The team behind indie Manchester bakehouse Batard has opened a permanent new cafe in the centre of Manchester.
Housed inside 86 Princess Street, it already feels like a bit of a secret due to the fact the entrance is hidden down a cobbled Manchester side street – but we don’t expect it’ll stay that way for long.
The cafe itself is all exposed brick and big sash windows, overlooking the back of Manchester’s iconic Klimpton hotel, with cool interiors that celebrate the areas industrial aesthetic.
In the morning, it’s flooded with sunlight and there are some lovely high perches where you can sit, sip and take in Manchester in all its glory. A perfect breakfast spot.
With a selection of Batard’s signature blackened bakes already sitting on the counter, we ogle over the likes of blackered basque cheesecake, fruity kolace, cookies and brownies before turning our eyes to the new breakfast and lunch menu they’ll be serving this week.
Featuring the return of their much-lauded steak bakes (now served with a side of house ferment) and a host of new dishes including an ethical take on the McDonald’s McMuffin, there’s a lot to get excited about.
Think porchetta and celeriac sandos, stout rarebit, babka french toast and grilled cheese, plus breakfast buttys done to perfection. The genius of this menu is that it’s full of proper northern favourites and doesn’t feel elitist, but it’s all been created to exacting standards.
Case and point, as Lewis brings out their Manc McMuffin (as I keep calling it during our visit) Dorothy asks if Lewis made it with the red sauce.
“Kasundi,” he corrects her.
Turning with a smile, she explains: “We were going to do a house red and brown sauce but the kasundi came out more of an orange colour and Mr Perfectionist can’t call something that is orange red, so, just kasundi is fine.”
Kasundi, they explain, is an Indian tomato relish – and this one is made in house, using tomatoes from Cinderwood market garden cooked down “for frickin ages,” then blended with spices and herbs and a bit of chilli to give it a kick.
It’s the poshest McMuffin we’ve ever had, and it’s brilliant.
We also try their red wine poached pear babka, which smells like Christmas and is loaded with tahini honey mascarpone, burnt white chocolate and hazelnuts. Swimming in the poached pear liquor, it’s a thing of beauty – even more so on their retro 70’s plates.
“My heritage, on a plate,” says Dorothy of the babka before launching into an explanation of how they make it.
She detailis how its dipped in egg before being put on the griddle to “get it nice and hot and let it caramelise,” and as she does we stare at it in wonder. It’s quite the looker, this dish – and having tried it we can say it certainly holds up on that end too.
There’s a lot of talk in Manchester hospitality about seasonality and local suppliers, but not everyone puts their money where their mouth is. It might sound cynical but sometimes it just feels like a marketing ploy. That’s not the case here, though – far from it.
Having just come from being small batch suppliers themselves working with the likes of Osma and Edinburgh Castle to supply bread and bakes for other restaurants around Manchester, Dorothy and Lewis are working almost exclusively with small-scale local producers.
Proudly displayed on the back of Batard’s menu is a list of some of the people they are working with, including Littlewoods Butchers, The Crafty Cheeseman and Cinderwood Market Garden.
Whilst chatting, though, we also hear about plenty more, such as their Altrincham-based mushroom supplier Polyspore and Salford-based coffee supplier Swansong – who even sits down with us for a minute to tell us about his coffee, having just popped in on chance.
The passion behind the project is clear, with every minute detail having been given a lot of thought here.
Dorothy tells us they eventually want to get a mock mill and mill their own grains on site, explaining how in their brownie, for example, they use rye kernels and rye flour, so you can really taste it.
“It provides a little crunch in the mixture that is really nice. We also use horlicks in there which brings out the malty taste of the rye flour.”
“Being able to do that with all different kinds of flours and make our own nut flours and stuf like that to offer something not gluten free because our kitchen’s too small but low gluten would be quite interesting as well – but that’s a little bit down the line.”
For now, they’re just focusing on getting open and enjoying settling into the new space on Princess Street. Just ten minutes walk from Piccadilly, it’s a central location but enough off the beaten path to make it feel like a destination.
Whether you consider yourself a bit of a foodie or you’re just after a good Northern scran done well, we’d definitely recommend putting them on your list.
Batard is open from Wednesday 29 September at 86 Princess Street. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 9 am to 3 pm. To find out more, follow them on social media here.
This Manchester restaurant serves an all-vegan roast with ‘meat’ and all the trimmings
A Manchester vegan restaurant is serving an all-vegan roast with mock ‘meat’ and all the trimmings, putting an ethical twist on the British Sunday classic.Keen to see if it’s worth the hype, I took a trip down to try it out for myself – and left feeling pretty impressed.
Not being a vegan personally, I enlisted the help of two friends of the plant-powered persuasion to accompany me to get a real feel for every option.
Suffice it to say, it was a success and, whilst I won’t be converting to veganism any time soon, it’s nice to know that there are options out there for when I feel like being ‘good’.
With three different roast choices on offer, Wholesome Junkies is the first restaurant in the city centre to venture past the usual vegan choices of mushroom Wellington and roasted squash and go all-out with a variety of mock meat options.
Meats have been created in partnership with Liverpool vegan brand CB Sushi, using their mock beef and turkey joints to give vegans the feeling of a ‘proper’ roast.
Think glazed ‘turkey’ filled with stuffing, medallions of ‘beef’ and crispy deep-fried oyster mushrooms, all served with lashings of onion gravy, ‘buttered’ seasonal greens, glazed carrots and parsnips, deep-fried stuffing balls, crispy roasties and fluffy Yorkshire puddings created by Mabel’s.
Having tried all three, I have to say that my favourite was the turkey. It’s actually my least favourite meat to eat, so it was something of a surprise to find I enjoyed the vegan version much more than the real thing.
The texture was spot on, and there was none of the dryness you typically associate with the bird. Washed down with a pint of locally-brewed Cloudwater Fuzzy Hazy Pale Ale, it absolutely hit the spot.
Coming in a close second was the deep-fried oyster mushroom roast, which was so packed with flavour that it almost felt like I was eating fried chicken with my Sunday dinner.
As for the beef, it didn’t really do it for me – tasting more of herbs than red meat, but then, I don’t suppose there are many vegans queueing up the block for a bloody meat substitute.
Wholesome Junkies has long been a favourite with Manchester vegans. First shooting to fame in 2018 with an appearance on BBC2’s Million Pound Menu, owner Chelsea appeared on the show to ask for 95,000 to open her own vegan junk food restaurant.
Prior to that, she’d been running her Wholesome Junkies concept as a street food pop-up at sites like Grub and Ancoats General Store.
Whilst her bid to impress the BBC judges was not successful at the time, the TV appearance put her on the map and within a year she had her own Arndale market stall.
Fast forward a few more, and in 2022 she opened her first bricks and mortar restaurant – taking over the former Umezushi site at 4 Mirabel Street.
Since moving in, she’s completely transformed it: decking it out in bright colours and filling every corner with quirky little ornaments and decorations.
Strings of fairy lights, hanging mushrooms and frames filled with pictures from local artists all make the small space feel incredibly warm and welcoming – and our visit the restaurant was absolutely packed.
At a time when so many vegan restaurants seem to be closing, it was an absolute joy to see so many bums on seats during our visit.
Veganuary might almost be over, but if you’re a vegan – or simply just trying to cut down on your meat consumption – it’s definitely worth giving this one a go.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Meet the couple who quit their jobs to sell sandwiches from their Northern Quarter flat
If you’re a fan of things in bread (and honestly, who isn’t) then there’s a new Italian sandwich dealer in town that you absolutely need to get down your neck.
Serving up some of the best butties we’ve had in a long time, it’s called Ad Maiora and is being run by a couple who are making absolutely everything out of a kitchen in their little Manchester flat.
Collected from a nondescript door on a Norther Quarter back street, we’re talking giant focaccia-style loaves generously stuffed with premium ingredients like ‘nduja, spicy Tuscan sausage, smoked scamorza, mortadella, burrata and red pesto.
The brainchild of Sardinian couple Daniela Steri and Enrico Pinna, all of their sandwiches are made using only top quality Italian ingredients with a total of nine different options to choose from.
From the vegan-friendly La Nonna (Italian hummus, roasted aubergine, olives, sundried tomatoes and rocket) to a huge array of different cheesy and meaty delights, fillings include parma ham, gorgonzola DOP, truffled brie, Milano salami and crumbled pistachios.
Their bread is baked freshly by hand each morning using a tiny domestic oven, and they’re already baking up to 60 loaves of schiacciata (a traditional Tuscan flatbread) a day to keep up with the demand – putting just four in the oven at a time, over and over again.
On our visit, the pair tell us that they moved over from Sardinia to the UK six years ago and first tried living in London for a year (they say they hated it) before making the move up to Manchester.
In that time, they say they’ve fallen in love with the city of Manchester and with the Northern Quarter in particular.
Inspired by the brilliant food scene in their area, two months ago they both decided to pack in their jobs and pursue their own business instead – and haven’t looked back since.
Previously, Daniela tells us she’d worked at hotel Dakota in housekeeping for three years whilst her partner, Enrico, had been employed at Ezra and Gil. Despite their hospitality experience, though, neither of them had made bread before.
That doesn’t seem to be holding them back, though, and demand for their sandwiches is rocketing as word spreads about the new homemade Italian butties for sale on a Manchester backstreet.