Home Sweet Home and The Great Food Divide
Recently there has been a lot of discussion around the great North, South divide in England. Politicians tell us the recession is over, we are in recovery, get back out and spend spend spend. As a Londoner and a student with no real financial commitments, to me this seems a fair assumption. Yet away from London people are feeling slightly different the Northern property market remains way behind its southern counterpart, last September prices in the North were 7% lower than they had been in 2007. My extremely longwinded point is that up north, people in general have less disposable income, they eat out less and restaurants are fewer and farther between. In fact, Manchester, despite being England’s third largest city still has no michelin starred restaurants while London boasts over 40.
Coming from London I have become quite choosy about food. There are at least 50 restaurants within a 20 minute walk from my parents’ house, everywhere you look theres another pop up, food van, trendy burger bar, italian deli etc etc. In Manchester I have not been so spoilt for choice. Last year I was told I must go to Almost Famous the famed deans gate burger bar, a friend advised; “OMG it will be the best burger you’ve ever eaten!!!!”. It wasn’t. It was over crowded, poor service (actually no service), the food was nice but far to try hard and way overpriced. It was just another burger bar trying to be the next big thing. What I am trying to say is not that restaurants in Manchester are rubbish, they are not! Rather that a few trendy places are hyped up far more than they should be as there is less choice. Thus I will alway regard with a weary eye any restaurant described as “the best” or “coolest” place in town.
I should probably add at this point that I’m rather wary of Burgers, as a food fad they are pretty mediocre. Everybody has eaten burgers before, they’re great: beef, beacon, cheese, pickle, all good stuff but why do they have to be on every menu, normally in about 20 different guises. We know about burgers, give it a rest, give us Lebanese or Korean, give us something different!!
You can imagine then that when some one told me “you’ve GOT to go to Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter, their burgers are AMAZEBALLS” I was fairly cynical. I was however, in many respects proved wrong. This small tea-room style cafe nestled behind trendy menswear boutiques and bars selling artisan beers has a lovely homely atmosphere, the staff aren’t too cool to be polite and the interior is not in anyway oppressive. Unfortunately, like most popular places there were far too many tables for the space so the experience was slightly more stressful than it needed to be.
More importantly the food was really good. Luke had crispy buttermilk chicken, simple but delicious. (I should probably add at this point that we went here on a fairy hefty hangover so we went BIG). Despite my hatred of Burgers I can recognise a good one and this one deserves serious credit. I went for Chicken rather than beef and it came with a topping of pulled pork, apple slaw and blue cheese dressing. Pulled pork can be a lovely thing but it again is so over done these days and so often comes as a topping to soggy chips, shredded and mushed up until it resembles textureless unexciting baby food. This was, however, a good pulled pork, it was crisp and juicy, the chicken was succulent and the apple coleslaw was a perfect accompaniment. Also, most importantly for me at the time it was bloody ginormous!!
All in all I would highly recommend this restaurant as a good example of American- style cooking and seriously good hangover cure. It’s reasonable priced, we paid £12.50 a head without alcohol (obviously!). However, never ever go on the weekend or a really sunny afternoon, its way too popular for its own good!