Nestled down one of the Northern Quarter’s twisting back streets is the newest addition to Manchester’s dining scene and a veritable meat lover’s dream.
Solita – named after its location; South of Little Italy, the name Ancoats was given in the early twentieth century after a wave of Italian immigration – has installed Manchester’s first Inka grill. This expensive piece of kit acts like a BBQ, creating a smokey char to anything cooked in it. The clever bit is, it also cooks very quickly and seals in the moisture – looking at Solita’s menu, you can tell they’re keen to show it off.
There’s a good selection of nibbles and starters on offer – try the crispy ‘Rooster Scratchings’; it’s basically crisped up chicken skin and salt. Yep it’ll fur up your arteries and put inches on your belly, but you’ll die happy! Choose their ‘Olives and things’ to cut through the fat – sharp, spicy, herby and incredibly grassy fresh.
The starters all sound great, but there’s only two that I would go back to again and again – both a carnivore’s dream. The ‘Pulled Pork Sundae’ is a dream dish – moist pulled pork, smoky BBQ sauce and topped off with 60/40 mash (that’s 60% potato, the rest is butter. Yeah 40% butter). An inspired and cheeky dish, it’s only matched by the ‘Bacon Jam on Sourdough’ – not sweet and sickly as you’d imagine; but bacon cooked down till it’s sticky, umami rich and slightly spicy.
It would have been rude not to try out the Inka for the mains - a ‘Hanger steak’ was rubbed with a ‘special rub’ that’s big on flavour; spiced, charcoaly, lip smacking. The Inka obviously works as the meat was a tender, juicy treat. Also tried the ‘Classic burger’; this has bone marrow minced in to it – so combined with the Inka cooking, it’s the ultimately moist burger and has an extra sweetness you don’t usually find.
Portions are big so only order sides if you can handle them – this is where you can find veggies, but they’ve been given a) the inka treatment and b) smothered with smoked butter. There has been no other restaurant where I have felt unhealthy eating vegetables before. You can order more ’60/40 mash’ if you can fit it in and there’s ‘Triple cooked chips’ to keep your fat content as high up as it can actually go.
If you can order pudding, try the deep fried coke. They have other things there like ice cream with bacon in and a cheesecake – but have you heard of ‘Deep Fried Coke’ before? No. So try it. Churros batter (like doughnuts) has Coke syrup and cinnamon mixed in, then it’s fried, topped with ice cream and then more Coke syrup poured over. It’s very sweet, but it’s very moreish and the ice cream works well at toning down the syrup.
Solita’s a great place to eat – they’re offering something that isn’t really available in the Northern Quarter and they’re doing it for a fair price too. When I chatted to the manager he explained the idea was to open the Northern Quarter up to different people – families, people shopping, mid week diners. They’ve created a versatile space – there’s private dining rooms, a bar and everything’s good looking in striking black, red and white.
This restaurant is a great addition to the Northern Quarter; offering a unique meal experience and good value for money. (Ps you might want to skip if you’re a party of vegetarians or on a diet!).