Moose Coffee – Manchester
Moose Coffee actually won the first ever GFG Food Award to be announced back in 2016. Then, it was their Liverpool and Crosby branches which impressed to win ‘Best Breakfast’ – so would their Manchester venue match up?
Judging by the queue out the door, we’re not the only people who love Moose Coffee. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long, and whilst in the queue we were given menus so we were able to order the minute we sat down.
In 2016, the ‘Best Breakfast’ award was given mostly on the merit of Moose Coffee’s Manolito – their take on huevos rancheros. Given how much I raved about the dish first time round, mum decided to order it – and boy was it as good as I remembered! Two tortillas are topped with smoky refried beans, two perfectly cooked fried eggs, slightly spicy salsa, plenty of cheese and cooling sour cream – what’s not to like?! Mum enjoyed every bite of the dish… well, except for the bit I nabbed!
I also bagged a chunk of dad’s Bronx Brunch – not least because the almighty portion which arrived was far too much for him to tackle alone. Chunky potato hash had been cooked with garlic, onion and mustard and mixed with smoked sausage, streaky bacon, corned beef, peppers and cheese. Topped with two fried eggs and served with toast, this was American-style food at its dirtiest. I say that, of course, with not an ounce of disdain – the hash was salty and smoky, with some fabulously crispy edges. In one or two places it was a wee bit burnt on the bottom, but this didn’t really bother dad when it was all mixed in with the rest of the dish. The eggs were, again, perfectly cooked – is there anything better than slicing an egg to see the vibrant orange yolk oozing into whatever lies below?
In hindsight, my order was a bit of a poor choice. In saying that, even the poor choices are good at Moose Coffee! The Cortes – scrambled eggs mixed with chorizo – was a tad boring in comparison with the other dishes on the table, but it was still a pretty damn good portion of scrambled eggs. It was the chorizo that really made it – savoury and smoky with just a hint of sweetness and a very mild spice, I thought this was one of the nicest chorizo’s I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot!).
It’s hardly surprising that we enjoyed Moose Coffee as much as we did. And judging by the queue, which maintained a good length the whole time we were there, it doesn’t take a genius to see why they are due to open a second Manchester branch later this year. Will I be back? Try and stop me!
Mowgli – Manchester
Funnily enough, Mowgli also won in the 2016 GFG Food Awards (‘Best Small Plates’ and ‘Best Asian Cuisine’ if you were wondering). The food was fantastic the first time around, so we couldn’t wait to head to the Manchester branch for Mowgli round two.
We had to start with the Yoghurt Chat Bombs – we loved them on our first visit and I’m pretty sure a meal at Mowgli isn’t complete without them! The crispy puffs are filled with chickpeas, spiced yoghurt, tamarind and coriander – you pop them in your mouth whole and are rewarded with a little explosion of the most fantastic flavours. Knowing that there are five chat bombs in a portion, we ordered two tins so that we were all able to have at least two; to be honest, you can’t have too many of these delicious little morsels.
I suggested we try the Treacle Tamarind Fries – chunks of potato slicked with a sticky mixture of spiced treacle tamarind and rum. Mum wasn’t too keen when she read the description, but she soon changed her mind once she tasted them. The potato was well cooked and soft beneath the gorgeously sticky, sweet tamarind mix. Dad found them a wee bit too sweet for his taste, but mum and I both really enjoyed the generous portion of scrumptious fries.
Another dish which we loved so much the first that we had to order it again were Maa’s Lamb Chops & Turmeric Chips. Succulent, flavoursome lamb with a subtle spice was paired with a fragrant tomato, coriander and mint chutney and more well-cooked, beautifully flavoured potatoes. Our other choice from the Street Meats section of the menu was the Angry Bird – chicken thighs marinated in tandoor spices, yoghurt, ginger and garlic. The chicken was moist and succulent with a lovely crispy skin, perfectly accompanying the lightly creamy mustard slaw with which it was served.
Of course, we had to try a couple of curries and so selected one dish each from The Hindu Kitchen and The House Kitchen sections of the menu. From the former, dad suggested the Green Ginger & Rhubarb Dahl – green mung lentils cooked with cumin, ginger and rhubarb. The ginger was the first obvious flavour, providing a light hit of heat to counter the sweetness of the lentils and the rhubarb. The rhubarb itself was subtle, coming in bursts throughout the dish. This was a well cooked dish – there was no bitter bite to the lentils, and no rawness to any of the spices. Instead, everything mingled well and worked together to create a more unusual but very tasty dish.
Aunty Geeta’s Prawn Curry was also delicious, if a wee bit too spicy for mum and me. The chunky, meaty prawns were served in a tomato based sauce – the flavour was beautifully savoury and moreish. The portion of light, airy Puri were perfect for mopping up the sauces in both curry dishes, and were delightfully non-greasy.
Mowgli really do know what they’re doing when it comes to food – the flavours always compliment each other and everything is cooked so well. I’d highly recommend paying them a visit if you’re ever near one of their branches – I’ll certainly be back as soon as I get the chance!