IT’S just a few days to go to Sounds From The Other City, Salford’s celebration of new music. There are still advance tickets available at £23 plus booking fee for the multi-venue Bank Holiday Sunday event on April 30.
As usual it is centred around Chapel Street which, despite the rapid encroachment of gentrification refuses to give up being Salford (hence the festival title). Braving the disruptive road works opposite The Lowry Hotel (definitely in Salford!) ToM took an indie stroll between Chapel Street’s diverse watering holes.
We started at new arrival Another Heart To Feed at No. 77-79. a Melbourne-inspired, all day menu coffee shop that’s not averse to selling you a White Russian, even tagging them with images of the most famous aficionado of the cocktail, Jeff Bridges as The Big Lebowski.
Manc co-owners Nicola Bell and Alex Hill brought back the idea for the cafe after five tears in the Aussie foodie capital. So what reflects Melbourne? Definitely the Acai Bowl (£7.90), a smoothie-style combo of banana, kiwi, berries and almond milk with sesame seeds, coconut shavings, honey and granola. Ot try the now becoming ubiquitous smashed avocado on toast with feta and eggs, dukkah and beetroot hummus (£6.70).
We tried the Borsch, Vodka and Tears bagel with smoked trout, dill, caper cream cheese and gherkins (£6.90) with a shot of lemon infused vodka for an extra couple of quid, while resisting dipping into the all-Australian wine list (Down Under dominates the beer list, too).
More local sourcing is immaculate – bread from Trove, loose leaf teas from Bohea in Castlefield, sustainable fish suppliers. The place has a lovely, relaxed vibe and commitment.
If it is late in the week and late in the day check out Corridor on nearby Barlows Croft. This amazing cocktail dive has managed to maintain its secret hang-out image for as long as we can remember. Worth getting lost to find it!
Besides Heart, our next stop, Lupo Caffe Italiano at No.142 feels like a veteran. Roman owners Nico (pictured above)and Ornella are hardcore in their devotion to recreate a true Italian cafe experience in an ocean of pretenders. Dare to ask for an extra shot in your cappuccino (made with a coffee blend, the single batch is reserved for espresso) and you’ll get short shrift. Try to argue that Pecorino Sardo cheese is superior to the Roman equivalent the pair specially import and one taste from the fridge will convince you otherwise.
After coffee and a glorious Italian dunking biscuit we resisted the mushroom, ricotta and parmesan-packed torta rustica just out of the oven and the equally home-made tiramisu and took home a large can of another special import, Buzzonaglia Tuna, richer in flavour than lame supermarket rivals.
So a stylish gem, deserved winner of Best Coffee House at the 2015 Manchester Food and Drink Awards. To get there at the moment, thanks to the curse of Network Rail major works, is an ordeal. Make the effort.
Beyond Trinity Way, the coast is clear all the way to another fine independent Italian, Vero Moderno. Having resisted the eternal allure of the King’s Arms down Bloom Street we couldn’t resist dropping in for a quick half at one of Salford’s great ale houses, The New Oxford, tucked away in Bexley Square. Here Tim Flynn has worked wonders mustering an amazing array of bottle beers alongside 16 rotating real ales and a European keg range. Cosy bolthole for an older clientele, quite a relief after wall-to-wall hipsters elsewhere.
Vero Moderno at Unit 4, Vimto Gardens (but fronting onto A6 Chapel Street) is benefiting from the burgeoning apartment scene on its doorstep (Vimto Gardens itself is a 96-flat complex), but it’s worth the trip out, bringing something fresh to the pizza and pasta template. Owner Giuseppe Piccoli proves his pizza dough for up to 48 hours and aims for rigorous authenticity even in antipasti includes classics such as arancini (£5.25) and prosciutto di parma with buffalo mozzarella on focaccia (£7.95, pictured below).
Ciao, Chapel Street!