Saturday, 13 October 2012

Lagos Spike, Manchester

Hidden down a dingy back alley off Chapel Street Manchester's worst kept secret has recently opened, the exuberant hovel of iniquity that is Lagos Spike.

Shivering from the autumn chill, I'm welcomed in from the street by Jeb Jepson, the elegantly coiffured front of house guy, one of three people running the show here, alongside business partners Tarquin Micklethwaite and Rose Rose-Gidley.

Jeb shows me to the bar, a solid, muscular presence in the room, brightly illuminated in intermittent circles by enormous filament bulbs hanging overhead. It's constructed, he tells me, entirely from pig iron reclaimed from spinning looms. It's a nod to the area's industrial past and in keeping with the ethos of the place that he proceeds to expound on.

Not before the drinks duly arrive though. I start with the excellent house white, a Pinot Grigio from the concise, no choice list where it's described in amusingly forthright manner as 'Fucking Wine'. It arrives in a distressed tumbler, a continuation of the post-industrial theme.

'There's a burgeoning movement here in the Western Quarter', Jeb tells me, 'the area has come on in  leaps and bounds since the renaming last year. Past associations with decline have been superseded by a truly vibrant urban renaissance. We really wanted to reflect that rebirth, but to keep things grounded in the history of the place we wanted a warts and all establishment, somewhere the local creatives can get down and dirty with the local locals, kick back and enjoy great food and booze without the formality. It's dining without the frippery, the reservations and starched table linen stripped out and pared down so we can focus on what's really important to our guests'.

It's clearly working, as the hour long queue outside in the drizzle attests, the democratisation of dining drawing in the crowds from across the city. Once inside, the place has a joyous buzz, twenty-somethings flitting about in the shadows, perching on Supermalt crates and making merry on recovered foam mattresses.

So what about the food, that's why I'm really here of course. 'We're bringing something new to the scene', Jeb proceeds, 'dishes the likes of which have never been seen in this town before. Eats that will blow your mind. The emphasis is on local produce, cooked with ingenuity. African food is so hot right now, and we really feel the polygamic marriage between the originality of Nigerian cuisine, the technique and classic dishes of Mexican street food and the produce of Lancashire has yet to be fully exploited, so that's what we're aiming to do'.

A selection of dishes from this Afro-Mex fusion tapas menu soon arrive, and boy are they good. The highlight for me is the bury plack pudding taco with hot shito, a dish whose fame has spread so rapidly it's already the stuff of legend in foodie circles. The artisan cornmeal tortillas act as the perfect vessel for the dense, porky goodness of the black pudding morsels within, the hot shito adding a brow-mopping hit of pure chilli heat. Totally dirty and utterly delicious.

Second prize for next best dish of the night went to the peanut butter burrito slider, a splendidly sloppy confection of rare breed (from Longhorn cattle farmed in nearby Monton apparently) rare beef chilli doused in extra spicy Ghanaian peanut sauce and held together in a slightly sweet brioche bun. Genius. Salivating genius.

Also commendable were the chipotle fufu fries, strips of deep-fried mashed yam doused in a smoky Mexican relish. By this time I was also gasping for more booze, and refreshment in general. Although the wine list is brief beer features more extensively. They have a huge range of imported craft beers all served with care in elegant stemware. I enjoyed an absolute belter of a triple-hopped imperial mild from Guam, sadly the name of the brewery escapes me.

Desserts are a more straightforward affair than the savoury dishes, a short list is split into very small plates, small plates, and less small plates to share. Being pretty much full up on dirty meaty filth I ordered the quarter of an Eccles cake from the very small plates section and was presented with a quarter of an Eccles cake on a wooden board. Simple, wonderful food with no need for prissy decoration.

Thereon the night progressed into a slightly drunken haze of meaty treats, strong booze and beats. After beers we moved onto the extensive cocktail list, the standout mix for me being the Aperol vimto spritz.

It's for that reason my photos are so terrible (apologies), that and the fact that there are no lights anywhere other than at the bar. 'It suits the vibe', Jeb explains, 'which if we're getting things right should be one part Dickensian workhouse to two parts West African stout den to one part illicit bookmakers in Gorton'.

Lagos Spike is undoubtedly one of the finest places to eat and drink in the north. The drinks are strong and applied liberally, the innovative fusion-filth food will tempt any budding gastronaut and the atmosphere rocks. As recently as five years ago this place just couldn't have existed in these parts, maybe in London's east end, but not in the north. See how far we've come.


off Chapel Street
The Western Quarter
M3 5FF

No website, no reservations, no bullshit.

I was invited to review Lagos Spike.


Anonymous said...

I presume you didn't like AFB.

Luke Mundy said...

So that's where the universe ended up!

Dave said...

Anon - not sure what AFB is or was, so I don't know?

Mundinho - yes, it can now be found in Salford-ish. Possibly...

Anonymous said...

AFB is Almost Famous Burgers, that is responsible for the fads used in this spoof review.

Dave said...

Anon - no single place is responsible for the fads in the review. There's all sorts in there from numerous sources. I've not been to AFB so how many of them they're guilty of I have no idea. Several probably but certain London establishments were ploughing the same furrow a good while before AFB. Rumour has it AFB's burgers are better though!

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