GRUB Food Fair, now a staple in any Manchester foodie’s Saturday is coming to a temporary close. Their collaboration with Alphabet Brewing Company has seen hundreds of punters head to their hidden away venue on a street behind Piccadilly, but the guys running it have decided they want to expand and trade on Fridays and Saturdays, in a bigger space. Before their final Saturday, on the 29th of April, I decided to head down and see what all the hype’s about.
Scanning the Facebook event, I saw plenty of vendors that were likely to tingle my taste buds, so I set off to explore. Make sure you check out online who’s expected to be trading each week as it is always changing.
When I hopped off the train at Piccadilly, I must admit I got Google Maps out to figure out which direction to head in, but once that was established, the walk was quick. Luckily, I could hear some music to direct me into the right entrance and I was met with a buzzing courtyard full of stalls handing out aromatic goodies.
I managed to resist the food for a few minutes, just enough time for me to head to the bar and check out the inside section which boasted long street-food style tables, some vibrant street art, and DJs pumping out some feel-good tunes. I grabbed one of the location’s own brewed pilsners, a ‘Hoi Polloi’, a smooth citrusy pint, and headed back to weigh up the food options.
Asian food is my go-to cuisine at the moment, meaning Nasi Lemak caught my eye (and nose). I’ve heard great things about Jim, the man who runs this Malaysian pop-up, so I couldn’t wait to dive into some of his food. The choices evolved around flavours, such as Rendang, that make my belly rumble even when I’m not hungry.
Despite wanting to order a bit of everything, I finally chose to get some Rempah fried chicken. When it was handed over I knew I was in for a treat. Freshly fried chunks of chicken, covered in sweet and spicy sauces and finished with chilli, cucumber and grated carrot. Not only were the colours beautiful, but the taste left me wiping up any leftover sauce with my fingers — delicious.
When my veggie friend arrived, I immediately hinted at the meat-free options I had already spied out. Choices ranged from butternut squash macaroni cheese to vegan hotdogs. However, we decided to dig into some Poutine, a French-Canadian dish that has fast become a new trend: chips, cheese curds and gravy.
GT Poutine was serving up a variety of toppings aptly named by different cities that they represented. We went for ‘The Budapest’, chips topped with cheese, mushroom gravy, charred peppers, crispy onions, and smoked paprika sour cream. My friend decided to get some veggie spring rolls from Nasi Lemak too.
Food in hands we headed to the inside table area and squeezed on the end of a bench. The spring rolls were a delightful mix of sweet, spicy and crunchy and were washed down perfectly with our beers. The Poutine ingredients combined to make an indulgent mix of richness — who knew cheese, gravy and sour cream could go so well.
After relaxing for a good while and taking in the atmosphere, we thought to take some food home for our ‘hard-working’ housemates to try. The queue surrounding the Latin American stall named Yakumama tempted us over and we ordered the Pork Tequenos and a chocolate and avocado brownie.
The Tequenos were small slightly sweet pastry wraps, fried and filled with minced pork, served with a mango sauce that had a hot chilli after kick. The brownie, devoured later that evening, was massively rich, but when shared between a few people, was a luxurious little treat.
Having finally experienced GRUB’s food fair, I’m only sorry I haven’t been every week. However, as someone clever once said: ‘Everything in moderation’. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming announcements on Facebook, as GRUB plans to relaunch, bigger and better, very soon.