With all the deals flying around at the moment, January definitely isn’t the month to push back on your temptations when it comes to eating out. It’s the moment to fill those gaps and finally make it to the places you’ve been meaning to visit, one of those for me is, stalwart of the Northern Quarter, Bakerie. Another thing I’ve been meaning to get around to doing, was sample a bit of the tequila and mezcal that myself and some pals collected whilst on holiday in Mexico about a year ago, and so as we finally did just that, I arrived for lunch a little late, and a lot in need of looking after. Not to worry, it was nothing a Bloody Mary and a good feed couldn’t handle.
Bakerie is, of course, pretty serious about its bread and we got through a basket of their best, the walnut loaf and focaccia were particularly nice. But the lunch menu is dominated by a page of tempting selections divided up in to boards – meat, cheese, seafood and vegan (or vegetables as they used to be known). Meat and fish seemed like solid bets so, after a fair amount of soul searching, we settled on three from each of those.
First came the meat, which was sprinkled liberally with little baby gherkins and accompanied by a tangy pear and elderflower relish. Salami was the unexpected pick of the bunch for me, this was a bit different to your standard speckled sausage though, comprising duck, saddleback pork and, an ingredient traditionally found in Chinese cooking, pink Sichuan pepper. The gamey bird combined with that fragrant flowery spice worked wonders. Delicately smoked, tender pork loin (Lomo) and salt beef lovingly made from brisket on the premises completed our trio.
The seafood arrived appealingly strewn with the crunch and slight salt of samphire, briny caperberries nestled amongst too. Again there was a stand out item for me, here the whitebait, always a winner when fried but this time pickled in balsamic and grapefruit they took on star status, adding sharp pungent notes to the less potently flavoured fish on our board. Pan seared monkfish cheeks, even flavoured with paprika, white wine, lemon and garlic, couldn’t compete. The smoked sea trout fared better, and each were improved no end by a cracking home made alioli – great shout that.
The award for most alluring bowl of winter food goes to Bakerie’s beef stew with horseradish and herb dumplings. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy you weren’t brought up right. I myself, still owner of a slightly hungover disposition, certainly appreciated all those meaty chunks and gravy. Casting a more summery shadow, the smoked salmon salad was a good chance to try the attractive, and very tasty, beetroot cure if nothing else. I was still thinking about that stew though.
It’s the sort of lunch menu that, in the wrong hands, could drag someone to distraction from what they were supposed to be doing – did I mention the wine jukebox? Although there are sandwiches and light bites to choose from too, and I guess you don’t HAVE to start with a cocktail.
45 Lever Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1FN
Bookings: 0161 236 9014