We’ve heard it many times before. Originally, it was Ancoats, but now places such as Sale, Stockport and Levenshulme are being hailed as the best ‘up and coming’ areas of the North West – featuring some incredible independent eateries and quaint retail stores.
Now, Irlam is the next destination on the ‘must visit’ map, according to James Saadat and Christian Townsend, founders and owners of the brand-new Las Bombas restaurant that’s set to open in the Salford suburb this September.
The Irlam-born chef has spent the past 15 years of his life working in kitchens up and down the country, and told me he’s always had a passion for cooking, especially crafting versions of food from different cultures, which was only heightened when he travelled across South America.
“When I travelled to Peru, I was so intrigued by the food, especially the local nikkei cuisine,” he said. “It’s a combination of Japanese and Peruvian food – two of my favourites, so I was automatically drawn to it.
“I then travelled to Brazil and Mexico City and loved the eating culture there, too, especially the street food dishes – I genuinely had some of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten from traders on the streets – it was amazing.”
During COVID and the extreme uncertainty that surrounded the hospitality sector, James utilised his cheffing skills wisely and began creating South American six-course tasting menus that were available for delivery. Some of the dishes in the boxes included dressed Sea Bass, Chimichurri and a Mexican-style sweetcorn with parmesan, chilli, lime and a special spice blend James got imported in.
You can expect all of this and more once Las Bombas opens its doors later this year. The restaurant has taken over the former space of Irlam’s Juniper’s Gin Bar, which shut its doors back in 2020, and James’ vision is to now turn it into a homage to Latin American.
“We’re going very neutral with the colour palette,” he said, “but we’ll have loads of potted plants and also a couple of murals going up on the walls, too.
“We’ve totally changed up the front of the building to have bifolding doors and we’re also reinventing the beer garden into a really vibrant little area where people can enjoy a couple of drinks and some food in the sun.”
Some of the dishes you can expect from Las Bombas’ street food-inspired menu include freshly baked Empanadas and Ceviche – a plate that James is very excited about. It’s a seafood dish originating from Peru, traditionally made with fresh raw fish in citrus juices, alongside chillies, peppers and onion.
“It’s such a diverse dish full of different flavours and textures that might be a bit intimidating at first, but I know it’s going to blow people away once they try it. I want to try and make the menu as adaptable and accessible as possible, too, bringing in modern flavours with twists from other cultures.”
You’ll also be able to try Baja Fish Tacos and Steak Tacos with Chimichurri, and the huge Carne sharing board will be a massive hit at Las Bombas’ proposed Saturday bottomless brunch.
James explained how live music will be an integral part of his new venture, too, as well as a well crafted cocktail menu. You’ll find traditional Latin and South American drinks including the Brazilian Caipirinha made with cachaça and lime and a Cherry Bom-bas, which is mixed with cherry brandy and bourbon. “When I worked in London I loved the laid back neighbourhood restaurant culture that so many places have nailed down there.”
“That’s exactly what I want Las Bombas to be – laid back, welcoming and a real hub for the community.”
Las Bombas is yet to confirm an opening date, but looks likely to open in late September 2022. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s Instagram page for more information.