Sugo – Authentic Southern Italian Pasta at it’s Best

Sugo Pasta Kitchen

If you think of pasta in the UK usually one thing comes to mind: overcooked, unappealing and cheaply produced pasta made by the kilo – the staple of any suffering student’s diet. But if you’ve ever spent any time in Italy you know that pasta can be so more much more than this. Specialising in Southern Italian cuisine, Sugo is aiming to bring a taste of authentic Italian cooking to Altrincham.

Sugo is the brainchild of Alex De Martiis and Jonny Marcolgiese, who met at the beginning of the year working whilst making pizzas at Honest Crust in Market Hall. Neither felt that the English version of pasta that is generally served in UK restaurants represented pasta well, so decided to do something about it.

Sugo Pasta Kitchen

As I work close-by to Sugo, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try and the place on its opening week. Upon entering the restaurant you are immediately hit with the welcoming smell from the open kitchen situated at the back of the establishment. The hustle and bustle from the kitchen, matched with the warm welcome from the staff gave it the feel of visiting an old friend for a bite to eat. Eschewing the traditional drab décor of Italian restaurants, Sugo has gone for a more contemporary, urban chic – all white tiles and exposed fixtures. It’s not the most original design for anyone who’s spent an afternoon walking around the Northern Quarter, but it really works in this instance. The rustic wooden tables in particular really add to the theming of the place.

Sugo - Lunch Menu

Sugo offers both a lunch and evening menu, with lunch served from 12-3 and evening service starting from 5. Both menu sets offer a great variety of vegetarian options. If you follow a piscatorian diet, Sugo offers a variety of fish and seafood options as well. After being sat down by the host Michael, he recommended the Scuie Scuie – a traditional dish that literally translates as ‘Improvisation’. The simple and classic recipe included garlic, chilli, San Marzano tomatoes, Vino Blanco, Parmigiano and basil. With that I paired it up with the house red – a delicious Sicilian wine that I would heartily recommend.

Sugo - Evening Menu

The service whilst in Sugo was universally great, with attentive staff that were keen to answer any questions that I had. All the pasta is cooked fresh to order and my lunch was served in ten minutes after ordering – making it ideal for when time is tight or when nipping out the office for lunch.

Drinks at Sugo

When cooking such a simple dish ever ingredient has to be cooked to prefection. I’m happy to report that the Scuie Scuie really hit the spot. I was particularly impressed with the use of San Marzano tomates, a small touch that makes a big difference for that authentic Southern Italian flavour. It was a delicious dish I would have no hesitation in ordering again.

Sugo - Delicious Lunch option

If I had one problem with the experience it happened at the start. On arrival, I was asked if I wanted water with my wine. Without thinking I said yes and before I knew it a bottle of water had been added to my tab. I also wasn’t asked if I wanted a small or large glass of red wine (it was lunch time so would usually choose small) and was promptly served a large glass. In total, an extra £3.50 had been added to my bill without my explicit request, pushing the total bill to £14 – too expensive for a working lunch treat. It is only a minor blemish on what was otherwise a great first experience.

Sugo - Bill

Overall Sugo succeeds in fusing rustic southern Italian cuisine with modern chic dining. The vegetarian options on offer look fantastic and I simply cannot wait go try some of the other options. If you are a fan of pasta cooked the right way make sure you get yourself to Sugo.

 

Chorlton Green Brasserie – Delightful British Food at its Best

Over the last year, the Brasserie has become one of my favourite spots to dine out in Manchester. Open under new management since 2014, the Brasserie is situated in the heart of Chorlton Green. They specialise in quality food using locally sourced produce.

The Brasserie at Chorlton Green

After spending a splendid sunny afternoon on Beech Road, we decided to try their lunch offering. We were given a warm welcome from our waitress, who sat us down by the window. It’s the perfect spot to watch the world go by on a midsummers day.

View from the Window at Brasserie

Unlike many restaurants of its ilk, the Brasserie offers a good selection of vegetarian starters and main meal options from it’s a la carte menu. You can tell that they’ve really thought about catering for the veggie crowd in the local area. To start, we went with the local breads with humus and pesto to share. It’s a simple starter that works wonders. The pesto is simply exquisite – probably the best pesto I’ve had the pleasure to taste this side of Italy. Make sure you do not skip it when you order.

Pesto and Humus Starter

The drinks selections on offer are also considerable. We visited twice over the Christmas period last year and went for the house red wine on both occasions. It more than impressed by my fellow guests and I. This time we wanted to try out the Italian Pinot Grigio, it’ refreshing and crisp aroma perfectly suiting the weather.

Wine at Chorlton Brasserie

For the mains, I decided to go for the Spinach and Goats Cheese Gnocchi, served with a white wine cream and Romano sauce. The cheese and Romano sauce combined to create a variety of luscious textures, accentuated by the lightness of the expertly cooked Gnocchi. It wasn’t long before I had cleared my plate.

gnocchi

 

Chorlton Brasserie - Clean Plate

My partner went for a true favourite of mine – the deep-fried ‘halloumi fish and chips’. The dish comes with hand cut chips, pea puree, tarter sauce and lemon. Its pure comfort food at it’s very best.

Hollumi Fish and Chips

If you are looking for a quality vegetarian option in Manchester, I urge you to try out the Chorlton Green Brasserie. If you are planning on going over the weekend booking in advance is strongly advised. You will not be disappointed.

Brasserie - The Bill

Ply – The Best Vegetarian Pizza in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

It seems that every week a new place is opening in the ever-expanding Northern Quarter food and bar scene. Whilst few offer genuinely new ideas to the mix, Ply hopes to bring a taste a taste of Napoli to Manchester. We’d heard good things about the place after it’s opening in March and so took the first opportunity we could to try it out. Could Ply deliver the best vegetarian pizza in town?

ply logo outside

For it’s food menu, Ply offered a seductive range of freshly prepared Neapolitan style pizzas. Each of the 13 currently on the menu is created with a sourdough base; surely one of the gourmet fast food trends of 2015. Expect to pay between £8-£12 per pizza, depending on your choice of topping. For the adventurous, Ply also run specials at the weekend, using seasonal veg and speciality ingredients.

Each freshly baked pizza is cooked in a wood fired clay oven – another growing trend in Manchester with two in Altrincham (Market Hall and Pix Pizza) and the recently opened Double 00 in Chorlton – at least that I know of.

ply manchester

Away from their impressive pizza selection, Ply does not offer much else, which is a positive for me. I’d rather frequent a restaurant that specialised in one type of food then one trying to be a jack-of-all-trades eatery. However, if your dinning with guests who are on low-carb/low calorie diets (which I was), or simply do not like pizza, you may get unstuck. The antipasto options (Priced from £2 onwards) have been created to compliment your main meal, and therefore are too small to constitute your main dish. Hopefully this will get rectified by adding a few salad options.

On entering Ply you’ll be hit by it’s styling. It is a vast open space; making other NQ haunts feeling positively claustrophobic after visiting. The bar has been kitted out using locally sourced suppliers, with a mixture of classic and modern European design ideas. For me, it’s one of the best spaces in Manchester city centre.

We arrived around 7.30pm on a Friday evening. The place was packed with after-work drinkers and early weekend revellers cogitating at the bar and on the sofas in the centre of the room. Luckily, we’d had the foresight to pre-book and were seated promptly. I noticed that many couples were getting turned away not long after we arrived so I would recommend you do the same to if possible.

If Ply had one issue for dinners it would have to be the excessive noise– as well as offering pizza, Ply also operate as a bar (food orders stop around 9pm) and probably isn’t the place to go for a quiet conversation. It was loud, with the open plan nature if its’ design not exactly dampening the sound of fellow dinners and drinkers. It did make ordering our drinks when the waitress served us a little tricky. Fortunately, the music choices playing were excellent and added to the Friday evening ambience.

Service was courteous and professional with knowledgeable staff that helped us make our choices. I asked on two occasions for the waitresses opinion on what option to have and on both times she was able to offer suitable suggestions – always a big plus for me. We opted for a dry white wine (Picpoul) that was recommended by our waitress – it did not disappoint.

When you specialise in one type of food, you really do have to nail it – and Ply does with flying colours. I’ve been a few wood fired Neapolitan pizzerias recently and I’m delighted to say that Ply offer the best pizzas available in Manchester. I opted for the Courgette Bianca pizza: a marvellous mix courgette, taleggio, mozzarella, garlic and oil. The taste was simply divine, with the subtlety of the flavours not overwhelming the overall taste.

Ply Manchester Pizza

My partner Lizzie went for the Portabello pizza, a classic mix of tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms and garlic oil, equally delicious!

Ply Manchester Pizza

Fancy a bite to eat in the Northern Quarter? In the space of a few short months Ply has become my go-to place for the best vegetarian Pizza in Manchester.

Ply Manchester Antipasto

Holey Bagels brings gourmet sandwiches to the streets of Manchester

Setting up outside the Post Box Café on Wilbraham Road, Holey Bagels has been serving toasted bagels to the people of Chorlton for just over a month. They’ve already established a reputation of serving quality late night eats for hungry revellers and foodies alike. You’d struggle to miss the distinctive red van, and as I live locally I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try them out.

Holey Bagels Van

We arrived just after they had started serving on Saturday evening. With the sun coming out after a rainy Manchester day, business was brisk. We both decided to go for the Cyprus Hill Bagel – Fried Halloumi cheese, cucumber, peppers, rocket & Chill Jam. Service was quick and served by the welcoming owners, who really added to the street food vibe. Each bagel is priced at a very reasonable £4.50.

Bagel from Holey Bagels

The taste did not disappoint. Generous fillings, great fresh taste and excellent presentation all combine to create probably the best bagel I’ve ever had. The chilli jam was the real star of the show – adding an extra kick to the flavours without overpowering the halloumi.

It wasn’t long before the cat wanted a bite :-)

Cat Approved Bagels

Holey Bagels was a delight and really adds something to the Manchester vegetarian food scene. They are open for business from 8pm till 1am late Friday and Saturday. From this Sunday onwards you can find them at the Beech Inn on Beech Road.

Holey Bagels Van

Skip the late night veggie burgers this weekend and give Holey Bagels a try.

Catch them on Twitter @HoleyBagels

1847 – Manchester

bistro1847
I’d been meaning to go here for ages! I’d always heard amazing reviews and mysterious comments about puddings in bell jars etc etc… so Danny, my other half offered to take me for my birthday I was over the moon.

It’s easy to get too, a two minute walk from St Peters Square so ideal if you’re getting the tram in to town. We rocked up at about 7pm and had booked a table. The restaurant was still relatively quiet at this point so we got to pick where we sat. A nice little table in the window…although the trees hanging over our heads were slightly disconcerting.

 

For the starter I had the Mushroom & garlic, polenta,tomato relish and a poached egg [v]. I think this is the first time I’d had mushroom palenta but it was to die for. The texture was so smooth with some delightfully rich flavours running through it. The combination of this with the tang of the tomato relish worked a dream. Egg wise – it was cooked to perfection.

 

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For my main I decided to go with the Beer-Battered Beer-battered halloumi, mushy pea emulsion lemon curd, sea herbs [vo] [gfo] and I wasn’t disappointed. I mean…It’s cheese battered? What’s not to love!

 

Halloumi Fish and Chips

 

The halloumi came in 3 small portions which was great as it meant that the cheese was lovely and gooey all the way through. The batter was light and crispy and made that satisfying crunch sound when cutting into it and the sauces complimented it perfectly.

 

1847 did not disappoint as a birthday treat and I would definitely go again for a special occasion. The prices make it somewhere that you wouldn’t make it a regular eatery but it definitely somewhere to take your friends and family when wanting to impress.

Pi Chorlton Food Review – The Best Veggie Pie in Manchester?

Now firmly established in Chorlton, the award winning Pi should be on ‘must-visit’ of any Vegetarian pie lover. For over five years, Pi’s simple offering of delicious pies and beers have won praise from both customers and critics alike.

Pi Chorlton

If you’re a fan of world beers, Pi is an absolute must. Pi stocks a simply huge selection of beers, sourced from around the world. If you are unsure of what to have from such an extensive collection, Pi also have a Beer guide detailing each beer along with tasting tips. If you prefer draft beer over bottled, I’d recommend trying the Lindeboom Pilsner to go with your pie. As a added bonus, the staff serve a selection of free nuts when you buy a drink, which is a great treat as you decide what pie to go for.

The only downside to there focus on world beers is that the wine options are not the greatest – I bought a bottle of Shiraz a few weeks ago and lets just say ill stick to the beer next time.

The food menu at Pi follows one simple rule: you can have whatever you want as long as it’s Pie. In total, Pi offers four varieties, two of which are veggie friendly. All the pies are sourced from Pieminister, an award winning Pie maker, who focus on fresh, free-range British produce.

My favourite of the two is the Heidi Pie, a scrumptious Goat’s cheese, sweet potato and spinach pie (surely it counts as one of your 5 a day right?!) finished off with red onion and roasted garlic. Whilst the flavours may be a little busy for some, it’s a sure fire winner for me, especially with the goats cheese and potato flavours really taking the limelight.

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My partner Lizzie went for the Wild Mushroom and Asparagus pie – a wild flat and oyster mushrooms with asparagus and shallots, finished off with a white wine and cracked black pepper.

To go with your main, Pi offers creamy mash potato flavoured with cracked black pepper, Mush Pees with a subtle mint flavour and a red wine gravy – easily enough for 2-3 to share per serving. Each extra costs just £1, making this one of the most affordable eateries in Chorlton. Served with a pint of Lindeboom, or a Gin & Tonic, and you are looking at around £10 per person – a bargain in my book.

If you are after a delightful veggie pie and a pint in Manchester Pi is a must visit. Fantastic pies, enough beers to keep even a beer aficionado happy, all served by attentive, knowledgeable staff. What more could a veggie ask for?

Urban Burger Altrincham – Food Review

Opening it’s door in November, Urban Burger has established itself amongst a growing number of eateries and bars in the heart of Altrincham Town Centre.

Piggy Backing off the success from the newly opened Market Hall, Urban Burger offers gourmet Burgers in a modern, sleek environment. Whilst they may of struggled to differentiate themselves in the city centre, away from the hustle and bustle of Manchester, Urban Burger offers a slice of city dining to the locals of Altrincham.

Urban Burger Bar

I went to try Urban Burger just after it opened with a group of friends. They offer a wide selection of burgers, hot dogs and pizzas, although veggie options are quite limited. Hopefully the menu will expand as the business grows.

urban-burger-bar

After checking out the drinks menu, we went for a frozen Strawberry Daiquiri – a firm favourite within our group.

Drink Time at Urban Burger

Once drinks arrived promptly our food order was taken and the service was courteous and professional. After checking out the options I decided to go for the Allotment burger: Grilled red pepper, mushrooms, spinach, the ‘secret urban sauce’, jack cheese, Ubb ketchup, maple mustard and salad.

Although Urban Burger don’t offer any lunch menu discounts or deals, it’s worth pointing out that they do offer excellent value for money. Expect to pay £7-£8 for your burger. Fries are offered as a side free of charge. When places in town are charging upwards of £15 for a similar experience this really does make a difference when it comes to paying the bill.

The Allotment Veggie Burger

When the food arrived it didn’t disappointed – the flavour was well balanced allowing the mushrooms and peppers to really come to the fore. Sauces were not overdone, allowing the ingredients to take centre stage.  They didn’t overstack the burger either, allowing you to eat it without having to resort to a knife and fork.

Overall – I’d heartily recommend Urban Burger to Veggies looking for a bite in Altrincham. One caveat: I have been back since and the veggie hot dogs do let them down. Hopefully they will improve as UB expands.

Burger lovers in Altrincham should check it out ASAP.