Food · Manchester

Just one Solita, give it to me

Roll up, roll up – get your puns out and your buns out, get that water running from your mouth and dig into a meal that will leave you lusting for an age, at Northern Quarter’s own, high-profile burger palace, Solita Bar and Grill.

If you like the idea of a pulled pork sundae, fancy a taste of authentic fairground fried onions and think that Coney Island mustard mayo-drenched burgers could be your thing then seriously, look no further than this established heart-attack hotel.

The perfect date night location, pit-stop for a quick sup or a dive-in for a spontaneous grub night with your nearest and dearest, Solita has people in mind and caters for the masses.  On quiet nights, you will be able to find yourself nestled on high stools upstairs in an intimate restaurant setting.  On evenings where it seems the whole of Manchester has dressed themselves up to the nine’s and swooped to Solita however, the mammoth downstairs seating area opens, meaning there is always somewhere to sit and tuck into Charcoal Grilled Seafood Skewers or a Hallou Me? Burger.

The menu itself is ridiculously vast.  There’s US Grain-Fed Flat Iron Steak from The Inka Grill, the likes of Sea Bass Fillets and Salmon, four innovative 10 inch hot dogs to choose from, an extensive list of beef, buttermilk fried chicken or fish burgers to boot and enough listed sides (such as Charcoal grilled corn on the cob and Smoked brisket chilli) to have you coming back to Solita forever.  You will never have to eat anywhere else ever again, just work your way through this stunning menu.

The choice of Cigarette Sounds on a fine Tuesday evening (yeah, we got the high chairs in the window, we don’t want to boast or anything…) came firstly in the form of Solita Nachos (£5.50) and Cheeseburger spring rolls (£6.75).  Demolished so quickly we couldn’t even get photographic evidence, both starters were made to the utmost standard.  Both ridiculously tasty with intense flavours coursing through, we couldn’t recommend either of these two appetisers more.  The Solita Nachos are corn tortilla chips sprinkled with a helping of cheese with dollops of guac, salsa and sour cream, served with hotter-than-hell jalapeños while the cheeseburger spring rolls… Well, you can probably guess what those might be.  Both of these were washed down by two (!!) gigantic Aperol Spritz by myself (it was a Tuesday, alright?) and a couple of 4.2% ‘Solitabrau’ house pilsner for my boyfriend.

Playing it safe with the main courses, burgers were chosen.  The menu lists twenty staples however, all beef burgers can be doubled-up (£2.90), swapped for buttermilk fried chicken (£2.50) or a chicken burger can be added (£4.90) making your delectable Solita main course one for the history books, and probably the most food you have consumed in an age.

One-half of the table was decorated with an oven bottom roll, stuffed with thick, succulent black pudding and pastrami – topped with lashings of Coney Island mustard mayo and melted cheese.  Better known as the Manc-Hattan (£11.50), this ludicrously delicious treat was definitely right up our street.  The other, the KFB (£11.90), seen a classic burger bun being chock-filled with melted Monterey Jack cheese, smoky BBQ sauce and ‘Kentucky Fried Bacon.  This was then altered (nothing is ever easy where I am concerned) to substitute the beef patty for buttermilk fried chicken, rising the grand total to £14.40.  In the words of Babybird, “because you’re gorgeous/I’d do anything for you”.

As if we had not ordered enough food already, we went for the mammoth 3 X bacon-rapped onion rings (£3.90) and a bowl of the house coleslaw (£1.50).  The onion rings were ridiculously dense, leaving us to take them home for a late-night snack, and the coleslaw itself was a standard creamy slaw, nothing too fussy yet nothing to write home about either.  Next time the Mac N Cheese (£3.00) and Salt Baked New Potatoes (£2.90) is definitely on the cards to enter our stomachs.

Brilliant food with a fantastic atmosphere, there really is nowhere in Manchester serving up killer burgers like Solita. Other than the remaining Solita sites, of course. Every bite transports you to heaven and you know that the hype is real.  Now  I have a raging ambition to work my way through the cocktail list and munch on some chicken wings!

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Food · Manchester

Veggie Indian goodness with Bundobust

Can you believe the last time I posted about food; glorious restaurant food was in April? That means a lengthy four months ago was the last time I documented what edible things I was putting in my mouth.  It seems I have had some time off extenuating my waistline… E Scott, who have you become?

Today I am chaat-ing (get it, get it) all things vegetarian with Bundobust.  If you know it then you LOVE it, if you don’t love it then you don’t know it well enough. The restaurant – which has made lists such as the ‘Top 25 Vegetarian Restaurants’, ‘Best Casual Indian Restaurants in the UK’ and the ’20 burgers you need to eat before you die’ – literally sits in a basement on Piccadilly around the corner from the infamous Northern Quarter.  If you haven’t waltzed down the basement steps and plonked yourselves at one of the long tables then what have you been doing, Manchester? Continue reading “Veggie Indian goodness with Bundobust”

Lifestyle · Manchester · Music

Finishing First Year of University 2.0

Okay so I might not have exactly passed yet – I received 34% on an exam I took before summer so that’s getting sorted in a couple months – but my first year of university is almost (not officially) over!

It has been a weird old year in Manchester and spellbindingly diverse in comparison to last year.  Innocent me taking on the world in the heart of Manchester with some acquaintances that would come to me when they fancied a night out (and vice versa) or wanted to lend some money (not so vice versa). Surprisingly, none of these people cast a shadow over my life anymore.

I also believed I was embarking on an odyssey where student life was concerned – safe to say I dropped out of my Music Journalism degree at the British and Irish Institute of Modern Music as soon as I realised this was a no-go area.  Best decision of my life to change courses to attend The University of Salford? I reckon so.

The 2016/17 academic year has firstly made me question the girl I was becoming.  I realised at The Warehouse Project in October 2016 that I needed to quit the life I had led for the past year.  Did I really want to go stand in a sweaty room of eighteen-year-olds, bouncing around to the ridiculously horrendous David Rodigan, pretending I was having a good time?  Did I really want to be downing double vodka oranges every other night in G-A-Y and stumbling home at 6 am? It just wasn’t me anymore and that was a really scary realisation.  I was the party girl and all of a sudden POOF.  Vanished. Weird, huh?

This idea that I was evolving was totally cemented in when I visited my best friend Kate Shepherd at York St. John’s University, and we attended at University of York student night at Fibbers… Never, ever again am I stepping foot in Fibbers. Give me a chilled night in Manchester’s Jimmy’s or Cane and Grain any day of the week. EVEN Soup Kitchen on a Saturday night!

I have sadly come to terms that I just do not like the partying student lifestyle anymore.  That might make me beige by your book but for me, it is probably my greatest epiphany of this academic year.

So once I stopped wishing DJ EZ was at South Nightclub every weekend I did not really replace this musical desire with anything.  The Libertines said “If  you’ve lost your faith in love and music oh the end won’t be long”.  And honestly music was lost on me.  I did not care.  I did not see a live band from November-May and I genuinely just was not interested.  I had given up hopes of writing about music and I was seriously at a loss.  What changed?  I decided I needed a hobby other than the gym, knew I was good at writing so started again.  Seriously as simple as that… I just did not want to run on a treadmill anymore.

In December I started writing for Gigslutz.co.uk again after taking a year hiatus to experiment with other things.  IE. Not do anything and was wasting away in my bedroom.  I gained the position of News Assistant and was then sent to Liverpool Sound City and Isle Of Wight Festival to become a roving festival reporter for the weekend.  As soon as I stepped through the gates of Sound City I knew this was what I was missing.  The hunger for live music, to discover the next-big-thing, to interview none other than Metronomy frontman, Joseph Mount – this is the gal I was.  I just lost her for a couple years.  Shout out to the Gigslutz team for allowing me back into your world so kindly – Mari Lane, Steve Aston, Becky Rogers and Melissa Svenson (who does a pretty cool podcast which can be listened to here https://soundcloud.com/modernstrife), you absolute angels.

So I rediscovered my passion in life, I ditched the nights out blah blah that is all well and dandy Ella but what did you achieve this year? Power over my own life.  I learnt to say “no” when I did not want a beer (I went to Funkademia at Mint Lounge and was buying rounds of lemonade and water for me and one of my favourite chefs at work AND was home by 2 am, sober.  It was a proud moment.)  I learnt to say “fuck it” when an opportunity I was desperate for popped up.   I learnt that my life was mine and the people that filled it was the people of my choice.  I learnt that I am twenty years old – I have plenty of time in my life to mess up one night and spend the next day lying in bed eating cold pizza from the night before, but right now, at twenty, all I want to do is make an impact in the music industry.

This year at university has taught me to be determined and I will get there, eventually.  I now know not to give up. Cliche? Cheesy?  Embarrassed?  All three, yes probably.

I have also managed to take my blog a hell of a lot more seriously this year.  I am not posting as much as I would like (hello life, nice to see you throwing things at me as always) but it has taken a serious turn in the upward direction. We celebrated our third Cigarette Sounds birthday in April of this year and we are definitely preparing for the milestone of the fourth.  There is no slowing down with this baby, we are speeding up in every single way possible.  Hopefully, soon I shall be able to settle down into a nice lil’ routine of blogging a few times a week, rather than a couple times a month… Here is to hoping. I do need  graphic designer to make Cigarette Sounds a bit more personal so if you are free, give me a holler.

Speaking of blogs, one of my gal pals from work, who also happens to be a sick manager too (Em definitely paid me to say that) Emily Brooks, started a blog this year after she was toying with the idea for so long.  It is a good little start-up, you should check it out at small-thoughts.com

Kate’s sister, Laura Shepherd, also started a blog earlier this year called My Northern Rose Blog which I heavily enjoy reading. It is extremely aesthetically pleasing and very satisfying, I lav it a lot, check it out here – www.mynorthernroseblog.com.

 

I do of course realise that I haven’t ACTUALLY talked about university throughout this entire piece and this is because honestly, this year is first year this year is the year you make mistakes and learn basics and NEXT year is the academic year which counts.  So eyes peeled for when I start to take education seriously… 

Shout out to all the girls in the industry who are killing it.  This time next year, I hope to be as close to my goals as you are.

ES X

Manchester · Music

Live: Liam Gallagher @ The O2 Ritz, Manchester 2017

“This is another new one, sorry about that” Liam Gallagher, Ex-Beady Eye frontman and Ex-Oasis star sniggers to the crowd of the O2 Ritz in Manchester.  He shrugs his shoulders in his Pretty Green mac, wipes the sweat from his forehead and launches into a solo song of his.  The crowd do not appreciate Gallagher’s new music as much as the old, but if you bought a ticket to hear ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’ then you should’ve done yourself a favour and quit while you were ahead.  He isn’t resurrecting Oasis; he’s paving the way on his own.

Gallagher’s first solo-outing showcased his voice in its prime.  Gone is the wheezing, the rasping and general flat tone.  Replacing poor is flawless.  Chugging water on stage, you can see the concentration spread across Gallagher’s face and hear the rejuvenated voice echoing from his lungs.  Heavy, rich and blossoming – this is the second coming, as The Stone Roses said.

Opening with Oasis classics ‘Rock N Roll Star’ followed by ‘Morning Glory’, Gallagher gently slides into his comfort zone, before blasting out his first ever solo single – ‘Wall Of Glass’. “I don’t mean to be unkind/but I’ll see what’s in your mind” Gallagher sings perfectly in tune.  With no fault, LG looks at ease on stage as he peers out into the crowd.

Whoops, and hollers followed by nodding heads and raised arms greet ‘Wall Of Glass’.  Ties are cut from both of Gallagher’s former bands as the song nears its death-defying end and we begin to doubt ourselves and our idea of Oasis.  Because really, hasn’t Liam Gallagher always been a solo artist in his own right?  He’s always been the star of the show; we just haven’t needed to notice until now.

His new songs pack punches and show that he’s working with a top production and songwriting teams.  It doesn’t matter that LG might not be writing the tunes, his direction, his voice and his stage presence is what matter.

Ending on a high, Gallagher brings out Bonehead from the guestlist balcony area to play the guitar for him like the old days.  The lights go dim and the crowd hound for more.  Gallagher knows how to play the crowd, feed them what they want and then leave them hanging on for more.  He swaggers back on stage with pure courage and commitment before launching into an acoustic version of ‘Live Forever’.  Acoustic because, apart from a shaker, the only sound resonating from the stage is Gallagher’s voice.  It is simply breathtaking: a moving spectacle.

Although a girl shouts “play ‘Wonderwall’”, but honestly, we don’t want him to.  As a collective crowd, we’ve realised that Liam Gallagher will always be Oasis and will always play Oasis – but he’s Liam Gallagher, solo artist.  Tonight has cemented the future.

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Food · Manchester

Fancy a Brooklyn Brewery Beer?

 

 

If somebody says to you “give up your night to drink free Brooklyn Brewery beer” you might be a bit sceptical.  You’ve had the standard Brooklyn lagar in a can or a glass bottle, and the dark larger may not have tantalised your taste buds.

I am exactly the same.

If that is the case for you too, then do not wipe Brooklyn Brewery off of your taste pallet just yet.  Whether it is for: sitting down with your mates for a beverage or ten, having that ‘one last drink’ as you throw yourself face-first into a ham and pineapple pizza (pineapple DOES go on pizza for the record) at an after party or just need that something to help you unwind after a stressful day of doing nothing – Brooklyn Brewery has the answers.

At the end of April 2017, employees of Yard & Coop were luckily invited to an intimate tasting session with Brooklyn Brewery representative, Chris Moore.  At the meeting Moore delved into the rich history of Brooklyn Brewery, explaining that the company’s founder had escaped death several times in various countries before the venture was even a thought and that when the New York Mafia come knocking you seriously have to show them who is the boss.

Alongside swerving through the archaic foundations of Brooklyn, Moore had brought us a selection of the brewery’s finest delights to sample.

Now, imagine: a variety of bar tenders, the front of house staff and managers on their day off, swarming around a table filled with sweet treats and alcoholic elixir’s we have never tasted before.  Win, win – a recipe made in heaven.  Alcoholic beverages are one of our main passions in life.  We are not working in a Northern Quarter bar and eatery for any old reason, you know.  We like to drink.

One of the first beers Moore pulled from his box of tricks is well-known and celebrated Brooklyn Lager’.  With a surprisingly fresh bitterness hugged by a floral and dry taste, the Lager is the Brooklyn Brewery signature.  You can find it throughout bars across the country and, if you do not spot anything you know on a menu – sure enough hiding in there somewhere will always be Brooklyn Lager.  A safe bet for a craft beer.

The Brooklyn Lager won’t appeal to everybody, however.  With its distinct taste and dark colour, it carries the same motto as Marmite – you are either going to love it like the feeling of having a full fridge at Christmas or hate it like your housemate using up your milk.  So if that is the case, then Brooklyn is not for you, right?

WRONG.  Oh, so wrong.

 Moore pulled a variety of bottled beers and cans out of his bag including:

  • Brooklyn Scorcher IPA
  • Brooklyn Brown Ale (my favourite of all the beverages)
  • Brooklyn American Ale
  • Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
  • Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

If you are an avid New World Trading Co. fan (IE. The Botanist, The Oast House, MCR Smugglers Cove, LIV) then you would have seen the Brooklyn East India Pale Ale stacked high on its ventures shelves.  The only Brooklyn Brewery offerings that was brought to the event in a can, the pale ale packed a serious punch – it is unbelievably juicy, thirst-quenching and ripe, but it is not for the faint hearted!

An all-rounder which would be perfect for those after-the-night-out drinks (as I previously mentioned) is the Brooklyn American Ale.  Unlike most heavy ales which you have to nurse your body to be in the mood for, this 4.5% ale is completely different.  Light-tasting, gentle and easy-going with crisp tones: the Brooklyn American Ale is perfectly paired with any food flavour, and makes drinking to drink fun.  You do not have to get drunk to have fun drinking (I definitely need to remember this mantra…)

 

The main attraction, for me however, came surprisingly in the form of the Brooklyn Brown Ale.  Now, I am a Geordie girl.  And other than that MTV show what are Geordies famous for?  Newcastle Brown Ale.  What does not taste nice?  Newcastle Brown Ale.  What has changed my complete perspective on brown ale (maybe) forever?  Brooklyn Brown Ale.

Nicknamed ‘the roasty’, this Brooklyn offering incorporates its British heritage with an American twist.  Brown ale that boasts six malts caressing layers of sweet toasted caramel, bitter cocoa and strong coffee – all blended together to create this rich and enticing beer.  The sheer volume of substance in the ale warms the pit of your stomach, changing your idea that Brown Ale is not just something you have to snidely avoid, even if it is on offer in a night club’s fridge.  42nd Street in Manchester, I’m looking at you.

Riveting, inviting and seriously tasty: if I can urge you to do anything this month, it is try to nab yourself a taste of Brooklyn.  Do not play it safe – go big.  If the American Ale sounds your thing then take the plunge or if you want something a little bit different to nag your mates about buying, go for the East India Pale Ale.

Whatever your tipple, make it Brooklyn Brewery.

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Food · Manchester

The Oast House, Spinningfields, Manchester

Okay so imagine the city of Manchester.  Got it?  Picture it?  Okay, now imagine the city of Manchester with the sun.  Seriously, miracles do happen: sometimes it is actually sunny in Manchester.  Honestly, it doesn’t rain all of the time!  So anyways: it’s sunny; you have the day off work; you’re hungry and your taste buds are craving a bevy… Where can you possibly go?  Why The Oast House of course!

Sandwiched in a sun-trap, around the corner from The Alchemist, Spinningfields, Australasia and running parallel to Spanish tapas giant, Iberica, is The Oast House.  A vintage building which was once used to roast hops in the 16 centaury turned BBQ and outdoor drinking heaven, The Oast House is owned by The New World Trading Co., better known as the people who brought you The Botanist.  Who knew drinking from watering cans could be so cool?

Side note: if you can go to any Botanist, go to the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne rooftop restaurant/bar above Jamie’s Italian, that setting is B-E-A-uuuuutiful.  Hands down my favourite venue in Geordie Land.

Open from 12 pm until 12 am on weekdays, and up until 2 am on the weekends, there’s always time to guzzle prosecco and stick a pie in your gob at The Oast House.  However, if the sun is shining get down early, even though there is an abundance of benches, cushions and even steps to perch yourself on outside, they fill up even quicker than you can shout “Get me a G&T!”

I introduced The Oast House to my two friends from Liverpool who were in Manchester for the weekend.  We dived straight on the idea of food.  As soon as someone says “let’s get food!” is it ever possible to say no?  I and Paddy went for the famous hanging kebabs, while Caitlin kept it extremely British and went for a good ol’ Steak and stout pie.

 

The three-piece Lamb kofta kebab, coming in at £12.50, was served with a pot of slightly-spicy peri-peri sauce (which was dribbled on by the waitress) as well as a gigantic basket of ‘properly’ seasoned chips.

I opted for the hanging( Chicken kebab (£11.50).  Served as a hanging skewer, the kebab was stuffed with succulent, melt-in-the-mouth chicken, chargrilled baby Portobello mushrooms, red peppers and onions.  While the kofta kebab had peri-peri sauce, mine (like the other hanging kebabs) was served with a sweet chilli and ginger sauce.  This tasted exquisite over my chips.  Chips and buttery sauce, the picture of health evidently.  Miss Universe 2017 coming at cha’.

Steering clear of following the crowd, I was sceptical about Caitlin ordering the pie.  A good pie is bloody hard to find, even Pieminister can miss the mark sometimes!  However, apparently, the Steak and stout pie was as good as it gets.  Priced the same as the chicken kebab, the meat pie was an edible sized portion, served with mushy peas, proper pub gravy and a choice of chips or mash.

The Oast House food was simply stunning.  Each of our dishes was demolished in an instant, however, flavours were savoured and positive comments were passed around the table.  We left The Oast House full, but not overly stuffed – which is always a good sign.

Service was impeccable, with bar staff offering drink recommendations when I was being one of those customers, and floor staff were chirpy, thankful and happy to help.  They were definitely feeling the sun rays and managing to effortlessly weave their way through the ever-growing crowd, so serious hats off to them!

A definite thumbs up from me Oast House and The New World Trading Co.  You’ve got yourself three new regulars… All we need now is that Spanish sun all year round!  Next up to try is the Manchester version of The Botanist, has it got anything on the Newcastle branch?

E x

Food · Manchester

Livin’ in a Vegan paradise: V-Rev, NQ, Manchester

So, my new year’s resolution of sticking to vegetarianism/transitioning to veganism might have become a little bit misty (bacon, it’s ALL your fault!) but there’s a one-stop-restaurant proven* to: boost your confidence of being able to eat super tasty and tantalising vegan food while still feeling you’re not missing out on meat at all.  Hi V-Rev, just take ALL of my money, please.

Situated on 20-26 Edge Street, in Manchester’s thriving Northern Quarter, V-Rev sits with its colourfully quirky interior and seriously good food menu.  Boasting the ideology of serving good grub made of “all plants, no pain”, V-Rev – formerly V Revolution – is serving food from Tuesday to Sunday, every week, from 11am to 11pm.  There’s always time for a slice of vegan heaven.

The food menu itself is extremely diverse hosting items such as: ‘Macaroni & Michele’s High School Reunion’ (Beefy patty; mac n cheez; chipotle cola bbq sauce and pickles) £8.25; Lobsta Salad (Lobsta in herb mayo; baecon; ice gem lettuce and tomato) £7.25 and Vietnamese Fries (Fries; Sriracha Mayo; Hoisin Sauce; Crushed Peanut and Coriander) £3.25.

Following on from food, if you’re fancying an evening bevy or a boozy lunch then V-Rev is the answer.  Offering a host of: IPA’s such as Mad Hatter RedXRum £4.50; Cocktails like Srira-Cha Cha Slide (What a name!!) ; £6.00 and enough red, white and rose wine to shake a stick at, there seriously is something for everybody to wrap their lips around.

If you’re not into having a drink however, their soft drink range is also extremely extensive.  Me and my boyfriend, Matty, both played it safe and opted for Fevertree Ginger Beer however, we’ve pinky promised we’ll have a swig of the Strawberry Creamsicle Milkshake £4.25, next time NEXT TIME.

Our service was efficient and friendly and within no time we were sipping and supping.  My main event consisted of: the Hell-vis Presley (Beefy patty; cheez; baecon; peanut butter; banana; pickles and baeconnaise) £8.25 with a side of hands-down-the-best-ever Mac & cheez (Rice macaroni with cheez sauce) £2.95.  B-E-AUUUUUTIFUL food, I couldn’t even fault the taste if I tried.

Matty went for the classically named Barbecute Without the ‘E’ £8.95 (Beef patty; cheez; pulled porq; chipotle cola bbq sauce; coleslaw and onion rings) and mouth-watering Chilli Bowl  (Smoky chipotle; beefy mince and three bean chilli) £2.25.

While my burger tasted brilliant and was smothered in thick peanut butter, the presentation in the ‘Almost Famous’ plastic basket really devalued the food for myself.  Sauce from my burger leaked through the holes where the paper wasn’t placed properly, as well as my mustard making a HUGE mess on the table.  I just don’t believe that the plastic dish fitted in with V-Rev’s cool, slick and sophisticated vibe.  Is it just me?

Apart from the above however, the food, service, deco and overall feel of V-Rev itself was brilliant.  A restaurant definitely worth the hype and 100% worth scoping out for your fix of vegan R&R, V-Rev is a brilliant edition to any Manchester foodies artillery.

Ella