethers in Manchester well before most had even considered pulling on their pork.

As a rabble of aspiring street food vendors they were looking for places to trade, but couldn't find enough events to make a buck. So they started their own in 2012. Good on 'em. Born was Guerrilla Eats, but their gatherings were largely sporadic, fancy free and foot loose. They lacked order and a regular gig. The arrival of B.Eat Street this year changed that, by the Guerrilla's own admission they 'had to up their game' to keep up with the flash new breed.

So they settled down and pitched their blue ape flag on the ground floor of a disused Ancoats' building, persuading a mix of old-timers and previously unheard of food traders to join in they rolled-up their sleeves and bought some chipboard, an old black cab and a circular saw... for the DJ booth, naturally.

ROOM

Guerrilla Eats is a more restrained affair. With candles, astroturf and garden sheds the feel is more neighbourly, laid-back and cosy. It's also more smokey, much more smokey. Big bad B.Eat Street can clearly afford mega extraction, Guerrilla Eats just open the doors. It adds to the charm. On a tight budget the guys have come up trumps in the Fairbairn building's empty bottom, by beg, stealing and borrowing their way to opening (and with only one slight licensing issue on opening night... but we'll drop that).

FOOD

Whereas B.Eat Street welcome a handful of restaurants to trade, Guerrilla Eats is a strictly small-guy event for what they refer to as "the bonafide street traders." Still, big or small, the proof is in the grub. Trying to avoid the usual mulch of minced meat and dog, we spot a clay wood-fired pizza oven in the corner. Rudy's dish up lovely, doughy, freshly kneaded pizza (from £6) with charred black bubbles that sing of Naples. The problem being with only one oven, and three hundred orders, you're likely to wait until Wednesday for your order. Grab a naughty grilled cheese and pork sarnie (£5) from Big Grillie Style while you wait.

(Each week will feature three resident vendors that will change every four weeks, alongside four guest traders).

BOOZE

There's two booze outlets at Guerrilla Eats, which for a relatively confined space is good dedication to the grog. The cutesy garden shed on the astroturf by the deckchairs seemed to be doing a healthy trade in punch and Prosecco served in an ice bucket and by the bottle (£16). A Founders All Day IPA (£3.50) was simple, clean and easy-drinking. They also serve Brooklyn and Brew Dog beer alongside Koppaberg cider (£3.50), which much like B.Eat Street's Rekorderlig is 'orrible stuff. When will Scrumpy make a come back?

Guerrilla Eats | FREE Entry | Fairbairn Building, Henry Street | Ancoats | Every Saturday until 20 December | 5pm to midnight | @Guerrilla_Eats

Rudy's pizzaRudy's pizza

Guerrilla Eats, Fairbairn Building, AncoatsGuerrilla Eats, Fairbairn Building, Ancoats

Guerrilla EatsGuerrilla Eats

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

MGSOctober 28th 2014.

so....the winner is?? The food slam?

AnonymousOctober 29th 2014.

Food 'face off' how depressingly Americanised. What ever happened to "this is Manchester we do things differently here" as opposed to following every whim and fad.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 29th 2014.

Don't go then. Oh wait, you already didn't go, but you still felt the need to moan about it on a website, even though it has absolutely no effect on you whatsoever. Clearly, a lot of people enjoy these 'street food' events. I haven't been to either of these yet but thought Up In Your Grill was decent enough.

AnonymousOctober 29th 2014.

It does affect me, you can't move for 'dirty food' in Manchester these days. Ridiculous burgers with 18 ingredients piled on top of a 'brioche' bun. Do one, shave your recently grown beard off and discover food with a bit of class. You might have to travel out of Manchester for that one though. Pierre Kaufman or Restaurant St John might be starting point.

AnonymousOctober 29th 2014.

I think the problem with anon above is that he / she is too old for these events and the whole dirty burger hipster thing that is big around the world, to compare this to Pierre Kaufman and St. John's is insane.

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

'Hipster' eurgh.

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