Let’s talk about development. Developments in the food critic world, developments in the student union, and developments in east Manchester. Marina O’Loughlin has stepped into…
Let’s talk about development. Developments in the food critic world, developments in the student union, and developments in east Manchester.
Marina O’Loughlin has stepped into the shoes of the late, great, AA Gill. Perhaps the most accomplished voice in food writing, AA Gill has left some sizeably large shoes to fill, but if there was ever anyone for the job it is O’Loughlin. The Guardian’s loss is The Sunday Time’s gargantuan gain.
Her first review for the Sunday Times came out on the 15th and was accompanied by a small list that contained five of her favourite restaurants, one of which was Manchester’s own Siam Smiles. The northern Thai restaurant and supermarket is indeed one of Manchester’s finest, and Thai food is what was on offer at Vivid Lounge, the subject of this week’s review, but more on that later.
So, the ground floor of the Student’s Union. Isn’t it great when a large amount of money is spent on making something distinctly worse? A source that wishes to remain anonymous has told The Mancunion that foot-traffic is down 50 per cent since the development took place.
This should come as no surprise as what was a perfectly fine cafe and an adjacent shop is now a vacuous hole of confusion and slowly served coffee. I mean, who the hell masterminded this operation? This indoor land of garden sheds pleases no one, student cafe satisfaction is at an all-time low, and the coffee drinkers of the world are on strike.
Anyway, moving on, next to Ancoats in east Manchester is a part of town called New Islington, but might also be called Ardwick, depending on when you moved there. I’d never heard of New Islington until I moved there, but it comes across as an example of a development gone right.
New Islington is one of the seven Millennium Communities Programme areas. Funding for the area was secured in 2002 and property developers Urban Splash have been at the forefront of developments. Some of the blocks of flats are nicer than others, but the renovated mills outlined by the canals are beautiful.
Sadly it doesn’t have the retail units of Ancoats. There’s a Costa and a Dominoes, but the one thing it does have is Vivid Lounge. Sounds like a shit club, but is actually cafe/restaurant bar amalgamation that serves it’s community wonderfully.
Mr Damp Sock himself joined me to try it out, sadly we went during a menu change period, thus a few items weren’t available. Damp Sock and I are trying to get our food podcast off the ground so we came back after eating and recorded ourselves talking about Vivid Lounge, here is part of that conversation transcribed:
Felix: I think the first thing is, when you look at the menu, you expect Thai food, and you realise they do breakfast.
Damp Sock (aka Joe): Yeah I know, and not Thai breakfast either.
F: Do you know what Thai breakfast is?
F: Because you’ve been to that part of the world haven’t you?
J: I have been to that part of the world, but I just ate noodles for breakfast. I don’t know that if that’s just because I was trying to get into the culture, or maybe it was just… it was just me. I feel like they have a kind of continental breakfast, where the bread’s kind of a little bit sweet.
F: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
J: And they have like… not cheese, but… lots of fruit actually.
J: …and sweet bread.
F: Mmm hmm.
J: …and strange butter.
F: Is that for westerners or is it something they eat?
J: Erm… I would say, no, I would say a lot of people eat like fruit.
F: Either way, Vivid is trying to do a very Anglican breakfast. They have a big breakfast menu. Maybe it’s a financial thing. They don’t get much lunch trade. Dinner is popular. It’s a bar. But they need to do the breakfast thing.
J: The breakfast thing — it looked good. It’s strange having the breakfast menu next to a bunch of curries and Thai dishes.
F: It was a good menu.
RIP AA Gill.
RIP the Old Student’s Union.
149A Great Ancoats St, Manchester M4 6DH