It's not difficult to discover delicious Caribbean food in Manchester, but then actually eating it can sometimes prove a little elusive.
Much of the best stuff is served in takeaways where opening times are advisory, places that enjoy a lie in or are often shut by sundown. Don’t get me wrong I’m a regular anyway, but forgive me for craving somewhere to turn up late, eat my curry goat, then stick around awhile. Preferably with rum.
It’s not just the ambience and booze we’re at Pull Up Bar Cafe to sample though, we’re here to get hench- or work our way through a couple of hench boxes anyway. Perfect for the greedy or indecisive alike, select two mains and enjoy a massive platter with coconut rice n peas, a fried festival dumpling, plantain slices and three fresh and crunchy slaws.
Choosing between jerk chicken and curry goat is one of the most difficult decisions I ever make, so getting both is a real weight off the mind. A tender chicken leg spiced and roasted then finished with sweet jerk gravy would be enough for most, but a slice of mango and coriander garnish are a nice touch. Similarly, pomegranate seeds spark life in to the rich curry goat sauce filled with gelatinous pieces of meat on the bone. The seasoning is a little on the heavy side for me, but a serving of spicy tamarind hot sauce levels things out nicely.
Despite all that succulence, the real surprise is that the fish box where the action is. A curried fish steak, firm but flaking gently in its herby tomato sauce, sets the tone for a plate packed with flavour and a well judged variety of texture and aromas. Ackee and saltfish is arguably the overall highlight, the creamy fruit is difficult to describe if you haven’t tried it before, the mouthfeel is almost similar to a ripe avocado and it has the same fatty allure. Fried onions, juicy peppers and briny splints of cod complete the portion, it’s quite brilliant. If you’re a newcomer to Jamaican food, or looking to try something new, perhaps start here.
Now about that rum. Tropical punch of pineapple and mango, garnished with watermelon and lime, then properly spiked with white rum makes for a dangerous elixir. Smooth and milky Guinness punch packed with fragrant spice is as much dessert as cocktail and also appears reassuringly life-giving. Pull Up will also pull you a pint of their vanilla infused lager, which beats Red Stripe any day of the week.
If you’ve got any room left, a bowl of chocolate festivals are up for grabs. The batter has been aromatised with so much festive spice I’m left thinking those steaming balls of dough must’ve just been nicked straight from the Christmas market. Definitely order them, just don’t expect to be able to move from your seat for some time.
That’s all fine though because it turns out Pull Up Bar is a pretty nice place to hang around, that’s what everyone else is doing, and there are a dozen other cocktails to try while you’re at it. I’ll admit it doesn’t take much persuading to get me out for Caribbean food, but this is certainly some of best you’ll find. Expect a relaxed vibe, but no slacking on the dinners.
14-16 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JN
0161 637 9370
Pull Up Bar Cafe