There’s always been a strong forward-thinking, independently minded attitude here, geared towards small businesses, new ideas and giving things a shot. My latest 24 hours in the city was no exception – celebrating some of the best in the city…
10:00am: Breakfast at Pollen Bakery
I started my day an early side of 10am at Pollen Bakery; champions of bread, small baked goods and the best cinnamon buns this side of the North Sea. Pollen has built a cult following for all the right reasons, you’d be hard pressed to find a better tasting salted caramel brownie in the city. They’ve also been very savvy with the interior; stripped back to basics with no gimmicks and a strong nod to Nordic design. Plus, Maru the dog likes to hang outside most days.
11:00am: Coffee at Atkinson’s
I consider myself a coffee lover, but no expert. In my opinion Atkinson’s is a rarity in the UK coffee scene; a beautiful interior the likes I’ve only ever seen in San Francisco and New York, and an extensive range of worldwide coffee and tea, and all the bits and bobs that go with it. Mid-morning at Atkinson’s – which can be found within Mackie Mayor, just between the Northern Quarter and Ancoats – is the perfect time to visit. I sat in there and chatted to the staff for ages, keeping my house roast nicely topped up.
12:00pm: Lunch at Federal
Today’s lunch spot was an easy decision. At 12:00pm on the dot we managed to snag a 2-seater table, right next to the kitchen. A firm favourite in the heart of the city centre, Federal is one of those places that I see recommended pretty often, the majority are definitely not wrong on this occasion. These guys take inspiration from their Australian and New Zealand roots – now, I’m not too sure what that means but I know I love what they’re doing. A round of this week’s chef special; beetroot frittatas with poached eggs and seasonal veggies hit the spot.
1:30pm: A browse at Form Lifestyle
A beautiful formed (I promised myself no puns…) space created into an old stone terrace building in the centre of the city’s busy Northern Quarter. This sweet homeware + design store is always on my list whenever I visit, and a store I’m constantly suggesting to my friends. The store features a beautifully curated selection of household goods, pottery, plants, fragrances and smaller gifts by Elly & Harry. We nipped by at around 1:30pm, greeted with warm smiles and conversation about the city, local products and more food and drink recommendations from Elly. Next time I’m going to add the concrete plant pot to our collection.
2:30pm: Kate Haywood Exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery
I started this piece saying that the city is ever-changing, but one place that has been on my list since I was a teenager is the Manchester Art Gallery. Imposing walkways, dark corridors and visiting collections of traditional and contemporary exhibitions. It’s a family favourite, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this place empty, but it’s still the perfect gallery to visit if you’re in the city on your own for the day. At the moment there’s an intriguing exhibition being run by graduate Kate Haywood, which takes you through the relationship of ceramic, textile, glass and metallic materials, mainly using found objects as her inspiration.
This makes it the third coffee stop of the day, and at a slightly different area of the city in Takk at Hatch. Coming in with a super simple DIY aesthetic, Takk always seems to be on my list for a middle of the arvo feet-up. I knew we had our dinner booked quite soon but I couldn’t resist the homemade bakewell tart flapjack. I’ve never even heard of these, let alone ordered one before, but they’re on to a good thing here! Seats are limited in the actual coffee shop but there’s loads of communal benches around the Hatch development.
4:30pm: A Beer in Patron
4.30pm, legs are starting to need a break. After a few hours of wandering around the city it felt right to grab a half in one of the more intriguing bar restaurants, Patron. I’m slightly stuck for words to describe this place, it’s a right mash of styles, but works so well. A nod to Spanish, Americana + Eastern details all rolled into one. There’s a solid tap list too – with local and American beers on the pumps, as well as a bunch of cans and bottles. I try to drink local wherever I go so stuck to their own lager, which was a refreshing pale number with a clean finish. An easy choice!
6:30pm: Dinner at Tattu
By 6:30 we were out for dinner. I’d been looking forward to our evening meal all day, both for intrigue and reputation. Tattu isn’t the type of restaurant I’d generally pick for myself, this one was suggested by Manchester’s Finest themselves, and boy were they spot on! We were treated to sharing courses, each with slight twists on what you’d normally expect from an Asian fusion menu. The watermelon and duck salad was a proper crowd pleaser, followed by mains that totally stole the show. We decided to run with a fish theme for the mains, choosing battered monkfish curry with a spicy chilly sauce, and an incredible serving of Yuzu Cod with squid ink and nori. For someone who isn’t much of a fish eater, I stand corrected – this was a dish I’m glad I didn’t miss. The round of smokey Old Fashioneds went down a treat, and the staff were perfect throughout our two-hour stay.
10:00pm: Check in to ABode Manchester
After a busy day, and a couple of drinks at Beermoth Cafe, I got a decent night’s sleep in at my hotel for the evening, Abode. It would be hard to find a hotel more conveniently placed for access to Piccadilly train station! I’ve walked by this beautiful building so many times but never realised what it was – turns out it’s a hotel and restaurant with some of the most spacious rooms I’ve stayed in. For the next morning’s breakfast I had smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, alongside locally-made granola, bottomless orange juice and English tea. That set me up nicely for the morning.
11:30am (the following morning): Lunch at Hampton and Voulis
I didn’t have too much planned for my morning. Work was calling and the approaching weekend was suggesting I better head home early – I knew I would be on DIY-duties. A quick morning coffee and catch up with emails at Idle Hands, followed by my first visit to Hampton and Voulis, just near the Manchester Town Hall. These guys have made plating up avo and egg an art form, but they can back it up with the taste. Everyone I saw was taking photos of their food, and for very good reason indeed. I spent a good 30 minutes in here, mostly people-watching out of the large front window, and procrastinating about having to leave the city.
My 24 hours was over, but I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I’d find my way back here.