Those who haven’t read my previous post about Solita may be blissfully unaware that I decided to celebrate my birthday in Manchester this year by way of a fabulous display of gluttony. During the two day eatathon my eating partner and I had planned to eat at three separate venues, but the generous hotel breakfast and slightly sore heads on the second day put us a little behind schedule, and behind schedule we remained.

Anticipating a bit of a hangover on the second day we had planned to go to Almostfamous – a super cool burger joint that I can’t help but think certain new leeds restaurants are trying to emulate. However, when we arrived  it was packed to the rafters and unfortunately the waitress/front of house woman didn’t decide to bump us to the front of the queue (which she did seem to do with a few other much trendier looking folk what walked through the door after us). I’m starting to get a bit para that I am not cool enough to eat meat in hipster meat joints, which is a shame because I really am excellent at eating meat, in fact, I’m an award-winning meat muncher even if my haircut and colour is little on the beige side and I don’t fit in skinny jeans that good. That said, we did have the chance to sample a few drinks in there and they were very good and the barman were also pretty, smily types (I put the comma in there on purpose).

After almost eating in Almostfamous, we wandered a wee way down the street to find a warm friendly place with seats and carbs and stumbled across HomeSweetHome, which had been recommended to me by a work colleague. The impression when walking in this joint is of a light, airy and friendly place and there was a reassuring sweet smell of pie and cookies in the air, so we took a seat and readied ourself to consume and enjoy. This was an eating extravaganza so we went all out on the ordering front and fully intended to sample dessert too, as we noticed lots of groups around us tucking into multiple plates of cookies, pie and brownies, but our exploits from the night before and ample breakfast meant we weren’t quite up to the job.

HomeSweetHome aim to “feed the child within all of us”  and there was plenty on the menu designed to do this. It all looked good, perfect hangover fodder. Though the food we ordered was good, I would say the service was quite slow and the two waitresses who served us were a wee bit vacant and inattentive, but in fairness the place was rammed and with a good few large groups. It was a long wait (over 35 minutes) until anything arrived and it came all at once, which wasn’t what we’d asked for. We did also give up and go to the bar initially to order a drink because our waitress had forgotten it.

Homesweethome's chicken wings and hot sauce

Homesweethome’s chicken wings and hot sauce

The first element of our meal – the bit we had intended to be a shared starter – was some spicy chicken wings. I’d evidently developed a taste for fried chicken the night before and decided I should binge on higher quality versions rather than risking KFC. The wings came with coleslaw, which much to our relief was tasty and wet. It also came with a serving of hot sauce, which I suspected was Franks sauce (or at least similar, I know my condiments and I know my hot sauce). I think these were about £5 but they aren’t on the menu at the moment so I can’t check. These were good chicken wings with plenty of flavour in the light, crisp batter.

Feeling a tad over confident after just about surviving eating ice cream the night before, my second course was  cheese with a scoop of pulled pork £8.50.

Mac and cheese and pulled pork

Mac and cheese and pulled pork

In an echo of the pulled pork sundae consumed at Solita  the night before, I wanted more of the tangy barbecue sauce that came on top. Take note meat vendors of Manchester, more condiments, please!. The mac and cheese came with hunks of bread to mop up the very cheesy sauce. Eventually my dairy greed did get the better of me and I was in considerable pain on the train home. With this in mind, it was probably for the best that there wasn’t quite as much bubbly cheese on the top as is my personal preference, but the sauce was a beautiful mix of cheeses and the pasta cooked to a lovely consistency (too many places serve total pasta mush).

My dining partner was hell bent on continuing his burger tour of Manchester and so ordered the burger £7.95 and extra bacon 70p. It was a thoroughly good burger, nicely toasted brioche (can you buy burgers not in brioche nowadays?) and the chips were particularly tasty, something I feel translates well in the following photograph.

Homesweethome burger

HomeSweetHome burger

Overall, I thought HomeSweetHome was very good value, I do think the service could have been a little better, but the place itself is a bit of a gem and the food was worth waiting for when it arrived.

 

I’m starting 2013 by finishing off a few half written blog posts from the tail end of 2012 and top of the list is cataloguing my birthday eating extravaganza in Manchester. This took place at the start of November – so not too long ago – and the trip is far from forgotten thanks to the notes I helpfully left myself here as a draft, then promptly lost in the wordpress abyss only to be rediscovered this week.

The idea of the Manchester eatathon was to try out some of the great places I’d been hearing and reading about over yonder way and it was a really fantastic weekend. That said, I was disappointed to only really try out two eateries and a few bars. I did my best to eat everything that took my fancy but my eyes were far bigger than my belly and I’m dying to go back to try out Italia and the Liqorists Trail. So, there may well be a Manchester eatathon part deux on the cards for 2013.

We didn’t want to go too fine dining with our meal as we also wanted to sample some nice cocktails over the course of the weekend and needed the cash to fund both. So, for night one of the eatathon we decided to test out Solita (short for South of Little Italy),  in the Northern Quarter, which had been getting some rave reviews. Although 2012 seemed to be burgertastic in Manchester, Solita isn’t just another burger or rib joint,  it’s a bar and grill that’s got a lot on the menu, including unusual cuts cooked on Inka grill and I had fully intended to sample the Hanger Steak £11.90. But as everyone knows, birthdays are about eating stuff that you wouldn’t usually and well, what I don’t usually eat is typical takeaway fodder like fried chicken cooked to a salivating standard. I caught sight of someone else’s buttermilk fried chicken burger (£11.90) as we were seated and all thoughts of steak went out of the window.

I should probably point out that we’d necked a full bottle of champagne (the good stuff) before we arrived at Solita as most people who know me are aware that once I’ve perused a menu I will usually know what I’m ordering before I walk through the door and stick to it. Apparently the bubbles made me want buttermilk chicken and bacon, on top of pulled pork sundae to be exact.

So that is what I ordered, along with a big jug of the house red wine, which tasted like ribena, beautiful sweet, easy-to-drink ribena. The twinkly fairy lights looked like smudged stars framing the walls. Chances are I was a bit twunted, but please go easy on me blog readers – it was my birthday and I got sozzled and ate fried chicken ‘coz I wanted to.

Service at Solita was very prompt, so prompt that they brought out our main courses before our starters. We questioned this logic and they very apologetically backtracked to sundaeville. Here’s what it looked like…

Pulled pork sundae

Pulled pork sundae

Forget the Chinese calendar, everyone knows 2012 was the year of the pig – pulled pork, crispy bacon and of course, bacon jam and this sundae was like a celebration of the year (and my birthday, naturally, though I think I was born in the year of the dog). The creamy mash was worryingly more-ish and the pork was moist and salty. I particularly liked the tangy BBQ sauce that came in place of the usual chocolate fudge. As a well-documented carb and condiment fan I was delighted with the mash and sauce combo and I was seriously considering ordering a second for dessert.

Next up that fried chicken. Yes, it’s just fried chicken and brioche burgers are dead trendy and whatnot, but this was a really good feast. The buttermilk batter was crunchy without dripping in grease and the chicken was tender. The chips were fairly standard, but the shining star was the chicken gravy, I could swim in that gravy.

Solita's buttermilk fried chicken and gravy

Solita's buttermilk fried chicken and gravy

I wanted to ask for more gravy but I thought it too gluttonous.

Solita's chow chow slaw

Solita's chow chow slaw

One slight let down was the chow chow slaw, which appeared to be made from the value salad bags you get in Asda (sorry, it lacked pazazz and any sauce and at £1.90 was a real let down). Don’t get me wrong, it was proper crunchy and that, but there were no real flavours to shout about and I probably wouldn’t have been able to get it down if it wasn’t for the ruddy marvellous ribena wine.

Anyway, let’s not get caught up in disappointing coleslaw, next up was the highlight of the evening: deep fried coke (£4.90). It arrived promptly after our main, courtesy of our smiley and still apologetic waitress.

Solita's deep fried coke

Solita's deep fried coke, I'm still salivating over the sauce

I’m not a dessert person, so for me to say this was the highlight of my meal is something quite special. The joy of the fried coke was in it’s simplicity. Crispy, churro-like sugar coated dough, creamy vanilla ice cream and sticky, cinnamon lovelinesss that was the cola sauce. I still think about the coke sauce. I would have liked to have thrown some on the pulled pork sundae too to see what that tasted like, I bet it would have been good. And yes, I ate dairy, what of it? I was drunk, it was my birthday and totally worth the stomach cramp I endured when back at my special birthday hotel. And anyone who says different hasn’t eaten deep fried coke.