The night we dined at Bakchich
You only have to walk 500 yards through the centre of Manchester to see what a diverse place it is. The mix of ages, ethnicity and gender fluidity make for a multi cultural melting pot.
The same is true of the food scene. Just take a look at Spinningfields. Itself a relative newcomer as a district but in the space of just 3 years it has transformed from a high end fashion quarter losing the likes of Calvin Klein, LK Bennett, All Saints and Kurt Geiger to eateries offering a taste of Spanish, Brazilian, Thai and even Michelin star quality food.
These foodie hubs are popping (and re-poping) up all over our fair city. I wandered over to the University District to try the food of a relative new kid on the block, Bakchich.
The brains behind the concept are Otto and Amine who already have success down the East Lancs with the Liverpool arm of their empire.
The Manchester restaurant has a very eclectic feel about it mixing Lebanese tiles and art with a gritty northern industrial edge. There are exposed metal girders, metal edged tables and dangling steel shaded lights. It feels right and it fits right in. After all, we are in the former industrial heart of the universe.
It has the look of a canteen but the clientele of a holiday resort. There were tables of families with children; middle aged couples; groups of students and staff from the nearby university.
Watching the chefs in the open kitchen was fascinating. There's something quite comforting about an open kitchen and being able to see everything that's going on. Here at Bakchich at 7 on a Friday night it was 100mph with Amine at one point jumping into the kitchen to help out.
The staff are friendly and know their food which is no mean feat considering the size of the menu.
My dinner companion and I were new to Lebanese street food and to add a curve ball, both of us have food intolerances, her with dairy and me with gluten.
Step up Gary, the trendiest maitre 'd you'll ever come across. His knowledge of the menu, ingredients and cooking processes was outstanding. He explained what foods to avoid so that when we did order we were pretty confident we'd be ok.
Now to the food. The menu is extensive and has a plentiful selection and variety of quality vegetarian food and the meat dishes you'd expect to see.
There are small plates for those who want to try a bit of everything or are looking for a light bite.
My sister and I opted for 3 starters to share (well, as much as two food oddballs can share pastry and cheese).
The Meat Fatayer was 3 small open pastry parcels filled with minced lamb which by all accounts were light, crisp and not too filling.
My Haloumi Meshwi was griddled haloumi cheese atop a salad of tomatoes, olives, fresh mint and olive oil. Haloumi can be very hit and miss. Overcooked it turns into a hard, squeaky, plastic textured nightmare. Cooked right it's a delicate, salty, chargrilled delight. This was the latter. Griddled to perfection accompanied by a salad so fresh you'd be forgiven for thinking you were on holiday.
We shared the Jawaneh Meshwi which were 4 marinated chicken wings served with a garlic and harissa sauce. The wings had clearly had plenty of time to absorb the marinade. They were succulent and tender with melting flesh and spicy, crispy skin. I'm just sorry I had to share.
Our mains were however chosen with sharing in mind.
The Mixed Grill Meshwi was 4 generous skewers of lamb and chicken as shish and cubed kebabs. Again the flavours and smells were intoxicating. The hint of garlic, herbs and lemon adding to what were evidently quality cuts of meat.
The Mixed Shawarma Platter was carved off the huge rotisserie. We were told by Amine that everything is made fresh on the premises, including the Shawarma. Impressive and extremely tasty, moist and flavoursome.
We were warned at the start by Gary that the portions were generous. He speaks the truth. We had almost all of our main courses parcelled up as a take away.
My thoughts? I was very impressed with the food quality, freshness and flavours. It was excellent value for money (under £40 for 3 starters, 2 mains and drinks). The staff's knowledge of the menu and allergy advice was a welcome change, frankly.
This for me was the first of many visits
LHM for Canal St Online.
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Published: 8-Nov-2015 (3392)