A sprawling converted Victorian building might not be the first place you’d look during a search for a proper meal. But that’s just one of the many surprising things about Ducie StreetWarehouse.
Sat on the edge of Manchester’s northern quarter, a stone’s throw from Piccadilly station, DSW is a laid-back sort of place despite its impressive frontage and airy lobby – filled with cool-looking professionals tapping away on laptops or sipping on iced coffees.
There’s been plenty of fanfare around Ducie Street’s newly erected terrace, strategically positioned to soak up as many rays of sunshine as possible – and the venue is now also home to three different menus (for the bar, restaurant and terrace).
Pre-covid, the restaurant here was occupied by London hotshots Bistrotheque but they have since been replaced, bowing out after only six months in the city.
Now heading up the kitchen is chef Andrew Green. A bit of a legend on the Manchester food scene, prior to being at Ducie Street he ran Hotel Indigo’s Mamucium for over two years, and was at The Lowry for quite some time before that.
He’s got a bit of a reputation for taking his team with him wherever he goes, having built up a loyal group of chefs – some of whom have worked with him since they were just young lads.
Andrew tells us that, earlier last year before they made the move over to Ducie Street, it was “heartbreaking” seeing people on his team made redundant and not being able to do anything. Apparently, the hotel was £1.3 million in debt.
“There was no future for us [there],” he says.
It’s completely the opposite here though, he enthuses, adding that the company is looking to the future and plans to build something big.
We have to say, it feels like it. Unlike some other venues we’ve visited since reopening – everything feels super slick here.
There’s not too much pressure on pushing the restaurant like you find with some hotels – it’s all very chilled, with bits on the menu for everybody.
“For me, the menu is full of favourites,” says Andrew, who joined in February and has put together all the new menus himself.
Best-sellers, we hear, are things like calamari, fried chicken and hummus – all relaxed, snacky sharers, elevated by being made entirely in-house, fried to order and perfectly enjoyed with a few drinks.
When we visit, though, we can’t take our eyes off the larger sharers and end up devouring a huge 800g Porterhouse steak and a 1kg wheel of baked camembert. No mean feat on the hottest day of the year, but we never got to have it when it ran at Mamucium and were desperate to give it a go.
“We became a cheese restaurant for a month, we were pulling cheese out of our hair,” Andrew laughs.
We also try some of the more out-there small plates, like the lobster mac and cheese which blows us away for being so light and refreshing. It’s actually a perfect summer dish, made using sharp bright cheese with pink flecks of lobster streaked throughout.
Lamb koftas with beetroot hummus and hench ox cheek croquettes also feature, the latter coming out with a pot of dipping gravy (the side sauce of the moment in Manchester).
Everything feels quite seasonal, and Andrew assures us they will be switching things up to keep it so. For example, there’s currently a wild garlic aioli on the menu that will soon switch to French, given that wild garlic is on its way out of season.
Because Ducie Street has been around for a while, it’s easy to forget that this is a new restaurant that’s been pulled together in the midst of a pandemic and lockdown. When you take that into account, it’s even more impressive the level to which everything has been done.
At a time when many hospitality venues are scrambling for staff, the calm yet fun atmosphere here says it all.
Newly launched on 17 May, Ducie Street Warehouse is open throughout the week with dining available in the bar, restaurant and on the south-facing terrace.It also has a stylish adjoining aparthotel, Native, upstairs.
Siam Smiles, the authentic Thai cafe on a Manchester backstreet
When Siam Smiles was still a little cafe in a Chinatown supermarket it received serious rave reviews. Since moving up to Deansgate Mews, however, it seems to have been forgotten about a little.
Most famously described as “the most exciting thing to happen since the days of the Hacienda” by Marina O’Loughlin in a 2014 review for The Guardian, owner May also made headlines for teaching herself to cook on Youtube after her chef left the business one month after opening.
National critics, like O’Loughin and others, were seemingly drawn in by the cafe’s novelty – not one review missed the opportunity to mention the supermarket, or tell you how the ingredients in the dishes were often the same as the ones on the shelves.
But since it has moved over to The Mews, an oft-forgotten back street within the Great Northern Warehouse complex, the reviews have gone suspiciously quiet – so we thought we’d pop in to see if it’s all still up to scratch.
Spoiler alert, it definitely is.
Two years after that rave review from O’Loughlin, rising bills forced the cafe to close – but with a little help, May reopened in 2016 at the Great Northern Warehouse. It’s here that you’ll still find her cooking up a storm today.
With bills firmly on the rise once again, we thought we’d pop in to shine a light on this longstanding Mancunian gem and are happy to report her food hasn’t faltered one iota.
We went for stir fried chicken Pad Ka Paow with jasmine rice and a fried egg, and a steaming bowl of KuiiTiwe Moo Nam Tok with fresh egg noodles and roasted duck breast, with two glasses of Singha on the side.
We also couldn’t help but opt for a hearty portion of green papaya salad with dried shrimps, a dish that’s hard to find but something of a speciality here, as well as a second glass noodle salad with plump prawns and minced pork.
The dressings, always made by May herself, completely hit the spot with their balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.
We strongly recommend you pop in and show Siam Smiles some love. It’s not all just about the shiny new restaurants, after all. We need to treasure the veterans too – and this is one we need to protect at all costs.
Find the cafe on Deansgate Mews Unit G Upper Level ,Great Northern, 253, Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
There’s a huge burger food fair happening in Manchester next weekend
Burger lovers in Manchester should probably get themselves down to the city’s largest street food hub next weekend for a feast like no other.
That’s because GRUB is hosting its very-own burger food fair.
Perhaps it’s not the first city you’d think of when it comes to burgers, but Manchester is absolutely chocked full of an endless list of eateries and food traders serving up some of the most impressive patties you’ll quite possibly ever see in your life.
Whether you’re a meat lover, chicken fanatic, veggie or vegan/plant-based, there truly is something for everyone to tuck into in our city.
And a handful of those finest food traders are coming together all under one roof for the GRUB Burger Food Fair – which is taking over Manchester’s biggest street food venue and events space next weekend from Friday 30 September – Sunday 2 October, and is promising to bring “wall to wall burgers” to the hungry masses.
The Cheetham Hill-based venues’s annual celebration of all things burgers returns for 2022, with traders bringing a special menu inspired by their own take on the humble burger, as well as a whole range of different sides, snacks, and all-American desserts to go along with it.
BON Street Food, Spicy Baby, Thief Street Grill & Waffle, Charlie Mac’s, and The Cookie Smith are some of the traders you can expect on Friday and Saturday.
And then, as is the tradition at GRUB, everything that is served up on the Sunday of the three-day event will be completely “plant-powered”.
Vegan vendors Boneless Brigade, and Dohlightful just some of the names lined-up to take part.
GRUB Burger Food Fair is free to attend, and will kick-off from 4pm each day of the three-day event, with no need to book any tickets in advance.
It has to be said though, that GRUB’s themed food fairs are always very well attended, so for that reason, the venue recommends that any large groups planning on heading down next weekend should book a table here.