Saturday, 20 October 2012

SoLIta, Manchester

A celebratory dinner in anticipation of the Blog North Awards (congratulations to Around the World in Eighty Bakes, which won in the food and drink category) was required on Wednesday, so I thought it high time we ate at one of the multitude of new restaurants that have opened in Manchester over the last year or so.

SoLIta got the nod primarily as it's an easy stroll from Piccadilly station, but also because of an American influenced menu filled with interesting sounding deep-fried stuff and meat cooked on an Inka grill, a super high temperature charcoal burning piece of kit presumably similar to the more well-known Josper.

Starters (or small plates if you prefer) of bacon jam on sourdough toast and rooster scratchings were a mixed bag. The scratchings, being deep-fried chicken skin, were bloody marvellous, but the bacon jam didn't really do it for me. It seems strange to criticise jam for being too sweet, but it was just a bit too one-dimensionally sugary and not bacon-y enough. Not unpleasant but just a bit boring.

My tribute burger was the best part of the meal. I've read some early reviews of this place where the burgers were overcooked and weirdly textured. They've certainly addressed this as mine had quite an open, loose texture and was a lovely even pink inside with a thin, blackened, savoury crust. That grill is working just fine.

Classic accompaniments (hence the tribute name) of cheese, pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard complimented the meat well and the bread was up to the task but a bit oversized relative to the patty. Chips were of the bought in frozen variety.

AS went a little more experimental, choosing the deep fried mac'n'cheese with pulled pork. Anyone who's ever been to New Zealand and ordered lasagne from a chip shop will be familiar with this. Slice up cold pasta in a bechamel based sauce, breadcrumb it and fry it. What could possibly go wrong?

In this case, nothing, at least not with the macaroni fritter itself. The crumb was greaseless and the macaroni cheese within smooth and peppery how I like it. The down side was a smear of teeth-itchingly sweet barbecue sauce dolloped on top that didn't do it any favours at all. The pulled pork had the same problem, the flavour of well cooked shreds of moist meat drowned out by the overly sweet sauce.

Service was very good throughout our meal, the front of house guy was friendly and eager to please. Prices are fair, some of the smaller things are a bit steep (£2.90 for a bit of chicken skin) but that's countered by the booze which is great value (£3.95 for a large glass of wine, £3.20 for a pint of well-kept beer). We paid around £36 including service.

I liked SoLIta, my burger lived up to expectations so I'd definitely return to see what that grill could do with a good steak. If they cut back on the sugar and made their own chips I'd probably love the place.


Turner Street
M4 1DW

Solita Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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