Tag Archives: food

Cane & Grain: Ribs, Beer & Bourbon

Whilst reading my twitter timeline last week, one tweet in particular caught my eye. It spoke of a new restaurant in Manchester that specialised in ribs, bourbon and beer. I was sold purely on that and vowed to sample Cane & Grain as soon as possible. It’s neatly tucked away in the Northern Quarter, oozes style and has an unpretentious atmosphere. The bar staff were friendly and approachable, even though they were extremely busy. The bar had a huge selection of beers and they were all roughly £4.50 a pint/bottle/can but when you consider that it seems to be imported from the USA, I don’t think that’s too horrendous.20140716-145444-53684942.jpg

Unsurprisingly for a restaurant that’s marketing itself as a rib joint, the food on offer was…ribs! But there was also some delicious sounding starters and extras, we sampled the bacon popcorn and pig fries. They arrived pretty quickly in a paper bags and went down really well with the group – the pig fries were like nothing I’d tried before. I don’t like pork crackling or pork scratchings but these were gorgeous and are well worth a try. The bacon popcorn (suitable for vegetarians) was as wonderful as it sounds…20140716-145445-53685653.jpg

Cane & Grain offers a wide selection of beef and pork ribs, I opted for the beef short ribs with a rum sauce. It arrived in a metal tray topped with bacon, sauce on the side with a small portion of frys – it looked great but it tasted even better. The meat fell off the bones and I struggled to finish my meal, I decided to leave the fries and work on the meat! Having never tried beef ribs before, I was impressed and can highly recommend them to you. 20140716-145447-53687062.jpgIf you’re feeling a little more caveman then you should try the Dino ribs – one beautiful, massive, beef rib cooked and flavoured to perfection (we also sampled the smoke pit beans with rib bits, which were just brilliant – I could eat them every day and never tire of them). At £22 each for the short and the dino ribs, Cane & Grain isn’t the cheapest place to eat but that didn’t seem to be putting people off as the place was filled with people. 

20140716-145447-53687973.jpgOverall, our experience of Cane & Grain was a good one and I’d definitely go back again. The music was an eclectic mix of indie/rock from the past few decades and was loud enough to hear but not intrusive. The waiting on staff were friendly and made sure we were well looked after. Seeing that we were in a bar specialising in bourbon, I asked what they’d recommend – the waiting on staff actually sent a barman over to us to ask what sort of bourbon we’d like to sample. He listened and came back with three distinct bourbons – if I’d been more wealthy I would quite happily have pulled up a stool at the bar and drank bourbon all night. And that, to me, is the sign of a good bar. 20140716-150116-54076505.jpg

I have not been asked to write this post nor was I gifted anything in return for writing it. If you want to sample the place yourself, you can find Cane & Grain at 49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester (call 0161 839 7033 for bookings).  


Damson MediaCityUK

Damson MediaCityUK is a new restaurant situated right at the heart of the new BBC Headquarters at MediaCity: Set on a first floor above another eatery, Damson has magnificent views of the MediaCity area, The Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry. It’s a really well laid out space that oozes style and sophistication, right from the plush carpet to the reassuringly expensive menus. The wall cabinets are stocked to the brim with a huge array of different wines, ranging in price from reasonable to wow. I’d been waiting for Damson to open for quite a while as a friend of mine works as a chef there and I’d been hearing for months all about this wonderful new restaurant that was due to open in Jan 2013. Now that I’ve visited and had a three course meal there, I can hand on heart say that it was well worth the wait.

The decor was stylish yet warm and welcoming, the staff were attentive yet not in your face and the food was simply superb.

Damson MediaCity

My friend and I opted for the set menu of three courses for £18.95, which seemed an absolute steal (a two course option is also available for £15.95). The set menu is available 1200 – 1430 Tuesday to Thursday, 17:30 – 18:30 Friday & 12:00-17:00 Saturday (limited period) and 1200 – 1700 on Sundays. The A la Carte menu is mouth-wateringly extensive with mains costing about £19.95 – the review for that one will happen at some point (I hope).

Before our food came out, we were presented with some bread to start – who doesn’t like bread?? Great little opener carefully plated on a slate ‘plate’. For my starter I had seared home cured salmon, Mr Ashcrofts beetroots, spiced cauliflower fritters & creamed horseradish. Now, I don’t know who Mr Ashcroft is but I would very much like to shake his hand as they were lovely. Perhaps I should explain, I have never liked beetroot in fact I’d go as far as to say I hate them, but these? These beets were great and they weren’t even the best part of the starter. The salmon was well cooked and wonderfully complimented by the spiced cauliflower and rocket.

The food!

I opted for the roasted breast of guinea fowl, fondant potato, seasonal greens, ginger and lime sauce for my main course and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve since learnt that my friend actually cooked this and if she’s reading this article, then I’d like to make it publicly known that she can cook for me any time she likes. I’ve never had guinea fowl or fondant potato before and both of those things were really, really good- the flavours complimented each other perfectly. The ginger and lime sauce was a real treat and worked well with the wine. I went for the mocha brulee with a hazelnut and chocolate biscotti for desert, breaking the brulee with my spoon made a very satisfying crack and the desert itself was velvety and rich. The only thing that wasn’t quite right was that the biscotti was a tad bread-like, don’t get me wrong – it was lovely, it just wasn’t brittle enough for biscotti. If you’re looking for an up and coming restaurant in a cutting-edge part of Greater Manchester, then you should definitely book yourself a table at Damson MediaCity. It’s just opposite the tram stop so is very easily accessible from the city centre and is well worth a visit.

I don’t work for Damson and I wasn’t paid or asked to write this article but I would like to say thanks to one of the owners, Steve Pilling, who offered me a ‘two for one’ deal. I had a meal of excellent quality at a paupers price – thanks so much, I hope to be back to try the A la Carter menu one day. Damson MediaCity is open for lunch Monday to Saturday 1200 – 1430, Dinner Monday to Thursday 1700-2130, Dinner Friday – Saturday 1700-2200 and Sundays 1200-1700. To keep in touch with Damson, why not follow them on twitter: @DamsonMediaCity


Chorlton Green Brasserie

I’ve always liked Chorlton right from the independent eateries to the cute little boutiques. I love how bohemian it is and how ‘anything goes’, I’ve been spending more time there recently and have started to follow a few of the bars and restaurants on twitter. It was from twitter that I learned of the Chorlton Green Brasserie: It opened in October 2012 and has quickly become a firm favourite in the area.20130115-170106.jpg I was tempted in by the offer of free coffee, or as they like to call it on twitter, #FreeCoffeeTuesday. The Brasserie is just off Chorlton Green and it open from 0800 – 2300 everyday including Sunday. The staff were warm and welcoming, the wine list extensive and the menu reassuringly brief.The décor in the Brasserie is deliciously quirky, every chair cover is different and each table is adorned with a pot of growing herbs There is an old style kitchen dresser on the back wall that has tins of Spam, pilchards and Baxters soup laid out, just to add to that home kitchen style.

Home kitchen-style decor

I ordered a mocha whilst my partner went for a hot chocolate, they were both delicious and at £2.75 and £2.50 respectively, were good value for money. Not that it mattered on this trip as the were both FREE!! We were enjoying the atmosphere so much that we ordered some soft drinks and some ‘Twice cooked hand cut chips’. It was a real treat to learn that fizzy vimto was on the drinks menu, something that I am sure would delight families (the Brasserie also does a baby cino – frothy milk topped with some chocolate dust – for 30p). I was intrigued by the ‘Victorian Lemonade’ so gave it a whirl and was pleasantly surprised, definitely not what I was expecting but would recommend it. 20130115-163713.jpg

The chips were really something else, crispy on the outside and nice and fluffy on the inside – not to mention that the presentation was excellent. They came in a little bowl, on some paper covered in text about fish and chips. Very cute.  20130115-164322.jpg

I will definitely be going back to the Brasserie and next time I will sample the menu properly, but for now I can’t recommend it highly enough as somewhere to go and while away a few hours chatting to a friend over a decent coffee (there is also a huge array of teas if that’s more your thing). If you want to keep up to date with news and offers, then follow them on twitter @ChorltonGB. Before you ask, no I don’t work for them nor was I paid or coerced into writing this post. I am looking forward to my Pork Two Ways with a few glasses of wine, if anyone cares to join me they have a table for 6…


Canada eh?

I’ve been in New Brunswick, Canada, for just over a week now and so far, so good. The flight from London to Toronto was great – TV screens in the back of the seats that had a big selection of things to watch. Over the course of the 8 hour flight I watched ‘Horrible Bosses’, ‘The Sound of Music’ and a few episodes of ‘The Big Bang Theory – the food was good and the frequent coffee refills were extremely welcome. I’m not good at sleeping when travelling so I was awake for pretty much the entire journey. After not getting to bed til gone midnight the day before departure, I was up at 3am for a light breakfast before heading off to Heathrow at 4am. The flight was scheduled to leave at 0830…

No problems negotiating immigration at Toronto and all the cadets took it in their stride, including the ones who’d never done it before. The transfer flight to Fredericton was very different – much smaller plane, no TVs and no food but they still kept me supplied with coffee. When going through security at Toronto I got selected for a full body scan, all very technological and exciting.

We eventually got to Fredericton at 1700 local time which was 2100 back in the UK. After sorting out the cadets and accommodation etc I finally got to bed at 2230 local time 0230 UK time- almost a full 24 hours of being awake after a rubbish night’s sleep. Don’t think I’ve ever been that tired.

We were the first group of cadets to arrive at Argonaut Cadet Summer Training Centre (ACSTC) with the main body of cadets arriving the day after. To get us out of their hair (and to entertain us) the Canadians took us to ‘Kings Landing’ a living history museum documenting the lives of the early settlers to New Brunswick.

It was a really good trip made even better by lunch. Where the British Army have horror bags, the Canadian forces have box lunches. Due to a storm the day we arrived, the power was out so the kitchen staff had to get our box lunches made by the kitchen at the main base (CFB Gagetown). They were awesome.

Week one has consisted of mostly training for the rest of the course, the UK cadets have been split into two platoons and the other escort officer and I have assigned ourselves to a platoon. I am with 7 platoon, Bravo Company and Ann is with  6 platoon. The UK group are on the 6 week Expedition Instructors course at Argonaut, if you want to keep up to date with everything that is going on here there is an excellent Facebook group for the camp ‘Argonaut Cadets’ – well worth a like. My platoon headed off to Blue Mountain on Tuesday for two days of first aid training, this is an hour’s drive away from camp but still in the training area – CFB Gagetown is one of the biggest training areas in the Commonwealth. Blue Mountain is a former correctional facility, has a two buildings and some land around it. The cadets camped in tents and I was given the privilege of sleeping in the building on a camp bed. Big mistake. So many insects, the noise was crazy and I got bitten loads on my face by midges even though I had a mossie net on my sleeping bag. Ah well.

We were on rations for these two days and we got to try IMPs ‘Individual Meal Packs’, 1300 calories per pack and had some interesting contents. I got actual bread in mine along with chilli and beans, potato hash and bacon, jam, soldier fuel (an energy bar) and the usual additional condiments.They come with salt, pepper, coffee, napkin and a spoon. It was so hot that I didn’t bother with a stove and I cooked my food on the bonnet of the truck that was acting as a support vehicle.

This post only takes us up to Wednesday of this week but it’s already quite long so I think it’s time to draw this one to a close. I will post more tomorrow and Tuesday – til then, stay safe :-)