Fig + Sparrow

Going out for a meal alone is virgin territory for many.

Many feel awkward at the very thought of it; petrified of being seen out on their own, like it’s something to be ashamed or embarrassed of – whereas in reality, it’s a deliciously wonderful experience.

Having travelled around Europe solo last summer, taking myself out for dinner or lunch is something I’m very familiar with and honestly? I absolutely adore it.

There’s something just so calming about choosing exactly where you want to go, listening to your own cravings and finding the perfect spot to nestle in to while away the hours without the influence of anybody else.

A book, or any kind of reading material, is a necessity I feel in order to fully enjoy this act, when you’re first beginning to enjoy this experience anyway. Without one you’ll find it hard to sit back and watch people come and go with ease, and will be more conscious of your own actions and whether people are dissecting them as much as you are.

Should find yourself without plans, or with an hour or two spare in the city of Manchester; consider yourself very lucky indeed. Pick a spot you’ve had an eye on for a while, and go.

I highly recommend Fig + Sparrow.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 21.09.58.png

The sweetest of spots; grab yourself a table and pull up a cuppa.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 21.10.59

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 21.08.22

Fig + Sparrow source their loaves from Trove bakery and champion a select few daily, especially for you.

It’s pretty impossible to go wrong with bread (as we previously discovered here), especially when toasted and topped with sliced avocado and chopped walnuts.

IMG_2860

A light glug of olive oil adds an extra layer of decadence to an otherwise ordinary dish.

IMG_2862

IMG_2886

Light and yet rich in flavour, simple but extremely comforting.

If you’re bored of the avocado toast movement, go for a sandwich.

IMG_3256

And we ain’t just talking any sandwich.

Pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato on rye.

IMG_3257

Pretty exceptional, especially when paired with your latest page-turner.

Punchy, loud flavours, softened by the chunky mozzarella and chewy bites of bread.

Total satisfaction.

If you do get the chance to indulge in a bit of me-time, I highly recommend you give it a go. Fig + Sparrow have a knack of offering up the calmest of ambiences, the perfect therapy if you’re feeling a little fed up or crave a side of solitude with your sandwich.

Try it, just once. I promise you’ll love it.

Bread is your friend

One of my non-negotiable pleasures in life, is bread.

Ruggedly-cut, doorstop-esque bread, crisp yet fluffy, baked crumpets, artisan breads, homemade breads, heck, even the limp but reliable crunch of a Warburtons Toastie should the mood strike (the latter coincidentally seems unbeatable when it comes to making the classic bacon butty).

Regardless, all of the above should be toasted and loaded with copious amounts of butter, preferably Lurpak; salted, and spread until the yellow nectar turns into glorious golden puddles across the grain.

What.a.dream

Find me someone who doesn’t love a good loaf and I’ll show you a Grade A fibber (or an unfortunate victim of coeliac disease).

In my journey of self-care, allowing myself two slices of toasted Spelt and Rye bread (the best – truly…well, this week anyway), a day, if I wanted it seemed SO radical, SO indulgent that it’s almost laughable to me now. This was a loaf! It wasn’t crack; I didn’t have to shuffle into Tesco with a hat pulled harshly down on my face to purchase a Sunflower and Honey Bloomer discreetly under the table. It was there ready for the taking, it wasn’t a bad thing, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to die from it.

We’ve been led to believe that carbs – specifically bread, is the enemy. You can’t have a beach bod AND a sandwich – don’t be absurd! Abs or avocado toast? I sure hope you said abs! (And I really hope you’re rolling your eyes as heavily as I am right now). The notion that our slimmest-selves cannot exist in the same universe as bread is frankly bullshit.

My most self-destructive state was when I was 24 and an air hostess. It was the perfect opportunity; I was away from my family so there was no one to take notice of how little I was eating. On trips away I would survive on merely a rice cake with a slither of hummus or maybe cornflakes with a splash of red milk if I was feeling flush; working out for hours at a time in the hotel gym or walking the length of the Golden Gate bridge with the promise of a Walgreens salad at the end.

I remember flying home from Jamaica and feeling faint from lack of substance and feeling happy  that I had reached such levels of hunger. I was in control! I was determined! I had a thigh gap! (Go figure).

The reality was, my weight never went below 115 pounds so I was by no means anorexic, but for my 5 foot 5 frame, I looked scrawny and boyish and in no way my natural shape. I put having a flat stomach and space between my thighs above socialising and having fun with my friends.

So many occasions I made excuses for; cinema trips I bailed out of, nights out dancing with friends foregone, feigning lack of funds or tiredness. Any situation which might deter me from my goal was immediately refused.

I wasn’t living, I was merely existing; any excessive eating I did was a ritual which took place once a week in the privacy of my room, eating until I felt sick and then on many occasions, giving my gut a helping hand when I was sure everyone had gone to bed.

It’s a sad state of affairs when we’re sacrificing real-life relationships, a pizza date with the girls, all to show Instagram how hungry we look on a beach.

Because ultimately, that’s what a lot of us want(ed), isn’t it?

We want to upload the “natural” beach shot, that perfectly showcases our thigh gap, maybe a hint of rib – but not too much  -and teeny weeny waistline. All to be greeted with comments of:

“Skinny minnie!”

“Your figure!”

“How do you stay so skinny?!”

We’d shrug modestly; “Don’t be silly!”

The underlying truth: “I’m hungry, skip meals and secretly purge if I eat too much Dairy Milk”.

Instagram is not reality. Trust me.

For the most part, it’s incredibly sad and insecure individuals, looking for validation in a number of likes, or dire reality stars trying to push piss-poor products on easily influenced minds. The rest is hilarious cat videos and your friend’s awesome content, the latter is why I continue to indulge in the platform.

The turning point for me was when a close friend who had been battling with her weight, asked me how I got my thigh gap and I shamelessly told her my secret; “I’ve been skipping lunch every day and running on my break instead.”

When I got in bed that night, the conversation came flooding back to me, and I recoiled at myself for admitting this so freely. What if she took my advice? What if I had given her the leg up she needed into a new-found obsession with this dangerous trend? That’s not who I wanted to be! Despite hating my own body, I LOVED hers and everyone else’s.

People think they need to have stick-thin legs, taut thighs and a protruding décolletage to be beautiful; absolutely not. Those ladies with such distinguishing features ARE beautiful, but only if naturally so. If you have to work out at the gym 7 times a week to maintain the frame you think you should be, you will plateau and you will fail eventually – because your body wasn’t built that way baby.

Do you think Beyonce lays awake at night distressed because she doesn’t have Cameron Diaz’s never-ending legs?

Heck no.

The world needs its Beyonce’s, its bell-bottomed ladies, just as much as we need the Olive Oyle’s, the Jessica Rabbit’s, the big booty bitches and the petite-framed ladies.

Whatever is natural is beautiful and more importantly, you! So why do you want to waste your life trying to look like everybody else?

Self-acceptance is by far the most challenging lesson in life; and it might not be until it’s too late that we realise that those opportunities missed with friends or spent scared as to how that bacon and egg butty might affect the scales were times wasted and frankly redundant in your quest for a happier life.

Happiness IS drinks with your friends, it IS a naughty takeaway in bed with your lover, it IS going for a run with your best friend only to stop 2km in and decide that you’d find it easier to chat over a cappuccino instead. You CAN go to the gym AND go out for a pizza with your friends; you’ll easily waste away your best years if you don’t.

Life is frighteningly short, and it’s only when the realisation hits that we DON’T have all the time in the world that we start to realise our efforts of self-depreciation, hours logged slaving away on the stair master and not balanced with life were times wasted. It’s important to take care of ourselves, of course it is; but not at the cost of our experiences, happiness and joy.

So that’s why this week, if you’re guilty of any of the above, I want you to make a subtle change to bring a little extra joy in your life. Go to the cinema, and enjoy the softly sweet chews of overpriced popcorn; go for a walk with your friend at dusk and reward yourself at the end with a sizeable glass of your favourite red wine. Make a trough-ful of pasta at home with your mum or your sister, do not use the scales and eat the whole lot.

Please, for yourself, just grab life by the loaf and make a fucking sandwich.

I’ve never met a carb I didn’t like

*Breathes*

Okay

It won’t come as a huge shock to you, that food is ultimately my one true love*.

*this is of course completely separate to the true love I feel for my family, friends, boyfriend and beloved dog Lulu you understand.

Everything about food, I fall hopelessly head over heels for; the snow-white, fluffy innards of a baked potato, encased in its fibrous, crispy skin; the plump, pillowy bites of a perfectly seared scallop; even a bowl of Weetabix, combined with just the right amount of green-top milk for superb texture – I confess, I really do love it all.

But like all relationships, the course of true love very rarely runs smoothly; and while some of you may be thinking; “Woah, there Franks, I just came here to find out about the best avocado toast in town, what’s with the deep chat?” People’s behaviour towards food is something I’ve wanted to explore for years, and though I have plenty of my own past experiences which have shaped my love of food, I have also been prompted to explore this subject by some of the negative developments I’ve seen in close friends which have led to unhealthy relationships with food.

This is why I would like to to reserve a corner of this blog to talk about relationships with food; the good relationships, the bad relationships and sometimes, the destructive relationships; alongside the delicious anecdotes I so love to write about.

But that’s the thing with love, it isn’t always linear and it ain’t always pretty; but ultimately we can learn and try to become better, which is exactly what I hope for with these posts.

SO! A lil bit of history.

I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13 years old…and I have maybe only ever used the words “I” and “eating disorder” in the same sentence maybe 3 times in my whole life.

You are officially the 4th person to learn this about me – congratulations!

I’ve kept this a secret for so long, only admitting it to few close friends who previously sussed me out or caught me in the act. Mostly because I’ve been a little bit ashamed of myself, as an advocate and lover for all things food and a constant voice of encouragement and praise for my friends and their own figures during times when they’ve wanted to lose weight; I felt like a fraud and frankly quite ridiculous to be so unable to take my own advice when it came to self-acceptance.

Thanks to a mum who excelled in home cooking and faltered greatly in portion control, I was blessed with an appetite of (quite literally) mammoth proportions as a result of always receiving the same sized platefuls as my dad and older brother. This often led to awkward tea-times at friend’s houses; where Christina’s mum would serve your standard, little-girl portion of dinner and I would be left bewildered asking; “where in Polly Pocket’s name is the rest of it?!”

Rude? Perhaps. Hungry? Always.

Despite obtaining this unique characteristic in my pre-teen years; which was of great relief to Jan (mum) who suffered with my refusal to eat ANYTHING between the ages of 2 and 3 (I was eventually given a chart decorated with stars every time I ate a meal); I was actually a very slim child and it wasn’t until I was 13 that I ever had to bother with thinking any more of food than how I would be able to get the lions share over my brother and sister.

Then it happened; High School, the home of questionably sourced baked goods, strangely attractive History teachers and pre-pubescent wit. Sigh, them’s were the days eh! Would we have even become the people we are today without it?

Hopefully not, just to make the whole ordeal seem semi-worthwhile.

It was here which first nurtured my obsession with food and appearance. There’s no need to go into the finer details, the comments from the boys which first planted the seed of doubt in my mind that would ultimately cause me grief for the next 15 years. It angers me so much that young, impressionable me didn’t have enough strength to be confident in who I was and to tell the fuck-wits (sorry mum), who tried to convince me otherwise to take a hike (but in a much more colourful way I assure you).

Throw in a (now past – thank god), boyfriend who silently manipulated me into thinking neither me, nor my body was quite good enough, perfectly-timed comments from acquaintances who assured me that post-illness I looked much better for the weight I had lost, countless magazine articles which I took way too seriously and various other contributing factors – and there you have a recipe for a semi-destructive eating disorder.

Horrifically low in calories and leaves a revolting taste in your mouth, trust.

The word “disorder” often evokes a harshly negative connotation in ones mind; the kind of word which I fear will make people recoil in their seats when they find out; furrowing their brow before mumbling; “you okay hun?”

Whereas in reality, the word reflects a much more common behaviour that we all have the potential to find ourselves in.

disorder
noun
  1. 1. a state of confusion.

“Confusion”, that’s exactly what a disorder is, exactly the mind frame I found myself in (and shamefully still do on occasion), for longer than I wished to be and so desperately wanted to figure out. It feels like a puzzle you want to crack, a bad boyfriend you want to break up from and a toxic relationship with someone you thought was your friend.

Thankfully it wasn’t always to be that way, and while I’m nowhere near the finish line, I’m running in a marathon I never thought I’d even thought I’d have the strength to pull the running shoes on for.

My posts following this will delve deeper into the ins and outs of the above along with additional recounts, advice and opinions of my friend’s experiences. While I’m desperate to keep this topic as light as possible, I am in no way trying to make a joke out of my eating disorder and though it may seem like I’m poking fun at myself and the idiocy of past-Frankie’s behaviour, I am well aware of the destructiveness that were my previous daily habits. But if I can take you on this journey and share with you how easily they can develop and how only with time and hard work can be resolved, maybe I can help someone who may find themselves where I was a year or so ago.

So please stick around, please divulge any of your own advice or experiences in the comments below and please be kind to yourself always.

p.s details of the best avocado toast in town is coming, I promise.

Breakfast at Worsley Old Hall

Morning’s are most definitely my favourite.

Don’t get me wrong, there are very few things which beat a lazy Sunday in bed; particular ones spent with lost in your favourite paperback with Paolo Nutini playing in the background (not live sadly), but there is also something wonderfully satisfying about embracing a get-up-and-go frame of mind, and leaving the house early doors to fully immerse yourself in the day.

These instances are also particularly special when such an occasion is graced with the company of one of your best friends, in the town’s cosiest of caverns.

Okay, so not so much a cavern, but rather a grand hall, Worsley Old Hall to be precise; a gloriously old-school country house pub and melting pot of yummy mummy’s, Breton-clad dads, roaring open fires and buttery-leather armchairs just begging to be snuggled into.

IMG_2757

IMG_2758

We tucked ourselves away into a cosy nook, ordering tea for two and more besides to silence our morning rumbles.

Worsley Old Hall offer all the usual suspects for your morning meal, including an impressive Full English and Avocado Toast; however newly pregnant Kim had other cravings…

IMG_2760

Buttermilk pancakes, topped with bacon and blueberries.

IMG_2767.JPG

The pancakes fluffy, the bacon crisp; a harmonious contrast of textures with extra sweet kisses from liberal drizzles of maple syrup.

Just a little bit naughty, but just what the doctor (baby) ordered.

IMG_2762

IMG_2761

I had plumped for pan-fried wild mushrooms, sautéed with spinach and topped with a poached egg on a toasted granary bloomer. Smashed avocado on the side because…well does avocado ever need a reason to be present nowadays?

The bloomer was haphazardly sawed, exactly how I like it; doorstop thick and ever so slightly sweet. A delightful crunch amidst the softened woody bites of mushroom and creamy spinach.

Oh and the ooziest egg you ever did see.

IMG_2764

IMG_2765

IMG_2766

We stayed until midday chatting about anything and everything, never without a cup of tea in our hand and coo-ing endlessly at the misbehaving dogs situated just out of our reach (thank goodness for extendable dog leads and easily distracted owners – otherwise we would have never gotten met our quota of dog strokes).

Living in a world where you feel like you’re constantly running late, don’t have enough time or are constantly battling against a mounting to-do list; it really does you good to make a little bit of time to savour some time with your friendships.

Whether it’s calling them out of the blue (on the phone I mean, not round at the house – if you drop in unexpectedly on me you will more than likely find me in my pyjamas so let’s save both of us from the horror), or popping out together for breakfast, it’s important to relish in the simple joy that is a cup of tea and catch ups with our nearest and dearest.

Find them here, no need to book, but if you plan on popping in past 11am, be prepared to fight one of the yummy mummy’s for the good table.

SiOP Shop

I have the teeniest, tidbit of a recommendation for you with this post, but though it may be short, I can promise you it’s extra sweet and cream-filled *insert drool emoji here*.

IMG_2147.JPG

Found in the depths of the Northern Quarter, SiOP Shop is now the official home to Blawd Bakery, known for previously making magic in the basement kitchen of Common, just a stones throw away from the bakeries new home.

The cosy nook, with many a nod to the owners Welsh roots, is simple but inviting, deliciously decorated with art and are boasters of the best damn filled doughnuts in Manchester.

IMG_2142

IMG_2144

While Maltby Street Market’s doughy creations still has my heart, I have a doughnut shaped hole in my life of which SiOP Shop seems to have nestled in perfectly.

A quaint space, you can sit and while away the hours with friends; or grab and go from their counter. There’s a simple yet very well executed cafe-esque menu, and rows upon rows of the daily doughnut specials with traybake’s and brownies to boot alongside. Vegans can rejoice at SiOP’s selection of doughy offerings which contain no trace of animal at all (but STILL taste like delightful human food).

IMG_2143

IMG_2146

IMG_2145

I cannot for the life of me remember which doughnut I had on my first visit, but I DO remember all the important details; sinking my teeth into perfectly fluffy sponge, the handsomely-filled jelly jam centre and its light coating of soft, sweet glaze.

I polished off my first taste of Blawd sat in the window and immediately went in for a second, top lip and fingertips still frosted with sugar.

Word (and a real-time WhatsApp picture journey) of my visit to Siop Shop prompted interest from my other half, who insisted we return together to indulge in the full experience (and many more doughnuts).

Flash forward a week later, we found ourselves deliciously with a day to ourselves and popped in for a spot of brekkie.

Daffodils, aligned like cheery soldiers adorned the windowsill.

IMG_2529

On a mid-morning weekday, the shop was a far cry from the bustling yet warm weekend atmosphere, but no less welcoming and still occupied with a punter or two.

 

IMG_2518

Eyeing the updated counter menu, we placed our order and cosied up on a table for two.

IMG_2531

Dau breakfast muffins, two cappuccinos and a pair of doughnuts for a pair of doughnuts.

IMG_2532

Both muffins handsomely stacked, we enjoyed wolf-sized bites which combined homemade potato rosti, Monterey Jack, sausage patty and crisp fried egg.

Simple but homely, no frills but full of flavour; exactly the kind of brekkie your nan would whip up and serve you ahead of the Corrie omnibus on a Sunday.

With our morning growls well and truly satisfied, it was time to get down to serious business.

IMG_2517

The Maple and Pecan doughnut (an incredibly photogenic specimen I’m sure you’ll agree).

IMG_2533

And just out of shot…the classic Vanilla Custard.

IMG_2534

Both creations excruciatingly wonderful, impossibly light and devilishly moreish.

If you can talk yourself out of ordering another one (or two) you deserve a bloody medal (but why fight the inevitable? Go on, order it to go!)

Whilst still in its “hidden gem” mode to most, weekends will still see Siop Shop full of sweet-toothed locals in the know; and you’d do right to become one very quickly.

Their flavours are beyond divine, from Crème brûlée to Tiramisu, it’s quite impossible to pick one, so please, grab a friend and order the lot!

No website, but they absolutely nail it on Twitter.

Federal Cafe & Bar

Now that I have the pleasure of working in Manchester City centre, I find myself in abundance with opportunities to dine out.

A lunch date here, a cup of coffee there – sure I wince every time I tap my card to pay contactless, convinced that THIS round of Flat White’s will be met with the impending “decline” (such a lifestyle is really too lush to be brandishing so close to payday)…Alas! If you can’t enjoy a sweet sip of Vanilla Chai that costs the same amount as a two-day train fare ticket (they do fly the coffee beans direct from New Zealand after all, Business Class too no doubt), in the years you find yourself gloriously without a mortgage, when can you eh?

I truly used to dread Monday’s, adapting a Garfield-like grimace every time my 6am alarm, which officially signified the end of the weekend, rang into my ears. But now, I embrace them (I write this on a Friday afternoon, whilst sipping a cup of peppermint tea, legs tucked up on the couch with Monday morning a blissful 2 lie-ins away…so the reality may be a touch sketchy).

Monday’s are a new opportunity, a chance to get organised, to set the foundation for the week and most importantly…a new chance to brunch.

Power-brunching is not a new concept by any means; but it was new territory for me and is a fantastic opportunity to combine your most important meal of the day with the some of the most important people in your life.

Meeting at 8:30am, Sacha and I power-walked from my remote parking spot on the outskirts of Salford Quays (the things you do for free parking) to the Northern Quarter, making a beeline for our favourite breakfast joint, Federal Cafe & Bar.

Simple, rustic, with a handful of achingly hip servers which hang ready to take your order.

Inspired by a lady we saw on the way in, carefully spooning porridge into her mouth whilst dreamily reading her book; we ordered coffees and a bowlful to share, just because.

IMG_1843

Steel-cut oats, piping-hot and rich with comforting flavours. Flaked almonds, blueberries, a drizzle of honey and a handsome dollop of tart rhubarb compote add extra finesse to an ordinary humble dish.

IMG_1722

Wetting our appetites with our breakfast “starter”, we ordered up the usual for the main event; smashed avo over sourdough, side of smoked salmon and poached eggs.

IMG_1844

IMG_1724

IMG_1846

The millennial breakfast of champions.

Gloriously runny eggs sealed the deal, oozing over chunks of avocado and freshly toasted bread.

IMG_1845

We devoured the lot, exchanging ideas, plans for the week, all the while basking in the sensational fresh flavours which stayed consistent and scrumptious, right to the very last bite.

If you can tear yourself away from your bed, just an extra hour earlier this Monday; I highly encourage that you do so, doing something just a little out of the ordinary once in a while can do wondrous things for the rest of your week.

If you aren’t able to grab yourself such a luxury during the week, then you absolutely MUST treat yourself some other way. A delicious half hour with your book (better throw in a slice of cake too for good measure…), a quick jaunt down by the canal with your favourite album in your ears – whatever makes you happy, be sure to sneak it in there and add a bit of extra magic to your Monday!

Trof

Discovering that one of your favourite watering holes not only whips up a dazzling G&T, but also offers a banging food menu is one of those super delicious pot luck moments, like finding a five pound note in your jeans pocket or getting an extra shot of vanilla syrup in your Chai Latte for free.

For me, Trof was once reserved as a space where I could humiliate myself through the mixed media of bad dancing (countless occasions) and sitting down where there wasn’t a chair (once). But in recent years, Trof has massively upped their game and become key players in the NQ’s abundance of charming eateries.

With a drool-inducing ‘gram and seasonal menu positively bursting with variety, fresh produce and innovative platefuls; you’re seriously missing a trick if this place isn’t already on your “fail-safe” food list.

Living in a city where new restaurants, dining concepts and the latest “it” food trends pop up practically weekly, I normally feel guilty going anywhere twice; but with Trof, I was happy to become a repeat offender and bend my usual rules in the name of a good feed and a full belly.

Take your favourites, a week-day evening is best, slither into a booth and set up shop for the eve.

IMG_1132

IMG_1130

The menu might make you feel spoilt for choice, but just go with your gut, you really can’t go wrong with this place.

Order up at the bar…

IMG_1128

IMG_1129

And don’t return without one of their signature cocktails (I highly recommend the Shrubsy Malone).

On the occasions where I’ve dined at Trof, the wait for the food is a little longer than expected; alas it’s difficult to stay miffed when the food is this good.

Sea bass Nicoise

IMG_1805

The perfectly-crisped fillet lays atop a wilted bed of spinach and beans; blushed tomato and olives adding an intense, salty burst of flavour to the delicate bites of fish, soft new potato and greens.

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a great deal when ordering this plate; mostly opting for it because it seemed to carry more “health points” than the other dishes…but imagine my delight when this otherwise above-average salad was completed by a golden, crispy-coated hens egg; a glorious variation of the usual boiled egg normally seen with a nicoise.

Still crackling from its date with the fryer; the soft yolk of the egg oozed into a puddle coating the rest of the dishes element in its rich yellow nectar.

Superb.

The Katsu Curry is 100% Vegan (but don’t let that put you off).

 

IMG_1803

Trof successfully manage to inject flavours of chilli and lime into the tofu, before frying it till crisp in a light coating of batter.

Fragrant basmati rice bulks out the dish while a hearty portion of crispy kale combined with pickled ginger and radish add waves of heat to every mouthful.

Wonderfully satisfying, even for the most committed carnivores.

If you’re looking for simplicity at its very best; the Buttermilk Chicken Burger is the plate for you.

(A moment of appreciation for the bun-lid of perfection).

IMG_1119

Succulent pieces of juicy, fried chicken, paired with slaw, lettuce and hugged between two brioche buns.

Spectacularly simple, but marvellously executed.

Totally stuffed, we didn’t bother with pudding – but with Plum Eton Mess and Apple & Bramble Crumble on offer, you’d do well to find some room if you can manage it.

Trof is well worth a go if you find yourself in need of a mid-week pick-me-up. With 50% off food on Monday’s and live music on Thursdays, it’s quite impossible to leave Trof without a smile on your face and a splash of rum & coke down your blouse (old habits die hard).

Menu here

Book for 50% off here (Monday’s only).

Another Heart to Feed

Some things you just have an inexplainable good feeling about.

A mid-season sale, the impending fourth season of Peaky Blinders (just 11 months to go!) A fourth gin and tonic; I mean, when are such things ever not a good idea?

In this instance, it was an (almost) new brunch spot which, as my very good luck would have it, had opened up just around the corner.

Another Heart to Feed may not be completely unfamiliar to you, they had after all already made quite the impression on Manchester when they opened their original site on Salford’s Chapel Street; alas due to a sudden increase in rent on their premises, were forced to temporarily close, and what became Salford loss was to the great gain on West Didsbury’s already thriving high street to which AHTF has nestled in effortlessly, as though it was always meant to be.

We never set out to brunch; “just a stroll around Didsbury!” We said. “Maybe a jaunt by the canal?”

Behave.

This was Sunday, we had been ever-so-slightly smashed the night before, we were unconsolably famished and in quite desperate need of a coffee. Which is why our feet directed us several kilometres away from the canal (which was really too muddy to walk around anyway…) And right into the arms of Another Heart to Feed.

IMG_1383

IMG_1382

Bundling in from the snow (yes, snow in February) we were met with a vibrant space, filled with Didsbury natives and fellow brunchers, similarly searching for their mimosa- cocktail-runny egg-baconey-dukka-seed-flourished fix.

“A coffee, we’ll just stop for a coffee.”

Cue one of the utterly charming servers, gliding past holding platefuls of art cleverly disguised as smoked salmon on rye, and we swiftly asked for a table for two.

IMG_1384

IMG_1381

The booths are best for people watching, but the communal tables give the best light (and laughs depending on who you share your bench with).

The space is really quite spectacular and a ‘grammers dream, with the decor a straight up replica of your most favourited Pinterest boards.

IMG_1380

We ordered modestly, still slightly bashful from our impromptu 3am Chinese the night previous (the less said about that the better…)

Coffee, Smashed Avocado with Poached Egg and Feta and House made Beans with parmesan, both served over sourdough.

IMG_1392

Now, I don’t want to oversell this – but I think this could have been possibly the prettiest brunch I ever laid eyes on.

IMG_1391

The standard Avocado Toast (which is by no means your average avo toast).

IMG_1389

IMG_1390

Chunky smashed avo and hunks of crumbled feta are loaded onto toasted sourdough before being graced with delicate sprinkles of saffron. Beetroot hummus, dukkah and a delightfully oozy poached egg decorate the remainder of the plate and give off a really special mixture of textures and flavours to an otherwise simple dish.

IMG_1385

Almost too beautiful to eat.

House made Beans with fresh thyme and a sprinkling of parmesan. Served over sourdough with a side of chorizo.

IMG_1388

IMG_1387

IMG_1386

Hearty, comforting and just a little bit cheesy, the exact qualities one strives for in a brunch (and a partner coincidentally).

The words “homemade baked beans” always evoke such delight with me, but I tread with caution after a previous disaster with cannellini beans and a jar of shop-bought passata; alas these house made beans balanced just the right amount of rich and smoky flavour, made extra indulgent with melted parmesan and snaps of spiced chunky chorizo.

My only critique was that the sourdough didn’t fair too well underneath such a rich and thick sauce, this was quickly rectified however using the extra bread our server had given us (for NO reason! Just for extra bread’s sake, which was nothing short of a delight).

If you couldn’t already tell, I highly recommend you take trip to Another Heart to Feed. It’s laid back Aussie approach, with hints of scandi-style influence and wonderfully friendly team make it the perfect place to start any day, they’re super passionate about what they do and have some strong suppliers on board (including Trove bakery – swoon!) Who they can’t help but rave about in their menu.

Take your other half, your best friend or even a gang of your favourites, find your spot and spend a long, lazy morning making the most of it, I insist!

 

 

 

 

 

Albert’s Schloss

When Spring idly refuses to…well spring, no matter how much we forcefully wave goodbye to Winter; one must take it upon themselves to find sweet relief from the bitter cold.

And guess what?

I’ve only bloody gone and found it.

Whilst it’s tempting to stay indoors, wrapped up like a human-burrito, you simply must summon the energy to leave the comfort of your lair, if only for one reason; and what better reason than brunch?

Especially when it’s brunch with one of your favourites.

We bundled into Albert’s Schloss, hungry, desperately chilly and very much in need of comfort.

First glances assured me we were in the right place.

IMG_1147

IMG_1144

IMG_1145

IMG_1146

Taking safe haven in one of the quiet corners of Albert’s Schloss, we tucked ourselves into the snuggest of snugs and relaxed against the feather down cushions.

IMG_1143

The mood was relaxed and soothing, fellow brunchers chatted softly between themselves as the open fire blazed, warming the entirety of the space, creating a cosiest of ambiences – quite the achievement for such a large venue.

We poured ourselves mugfuls of piping hot tea, clutching them as we chattered, savouring the moments of delicious warmth.

IMG_1142

Whilst Albert’s Schloss offers quite the variety, the morning called for avocado toast and poached eggs; nothing groundbreaking I’m afraid, but a benchmark brunch staple I’m sure you’ll agree.

IMG_1140

IMG_1139

IMG_1141

A side order of bacon from Chloe meant she was met by half a pig adorning her plate; much to her pleasure, she gleefully ploughed through the succulent rashers which held that delightful glisten of…well grease, but the finest of grease, I promise you.

The bread is baked daily in-haus and is served by the wedge, once smothered in smashed, chunky avocado and seasoned with zingy squeezes of lemon, poached eggs are then placed on top, the pièce de résistance to the much favoured, brunch classic.

IMG_1138

Whether you’re looking to pinch a brief moment of luxury before work, or are after a long lazy affair for you and a friend, Albert’s Schloss simply must be on your hit-list if you’re still yet to try this Manchester staple.

Go for the food, but stay for the experience and upgrade your weekday to something a little more extraordinary.