11 Mar Minn’s Munchtimes – Northern Trip!
Travelling North during the Siberian snow storm might have been a foolhardy decision. In reality I lucked out! The train to Manchester was less busy than normal and remarkably smooth-going considering the conditions. I stayed in an AirBnb near the big Hulme Asda (which has a fantastic free-from section where I discovered Creative Nature’s raw cacao bars, super tasty datey chocolatey goodness for £1. Go try them!). Most of the time I prepared my own meals, however I did find some great cafes and restaurants with reassuringly non-London price tags.
We’ll start off with my lunchtime find on rehearsal day. Kettlebell Kitchen is minutes from Halle St Michael’s and prides itself on redefining fast food, making it nutritious, fresh and exciting. I think I was one of the few people not pre/post workout, but don’t be put off by that! We are not talking mere leaves and protein powder (though I’m sure they do that too). I can definitely get behind tasty food that is healthy and cooked fresh on site.
You order at the till and then wait for your number to be called. There are a variety of meal options – I chose the Kettle Box. There is a choice of protein and sauces (in my case, salmon and beetroot ketchup), and then you choose from the salads on offer, as much as can fit in the box! My selection included sweet potato mash, sweet corn, peas, ‘clean beans’ which are butterbeans in tomato sauce, spinach and pickled chillies. This was a winning combination, but since the box is so customised to the diner, you’re bound to like what you get. It might look like slop in the picture but it really tastes good. I should have got more of the pickled chillies as they were the stars of the dish and really lifted the whole concoction! To drink I treated myself to a raw cacao hot chocolate with oat milk which hit the sweet spot whilst still being somewhat good for you 🙂 For a warming lunch this is a fantastic option, and you don’t need to be clad in lycra to enjoy it!
Now for a sojourn to balmy Blackburn. A cursory Googlemaps search will show you that this town has a penchant for an Indian restaurant. Roomali is one such establishment, and the closest to King George’s Hall. It gives off a hint of glamour with the blingy diamante studded chairs and silvery zebra print wallpaper. My dinner was prawn biryani – excellently spiced with fragrant cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. The rice was fluffy and not oily, studded with large chunks of king prawn. A rich but not overpowering sauce accompanied this, consisting of a tomato base with potatoes, peas and sweet corn. Basically a big hug in a bowl.
Though the food was good, my abiding memory is of the staff’s banter and hospitality. For a start, they had a birthday group which is always a sure sign of local loyalty. The gentleman who served me was cracking jokes with pretty much very table in the restaurant. Apparently I am a ‘proper Asian’ as I was eating my curry with a spoon… To be honest if you’re trying to use a knife with a curry you’re either not eating a decent curry, or you’re lacking in common sense 😀 As I left, he rushed out the kitchen to call out after me to ‘Break a leg!’ and wave me off which made me smile.
Last stop on this trip is back in Manchester, at Falafil Express. (No I haven’t gone awol with my spelling, it really is spelt like that). From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but being only three minutes from RNCM it’s not a place to ignore. On offer are falafel in various guises. For the Express Lunch Box you receive one wrap, all the salads and four falafel balls. The salads included stuffed vine leaves, with their well-loved tangy mintiness, hummus, aubergine and peppers, olives, pickled radish, couscous and tabbouleh. It’s a big bowl and packaged well – the bread, hummus and falafel are kept separate, no sogginess here! The falafel were tasty and green with parsley, but slightly oily on the outside. They could do with sitting on some kitchen paper rather than being packaged direct from the fryer. Overall it was a filling but light meal, ideal for pre-gig dinners.
I had a great time exploring Manchester – there are loads of places I’d like to try next time, ranging from Thai to Ethiopian cuisines. Where are your favourite spots? Are you a curry mile addict or do you prefer the city centre? Let me know in the comments below and give this post a like if you enjoyed it! See you next week for more Munchtime!
Nearest venue: Halle St Michael, Halle St Peter
Total receipt: 11.70
1x regular size Kettle Box 7.95, steamed salmon +1.50, 1x hot chocolate 2.25
Rating: 9/10 Get powered up for the rest of your rehearsal!
Nearest venue: King George’s Hall, Blackburn
Total receipt: 11.95
1x prawn biryani 9.95, 1x mint tea 2.00
Rating: 9/10 You’ll find your pre-gig cheerleader here
Nearest venue: RNCM
Total receipt: 1x express salad box 5.00
Rating: 7/10 Full on falafel