FOR a couple of weeks Cask Bar was the new kid on the Ancoats block but things move swiftly in the city’s most exciting food and drink quarter and, after a protracted gestation and some socially-conscious crowdfunding Hip Hop Chip Shop quietly launched in Sawmill Court next door to relative old hand Mana, which opened in mid-October (our review this week gives it five stars).
As firm fans of the street food chippy with the coolest soundtrack in the country, ToM has been down to see if Feastie Boys, their signature take on fish and chips is as good as ever now it’s being deep-fried in a permanent and rather smart new home.
Answer a triumphant YES! For us chef Luke Stocks can do no wrong with his battered biters and chunky skin-on chips, accompanied by tiny tubs of tartare sauce and mushy peas for a tenner and we’re sure the same applies to other mains featuring halloumi, vegan ‘fish steaks’ and Caribbean jerk flavours.
All this and an interesting drinks list in a 35 cover space, whose memorabilia-packed walls and music offering pay homage to the hip hop culture beloved of founder Jonathan Oswald. The business actually started life as multi-punning comedy website with spoof hip hop articles. Ozzie (below) with his advertising background came up with the name Hip Hop Chip Shop.
Only then came the van catering with co-owner Luke as head chef (he creates the sublime beer batter). A case of the tail wagging the fish. Awards accrued in four years of trading – notably in 2017 Best Mobile Fish & Chip Operator at the National Fish & Chip Awards and Street Food Trader Of The Year at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards.
Ollie and Luke along with Ozzie’s wife Holly, built up their business by converting a trailer to look like a boom box serving unconventional dishes such as the Feastie Boys, a ‘fish wrap’, Ms Fat Butty, Shell L Cool J Burger – a Louisiana spiced crabcake with battered smoky bacon and spicy ‘slaw.
The trailer has been a lifeline in the culinary wasteland of Media City; HHCS also popped up as a kitchen takeover at NQ bar Kosmonaut. Their own space is a natural progression, all informed by an active social conscience. In the now closed crowdfunding campaign a donation of £9 would buy a meal for a homeless person through local charity The Mustard Tree. They also work with Foodinate to give meals to those in need.
Prices in the restaurant re aimed at making it as affordable as possible for diners, given the quality of the food on offer. Everything is made from scratch, they hand-cut each potato, keeping the skins on and double cooking the chips so they are crisp but fluffy on the inside.
Ozzie told ToM: “We’re looking at people coming in and spending £10-15 for a meal and a drink. We’ll use the traditional chippy menu as a blueprint for the restaurant and we’ll try and be one of the best chippies in the country.”
You’ll also be able to take out your fish and chips ad stroll five minutes along Murray Street to the new Cask Bar, which has joined Pollen Bakery in the Cotton Field Wharf development next to Islington Marina. Cask will let you bring in your own food as long as you but beer to accompany it. That’s no hardship when you contemplate a beer list even better than at the original Cask on Liverpool Road, Castlefield.
Regular keg beers include Sligo’s White Hag Stout, La Pirata Suria from Spain, Beavertown Lupaloid IPA and Munich’s wonderful Paulaner Dunkel plus there are six guests on the tap and, along the side near the juke box a rank of hand-pumps for cask. On a swift visit we tried a pale ale from Reddish brewery Thirst Class Ale that was exquisite. Time allowing we could have spent weeks working through the expansive Belgian bottle list. Maybe in summer when Cask will have tables out on the cobbled quayside.
On the way back we also admired the cakes and takeaway sourdough at light and airy Trove. The Levenshulme original won Coffee Shop of the Year in the 2017 Manchester Food and Drink Awards and this, their second outlet, arrived in Murray Street in October, exciting the locals with their breakfast and brunch offerings. All roads continue to lead to Ancoats.
The Hip Hop Chip Shop Kitchen and Bar, Unit 2, Sawmill Court, Blossom Street, Manchester, M4 6BF. 07855 053271.