Last night at The Lowry Hotel the who’s who of the Manchester food & drink scene gathered for this year’s Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2012 Awards. Amongst those enjoying the evening (and nervously looking around at the competition whilst no doubt pretending that they didn’t mind if they won or lost, just happy to have been nominated) were 10 of the Northern Quarter’s finest establishments. I’ll admit, my expectations were high, as indeed I’m sure were yours, as every nominee had a very strong chance of scooping up the prize.
So how did the Northern Quarter get on?
Best Casual Dining Venue of the Year
Teacup deserves the award, and the queues of people seen waiting to get in on the weekend, for the fantastic variety of treats, teas and food on offer. This reputation for great casual dining has only been added to with the evening Supper & a Cuppa menu that showcases their chef’s talents in unique, inventive and most importantly, delicious ways.
Go there for: A choice of around 20 different types of tea, delicious cakes and Supper & a Cuppa. Teacup
Teacup / 55 Thomas Street / Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1NA
Pub of the Year
Port Street Beer House
Surely the beer conoiseurs choice for the win here. An always changing line up of draft and bottled beers could seem a little intimidating to those without a CAMRA membership, but the bar staff are always helpful and happy to make recommendations before offering up a little taste. Their place in Manchester as the top Pub can only have been enhanced by the recent Independent Manchester Beer Convention that they put on (with others), which by all accounts was a huge success.
Go there for: Exotic beers Port Street Beer House
Port Street Beer House / 39-41 Port Street /Northern Quarter / Manchester / M1 2EQ
Newcomer of the Year
The Bakerie and Bakerie Tasting Store
Bakerie, coupled with the Tasting Store offer up something unique in the Northern Quarter, and this is perhaps what set them apart and resulted in this deserved win. Bakerie itself welcomes us in with a great selection of drinks, particularly wines, and a menu to warm you on a chilly day, of which there are far too many! There’s a lot of bread on offer as you would expect and this leads to a while lot of sharing amongst the party you are in, with this delicous bread, stews and sharing plates an emphasis. Meanwhile, a short trip across the way is the Tasting Store. Wine, wine and more wine! A huge selection of great wines (I took a wine retailer in there recently and he was impressed with the selection), tasting events and of course the unique wine tasting machine. Give it a try!
Go there for: Fresh bread and wine from the tasting machine. Bakerie
Bakerie / 45 Lever Street /Northern Quarter / Manchester / M60 7HP
Best Coffee Bar or Tea Shop
North Tea Power
This little café on Tib Street is THE go to spot in Manchester for next level coffee. Be warned though, once you’ve been here Costabucks just doesn’t cut it. The team in here, lead by Wayne and Jane, really care about what they are putting across the counter and this passion ends up in the cup in front of you. With fresh sandwiches, cakes and treats and, should you be in need of a different kind of brew, beer available too, these guys are going to take some beating in this category for some time to come.
Go there for: Coffee the way it should be! North Tea Power
North Tea Power / 36 Tib Street / Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1LA
Food and Drink Pioneers / Food Hero
Almost Famous started life as a little pop-up with a temporary licence and a speakeasy attitude. Those days are long gone. This has to be the most talked about venue in the Northern Quarter, and indeed Manchester, and there’s good reason for it. It has just caught the zeitgeist; combining artery-clogging burgers, decadent fries and cocktails to match, with a twitter feed that just has to be seen to be believed! Pioneers? Sure they serve burgers, fries and cocktails, hardly pioneering, but that’s not the point, it’s the way that they do it. Pioneers and heros, all in one night. They would have told you they were pioneers and heros, but now it would seem they have been rightly vindicated.
Go there for: Banging burgers and a great atmosphere. Almost Famous
Almost Famous / 83 High St /Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1BE
Sadly not everyone nominated last night won (the NQ had 2 nominees in some categories) but here are the runners-up….all still winners in our minds.
Home Sweet Home
Nominated in the Best Casual Dining Venue and Best Coffee / Tea Shop categories, this little cafe really stands out in both categories. If you fancy a brew you’re going to get a delicious cup of something warm in comfy surroundings, and if you want to go for something a little more calorie laden, have a milkshake. If there was an award at MFDF for best milkshakes these guys would have walked it! Food is good and hearty portions mean your appetite will thank you post-visit.
Go there for: Freshly baked cookies and milk Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home / 49 – 51 Edge St / Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1HW
The Castle was nominated in the Best Pub category and it’s easy to see why. Located up Oldham Street, away from the main drag of bars which I’m sure suits them, this is a pub with a traditional feel, with a warm atmosphere and welcome. Most nights you’ll find some kind of live music going on should you want to be entertained, or you can just pull up a stool and enjoy a nice pint with friends.
Go there for: A great time! The Castle
The Castle / 66 Oldham Street /Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1LE
63 Degrees & Eric Moreau
63 Degrees and their head chef (and patriarch of the family that runs it) Eric Moreau has brought expressive French cuisine to Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The restaurant uses only locally sourced, fresh ingredients and a classic style of cooking to delight the most delectable of palates. They were nominated in the Best Newcomer and Chef Of The Year categories. This is the place to go in Manchester for fantastic French food.
Go there for: Amazing French food 63 Degrees
63 Degrees / 20 Church Street / Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1PN
Nominated in the Best Bar category, this cousin of Port Street Beer House has a similar attitude to offering a fine choice of beer, but marries it with a hearty food menu and more focus on music and the artwork that adorns the walls. This is a perfect spot for a quiet beer in the early evening and a slightly noisier beer later on (particularly Thursday, Friday and Saturday).
Go there for: Food, drink, tunes & art. Common
Common / 39 to 41 Edge Street / Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1HW
Another nominee in the Best Bar category, Socio was the original speakeasy cocktail place in the Northern Quarter and continues to hold it’s own if cocktails are your thing. With its Little Black Book of Cocktails, you will definitely find a suitably stiff drink to kick off the night with, or to finish it with. The bar staff are part of Socio’s charm, and when they are having a good time (which is all the time) it’s hard not to do the same.
Go there for: Cocktails and tunes Socio Rehab
Socio Rehab / 100-102 High Street / Northern Quarter / Manchester / M4 1HP
Now you know the winners and runners up, get yourselves down to these fine establishments and see what all the fuss was about.