I eat a lot of dinners in and around Manchester, it’s a (brilliant) perk of the job. Still, I have never, ever licked my plate whilst out in public before. My mother would kill me.
After one visit to Our Place though, the supper club that goes out of its way to help local people in need despite being homeless itself, that all went out of the window. Sometimes, rules just have to be broken – especially when the food is this good.
Founded by top Manchester chef Iain Thomas and his business partner David O’Connor, the pop-up dinner series is best described as a ‘roaming’ kitchen with events held at different locations around the city.
Managing to be both exceedingly unpretentious and lip-smackingly moreish at once, as well as gaining serious kudos for the work it does with homeless people in the city through its partnership with local charity Only A Pavement Away, there’s a lot to praise here.
Serving up local, seasonal, and sustainable food, much of it grown and harvested by Hattersley-born chef Iain on his Stockport allotment, when I visit Our Place their supper club is being hosted in a working brewery behind Manchester Piccadilly train station.
Sureshot, I’m told, stepped in last minute and ‘saved the day’ after their original host was forced to pull out. After one glance at the beer menu, which features some of the silliest beer names I’ve ever come across (‘Small Man’s Wetsuit’, ‘Hot Fudge Carward’, and ’18 Free Personalised Fridge Magnets’ anyone?), I’m grateful, both for the laughs and the hospitality.
The brewery’s long tables are perfect for encouraging the sort of friendly communal dining that Our Place champions, and as the courses start to fly out – warm bread rolls with whey fat butter inspired by after-school teas growing up, followed by corn-fed confit chicken with onion tops and Iain’s SK14 allotment chutney – a relaxed buzz spreads through the room.
David, formerly head of Sales and Marketing at Jay Rayner favourite The Alan, is on serving duties and explains each dish as it lands on the table in front of us.
His warm, unpretentious manner sets the tone for the night, with jokes about growing up with busy parents – one a bin man, one a nurse – who he insists would regularly dish up warm bread and butter under the guise of ‘cooking’.
The dinner itself is a feat of hearty nostalgia, centered around great produce and topped up with little homely tidbits such as these.
Masterminded by Iain, a chef with an intimidating CV (you’ve likely tried his food at Ancoats’ gastro pub reborn the Edinburgh Castle, The Alan, or maybe back in the day at The Establishment on King Street, now home to Rosso), each plate is more delicious than the last.
For mains, we dig into Littlewoods Butchers beef rump with boulangerie potatoes, onion tops from Iain’s allotment, and a wild garlic and purple sprouting puree. An ox tongue beef sauce, rich and comforting, is the final temptation for my loss of table manners – and, honestly, I’ve no regrets.
Finishing things off with a warming bowl of ‘Nana Betty’s’ rhubarb and custard and a poetry reading from Manchester’s own Chubby Northerner, aka ‘the pub poet’, aka Tom Stocks, it’s one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had out in a while, made even better knowing that £5 from each ticket goes to support local people in need.
Having been homeless since its inception, for the next three months Our Place will be hosting events on selected Friday nights inside Manchester Art Gallery as part of a new partnership.
The date for their first dinner at the gallery will be Friday 26 May, with tickets priced at £45 and vegetarian and vegan options available for non-meat eaters. To find out more, visit Our Place on Instagram here.
Featured image – The Manc Eats
An Aldi billboard dispensing free rosé wine has appeared in Manchester
A blush pink billboard dispensing free wine has appeared in Manchester’s St Ann’s Square today, and it is causing quite a stir amongst shoppers.
Set up by budget supermarket chain Aldi to celebrate the start of the rosé drinking season, according to the team the jazzy wine-dispensing billboard is something of a ‘world’s first’ – designed to dispense rosé only when the weather hits the perfect temperature (19.2C, apparently).
According to research from Aldi sales, the north west is the biggest rosé-loving region in the UK. In response, the team decided to celebrate the arrival of the perfect rosé weather by launching the billboard – which will dispense the summer tipple when the weather hits the perfect temperature.
With the North West identified by Aldi sales data as the UK’s biggest rosé-loving region, the supermarket set up the billboard in the centre of Manchester ahead of National Rosé Day (10 June).
After researching over 1,000 rosé drinkers, the taps poured out free glasses as temperatures hit the ideal 19.2C at around 1pm in St Ann’s Square.
Two-thirds of those surveyed describe rosé as the ‘perfect summer drink’, while almost half think it’s best enjoyed in shorts and t-shirts – and a quarter start drinking it as soon as the winter coat comes off.
But ice is a divisive topic, with the country split in half when it comes to cooling their rosé; 55% think it’s acceptable when the weather is hot, while 45% claim they would ‘never’ dilute their drink.
Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “Everyone’s heard the saying ‘it’s wine o’clock’ but we wanted to find out when it’s ‘rosé degrees’ – and according to the nation of rosé lovers, the ideal temperature is 19.2C.
“Setting up the world’s first billboard to dispense rosé at a certain warm temperature was a challenge in Manchester, which is noted for rain.
“But as the centre of the region which loves rosé more than any other in the UK, fortunately, everything came up rosé.”
Research by the supermarket also found that rosé lovers enjoy an average of 63 glasses throughout summer, spending £11.34 a bottle, with the preference being a glass of Provence at 5.18pm.
But despite a liking for Southern French vino, shoppers are decidedly more British when it comes to pairings, with over a third (34%) claiming crisps are the ultimate accompaniment to rosé.
Unexpected answers also include a roast dinner (16%), cake (13%), curry (10%), ice cream (6%) and doughnuts (6%) – rising to 11% of 25–34-year-old rosé drinkers.
And one in three rosé drinking Brits claim to have tried last year’s ‘spicy rosé’ TikTok trend in which sliced jalapeños are added to a glass of pink – rising to over half of millennials, with 15% claiming to add one to every glass.
The activity comes as Aldi is fast becoming a destination for rosé wine. Last year, the supermarket saw a 134% uplift in spring/summer sales year on year – with the most successful day coinciding with the August heatwave.
Sam Caporn, Mistress of Wine, added: “Rosé is the ideal summer drink; it really does add a sense of summer fun and al fresco vibes to any occasion with friends and family.
“When it comes to ‘whether’ to put ice in the glass or not, I’d advise rosé fans to be led by personal preference – which as ever – is all that really matters. Don’t worry too much about dilution as with rosé it’s all about refreshment and I love it being served super chilled.
“So let’s raise a glass to the nation’s favourite vino for summer sipping, a drop of pink!”
Aldi’s Rosé Billboard will dispense free rosé when the weather hits 19.2C (approx. 1pm) until 7pm in St Ann’s Square, Manchester on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th June.
Featured image – The Manc Eats
A huge bowling alley with its own street food vendors is opening in Trafford￼
A huge bowling alley is coming to Trafford next month, promising the ‘crown jewels of bowling’ with Ten Pin and Duck Pin bowling, plus shuffleboard, quality street food, arcade games and more.
Called King Pins, the giant new venue will open at Trafford Palazzo on 17 July with two independent street food stands, a dessert kiosk and a full-service bar pouring cocktails, homemade slushies and 20 different beers.
Food traders have just been confirmed for the new opening, with city centre favourites PLY and Little Bao Boy both coming on board to serve up Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas and pan-Asian bao buns respectively.
PLY fans can expect to get their hands on all their Northern Quarter favourites, as well as digging into a brand new King Pins pizza topped with hot dogs, crunchy onion and a secret Goldeen barbecue sauce created exclusively for the new opening.
There’ll also be a selection of saucy PLY wings coated in buffalo, BBQ and chip shop curry sauce, classic fries, vegan options and a special kids menu, perfect for the whole family.
As for the menu at Little Bao Boy, originally founded in Leeds and voted the city’s favourite takeaway during Covid, expect to find the likes of beef beef brisket and salt and pepper aubergine-stuffed bao on a list that celebrates Asian food with a western, contemporary twist.
Meanwhile, King Pins’ dessert kiosk Royal Treats will serve a huge selection of sweet snacks ranging from donuts and soft serve ice cream to endless bags of Pick ‘N’ Mix.
As for the games on offer, players can try their hands at both Ten Pin and Duck Pin bowling – a variation on the classic using smaller pins and balls – as well as play arcade games, shuffleboard, ice-free curling and air hockey.
With a whopping fifteen lanes of Ten Pin bowling and six lanes of Duck Pin bowling (a shorter-laned, faster game of bowling that is completely new to the UK), up to 200 people will be able to play at once at the huge new venue when it launches next month.
James Travis, Brand Manager at King Pins, said: “We’re looking forward to finally opening King Pins this summer at Trafford Palazzo.
“The offering at King Pins is like no other, we are all about quality as opposed to outdated family fun. We can’t wait to showcase everything on offer, including a truly state-of-the-art bowling experience and some top-tier local food vendors.
“King Pins will be a place for the whole family to have fun, but equally the space will transform by night into an entertainment venue with music, drinks and bowling which is also perfect for adults looking for something different.”
Carl Fraenkl-Rietti, co-owner at PLY, said: “We are very excited about partnering with King Pins and are looking forward to the launch this summer.
“PLY will be bringing its fun, fresh food to the venue, which is the perfect fit for us. We are all about bringing great vibes, and who doesn’t love playing games, drinking beer and cocktails with a slice of pizza in hand.“
James Ooi, owner at Little Bao Boy, said: “We are very excited to be opening our restaurant in Manchester alongside King Pins, especially after seeing such a huge success at our home site in Leeds and Manchester city centre.
“We can’t wait to start slinging out our Bao Buns from this amazing new venue and we are looking forward to being part of this exciting new launch at Trafford Palazzo.”Designed with all ages in mind, bookings are officially open now for the new kingsized bowling experience. Located close to Legoland® Discovery Centre, SEA LIFE and the forthcoming Nerf Experience, to find out more and book visit the King Pins website here.