Feel Good Club is Manchester’s new kid on the block and it will be remaining open throughout the second national lockdown for takeaway services and to provide support.
The movement – which started humbly as an Instagram page by founders Kiera and Aimie Lawlor-Skillen – is aimed at normalising the stigma around mental health and has flourished into a successful platform of 120K+ followers.
So successful in fact that is saw the pair go on to open the doors to their brand-new wellbeing-focused coffee house in the heart of the Northern Quarter just last weekend.
But, despite the country heading into another national lockdown – which is expected to take effect from 0.01 GMT on Thursday 5th November and requires hospitality businesses to close for the four week duration – Kiera and Aimie will be keeping the Hilton Street coffee house open for takeaway only.
As well as being a brilliant independent business to grab your caffeine fix from, it will also provide vital support services for those who need most, especially as Google search data compiled by Feel Good Club shows the increasingly-worrying rise in mental health searches, with a 25% uplift in the UK overall.
Searches for how to deal with anxiety are also up by 53%, how to cope with OCD up 89%, and searches for tips on how to cope with depression are up 67% too.
Making the announcement on Instagram, Kiera and Aimie said: “We’ll be staying open throughout lockdown for takeaway [and] our team are mental health first aid trained so can support people who may be in need when they come to get their coffee,”
“It’s a difficult time for everyone and we want to offer support to anyone who might be struggling during this time.”
“Feel Good Club exists to remind people that we are all just humans”.
The cafe also employs a number of community-driven initiatives such as the ‘pay it forward’, which means you can pay for someone else to have a coffee on you, or easily enjoy one of their pay it forward coffees if you are in need, struggling or having a hard time.
To make ordering as comfortable as possible, you can send @wearefeelgoodclub a message on Instagram before you order, or ask for a ‘Thumbs Up’ on arrival, and the staff will know exactly what you mean.
Feel Good Club will continue to be a space to host community events, a co-working space, and a place to relax once restrictions are lifted too, and you can find more information via the website here.
A new pasta restaurant is opening inside the old Vertigo site on Cross Street
A new restaurant selling freshly made pasta is tipped to open in the old Vertigo unit on Cross Street later this year, proving that when one vegan door closes another one opens.
Pastan, a plant-based pasta kitchen that first began life in London’s Covent Garden in April 2021, has submitted a planning application to take over the site from September.
If successful, it will see the new arrival take over 18 Cross Street, the original home of beloved Manchester vegan eatery Vertigo, which sadly closed its doors in March with bosses citing ‘significantly increased’ running costs.
Co-founded by Dean Fawcett and Jerome Ibanez when the world of hospitality was just beginning to reopen after the second lockdown, Pastan has hosted a number of pop-ups across the country.
It started off as a pop-up in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, before heading to Bristol throughout the summer of 2021 for a second pop-up opened at the Nectar House, Gloucester Road.
Following that, the owners set up a third and final pop-up in Notting Hill from September to November 2021, before opening its first permanent restaurant just around the corner from the capital’s famous Smithfield Market.
Now, it looks like they’re planning to expand into the north with a second restaurant here in Manchester
If successful, going by its London menus the new restaurant will focus on simple, fresh pasta dishes, serving up the likes of fried gnocchi loaded with a choice of sauces including BBQ jackfruit, cheese, pepper or pomodoro, alongside time-tested Italian classics like cacio e pepe and carbonara at lunch.
Elsewhere, you’ll find cavatelli mac and cheese topped with breadcrumbs and crispy onions, plantshakes loaded with donut skewers, Lotus Biscoff mini doughnuts and scoops of ice cream.
Come to the evening things will then be taken up a notch, with a different menu served from 5pm featuring charcoal-activated taglioni served with dill hollandaise, salsa verde-dressed pea and shallot ravioli, and a beetroot hummus-topped cheesy tagliatelle with courgette spaghetti and crunchy veg.
Pastan’s founders have over 20 years of hospitality experience between them but made the decision to set out on their own after struggling to find healthy, plant-based pasta.
With a cooking ethos that swerves away from any refined or unnatural ingredients, it’s sure to be a welcome addition to Manchester’s dining scene – particularly to city centre vegans missing their Vertigo lunch (or dinner) fix.
To find out more ahead of the new opening, head over to Pastan’s social media pages here.
The Greater Manchester delicacies you have to try at least once in your life
Greater Manchester – home of world-famous music, Corrie, two of the world’s biggest football clubs, and, er, Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.
We can shout about a lot of things here in the north west, but our local delicacies really are in a league of their own.
Everything from pastry sweets to meaty treats crop up in Greater Manchester’s menu of mouth-watering regional dishes that everyone should try out at least once in their lifetime.
They’re not for everyone, and there’s a good chance that for some of them, the first time you them will be the last, but we’re proud of them all the same.
Here’s some of the best the region has to offer.
A somewhat polarising delicacy, black pudding is a dark sausage made from pig’s blood and fillers such as barley, oats, and suet.
Sure, black pudding may not have wholly originated in Greater Manchester, but there’s definitely a strong argument to be made for Bury black pudding being some of the best, or at least the most celebrated and appreciated, there is out there.
You can get your hands on some hot boiled black pudding from many local markets in the region,
Or you can buy it fresh from the regional produce section at most supermarkets, and you can even eat it locally as a takeaway snack dowsed with malt vinegar.
Something for those with a sweet tooth and an appetite for coconut, Manchester Tart is a traditional English baked tart made up of a shortcrust pastry shell spread with raspberry jam inside, covered with a custard filling, and topped off with flakes of coconut and a cherry.
This was a staple of the 1940s and 50s school dinner, but it’s not as beloved as it once was nowadays.
If you are looking for a blast from the past though, you may be lucky enough to spot it on a specials menu at one of the many British-themed restaurants in the city centre and wider region, or in local supermarkets if you keep your fingers crossed.
It contains the juice of grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants – each in a 3% concentration – which is then flavoured with a selection of delicately-balanced herbs and spices.
It was created by John Noel Nichols in 1908 at 19 Granby Row in Manchester city centre under the name Vim Tonic and even though it’s hard to believe it now, Vimto was originally registered as a health tonic or medicine when it was first created, but was then re-registered as a cordial in 1913.
Nowadays, it’s taken on a life of its own spawning many variations, it’s sold internationally in over 40 countries, and you can get your hands on it at just about any local shop, supermarket, and chippy or takeaway.
Fancy an absolute carb overload?
You can’t go wrong with carbs in the north, and over in Bolton, they’re really taking that statement to heart with this staple delicacy that sees a pasty – preferably meat and potato, and really preferably from the town’s iconic Carr’s Pasties, which’s been “baking perfect pasties since 1938” – and putting it inside a bread roll, also known as a barm cake.
It sounds a lot, but all we can say is just don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – and maybe just make sure you’ve got a glass of Vimto on hand to wash it down with.
Another one for those with a sweet tooth, the Eccles cake – sometimes down as a “squashed fly pie” or “fly cake” – is a centuries-old pastry, of course taking its name from the town of Eccles in Salford, that’s a staple often sold at bakeries and supermarkets around Manchester and Lancashire.
It’s made up of a flaky pastry dough filled with currents, and it’s often topped with a sugary crust.
While it is a sweet pastry, the Eccles cake is actually traditionally eaten with Lancashire cheese to provide a unique sweet and savoury experience, but it’s just as nice however you chose to serve it.
This is probably one of the most famous delicacies on the list.
Mostly associated with the iconic Manchester-based soap Coronation Street, thanks to the fictional Betty Turpin’s hotpot beloved by all the Rovers Return regulars, the Lancashire hotpot remains a hot food staple on tables not just in the region, but right across the UK.
Paying resemblance to a casserole or stew, a Lancashire hotpot is traditionally made with lamb or mutton, onions and stock, and is topped with sliced potatoes, before being cooked low and slow until the potatoes on top go crispy.
If you’re looking for the best hotpot in town, then on over to Annie’s on Old Bank Street.
The rag pudding may have been invented in Oldham, but it’s now considered a specialty all over Greater Manchester, particularly in its hometown, and in Bury and Rochdale
A hearty and meaty dish, with a flavour that’s similar to a meat pie, just minus the crust, a rag pudding is made up of ground beef and onion gravy wrapped in suet, and cooked in a piece of muslin – also known as a rag – to give it its distinct and recognisable shape.
Did you know that the most notable producers of the rag pudding, Jacksons Farm Fayre in Milnrow, still lovingly hand-fold 15,000 of the puddings each week to be dished out to local butchers, delis and chippies across the region?
That’s how popular it is.
Also known as black peas, black eyed peas (no, not the music group), dapple peas, maple peas, and probably more depending on where you come from, parched peas are dried and cooked purple podded peas, which are then soaked overnight and simmered to produce a type of mushy pea.
It’s a delicacy often served with lashings of malt vinegar, and most-commonly served in autumn and winter time, especially known to be a staple on or around Bonfire night.
The dish is popular in Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Wigan, Bolton, Tyldesley and Heywood.
Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls
Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls are (sort of) spherical mints produced by Wm Santus & Co. Ltd in Wigan, which are made from pure cane sugar, oil of peppermint and cream of tartar.
Originally made for miners and ideal for “coughs and sniffles”, they have remained one of the region’s pride and joys for years on end, helping to keep the population “all aglow” since 1898, with it said that around 160,000 mint balls are still made every day, which is around 35 million per year.
They also have their own catchy jingle, which, if you say the name of them to a Mancunian, you’ll likely get a dodgy rendition of sang back to you.
“Suck em’ and see, you’ll agree, they’re the best in all the land”.