Thursday, 6 February 2014

SuperStore NQ - Manchester

Superstore was previously just a standard slightly overpriced grocery store, the stand out highlight being that it had the only cash machine in the NQ that didn't charge for withdrawals and for that alone they should be commended. Sometime between October / November they moved the grocers downstairs and over time the main floor became a restaurant - slightly confusingly now sharing a twitter account and both sections both being called Superstore (despite one being a restaurant).

After noticing the restaurant was open I popped in to grab a menu and noticed that they were serving bone marrow on toast. As an ex-Londoner with a huge soft spot for St John I am immediately drawn to anywhere that even vaguely hints at that style of food.

I had an immediate impression that it was a lovely space for a restaurant - low light via lots of fashionable exposed lightbulbs, white tiles around the kitchen area and a huge picnic style table in the middle that was covered with the days newspapers. With that huge glass window at the front it'd be a great place to sit in the window and people watch with a coffee and paper but unfortunately, on the evening I visited the Northern Quarter was extremely quiet and unsurprisingly they only had a few full tables so the atmosphere was pretty flat. There was a constant stream of people walking through the restaurant to use the cash machine as well as a large TV on the wall opposite the kitchen showing BBC news which was an annoyance - an odd and distracting touch for a restaurant.

The drinks menu included a few imaginative (and very strong!) cocktails, draught beers were disappointing bland but they offered a few interesting bottle choices in the form of Tickety Brew and Weird Beard.

The food menu was made up of lots of exciting sounding starters which were priced between £4-7 or at five for £20. There were also a few meaty mains but the starters sounded far more interesting so after discussing portion sizes with the knowledgeable waitress she advised 5 starters and a main should be more than enough food so I took her advice.

I ate the following:

A 'super food' salad made up of a decent sized portion of kale, mint, ginger, carrot, beetroot, quinoa, pomegranate, chickpeas and almonds. It all worked together very well and certainly made me feel I was attempting to be healthy as I tucked into the mixed starters.

Braised pork cheeks had an enjoyable crispy (panko coated) outer but very chewy once you got into the meat. The battered options were a mixed bag, The ginger beer battered prawns were a big miss - very doughy flavourless batter that felt like they'd been sat too long before being served. The soggy cold batter wasn't very appealing. It was odd they were so poor as the root veg tempura crisps and crispy fried squid (a mix of squid rings and octopus) were both spot on - tasting freshy fried and with excellent light and crispy batter.
The black pudding was delicious and came with the most perfectly fried egg which was so fit to burst it was a miracle it made it to the table intact.
The main event, the bone marrow, certainly didn't disappoint - a generous portion which mixed extremely well with the garlic and thyme. The portion of toast wasn't over generous but there was just enough to soak all the fatty juices up.

A lot of imagination has clearly gone into the sauces / small sides that came on each plate - both the squid and black pudding egg came with what was described as tumeric aioli which was far from tame flavour wise and was one of the best condiments i've tasted in some time.

The food took a while to come despite us being the only people in but it felt freshly prepared as opposed to just being heated up out the back (prawns aside).

So overall a good experience food wise and the drinks and service were certainly very good - overall definitely a great addition to the NQ and i'm keen to go back during the day time to try the sandwiches when it'll hopefully be a bit livelier.

Superstore on Urbanspoon

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