Manchester seems to be enjoying yet another glorious Indian summer.
Why this weather didn’t come during the actual summer we’ll never know, but here at Mancunian Matters we’re helping you make the most of the remaining sunshine by scouting out five places perfect for a bite to eat outdoors.
Get those shorts on – we’re going al fresco.
Zouk Tea Bar and Grill Manchester (Unit 5, The Quadrangle, Chester Street, M1 5QS.)
Zouk, a new generation Indian and Pakistani restaurant, opened a Manchester branch in February 2009. The 250 cover restaurant has an outside dining area which has heated parasols should it become a little chillier when the sun sets. The outdoor seating also doubles as an authentic sheesha lounge, offering the ubiquitous Egyptian tobaccos in four flavours.
Zouk’s most popular dish is the Sea Bass special, in which the fish is marinated in herbs and spices and gently grilled over a pani sigri (that’s a water grill, for those of you who aren’t down on your Indian culinary lingo) and is priced at £10.95.
With regularly changing specials, several lobster dishes for a cool £34.95 each and a range of exotic healthy options, bog standard Chicken Korma and pilau rice this is most definitely not.
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar (2 Cathedral Gates, Deansgate, M3 1SW.)
With a range of beers at extremely reasonable prices and a fantastic location on Exchange Square, Sinclair’s Oyster Bar is a popular place. When you throw in the fact Sinclair’s was moved, brick-by-brick, 300 metres when the 1996 IRA bombing spurned new city centre development, it’s easy to see why the pub remains a veritable Manchester institution.
You won’t find a menu online, (or even a website at all – how quaint) and its basic outdoor bench seating when you do get there, but with six oysters for £12 the cheap prices are enough to ensure Sinclair’s is heaving on a sunny day.
For those daunted by slimy sea treats like oysters, they do a range of bar snacks and meals ranging from £3-£10 in price.
Automatic Restaurant and Cafe Bar (Market Street, Bury, BL9 0BW.)
With its relaxed feel and great streetside seating in the heart of Bury’s bustling town centre, Automatic Restaurant and Cafe Bar has a definite European feel. If you arrive for a lazy lunch, don’t be surprised if you’re still here come dinner time. ‘Suitable for all occasions’ is a term which many eateries claim and few achieve, but Automatic is one of them.
Their extensive menu has a wide range of dishes, featuring classic mains and hearty home comforts as well as varied sharing platters and a range of tapas style dishes (the Kefta Tagine, Moroccan meatballs in a tomato, garlic, cumin and coriander sauce with an egg on top in particular looks good, and for £4.75 is not to be sniffed at.)
And Automatic’s early dining menu, which is available Sunday to Wednesday between five and seven, offers a selection of their popular starters and mains at £10 for two courses.
Automatic is also extremely family friendly by day, and was voted number one place to eat with kids in Bury and Rochdale by Netmums.
Dukes 92 (33 Collier Street, Greater Manchester, M3 4NA.)
Dukes 92’s decor combines the old and the new, pulling off a contemporary look whilst flirting with antique flair. Offering various nooks and crannies to hide away in, Dukes is also famous for its canal side patio.
A favourite with groups of girls chatting over a bottle (or three) of wine, come here to enjoy the gentle lull of the canal boats nearby on quiet days and the bustle of the outside barbeque when the sun comes out.
Dukes remains a popular venue throughout the year due to its eclectic collection of grub, from huge sharing pizzas to its legendary cheeses and pates. And with the average price for a main around £10, it has something to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters.
With all this under one roof – and one Mancunian sky – it is well worth a visit. In glorious weather, it would be criminal not to.
Southern Eleven (Unit 26, 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, M3 3EB.)
Bringing American soul food to British shores, Southern Eleven offers a unique dining experience straight from the deep south. While many restaurants stick to tried and tested cuisines, Southern Eleven goes out on a limb to create a menu that is full of simple, ‘dirty’ barbequed food that does not compromise on flavour.
Set on the edge of Spinningfields, this restaurant has a no-nonsense approach with comfort food and a night in experience its main priority.
Presentation might take a back seat with rustic chip buckets and relish jars the norm, but prices are very reasonable and the presentation adds to the authentic laid back feel.
Have your meal outside on the terrace, where you can unwind with a cocktail and some (highly recommended) slider burgers. With its relaxed atmosphere and prime location, it’s the perfect place to watch the world go by.
Hopefully MM's top fivewill help you make the most of whatever sun Manchester has left to offer. It may have come a little late, but Mancunians aren't ones to complain...!