Manchester in the sunshine is simply glorious.
Smiles are more rife than hay fever, wool coats which were worn just last week are replaced with loose linen and camisoles and restaurants open their bi-folding windowed doors, allowing life to spill onto the streets in a deliciously “summer fete” fashion.
I was working away one Friday when my phone pinged with a message from one of my dearest friends.
“Weather is too good to work! Can you meet for lunch?”
Normally when working I have some concoction ready and waiting in tuppawear to wolf down when I have a moment; but Sacha was right, it seemed EVERYONE had given up working for the day that late afternoon; and since my tuppawear had been unceremoniously left in my fridge at home and I had not yet gotten around to seeking a replacement, my rumbling tummy wholeheartedly agreed.
I grabbed my bag and dashed out into the Northern Quarter, whose moody streets were now drenched in sunshine and slowly filling with loose-tied, off-the-clock workers who too had decided to take advantage of the arrival of an early Summer.
I met Sacha and Nikki at Tariff and Dale; having only spent evenings drinking good G+T’s and playing bad games of pool there in the past, their menu has always been somewhat of an intrigue, and today seemed as good as any to take it out for a spin.
Drinking in the menu (as well as a thirst-quenching Hendricks), we ordered a veritable feast of everything that caught our eye.
Wild Mushroom Arancini
Show me the word “Arancini” and I am quite literally powerless to resist. Stuffed with mozzarella, chimichurri and crowned with rocket above a bed of homemade pesto; its outer coating crackles with golden crunch, perfectly sealing a rich, gooey centre. 3 per portion, it’s a handsome plateful for just 6 squidly and rivals against many bonafide Italian’s in Manchester.
A classic Margarita pizza on sourdough base.
Can we just take a moment?
For a place with such a diverse menu, we didn’t expect great shakes (or slices) from T & D, mediocre at best or maybe even Pizza Express standard; imagine our pleased as punch faces when this little miracle arrived, cooked till Neapolitan perfection, unable to hold its own and dripping with all manners of cheese.
A dreamy concoction which received moans of approval from three of Manchester’s most critical pizza snobs and a total steal at just £8 (go on a Friday lunchtime and you can enjoy unlimited slices of the stuff for £9!)
And last, but certainly not least, the Fish Board.
Smoked Mackerel Pate, Haddock Fish Fingers, Smoked Salmon & Caper Berries, Buttermilk Marinated Squid
A harmonious symphony of fresh fish and a glorious combination of flavours and textures. Crisp chewy bites of squid; silky portions of smoked salmon and divine crunches of fish fingers which uncovered the fluffy white flakes of haddock.
At £18 per board, I found this a little overpriced for the portion size, but I suppose fairly accurate of the cost of fresh fish in Manchester. Combining this along with our two other dishes, the bill was remarkably reasonable – making us question why we shouldn’t be lunching this way on a more weekly basis.
Manchester gets a handful of summer days at best, so I hope you’re able not to waste a moment when the sun decides to present its happy self. This city and its towns are brimming with opportunities for you to uncover, so if you find anywhere (almost) too good to share, please let me know!