From the looks of it, Piccadilly Gardens has seen better days. Photos from the 1950's show a stunning carpet of flowers, green grass, blossom trees and now? Well, we all know what it is like now.
Exhibit A: Better Days
Exhibit B: 2017
Plans have been submitted for a complete overhaul of the current concrete jungle, so fingers crossed those go ahead. In the meantime, we will have to just get on with it.
That being said, although it is often hard to see through the sludge of fast food, cigarettes and spice if you delve a little deeper, there are some real hidden gems. Decent eateries in the part of town are rare, to say the least, but it is safe to say they are so much better for being diamonds in the ruff.
This Indian street-food Mecca has to be the top of the list when it comes to Piccadilly dining. After a shining review of the infamous food critic Jay Raynor and a comfortable win at the Restaurant Awards, things have been looking good for Bundobust. And for good reason. The food is authentic, delicious and unpretentious. Served in paper cups alongside an impressive selection of craft beers and cocktails.Oh, and it is completely vegetarian. But, I promise you, you won’t be craving meat here, you will leave completely satisfied with your taste buds tingling.
Bundobust, 61 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2AG
Another favourite of Jay Raynor, Japanese chain Shoryu ramen is showing us how it is really done. No, Wagamammas isn’t authentic, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. This little haunt is ramen royalty and has been recommended in the Michelin guides countless times. The food here is a labor of love: Pork stock that is made over 12 hours, homemade nitamago eggs, and perfectly roasted meats.
It’s certainly the best Ramen in Manchester, and arguably some of the best Far East Asian food. And if it isn’t your jam… you need to change that A.S.A.P.
Shoryu Ramen, Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1RG
Classic Anglo-French cuisine? In Piccadilly? No chance. Well, prepare to have your tiny minds blown. Brasserie Abode is a serious contender in the good-food game. Expect sophisticated dishes like crème Brulee, rock oysters, steak, crab, just to name a few not to mention an impressive cocktail menu and an equally chic interior.
Pop in for a Plat de Jour (plate of the day), which at £9.95 tastes all the sweeter, if Coq Au Vin and Confit of Duck could taste any better.
Brasserie Abode, 107a Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2DB
Thursday-Saturday, the Street Food market has been the go-to afternoon snack avenue since I’ve been in Manchester. The vendors do change, but you can get anything from Ostrich burgers, to cupcakes, to dim sum to lamb shish. I always go for the halloumi fries from the Turkish wrap place. They are so tasty, but I don’t even want to think about the calorie content.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11am to 5.30pm
Tucked into the iconic Gateway House on Piccadilly approach, Piccadilly Tap aims to showcase a range of beers from the UK and abroad in a relaxed environment. Prices are reasonable, and it is a fantastic place to visit if you fancy yourself the Cicerone or the wordsmith. The craft cask and keg beers are the focus, but it is also the ideal place to pick up a couple of cold ones from the train.
Oh, and if you want to see something amazing, swing around the back of your walk to the station and see how many kegs there are outside. Prime den-making materials there.
Piccadilly Tap, Gateway House, Station Approach, Piccadilly Station, Manchester
It is safe to say that that the area behind Piccadilly Station is not one of nicest parts of Manchester. Proper Crimewatch vibes if you know what I mean. But, don’t let that put you off. This food market is a shining jewel in puddle of crap, and well worth a visit. It’s on every Friday and Saturday and samples some of the finest street-food available in the city. Expect vendors such as Spaghetti Monsters, Mac Daddies, Hip-Hop Chip Shop, Holy Crab, Buddha Belly and many, many more.
Fairfield Social Club, Temerance Street, Archway, M12 6HR
Stunning sourdough, croissants, cruffins (which, dare I say it, are utterly orgasmic) are what you will find at Pollen bakery. If you don’t know what a cruffin is, prepare to be amazed: Croissant dough, rolled up and baked in muffin tins and filled with creme patisserie or fruit curd. Yeah I know. Like I said, orgasmic. The food at Pollen is humble and executed perfectly. Do not be surprised if you see a queue first thing on a Saturday mornings, but trust me, it is worth the wait.
Pollen Bakery, 2 Sheffield St, Manchester, M1 2ND
In Piccadilly gardens, amongst the detritus, is a little unassuming little ice-cream kiosk which sells Chinese crepes. They don’t sound like much, and the burgundy red box you get them from certainly doesn’t either, but they make an ideal way to perk up Monday lunchtime. They are pretty straightforward, thin crepe with beaten egg on poured over, and topped with spring onions, sesame seeds, coriander and then your choice of mushrooms, sausage, crab meat, cheese, lettuce.This little delight is one of the oldest Chinese street-foods, and at £3.50 a pop, you can really see why.
Ok, so it doesn’t look like much (you might be sensing a theme here), but trust me on this one. No frills, just good food, the family-run restaurant and takeaway does not hide behind aesthetics. Home cooked curries are on the menu alongside clay oven naan bread and other traditional Indian grub. Oh, and it is cheap. Like £5 for three curries and rice cheap.It sure makes a nice change from the epilepsy-inducing ostentation of the curry mile and fantastic food to boot.
Café Marhaba, 36 Back Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1HP
London Road Fire Station? (Hopefully)
Word on the street is, and sorry to state the obvious, but London Road Fire Station is set to become one of the best food and drink destinations in Manchester. The council finally gave the go-ahead this summer and will see the former fire station transformed into a multiplex, including a boutique 91-room hotel, offices, apartments, a cinema, a luxury spa and, most importantly, bars and restaurants.The development could open as early as summer 2019- so watch this space.
London Road Fire Station, 50 London Road, Manchester M1 2PH