Mama Z and Woks Cluckin Launch Kickstarter For Yes Lah Café

Yes Lah is the combined dream of what Yen and I love doing – feeding people. And if we get to do so by sharing our culture and heritage then that’s even better.

– Zosima ‘Mama Z’ Fulwell

Living as we currently do in an age where all this *gestures vaguely towards the news and the outside world* feels utterly rotten a lot of the time, when word reaches you that not one but two of the hardest working, most vibrant and exciting chefs in town are not only collaborating on a new project together, but that it will also be a permanent residence of their very own, a wave of elation overcomes you so ferocious you’ll feel as though you could karate kick through a solid brick wall. Much like the energy that is channeled from hearing the opening riff of ‘Man I Feel Like A Woman’ by Shania Twain.

So when Zosima ‘Mama Z’ Fulwell and Woks Cluckin’s Yen Tham announced last Saturday that they were moving into their own spot in Didsbury, the entire Manchester hospitality community responded with a wholehearted deluge of support, spreading the news far and wide. All weekend, instagram stories and Twitter timelines mirrored each other with countless people sharing the announcement, both thrilled for Zos and Yen and chomping at the bit to discover more about what they have planned for their new unit in Didsbury.

It is a dream that has been a long time coming, as Zos told EATMCR earlier this week.

Yes Lah was in the pipeline for a while, ever since Yen and I met. We met at Hatch during our summer residency there in 2018 and have since then worked together doing supper clubs, helping each other out at each of our events and ultimately just became like family.

For years we always spoke about what we wanted to do and before we knew it was Yes Lah, we always knew we wanted a space to combine our favourite things. Yen has a real passion for baking and this works well with our menu and concept as I love all the savoury things.

Working around the city we felt there was a gap in the market in what we wanted to offer, especially by being able to bring together the incredible people and makers we have met along the way. Our collaborative supper clubs always played homage to our heritage and they were amazing. When we were out together working it just became natural that we came as a pair so in a sense it was fitting for us to go into business together.

When we would be out trading at different street food gigs, we would always brainstorm and laugh loads about all the mad ideas we would want to do. Finally, 5 years on, we have taken the plunge and it’s so exciting!

So now the news is out there, what should we be expecting from Yes Lah when it opens later this year?

Yes Lah is a space we want to be for everyone. Expect not only great Filipino and Malaysian inspired food on the menu, but also different ESEA (East and South East Asian) flavours we want to shout about.

Flavours such as Pandan and Ube in our coffee and Yen’s tasty baked treats, to sambal, noodles and great flavourful fresh lunches you can grab to take away or sit in. We don’t want to give too much away but it will be an amalgamation of all of our favourite things and what we love to eat and drink, so hopefully those who visit us will also love it as much as we do.”

Not content with Yes Lah operating as solely a café however, Zos and Yen will also provide a retail offering with an onsite shop where diners and customers can source the produce with which to replicate their favourite Filipino and Malaysian dishes at home.

We really want to work with great local suppliers, growers and makers, having a small retail offering on site for people to be able to grab ingredients to make dishes at home or even a last minute gift for a loved one.  We have some fabulous makers in mind to stock at our shop and that ranges from amazing independent food products that we love and have tried along the way, to the fresh and dry ingredients you might have to go to larger Asian supermarkets or China Town to get.

We want Yes Lah to be a place for people to be able to pick up those ingredients so they can create Asian dishes at home. If we don’t have those ingredients in, we want it to be a space where you can ask and we can try and help.

We know it can be challenging recreating dishes, or a bit intimidating asking in big shops, to feeling overwhelmed with different ingredients, so we want to bridge that gap for people and hopefully be able to help you with what you are looking for.

And, as if running a café and shop isn’t enough, there will also be cooking classes, supper clubs and workshops on the schedule for Yes Lah.

As I love to do cooking classes I am excited to use Yes Lah as a base to do them whilst also allowing other great makers to use the space for workshops or supper clubs. We are so excited to be able to give that platform to others. Workshops and supper clubs are a great way to learn, to explore different cuisines and connect the things happening in the city. I love how events like this bring the community together and we really feel that Yes Lah will be a fantastic space to do this.

“Expect our hospitality at Yes Lah as we want everyone to feel at home. Oh, and also expect to hear Yen’s amazing loud and infectious laugh. It’s really hard to not love it and laugh along with her too.

As with all new ventures, however, the road to Didsbury was far from straightforward. The original site for Yes Lah was initially located in Stockport, but after six months of being messed around by the building owners, the deal fell through and a new spot needed to be secured. Fortunately, south Manchester delivered and within the next few months, should be home to some of the most sublime South East Asian cooking in the country.

Before then though, things are going to get well and truly kickstarted this evening, when Yes Lah’s Kickstarter goes live.

Both Zos and Yen have kept full details of the Kickstarter pledges under wraps for the time being, building anticipation, much like when there’s a new (non Affleck) Batman film on the horizon or an upcoming Pusha T album is about to drop, with a couple of sneak peeks as to what will be available for those who wish to invest.

I would be lying if I didn’t say it is by far one of the most nerve wracking things we both have ever done” Zos reveals, “but for being such a small business funding most of it ourselves, it’s literally everything we have going into this and a kickstarter to help us along the way would just be amazing. I have seen the fantastic opportunities that these platforms can give to businesses, and if they create more jobs and do great things for a location then I am all for it.

“I have pledged to some cracking kickstarters, large or small, and being able to help someone’s dream come true is just the best. Saying that, we have been really thoughtful about our kickstarter and really want to give fantastic pledges for people to come and enjoy Yes Lah in different aspects of the space. We want people to have lots of great things to look forward to or to enjoy, just as we have loved when we have pledged ourselves to other kickstarters. Expect workshops, supper clubs, food items and other great things to pledge for.”

But with their dreams so close to becoming a reality, what has been the most difficult part of the journey for Zos and Yen en route to reaching their destination?

Probably having the balls to do it and taking the plunge. We are only small and literally starting from the ground up, again, so it’s a scary thought when you have never had a site before. Obviously money is also another factor but I suppose being messed around for six months at the last minute with our original site wasn’t ideal.

We had been looking for a space and found a site since the start of September last year. Due to covid and building work among other things out of our control, we then found after six months of basically waiting that our site got given to someone else. It really was a kick in the teeth at the time because we could of been doing other things but it was just something we unfortunately couldn’t plan for.

I think the worst was literally the unknown of not taking on events in the anticipation of being in the original space, or planning ahead with work because we literally didn’t know when we would get the call about the building. To be honest, I don’t think the landlord  understood the concept of Yes Lah but in hindsight, we both feel that our site in Didsbury is a much better fit and as corny as it sounds, everything happens for a reason lah!

The rising costs of everything after Covid is very stressful and doesn’t help when it comes to doing something so big for us like this, but, we have worked so hard and wanted this for so long that it just felt like the right step. It’s the biggest risk that we have ever taken, but it’s the best risk too!

So, with only a few hours to go until the Kickstarter drops at 6pm and those pledges start rolling in, what is Zos most excited about on this next stage of the Yes Lah adventure?

I am most excited about curating the space, the menu, shop playlist and just getting stuck in. Yen just absolutely loves baking so she is probably itching to feed everyone her amazing bakes. I really can’t wait to just welcome old and new customers in our new space and have everyone enjoy it. We really can’t wait to settle into our new neighbourhood in Didsbury and already feel so welcome next to our lovely neighbours in the area. We are so overwhelmed with the support already so far, it’s genuinely just made us so happy we want to pinch ourselves with excitement.

It’s still so surreal but honestly I am just so glad I can finally shout about it now because it was the biggest secret for so long I’ve ever had to keep!

And now the secret is out, are we excited for a dynamic duo of South East Asian chefs to be opening their ultimate passion project after years of serving up some of Manchester’s most sensational street food? FUCKING YES LAH


Campagna: The Creameries’ Ragu Based Renaissance

The time is approaching 11pm. I am, by this point, about a carafe-and-a-half of wine deep, exhaling contentedly and surveying a scene of half empty glasses and plates scattered with the remaining crumbs of hazelnut torte. Conversation around the table sways from Manchester United induced nervous breakdowns to how soul crushingly shit the new Matrix film was, via a multitude of banal, nonsensical other subjects inbetween. However far flung the inebriated talking of shite gets though, it still circles back to one evening defining constant. That fucking ragu.

Situated in the dining area of Chorlton’s Campagna (what was until very recently The Creameries), an eager gathering of press and media types have resolutely demolished the overhauled Southern European menu, the brainchild of chef Mike Thomas, inheriting the reins in the kitchen of the Wilbraham Road favourite from Mary-Ellen McTague, who is taking an incredibly well earned backwards step from food operations at the restaurant.

From moreish marinated Sicilian olives through to perfect, rosemary salt flecked panisse onwards towards blisteringly good roast candy beetroot and kohlrabi salad and a confit duck leg wit puy lentils that, during any other meal would emphatically, beyond a shadow of a doubt be the show stealing dish, it is the ragu, all sumptuous beef shin entwined with lustrous, freshly rolled ribbons of golden pappardelle, that dominates post-meal discussion and, as a result, will similarly dictate the direction of the remainder of this write up.

See, to fixate on one dish out of the six served may seem insulting to five lovingly crafted plates of expertly prepared Southern European cuisine, but this meat sauce mania is by no means a discredit to a menu that is a pint size parade of heavy hitters, each one an absolute victory of technique, taste and effortless simplicity. I would strongly urge anyone and everyone to make the pilgrimage to Chorlton to indulge in The Creameries’ shift away from taster menu (which, it has to be said, will still be sorely missed) to comforting, rural European cooking (as their instagram post states, ‘Tomato Europe’, not ‘Potato Europe’).

But back to the beginning. After a welcoming glass or two in the bar area, we’re invited to take our seats, being led past the open kitchen and, most importantly, the industrial size sheet pan heaving with freshly baked focaccia, the aroma of which wobbles the knees. It’s an uplifting warmth that stirs memories of weekends in Emilia-Romagna and Rome, capturing the scents of the cities at the crack of dawn as the sunlight begins to illuminate their ancient cobbles and brickwork. Campagna’s olive oil infused pillow, glistening under the moody radiance of the restaurant’s low level lighting, engulfs each table with a perfume fresh from the neighbourhood fornos of everywhere from Liguria to Puglia.


The contrast of crunch and air pocketed, cloud like softness sets the stage for what will arrive in three courses time. Previously, in house sourdough had been produced and paired with cultured butters of varying flavour within The Creameries four walls to devastating effect, so it is a relief that this noble tradition is being continued at Campagna with their furiously good focaccia.

The only negative to the experience on this evening is that the bread disappears within a few rapid mouthfuls, leaving everyone bereft of a vessel with which to soak up the sauce to come. Of course, during a regular service, this is a simple fix – Just order more focaccia from the bar snacks menu and once that final fling of pappardelle is digested, you can set about honouring the fine Italian dinner table ritual of Fare la Scarpetta, in which a hunk of bread (scarpetta aka little shoe) is selected to mop up the delicious remnants of your meal. Of course, the caveat to this is a lot of Italians save their scarpetta usage for behind closed doors rather than in public. I am here to tell you though that if you choose to be ‘polite’ and refrain from cleaning up the final bits of bovine brilliance from Mike Thomas’ ragu, then you simply don’t deserve pasta. Not even spaghetti hoops. You can settle for the ‘Henry Hill in witness protection egg noodles with ketchup’ and be happy with it. This big, mucky beef shin deserves to be enjoyed right down to the final drop.

And when it finally arrives there comes an involuntary hush. This is what we are here for. There are, of course, a few non-meat eaters who are more than well looked after with a Fazzoletti embraced by a walnut sauce, a dish that earns a series of satisfied smiles within the first mouthfuls. But returning to the carnivorous offering, there is an unspoken acceptance among those of us about to immerse ourselves in it that this is the main event. Again, not to disparage the succulent, crispy skinned, melt-in-your-mouth confit duck that was still to come at this point, but it is impossible to look past a classic Italian dish of slow cooked beef shin ragu as anything other than the showstopper.

FUCKING HELL. Image: Campagna/instagram

Forks are readied before plates have even hit the table. This is the dish Campagna have been championing since day one. A wild rabbit alternative is available and also, obviously, high upon my ‘to do’ list. But on a frostbitten February night in south Manchester, we are bestowed the beef shin, sourced from the masters at Littlewoods Butchers in Heaton Chapel. The meat is plentiful and slow cooked to utter perfection. The ragu is rich, deep and delicious, just oozing with flavour from every fibre of its being. We’re talking deeper than an earnest, 4.30am at an afters philosophical, meaning of life level of deep. As for the fresh rolled pappardelle, coated and crowned with this handsome bastard of a sauce, it’s egg yolk yellow strands are just as pleasing on the eye as they are on the tastebuds, subtly complementing the ragu with a faultless al dente contrast to the tenderness of the meat.

There is a photo that occasionally does the rounds on a lot of those ’90s nostalgia driven instagram pages. You know the ones, they remind you of a time when the world wasn’t ending. Well the photo, shot by Mark Seliger in 1995, is of Benicio Del Toro and Parker Posey in a red and white checkerboard tablecloth Italian restaurant. Del Toro is firing a look off camera that suggests a fellow diner’s throat is about to meet the business end of his fork. Posey’s face, on the other hand, is ecstatically sucking up spaghetti, her eyes rolling into the back of her head like The Undertaker. It is an expression that encapsulates the euphoric joy a simple pasta dish can bring. A glazing over that takes you out of the room momentarily, back to a simpler time perhaps, evoking memories of meals your mum or dad or grandparents cooked for you. This ragu is the meal you cook for someone you really care about and clearly, Mike Thomas cares about every diner who walks through the doors of Campagna, because his effort is utterly sublime.

A master at work. Image: Campagna/instagram

An undeniable wholesomeness permeates throughout Campagna. It obviously already existed at The Creameries, being the welcoming neighbourhood institution that it was, but now there’s an increased sense of familiarity with the new menu. A family attachment with the ragu (and, by proxy, the Sunday Al Forno menu’s lasagne) at the heart of it all. You want this dish when it’s pissing it down outside, you want it when it’s cracking the flags. You want it surrounded by the people you love, you want it on your own with a bottle of fucking great red wine and a knackered, dog eared paperback. You want it over and over again because it is a dish you will never tire of. You want it because it has been cooked with care and attention in the same way it would be at home.

And whatever you do, don’t forget your scarpetta.

Brazilian Fine Dining is Blossoming in Ancoats

Twelve years ago, on a piss wet through Thursday lunchtime, I was camped in the psychedelia section of Piccadilly Records, eyebrows lowered under a mop top of very fucking questionable hair, thumbing through a rack of obscure compilations from the ’60s and ’70s, mesmerised by the historical, musical, geographical and political education I was receiving from the sleeve of each LP.

There was scuzzy Turkish garage, far out jungle grooves from South Sumatra and ultra secretive Xian pressings, recorded covertly away from prying eyes and ears during Franco’s Catholic facist regime in Spain. But among this mind altering landslide of LSD powered freakouts was the Holy Grail my 21-year-old wannabe vinyl experimentalist never knew he needed.


Up until this seismic day in early 2010, my only reference points for Brazilian culture were sun kissed shots of Copacabana Beach and Christ the Redeemer from terrible early evening terrestrial holiday shows, the World Cup squads of ’94, ’98, ’02 and ’06, that Nike advert in the airport, City of God, the old Brahma bottles that were designed to curve perfectly into the grip of your hand and, of course, Bem Brasil on Deansgate.

Admittedly, not a bad little assortment of sporting, artistic and culinary achievements, but hardly one that was indicative of a country as gigantic and diverse as the largest in Latin and South America. Now, here I was, eschewing the usual pre-pub playlist of mid noughties indie and pretty much anything where someone shouted ‘TERROR SQUAD’ or ‘FLIPMODE’, for a selection of Tropicalia tinged cuts that were as far removed from Samba as you could imagine. But between the extended, kaleidoscopic covers of the Batman theme tune and odes to Jimi Hendrix was a cover of Beatles penned Rolling Stones hit ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, by an outfit called The Youngsters. A two minute, 24 second slice of pure ’60s pop, only one that was now far raspier, grimier and let’s face it, far far fucking better having circumnavigated the Amazon and fought it’s way through favelas.

This was British produce spun a thousand different ways by Brazilian artistry and ingenuity, the likes of which I’d never experienced.

Now fast forward to a Baltic night on Blossom Street, Ancoats, January 2022. Only a couple of minutes up the road from where Joel Stones’ compilation skills bent my simple young mind over a decade prior, I was once again experiencing a sensory immersion of British goods twisted majestically by Brazilian decadence.

With her São Paulo Project pop up at Blossom Street Social, chef Caroline Martins is educating the masses that there is more to her homeland’s cuisine than churrascarias, feijoada and caipirinhas. Seminal though those dishes and drinks may be.

Instead, we are greeted with a welcoming drink of Brazilian acacia honey, Norfolk lavender and Three Rivers gin. This is a Baileys in the hands of a chef who has spent the majority of her career in the kitchens of multiple Michelin Star restaurants. It’s playful and inventive without the desire to overwhelm you.

Would happily douse this over a bowl of honey nut cheerios as a Christmas breakfast tbh

No sooner have opening drinks been downed than a trio of canapés are presented in a sleekly carpented hexagonal wooden chest. When you discover that Caroline was once a Theoretical Plasma Physicist in a past life, everything begins to make sense.

The opening course is plucked straight from one of Willy Wonka’s fever dreams, luring you in with the appearance of a miniature banquet of desserts, when the reality is these effervescent works of art run deep with umami.

Beginning with a Crofton cheese, heart-of-palm & parsley mousse atop a disc of Holy Grain bakery crouton sounds pleasant enough, doesn’t it? Almost quintessential fare for the commencement of a fine dining taster menu. But then pair that with a pickled walnut and passion fruit purée, crafted into the appearance of a miniature succulent, and suddenly there’s a spark lighting the fuse you were unaware even existed before the first bite.

Similarly, the tartlet of smoked salmon and Exmoor caviar, adorned with edible flowers from Platt Fields Market Garden is another picturesque effort worthy of the most meticulous of afternoon teas. Only this one comes with a thump of flavour from a ‘Brazilian’ style cream cheese and a disguised crunch of Brazil Nuts. The finale – a fun size olive green cornetto – ambushes your tastebuds with a chicken liver & açai parfait that has no right to work as well as it does. Spooned inside a spinach cone it is accompanied by a gel of catuaba which is ordinarily a herb that, according to WebMD is used to perk up male sexual performance and alleviate anxiety. The five glasses of wine I knocked back with this meal would render the former perk irrelevant even in the unlikely event it was true, but I certainly felt very fucking content upon polishing it off, which would suggest there was a degree of truth to the latter.

An English country garden by way of São Paulo

That the following course was simply entitled ‘Bread Course’ is a disservice the size of Sugarloaf Mountain. The bread in question was a brioche infused with calabresa sausage, a Brazilian favourite that has its origins in, unsurprisingly, Calabria in Italy. Not too far removed from its spreadable cousin n’duja. The crescent of toffee toned caramelised onion butter sitting alongside would have been more than indulgent enough as the partnering spread, yet here we felt the full force of Caroline’s scientific, Michelin starred origin story.

Lighting up the middle of the table is a candle that smells suspiciously like a Sunday roast. A Celtic striped swirl pools around it and we are informed that this is to be dipped in.

It’s a fucking beef fat and rosemary candle.

I wanna run to you

I can only surmise that my reaction resembled a dog attempting to understand a magic trick.

Brioche rolls thoroughly waxed, there is a temptation to just start fucking biting everything in sight, just in case that proves itself to be another of Caroline’s haute cuisine creations. Instead, I sink my teeth into my beefy candle sausage cake bread and smile like a lunatic. I guarantee you’ll do the exact same thing.

Not only does the candle of cow blow the collective minds of everyone in the room, it also serves as the crankshaft that powers the combustion engine of the meal to come. Hand dived scallops graced with cassava mousseline, heart-of-palm and dehydrated papaya seeds usurps the beefy tea light at the table, providing a delicate reprieve from the bovine courses between which they are sandwiched.

Yes, yes, I should have positioned the candle in the middle of them for a laugh. Grow up.

Course number four is undeniably the main event and perhaps most traditional meshing of the two cultures (can’t bring myself to say fusion, sorry. Save it for Howard Moon in the midst of a jazz funk odyssey). Dry aged Picanha from Butcher’s Quarter is flanked by baroness potato, celeriac and horseradish sauce, lovage oil and an absolutely brilliant, salty dusting of bacon and corn cassava crumble. The beef rump cap is served blissfully medium rare atop the crumble, dramatically crimson in contrast to the citrus aesthetic of the potato and sauce.

A cheese course sourced from the impeccable Crafty Cheeseman consists of a generous slice of smoked Lancashire, a hefty smear of Wigmore, a wedge of Cumberland farmhouse and a reliably excellent Baron Bigod. Yet no member of this quartet steals the show in the way the spiced banana compote does. Seriously, let us one and all start spicing the fuck out of our bananas and making sauces out of them to dress sandwiches, crackers, kebabs, chips and everything inbefuckingtween with. Mama Z has been knocking out her audacious banana ketchup for a good while now and it’s as good a condiment as you could be fortunate to have in your kitchen cupboard. So let’s get bang into spicy banana spreads in 2022. Or else.

Courses four and five taught us two things: Butcher’s Quarter don’t mess about with their beef and spiced banana compote is the only accompaniment you ever need for cheese

Dessert is a deal with the psychedelic, much like those ‘Fuzz Bananas’ I procured from Piccadilly Records all those years ago were. A toadstool, it’s cap a glistening ruby red of guava parfait and guava jam, propped up by a stem of parmesan genoise sponge and Sangiorgio’s Minas cheese, sits among a garden of Dormouse chocolate and lime crumble and more edible blossoms from Platt Fields. A very Alice In Wonderland take on the classic Brazilian ‘Romeu & Julieta’ dish, which is ordinarily served as either a dessert or appetiser, but rarely as creatively. The saliva inducing saltiness of the cheese, a specialty of the state of Minas Gerais, blends effortlessly well with the cartoon sweetness of the guava, while the tang of the lime and chocolate crumble underscores a truly bombastic dish.

This is, ordinarily, where you would expect to depart into the sub zero night air, final dregs of wine polished off and the Shudehill tram stop beckoning. The cheese guava toadstool a seemingly unstoppable finale. Yet Caroline is here to remind us that for all the expert nuances that have elevated each of her and her Sao Paulo Project team’s dishes into another dimension, Brazilians, with their Portuguese, Dutch, German, Italian and African infused heritages, are often at their most crowd pleasing when subtlety goes out of the window. And the menu’s showstopper – a baked Tunworth cheese, surrounded by brioche rolls and crowned with a big triumphant dollop of guava paste, rosemary and thyme, is bigger than a tractor wheel and just as intimidating when it hurtles towards you.

Given what has just preceded it, the Tunworth Terror could have perhaps been held back a few extra minutes while Super Mario World-esque toadstools and steak flavoured lighting digested a tad more. But on the other hand, to turn down a smear of this colossus would be unforgivable, so it is well and truly dug into, until there is no more digging to be done and the brick wall is collided with, stomach first.

The lads took a break from defending Princess Peach to be our desserts. Very selfless of them

Caroline’s enthusiasm matches her flavours and never wanes once throughout the night. The imagination that has gone into crafting such a bold, visionary concept is clear evidence of why she enjoyed a successful run to the latter stages of Brazilian Masterchef and will also be gracing our TV screens as part of the upcoming new series of Great British Menu. This hearty dose of experimentalism has as much technicolour tropicality as it does rural ruggedness. It’s a partnership that, in the wrong hands, would be knackered by a desperation to show off. Instead, Caroline showcases her precision for pairing boisterous flavours with a dappling of ingenious undertones that tie together proceedings beautifully, rather than ostentatiously meshing everything into a clumsy muddle.

The Sao Paulo Project will be serving up its Latin x Local collaborations for the next three months at Blossom Street Social, so YouTube as many tunes off Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas as you can and get yourselves down there. Make 2022 the year of the Beef Candle.

Inside The Kitchen At Nell’s Kampus

“Did you put any flour on that dough?”

“Eeeeeeeeeerm….would you believe me if I said yes?”


I have, with varying degrees of success and failure, been making pizzas at home for over three years now. The full gamut has been run; Neapolitans of various hydrations, chunky Sicilian bois, Roman Al Taglios and crispy, blistered New Yorkers. I’ve had more dough in my fridge than a high level cocaine trafficker and not once, in all those attempts at perfectly recreating the finest pizzas I’ve ever pushed into my mouth, from New York to Naples and back to Manchester, have I ever forgot to flour the fucking dough before pushing it out.

Then again, I have never undertaken this process in an actual fully functioning, professional kitchen while the head pizzaiolo oversees every stretch, prod and saucing. Frank Pinello, Marc Vetri or Anthony Falco are yet to personally judge one of the margheritas or pepperoni squares I’ve produced off the back of their recipes. Yet here I stand, at the prep bench of the new Nell’s Pizza, mishandling 800g of hyperactive flour, water, yeast, olive oil and salt while the main man, Jonny Heyes, grimaces at my most rookie of fucking errors.

The reason I find myself on the other side of the counter on this shockingly sky blue Thursday afternoon is to not only enjoy a tour of the new Nell’s location, within the burgeoning red brick and concrete garden neighbourhood of Kampus, but to be given a hands on education of what exactly goes into transforming a small selection of basic store cupboard ingredients into, in this writer’s humble opinion, the best pizza in Manchester.


Fully bedecked in official Nell’s regalia – crisp white tee, navy apron and matching baseball cap which, thankfully, rests more than comfortably on my meatball of a dome – I look the part for an afternoon of discovery, mentorship and, unfortunately, one instance of almost concussing a co-worker with a pizza peel.

I won’t lie, as Jonny calls us over to his prep bench, ingredients all laid out in front of a table top dough mixer, there is the undeniable potential of a Mr. Miyagi – Daniel LaRusso/Mickey Goldmill – Rocky Balboa dynamic building. Only involving the mixing, pushing and topping of pizza dough and not catching flies with chopsticks or punching the ever loving shite out of a side of beef. That this potential is rapidly obliterated by a litany of cack handed errors on my part only further serves to intensify the drama of us reaching our final destination of removing an inch perfect, almost two foot wide disc of Manchester made New York majesty from the top deck of the colossal Nell’s oven. Probably. I dunno, I was too busy playing out the entire afternoon in montage form in my head the entire time.

A wild idiot appears at the dough mixer

Anyway, weird cinematic fantasies aside, what’s obvious when Jonny begins directing us through the embryonic steps of the dough making process is just how much care, craft and nuance goes into Nell’s product. The temperature of the secretive flour blend is taken, then measured against the temperature of the air in the kitchen to decide how warm the water should be. Jonny insists that absolutely nothing is eyeballed and must be measured out with utmost precision. A soul crushing blow to my usual ‘that’ll do’ attitude.

Everything but the salt is added to the mixer, which then begins to put its hooks to work, binding together the gluteny goodness and opening up all those precious air pockets. When Jonny adjudges the mass to be suitably solid, he leaves it to rest and informs us we have some focaccia to attend to. Fucking Yes.

What I must mention at this point is that the mixer used for our little afternoon stint in the Nell’s Kampus kitchen is by no means what will be put through it’s paces come opening day. That will be a job for the behemoth that lies in wait behind us, which is comfortably gargantuan enough to bathe a fucking silverback gorilla in. Jonny confesses that he is yet to use it and, in all fairness, it’s hard to blame him for being pensive, given this fucking thing looks like it could transform into one of Optimus Prime’s mates at a moment’s notice.

And it’s not only the mixer that has been seemingly gassed full of steroids, either. The triple decker oven, procured from ‘the Swedish Pizza Mafia’ according to Jonny, is about the same size as some of the one bedroom flats available in Kampus. This isn’t just an oven, it’s a fucking mothership. You could slide a dozen pizzas in there and still have enough room for a game of 5-a-side. This thing is monstrous and only emphasises just how big the scale of Nell’s new operations are.

The confidence in the product and the demand for it since Nell’s initially launched as a pop up inside Common at the beginning of 2020 is there for all to see in their new digs. The restaurant and bar area is a sprawling buzz of Brooklyn pizzeria, Copenhagen infused comfort and ’70s shopping centre concrete and colour. Never mind about swinging a cat, there’s enough space in here to helicopter a Bengal tiger around your head. Not that you’d want to, like. There’s a Photo Booth leading towards the pass and slice bar and, even on a pre-opening afternoon, it’s easy to visualise this spot being packed to the rafters night after night. Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of hours around a tableful of mates as you all take down 22 inches of immaculately prepared dough, marinara sauce, fior di latte and Cobble Lane pepperoni? Or maybe some of the aforementioned, newly added focaccia that has made it’s way onto the menu here.

Well, back to the kitchen and, if any potential customers could witness the battering I’m giving a square of wet dough, they actually might have more than a few reservations. As Jonny effortlessly dimples his focaccia with uniform regulation, I prod and poke a scatterbrained atrocity of wounds into my mixture, which leaves the dough looking like someone gave a mouse a gram of speed and a miniature pogo stick and let them go fucking ballistic.

“Bloody hell, you REALLY got into that corner, there” reviews Jonny, observing my over enthusiastic handiwork. But this isn’t the only sheepish moment I will endure. I am then informed to ‘tease’ the olive oil across my blank canvas, which I take as an instruction to do that little chef flourish of half obscuring the oil’s exit from my bottle with my thumb, so as to generate a performative drizzle of extra virgin into the pan.

Big fucking mistake.

“What’s that?! We’re not having any Jamie Oliver nonsense in here” exclaims Jonny, horrified. “Tease it out means lash a load on there. Don’t be shy.”

Kill me now. Seriously. Kill me stone dead and throw me in that big fucking oven and then into that mixer.

A crumbling of oregano is scattered atop the dough with, thankfully, minimal fuss or error and into the top deck they go. The oregano, by the way, is an on-the-day alternative to the usual rosemary that will be used.

We peek inside to see the two pans bubbling and rising as they bake. The aroma of freshly, expertly baked bread wafting our way like a big, warm Italian tidal wave. It’s unerringly comforting and briefly makes me forget my horror show of an oil pour.

As our first doughs heat up, Jonny treats us to one he made earlier, a bit like Blue Peter, only with Mediterranean baked goods instead of a Tracey Island made out of old cornflakes boxes.

The focaccia is sliced into identikit fingers, all open crumb invites to dip into pots of freshly prepared marinara and chilli dipping sauces. As an appetiser, it’s an extraordinary triumph in simplicity. Fantastic bread combined with an abundance of flavour from the sauces. Within half a bite I’m picturing enjoying a portion of these with a pint and a big, daft smile on my face. Which is what every great dining experience should be, to be honest.

Attention then turns to our focaccias from earlier and, while Jonny’s may be the neater effort, my own avant garde creation makes for a more rustically charming result, it has to be said. I privately chalk that up as a personal victory for myself and revenge for being compared to Jamie Oliver and make my way to the business end of the afternoon – The 22 inch New Yorker.

So, yeah, alright, upon first attempt I MAY have forgotten to flour the dough upon plopping it onto the prep bench. Unforgivable and all that, alright, let’s move on. I was over eager and basking in the glow of a focaccia prep that was, quite frankly, the work of a bread based prodigy.

Second time lucky, my 800g newborn is floured appropriately and so the method of stretching it out to size begins. I was dreading this.

Jonny’s demonstration was the work of an accomplished sensei. Going back to my earlier Mr. Miyagi analogy, this is the bit where he catches the fly with the chopsticks. Or like that doctored YouTube video of Ronaldinho casually knocking a football repeatedly against the crossbar from the edge of the box. It looks SO easy, but when it comes down to it, this is a practice that requires steady and accurate hands. I feel doomed.

Laughing so I won’t cry I just about manage to push out the dough a fair amount into a decent looking circle. Then comes the slap. Not Jonny delivering one to my chops for disgracing his kitchen with my mere presence (I would 100% not have blamed him for that, either) but slapping my dough between my hands (grow up) until the elasticity of the base eases it’s way into the appropriate size. Upon seeing that no holes have appeared and the crust is reasonably even, the relief waves over me. That was, and I’m not being dramatic, my Everest. Many a home cooked effort has been hurled in the bin followed by a tirade of swear words upon the stretching out going horrendously south. But no emotional breakdowns are necessary, here. Instead of taking a bottle of red wine up to the shower, I’m sliding my almost two foot masterpiece down the bench to be sauced up.

I spiral a ladle and a half of house Marinara sauce over the disc of dough, which earns me a ‘not bad’ from Jonny and my first tear is almost shed at hearing those words. Much like how Alex Ferguson’s former players will tell you how him saying ‘well done’ to them would be enough to make them run through a brick wall, ‘not bad’ is the level I will always aspire to reach at any task. No one likes a show off, do they?

‘Not Bad’

Wind fully in my sails, I scatter across grated mozzarella and then a further flourish of fior di latte with all the confidence and pizzaz of a bloke who’s been in this game for 25 years. Jonny then demonstrates how to effectively work the peel in the oven, showing me his rotation skills. This is not another ‘not bad’ moment, but rather an ‘absolutely no fucking good’ endeavour, which finishes with me finally landing my pie towards the back of the middle deck and, instead of politely acknowledging Jonny’s assistance, I decide now will be the perfect time to showcase some ill advised kung fu manoeuvres, spinning all five feet of the peel around, blissfully unaware that Beck, who has been heroically filming and photographing the entire experience like a champ, is only four feet away from me. My audition for any future reimagining of ‘Enter The Dragon’ immediately goes horrendously wrong and a hard working colleague is left with the wrong end of a pizza peel bouncing off her temple.

A myriad of terrified apologies (and lots of mockery aimed in my direction) later and out comes the pie, the crust beautifully leoparded and bubbled, crimson red marinara punctuated with golden mozz. If I were not in the company of others, I would have probably christened her with a full name and everything, but instead I must now put my severely lacking geometry skills to the test and slice my pie into eight equal triangles.


Narrator: He did not slice the pie into eight equal triangles.

Manchester’s Next Top Pizzaiolo, hard at work

“Now, if you were to receive this slice and the person you were with received THIS slice, would you be happy?” queries Jonny, perplexed at just how badly I’ve judged the carving up of my creation. There’s no two ways around it, one slice is your postcard New York slice – It will overflow a paper plate without any issue. The slice next to it, however, looks like it’s lost little brother. Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in ‘Twins’ and you’re on the right lines.

Fortunately, no one is being served this pie other than the four of us currently standing around it and there’s enough correctly sized slices to go around.

Top: A Proud Parent. Below: Your friendly neighbourhood big lad eating on the job

It’s so easy to take the quality of Nell’s pizza for granted and our taste test only further reaffirms that point. The dough is crisp without being brittle, offering exactly the right amount of chew, with the precise amount of fresh baked flavour coursing through it that only accentuates the immaculately sourced toppings above. There are no gimmicks, only quality. One bite and the words of world’s handsomest pizzaiolo, Lucali legend and Brooklyn King Mark Iacono spring straight to mind, when appearing on David Chang’s much acclaimed ‘Ugly Delicious’.

“Italians invented pizza. Italian Americans perfected it.”

This New York style is undefeated. Neapolitans may have the history and the old world romance behind them, and there is no denying that much of the best pizza in the world can still be found while wandering the back streets of Naples (and in many Neapolitan based joints across the globe), but the evolution away from soupy slices towards a foldable, by-the-slice, ubiquitous street food is one of the rare instances where America has actually managed to improve something rather than, y’know, making it a hundred times fucking worse.

Jonny surmises that his slice is a little sauce heavy, but this is clearly just his way of coyly expressing how it is in fact the work of a seminal culinary artist who’s stylistic temperament knows no bounds. Or he’s politely telling me to leave his kitchen and never, ever return.

All that’s left to do now is remove the earlier prepared dough from the mixer, a task that is left to me and the two clumsy shovels that masquerade as a pair of hands. Fortunately the mix is removed without incident and is stored away for what will be a 48 hour prove before it blossoms into another masterpiece.

The entire article was nearly just this picture on it’s own, ngl

That Nell’s is already flying solo away from Common after a little over a year of pandemic ridden panic and mayhem is proof of how beloved an institution it has already become in Manchester. This week it’s been nigh on impossible to scroll through insta feeds and stories without stumbling across at least half a dozen posts at a time from early visitors, deliriously chomping through their way through arm length slices. This is a pizzeria that is going beyond just being somewhere to get a great slice and is now cultivating it’s own culture, much like the classic establishments it was influenced by in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I depart with three cling filmed sliced of Margherita, cradling them like a proud parent while eagerly planning a multitude of visits over the coming months; Working lunches with a couple of slices, family dinners, boozy Christmas jaunts, you name it, it’s happening here for the foreseeable and, given the anticipation building around this week’s opening, I’m supremely confident that I am not alone in hatching such plans.

Pints, Pasties And Plays: The New 53Two Is An Absolute Show Stealer

When a good boy eagerly greets you at the door, you can safely assume you’re onto a winner. A four legged friend bounding towards you, full pelt, dropping a knackered, rigorously chewed squeeze toy at your feet is an almost un-toppable welcome. And at the new, Grade II listed 53Two, it’s merely the first act in an enormously impressive ensemble offering.

The independent theatre group have set up shop under Watson Street’s historic railway arches, taking over a site that had sat derelict and fire damaged for 20 years. Having been previously located at the old Bauer Millett showrooms on Albion Street between 2016-2019, 53Two have maintained their penchant for under-arch drinking dens with their new establishment and, in turn, have delivered Manchester one of it’s most inviting new spaces.

Once you’ve sent Albi the theatre dog to go fetch, you’ll find yourself immersed in exposed red brick, stone flagging, upcycled furniture and, most importantly, Seabrooks as the pub crisp of choice. There’s an unmistakable swell of history and industry under 53Two’s arches, which has been fully embraced by artistic director Simon Naylor and venue manager Alexandra Maxwell.

A very, very good boy

Given it’s location and decor, there’s a genuine ‘World War Two bolthole getaway’ vibe to 53Two’s new digs. When I pay them a visit, the team are two days out from their grand opening and the Mancunian skies are a distinct Lowry grey outside. Inside, however, Simon is pulling me an IPA (supplied by local brewery Brightside) from the bar’s gleaming brass pumps and, once the inaugural swig is washed down, it’s difficult to picture wanting to be anywhere else for the next several hours. An overwhelming sense of comfort envelopes you from the world outside which, given how thoroughly miserable everything has been since March 2020, is a resounding positive.

Simon, who when not serving as the company’s artistic director, can also be seen appearing on stage and screen said, “We are so excited to be finally throwing the doors open to the 53Two Bar. We’re really proud of what we’ve created here and hope that it will be a hub for artists, drinkers, thinkers and absolutely anyone who supports independent theatre and hospitality. The bar is just the first step on our journey to creating an incredible new arts venue for the city – at a time when it is needed most. We’ve ensured that the bar embodies our values of inclusivity and will offer a warm welcome to everyone ahead of the theatre opening later in the year.

The meticulous attention to detail that has gone into crafting the space from rubble to ritz is very much in keeping with the team’s background as a theatre company and arts hub. Framed black and white pictures hang on the walls near the entrance, chronicling the venue’s history, while every nook and snug has been transformed, one into a Chesterfield-laden New York style apartment scene, another a pair of chairs separated simply by a table and a lamp in a curation straight out of Wes Anderson’s playbook. When you reach the far end of the bar, you’ll find a vintage baby grand piano, primed for impromptu renditions of Bennie and The Jets, Song For Whoever or, of course, the theme tune from Frasier.

“Right, this next one’s called ‘Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs'”

Those aforementioned nooks and snugs, by the way, should you find yourself situated in one, don’t expect to be leaving any time soon. Tucked away from the world and the weather, having pint after pint after gin and tonic delivered to your table? There’s seldom chance you’re removing yourself from such a setting after just one or two.

Perhaps most impressive, however, is 53Two’s dedication to inclusivity. A lowered bar and till area has been installed for ease of access to disabled customers, while all staff have received sign language training from BSL (British Sign Language), with the team behind the bar learning how to sign the bar menu as well as key service phrases. The venue has also been fitted with visual fire alarms for additional safety and tactile card reader pads for partially sighted customers. Furthermore, all tables have been purposefully designed so wheelchairs can fit comfortably at them and, in the event more access is needed, the modular tables can even be removed from the walls altogether.

Given that 53Two’s new location on south Deansgate was once the gateway to the North for cotton industry traders, it seems fitting that the space is now available for Mancunians to ply their various different trades, whether it’s over a few coffees and a laptop during the day or, eventually, in the evening when Phase Two opens, under the adjoining archway, which will eventually house a fully accessible 150 seater theatre and event space.

The perfect spots for ‘ah, go on, let’s have another…’

Food meanwhile, will be provided courtesy of Bolton’s HM Pasties, a bakery offering training and employment for ex-offenders. And let’s face it, there isn’t a much more wonderful experience that can be had than tucking away a jerk chicken pie, washed down with a cold pint after a day of slowly going insane in front of a laptop screen, is there?

Oh, and that back door, off to the right of the toilets? Out of bounds until 11pm, after which it becomes a special ‘members entrance’ for those in the cultural sector and friends of the bar. Here’s hoping Simon and Alex also throw a regularly changing password and secret handshake in there for ultimate Speakeasy vibes.

In an age where Manchester finds itself in a perpetual state of regeneration, it’s refreshing to find a place that looks back just as much as it looks forward and, in the new 53Two, the city’s gained itself a bar that would fit ideally in any era.

Bangkok-inspired barbecue restaurant DISTRICT opens in Northern Quarter

A new wave Thai kitchen has opened in the Northern Quarter this week – bringing the tastes, smells and sights of the Thai capital to Manchester.

From the boys behind Tokyo Ramen, DISTRICT aims to bring a ‘futuristic vision of Bangkok’s fire- and- barbecue-lined streets’ to Oldham Street.

It’s not going to be a place to nip in for a quick bite to each, though. A progressive approach to Thai food, DISTRICT will offer just two menus using wood-fired modern barbecue cookery – both long-lasting dinners that aim to create a multi-sensory experience for diners.

The first, My First Crush, costs £40 and includes dishes such as barbecue hogget belly with nam prik pao and raw wild bass with nam jim.

The Full Experience (£85) takes the first menu and makes it even more decadent, with additional dishes like aged Goosnargh duck and market fish with Isan herb sauce.

Both menus finish with DISTRICT’s take on a classic Thai dessert, mango with sticky rice.

Owner Danny Collins says: “We wanted to add to the dining experiences available in the Northern Quarter, bringing something different but accessible.

“We don’t want dining to be a quick in-out job. Restaurants can be a place to spend a whole evening, at a pace that really allows you to relax.”

DISTRICT is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm. Bookings are open now:

For more information visit their Instagram.

Restaurants and bars opening for the first time this week

It’s been 197 days since we could last sit inside a restaurant or bar.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been able to eat and drink outside of the house but only in places with outdoor spaces.

Now – finally – all restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes and every other kind of dining and drinking establishment can for the first time open their doors to customers.

Here are all the places that are reopening in Manchester city centre this week – from brand new openings to restaurants that will be able to accept diners for the first time since November.

This list doesn’t include places that have already been open with outdoor seating.

Blues Kitchen serves American soul food like ribs and fried chicken

New openings

Blues Kitchen

Located in the fully beautifully-restored former Victorian eye hospital on Quay Street, Blues Kitchen comprises a restaurant, bar and 500-capacity concert hall, set over two floors. There is a menu of American soul food like ribs, fried chicken and mac and cheese, and an extensive whiskey collection and 80 different bourbons, alongside cocktails, beers, wines and spirits.

The first couple of weeks are fairly booked up but there is the odd table available during the week and in the daytime. Book a table here.

The Green Lab

Housing a salad bar, juice bar and health studio, The Green Lab is opening this week for the first time, having done takeaway and delivery over lockdown. They’re open ‘softly’ now with express lunch options available and will be fully operational from this Wednesday.

The menu includes ‘build your own’ nutrition bowls, smoothie bowls, wraps, sweet treats, as well as fresh juices and smoothies. Find out more here.

‘Build your own’ nutrition bowls at The Green Lab

Lost Cat

The team behind Crazy Pedros has opened a new bar in the Northern Quarter, taking over the former Eat New York site on Oldham Street. Set over two floors, Lost Cat is a neighbourhood bar with live music upstairs and will eventually house a rooftop cinema too. The food will be provided courtesy of Triple Bagels with a menu of Reuben bagels, loaded fries and more.

They aren’t taking bookings so just rock up. Open from midday every day until midnight on Sunday to Wednesday and until 3am Thursday to Saturday.

Junior Jackson’s

Next door to Lost Cat, Junior Jackson is a basement dive bar and ‘crazy cousin’ of Bunny Jackson’s. They’re serving a sliders from £1 including Buffalo Chicken, Fried Tofu and a Salt Beef Bagel slider (£1.50). The bar stocks over 100 American whiskeys, American beers and cocktails.

Happy hour is from 12 to 5pm every day with £3 pints, £5 frozen daiquiris and you can get an Old Fashioned for a fiver from 5 to 7pm on Fridays. No bookings, just walk ins.

Society Manchester

Located in the former Pitcher and Piano site in Barbirolli Square, Society will house five independently-owned kitchens, a cocktail bar and specialist craft beer taproom, hosted by Hebden Bridge brewery Vocation. Traders include burger vendors Slap & Pickle, pan-Asian specialists Manzoku Street Food and Dokes Pizzeria (Elnecot’s new pizza concept).

Society Manchester opens this Thursday 20 May from 10am every day until 12am on Fridays and Saturdays and 11pm other days. For more information visit:

Society Manchester opens on 20 May

Smithfield Social

Opened in March this year, this week is the first time that diners will actually be able to sit inside Smithfield Social for brunch, coffee and cocktails. The cafe which took over the old Teacup site on Thomas Street is owned by Courteeners frontman Liam Fray alongside some of the team behind the Liar’s Group and TNQ.

Tables are available to book here.

Lane 7

Launching this week in Great Northern Warehouse, Lane 7 has opened with 11 ten-pin bowling lanes, as well as ping pong tables and shooting pods. When restrictions ease further, there will also be karaoke pods.

There will be burgers from Fat Hippo alongside soft and hard shakes, “gram worthy” cocktails, craft ales and spirits. Book a space here.

Lane 7 opens at Great Northern Warehouse this week

Places re-opening this week

Northern Quarter

Bundobust – Book here.

BAB – Book here.

Evuna – Book here.

Cottonopolis – Book here.

Pen and Pencil – Book here.

TNQ – Book here.

Evelyn’s – Book here.

Evelyn’s is reopening for the first time this week

Wilson’s Social – Book here.

Soup Kitchen – Walk ins only.

Affleck & Brown – No info about bookings

CBRB – Book here.

Herd NQ – from 19 May, book here.

Allotment NQ – from 19 May, book here.

Cooper Hall – Book here.

Salt and Pepper at Black Dog Ballroom – call/email to book 0161 839 0664 /

NQ64 – walk ins only.

The Washhouse – book here.

Chapter One – walk ins only.

Dusk Til Pawn – walk ins only.

PLY – Book here.

Salt and Pepper at Black Dog Ballroom

Science and Industry – Book here.

33 Oldham Street – walk ins only.

The Pasta Factory – Book here.

Roxy Ballroom – Book here.


Sugo – Book here.

Blue Eyed Panda – call to book 0161 207 8788

Street Urchin – from 10 May, to book email or call 07470 804979

Sugo in Ancoats

King Street and nearby

Kala – Book here.

Grand Pacific – Book here.

Flight Club Darts – Book here.

Bull and Bear – Book here.

Bull and Bear

Oxford Road and nearby

Gorilla – Book here.

The Koffee Pot at The Deaf Institute – Book here.

The French – only a couple of tables left. Book here.

Ban Di Bul – call to book 0161 236 9733

Dog Bowl – call/email to book 0161 228 2888 /

Peru Perdu – Book here.

Junkyard Golf Club – Book here.

WOOD – from 19 May, book here.

Indian Tiffin Room – Book here.

HOME – Book here.

Don Giovanni – Book here.

Deansgate and Spinningfields

Australasia – Book here.

El Rincon – call to book 0161 839 8819

Dishoom – Book here.

Mason’s Restaurant and Bar – Book here.

MOJO – walk ins only

Siam Smiles – call to book 07702 741759


Asha’s – Book here.

Samsi – Book here.

San Carlo – Book here.

Three Little Words – from 20 May, book here.

Sam’s Chop House – walk ins.

Dimitri’s Taverna – Book here.

Hawksmoor – very limited availability. Bookings here.

La Vina Bar y Tapas – Book here.

Evuna Deansgate – Book here.


Cibo – Book here.


Pho Cue – call to book 0161 237 5664.

Yang Sing – Book here.

Happy Seasons – Book here.

Little Yang Sing – call to book 0161 228 7722

Teppanyaki Chinatown – Book here.

Pearl City – Book here.

Jade City – call to book 0161 238 8559

Yuzu – from 18 May, book here.


Porta – from 18 May, walk ins only.


General Store is now open in Media City

Independent retailer General Store has opened the doors to its new site in MediaCityUK.

Set across two floors, the new 3500 sq ft store is located on the ground floor of the recently completed Lightbox development.

The corner shop with a difference, General Store is a place where every day items from big brands sit happily next to craft and artisan produce from local makers.

Alongside essentials like baked beans and loo roll, customers will be able to browse products from brilliant independent brands, like Nell’s bake at home pizzas and award-winning pies from Great North Pie Co.

The shop also has refill stations, where customers can bring their own containers to fill up with grains, nuts and other dried goods, as well as laundry detergent, washing up liquid and other household essentials.

General Store in Media City

There is an on-site coffee counter serving Ancoats Coffee, juices, smoothies and cold brews, and visitors can enjoy dishes from a rotating selection of street food traders.

Plus, there will be freshly baked goods delivered regularly from local suppliers, such as Italian pastries and cakes from Lupo Caffe Italiano and Portuguese custard tarts from Just Natas.

Outdoor seating for up to 30 covers will be opening soon after the launch.

There will be freshly ground coffee from Ancoats Coffee Co

On the first floor mezzanine space, there is an ‘alcohol emporium’ with a tasting area for hosting small beer tastings with local brewers and other tasting events.

Mital Morar, Founder of Store Retail Group said:

“I’m really excited to serve the unique and diverse community at MediaCityUK. It is an amazing place and we’re looking forward to bringing something new to the area. It feels like a really special opportunity to be able to expand the business at such an exciting destination and to be so central to it.

“General Store MediaCityUK will be all about keeping things fresh – it’s a brand-new design for the store, it’s going to look brilliant – and also we’re very much about keeping the offer different and ever-changing too. We see this as an exciting step on our growth journey, as we continue to develop our brand, and we can’t wait to welcome customers to MediaCityUK”

The first floor ‘alcohol emporium’

General Store in MediaCityUK is the fourth store in Greater Manchester for Store Retail Group which opened Ancoats General Store in 2017, and has since opened the Foodhall in Stretford and Groceries and Beer in Sale.

It has also been announced that a General Store will be opening at Deansgate Square this summer and the General Stores Instagram page suggests further upcoming stores in Salford, Moss Side and Castlefield.

For further updates, visit General Stores’ Instagram page:

Cafe and bakery Trove to open third Manchester site

Independent cafe and sourdough bakery Trove has announced the opening of their third site in Manchester.

Originally established in Levenshulme in 2011, Trove has become known for its artisan coffee, sourdough and other bakes.

The second site in Ancoats opened in 2018 and this summer, Trove will open its third cafe in Manchester, this time in the city centre.

Trove will take over the 1,000 sq ft ground floor space in the new Bloc development by Bruntwood Works. Also in the building will be a restaurant and bar by BrewDog and their new Doghouse Hotel, as well as FORM fitness, offering yoga and fitness training.

Launching in June, Trove will serve up a menu of nutritious breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes, with their freshly baked bread at the heart of the menu. There’ll also be pastries, cakes and organic raw cold pressed juices by One Zero Zero.

Trove has become known for its artisan coffee, sourdough and other bakes

Marcus Saide, founder of Trove, said:

“The Bloc ethos fits perfectly with what Trove is all about – taking care of ourselves and investing in wellness. We’ll be serving up all our classic dishes including our freshly baked breads, pastries and our homemade pickles and chutneys, as well as some specially created new menu items for Bloc. As we approach our 10-year anniversary of Trove I can’t think of a better place to create our latest brunch destination.”

The transformation of Bloc is part of Bruntwood Works’ £50 million Pioneer programme which will see buildings across the North West, Midlands and Yorkshire reimagined into forward-thinking workspaces.

The building, which will open in May, will feature a sleep pod to help workers, technology to monitor and optimise air quality, a programme of yoga and fitness classes by FORM and a cascading garden in the foyer, with living walls throughout and on the building’s exterior.

External CGI for Bloc

Charlotte Wild, Head of Retail at Bruntwood Works said:

“We have long been fans of Trove’s approach to food and drink, and we’re absolutely delighted to be welcoming them to the Bloc community. It will create a fresh independent cafe destination for the city too with freshly baked bread and their incredible patisserie offering sitting alongside salads and juices – whether it’s treats or the healthiest of options everything is seasonal, sustainable and good for the soul. The ethos perfectly complements what we’re all about at Bloc too – bringing balance to business and ensuring our customers can take care of themselves.”

Trove will open on 1 June and will be open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm.

For more information on the launch, visit the Trove Instagram page and to read more about Bloc click here.

Award-winning bartender brothers open Schofield’s Bar – whose classic cocktails have drawn two-hour queues

It’s a dream that’s a decade in the making. Bury-born brothers Joe and Daniel Schofield have opened their new bar on Quay Street, serving a menu of classic cocktails, beers, wines, spirits and ‘British tapas’.

Schofield’s Bar opened for outdoor drinks on Wednesday 17 April and, so far, they have been inundated by the demand, with queues of up to two hours of people waiting to get a table in their newly-opened terrace.

The venue had previously been open for six weeks as a provisions pop-up, serving hot drinks, bottled cocktails and food including Pollen pastries, British cheese and charcuterie.

While the brothers have both travelled and worked extensively in bars across the world, they always knew that they wanted to open a bar in Manchester.

Joe and Daniel Schofield

Growing up in Rossendale on the outskirts of Bury, the two brothers started working in bars as teenagers, Joe at 16 and Daniel at 18, before going on to work at some of the best bars in the world. First, they both moved to Leeds where they both worked in award winning cocktail bar Jake’s Bar, before coming back to Manchester where Joe helped to open The Liar’s Club and where Daniel worked too.

Daniel then went onto Paris to work at Little Red Door, before coming back to London and eventually opening French-inspired bar Coupette in the capital, which was named number 19 in the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2019. Meanwhile, Joe has worked in bars in Sydney and Melbourne, the legendary American Bar at The Savoy in London and most recently the Tippling Club in Singapore which was also named in the best 50 list.

The brothers have left a trail of accolades in their wake. In 2018, Joe was the first person ever to be awarded both the International Bartender of The Year in the prestigious Tales of The Cocktail Spirited Awards and the Bartender’s Bartender at The World’s 50 Best Bars.

With this wealth of experience behind them, Schofield’s Bar will be the first joint venture for the pair. Located in the Grade II-listed Sunlight House, the interior has been inspired by classic cocktail bars from around the world.

Schofield’s Bar is located in the Grade II listed Sunlight House

Quite surprisingly, the Schofield brothers wouldn’t actually describe their bar as a cocktail bar. They are a ‘bar that champions classic cocktails’, but want Schofield’s to be somewhere you can come and enjoy a great drink – beer, wine, cocktail, non-alcoholic – whatever that might be.

Nevertheless, the menu has a strong focus on cocktails, with a 24-strong list including 12 signature cocktails, which will be a permanent fixture on the menu, as well as a rotating menu of six lesser-known classics and six house cocktails which will change every few months.

For the signature cocktails, they have created their best version of each of the classic cocktails on the list which includes Bellini, Bloody Mary, Daiquiri, Martini, Negroni and Old Fashioned, among others.

Lesser known classics on the menu at the moment include the Artist’s Special – a drink said to hail from the celebrated Artist’s Club bar in Paris – a lively mix of Dewar 12 Scotch, redcurrant, lemon and sherry.

Schofield’s opened their terrace for drinks on 17 April

The menu also includes a nod to the history of each of the drinks, something that speaks volumes about the brother’s wealth of knowledge of their craft. This storytelling aspect is something that’s important to the Schofield’s as they’ve found that guests want to hear the stories behind the cocktails and is something that can enrich the experience of drinking them.

There is a small food menu of what they are calling British tapas, which is very much there as an accompaniment to the drinks. There are Nocellara olives, salt and olive oil popcorn, and British cheese and charcuterie boards. The vegan option is the rather unexpectedly named Bloody Mary ‘Tartare’ which, although it has been made to resemble a beef tartare, is actually made with Isle of Wight tomatoes and flavoured with seasonings of a Bloody Mary.

There are 24 cocktails on the menu – half of which will change every few months

Upcoming events include a (weather-dependent) oyster and champagne pop up with Black Pearl Oysters. Whoever orders a bottle of Charles Heidseck Brut Reserve champagne will enjoy free oysters on the terrace. They’ve got some other events in the pipeline too but they’ve told us to watch this space for those.

Schofield’s Bar is currently open Wednesday to Saturday. They open for takeaway coffees from 9am Wednesday to Friday and 10am on Saturdays and Sundays. The terrace opens at 11am and closes at 11pm. Alcohol is served from 12pm each day.

They do have a later license for indoor drinking when they are allowed to open for guests indoors.

The brothers have stressed that these opening hours will change as the restrictions ease so make sure to check their website or Instagram page before visiting.

No bookings. Walk ups only.