Manchester lunch of the month for January is our very own Grow Cafe in the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Not only was it a wholesome home cooked soup and a slice of beetroot focaccia pizza, it felt healthy and fresh too. Lovingly served by staff who totally get the whole ethos behind Grow and its commitment to plant based eating and sustainable food, it is such a great addition to the choice I have. Not something you would always say about University catering. The whole idea behind Grow emerged from a Project called Met Munch which promotes sustainable habits in food and drink. And all for just over £3.
Other honourable mentions to Philpotts, the Lasso Gowrie, Chimaek and Falafil.
I was long overdue a trip to the ever excellent Philpotts branch on the corner of Portland and Oxford. I had a real craving for a hot sandwich on good quality bread on what was a cold day. The system in Philpotts does freak some people out, but I don’t mind queuing twice for something as good as the hand made beef, mushroom, onions and gravy in a seeded roll, not at all. It actually gave me time to think about which posh crisps to get as as a side - black pepper Kettle Chips as it goes. I did a story a few years ago about how Philpotts initially chased Pret out of town, and I'm really pleased they got out of the financial basket case that was Patisserie Valerie and seem to be thriving. The sandwich was just the job on a cold day, generous and well made, but a treat at just under a fiver.
I was in two minds about whether to include Korean joint Chimaek and the traditional pub meal at Lasso Gowrie. For reasons of academic ethics compliance I can only refer to my lunch chum in the final report as “Professor A” but he did describe it as “KFC meets Wagamama” - and we devoured the potato twirl like a pack of hungry “wolves”. It was both an assault on the senses and a bit confusing as to what to order, which is why we emerged stuffed and spiced and probably a little lighter in the pocket than I planned. Here’s the other “but”. The Lancashire Hot Pot at the Lass doesn’t quite meet the criteria for popping out for a quick lunch AND it was part of a walking tour package with Freshwalks. However, we will be back at Chimaek now we’ve collectively completed a literature review of the menu and agreed on a future methodology.
First week back after Christmas the lunch of the week winner was a bit of a shoe-in. As I was in Nottingham one day and skipped lunch on two others, I had a great Friday treat in the shape of a fresh, tasty, and ridiculously good value of Falafil Express on Oxford Road. I go for a medium falafel wrap for £3, with hummus, tahini, chilli sauce, lettuce, chopped cucumber and tomatoes, potatoes and a dash of red cabbage. Astonishes me every time that I enjoy it without equivocation, know exactly what I’m getting and still manage to make such a mess! Yet I’m never tempted by a salad box, stuffed vine leaves or plain hummus. It is a triumph and never ever disappoints.
So, well done to Grow for standing out in a very strong field.