FESTIVE FEASTS WITH A TWIST...
THE traditional Christmas Dinner isn’t as sacrosanct as it once was. Monotony grates and we have become less inclined to the stress involved with cooking it at home, so it’s no surprise people are straying away from the classic and opting for the more alternative choices on offer.
For the past few years, Manchester’s restaurants have been offering new takes on festive dining, putting a Christmas spin on their speciality fare.
These unconventional menus make for quirky Christmas work party substitutes.
We’ve rounded up some of the city’s top alternative menus for the coming festive season.
Bock’s Sunday roast fondue
Tib Lane’s Belgian beer bar Bock Biere Cafe has given its popular Sunday roast fondue a festive upgrade, with a bubbling pot of red wine gravy to dunk all the trimmings in.
Served as a feasting platter for groups to share, it includes turkey, eight hour slow-cooked beef brisket, pigs in blankets, stuffing balls, roast potatoes, Dutch bitterballen, cauliflower cheese, parsnips, carrots and beetroot and a pot of cranberry sauce.
A vegetarian mushroom wellington alternative is also available alongside vegan and gluten-free options.
It costs £25 per person which also includes a choice of desserts to round the meal off. Advance booking is required at bockcafe.co.uk.
Yard & Coop’s Dirty Santa afternoon tea
No stranger to festive-themed menus, this year Yard & Coop returns with the Dirty Santa Afternoon Tea.
The three-tiered sharing feast is brimming with buttermilk friedchicken daubed with bacon jam, fries and sweet potato fries, cubes of deep fried brie as well as yule log (all on separate tiers, thankfully).
The sharer is priced at £20 per person, reasonable considering a festive gin serve is also included and is available from the Edge Street restaurant now.
Bundobust’s sprout bhaji butty Bundobust’s sprout bhajis are now an annual fixture on its Christmas menu - and this year they’ve been given an upgrade.
The Indian street food and craft beer bar is serving them in a sprout bhaji butty (£5.50) this year, stacked with red onion, kachumber sambharo, cranberry chutney and green chutney, inside a brioche bun.
Better yet, £1 from each one sold goes to Manchester homelessness charity Mustard Tree.
You can still order them on their own too (£4.50), alongside a festive curry of winter roots and French beans in a tomato and coconut sauce spiced with cinnamon, star anise and curry leaf.
A Christmas combo for two is also available for £26.50, giving you and a friend a portion of sprout bhajis, Bundo chaat, paneer and mushroom tikka, a festive curry and a massala dosa to share.
Crazy Pedro’s mince pie pizza
It’s the custard and mozzarella marriage nobody asked for.
Crazy Pedro’s Christmas special is a mince pie pizza topped with crumbled mince pies, whiskey cream, cranberry sauce, custard and cheese.
Called Pie Hard, in homage to everyone’s favourite alternative Christmas classic, it’s available by the slice for £3 or you can buy the whole 16-inch pizza for £16 from both the Bridge Street and Short Street sites.
Solita’s Christmas burger and menu Famed for its burgers that push the boundaries of creativity and gravity, Solita’s Christmas party menu follows suit: starting with the likes of pigs in blankets spring rolls served with turkey gravy and fried shrimp with bloody Mary sauce.
Diners can choose from two courses for £18.90 or three for £23.90, with main courses including a giant pig in blanket hot dog topped with chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy.
Solita’s Christmas burger is also back and available as part of the set menu for a £5 supplement.
The precarious stack of festive favourites starts with two 4oz Wagyu chuck patties, piled high with Monterey Jack cheese, buttermilk turkey breast, cranberry sauce, a slice of roasted gammon, deep-fried sprouts, toasted chestnut pieces, two stuffing balls and a candied pig in blanket.
A veggie version is also available with vegetable and bean patties, grilled halloumi and panko-fried portobello in place of the meat.
Spring rolls bookend the set menu as they re-appear for dessert, this time crammed with mince pie filling and brandy sauce, complemented by a scoop of mince pie ice cream.
Dishoom’s turkey raan feast
The Irani-Bombay cafe’s Christmas feast menu is available until Christmas Eve and includes two set menus - one vegetarian and one not.
Diners will be presented with thaals of turkey raan with spiced cranberry chutney or chickpea curry with puffed puris, as well as a selection of other small plates, naan and daal. Menus will cost £42 per person.
If it’s any justification for that somewhat wallet-twitching per-head price, The Bridge Street restaurant promises ‘everything is served in plentiful portions’.
A range of classic winter cocktails will also be given a Bombay makeover, with chai eggnog and a ‘taj toddy’ available - a play on the old reliable hot toddy, reimagined with fresh sliced ginger, cider and cloves.
Porky Pig’s battered pigs in blankets
If ever a meal summed up the festive excess of Christmas, Porky Pig’s deep-fried pigs in blankets (£4.50) are the one: two full-sized sausages (no chipolatas here) swaddled in bacon and batter and dribbled with gravy and apple sauce.
Available at the Christmas markets stall in Exchange Square until December 21, it’s a dish that’ll leave you full to the Boxing Day brim.
Hot Stuffed Bread Company’s turkey and stuffing buntzel
A sandwich, but not as you know it, the buntzel is a hot pretzel dough bun stuffed with all kinds of festive fillings - including this turkey dinner version.
Baked to a golden glaze at the edges, soft and still doughy inside and densely packed with slivers of turkey, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce, it’s a comforting lump of Christmassy stodge.
It’s served with a choice of chicken and thyme gravy, beef and red wine jus or sweet pepper and smoky tomato sauce, for £5 and available at the Christmas Markets in Piccadilly Gardens.
Mackie Mayor’s Chrimbo Feasts Inside the grade II listed market revamped by the team behind Altrincham Market, Mackie Mayor’s new Chrimbo Feasts menu includes a selection of festive tacos and a Brussel sprout pizza, alongside the more expected options like turkey crown with bread sauce and roast beef with Yorkshire puddings.
The feasts are meant to be ‘the centre for any occasion’ and the dishes are designed to be shared.
The Chrimbo Feasts are priced at £35 per head and can cater for up to 20 people, making them perfect for a work Christmas meal.
The Allotment’s vegan Christmas dinner
The Allotment have been the leaders in vegetarian and vegan cuisine since 2017, when they were first awarded accolades for best restaurant and best vegetarian restaurant, then kept winning them.
More recently awarded the 2019 Best Vegan Roast Award, it’s obvious that Allotment’s vegan Christmas dinners should be on every veggie’s Christmas list.
Showcasing braised red cabbage decorated with shiitake ‘bacon’, chestnut stew and cabbage, leek and potato cake and festive terrine to name a few, the Lloyd Street restaurant offers an elevated vegan alternative.
Yard & Coop’s Christmas platters