Thursday, 12 April 2018

Top 10 post-run restaurants in Manchester

If you've read my latest post, you'll know that I'm collaborating with the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run team to talk running in the lead up to the Great Manchester Run on Sunday 20th May (there are places still available!). Today, I'm sharing some of the best places in Manchester to go for a post-run refuel. Think post-run not posh, with carb-laden, delicious flavours and hearty portion sizes galore.

xIf you've read my last post, you'll know that I'm collaborating with the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run team to talk running in the lead up to the Great Manchester Run on Sunday 20th May. Today, I'm sharing some of the best places in Manchester to go for a post-run refuel. Think post-run not posh, with carb-laden, delicious flavours and hearty portion sizes galore.

I'm starting this blog off by throwing it back to the post-run food I had after the last half marathon I did in Manchester in October, at Laundrette in Chorlton.

From Laundrette's own image gallery
When the sun is shining, Laundrette is a marvelous place to be, and it felt like we were on holiday basking in the sunshine (or maybe that was just the post-run endorphins?)...

I'd highly recommend a number of dishes, from pizzas to burgers and grain-based pimped up salads and their sweet potato fries are spot on.

Get yourself across to Castlefield (not far from the finish line!) and order some hearty 'pub-grub'. If the sun's shining, they've got a lot of space outside so it's the perfect place to chill out for a few hours. Failing that and it does rain (it's Manchester, people..), inside is absolutely huge so getting a table shouldn't be a problem.

Mackie Mayor, Northern Quarter

If you're with a large group of people and can't make your mind up on what food you want, I cannot recommend Mackie Mayor enough. Artisan food stalls galore, set in a really amazing space designed for socialising. From the people who brought us Altrincham market, this former market dates back to the 18th Century and is absolutely beautiful. The bao buns from Baohouse are fantastic - very tasty, if a little pricey for what they are (about £7 each). The fishfinger sandwich from Fin Fish Bar is very good, and I've heard good things about the steak sandwich from Tender Cow, if you eat meat! The pizza from Honest Crust's stand is not to be missed either. There's usually around four or five different variations and they're very reasonably priced.

Double 00, Chorlton

I can't talk about pizza (which seems to be a bit of a theme so far...) and not mention my all time favourite, Double 00. I've written an entire post on why you need to visit, but in a nutshell, their pizzas are AMAZING. Build your own or choose from their specially crafted menu, there's a topping selection to suit everyone (and it's BYOB...). Booking highly recommended as it gets very busy.

Leaf on Portland Street

Ahh, lovely Leaf. I used to work next door and would frequently pop in for coffee, brunch, lunch, tea... post-work drinks, the works. I've had the falafel and butterbean stew at least eight times and comes highly recommended. I'm also going to make a very bold claim here: their focaccia is the best I've ever eaten. The balsamic and oil glaze it comes with is life-affirming.

I'd also recommend; the crispy fried salt and pepper squid, the Goan vegetable curry, Roast sweet potato, fig, feta and cashew nut salad (with fries, obvs) and falafel and halloumi flatbread. Breakfast wise, the shakshuka poached eggs and the veggie breakfast are equally as tasty.

Should you really want to push the boat out, their afternoon tea is a winner, too. Essentially, something for everyone and the location couldn't get more central.

Home Sweet Home, The Great Northern

If you're more of a sweet or dessert kinda person, Home Sweet Home is just the place. Again, conveniently located very close to the finish line (it's practically fate...), its menu of mouth-watering cakes, shakes, burgers and pancakes will not leave you disappointed. There's also one on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter, should this branch be full.

Check out this selection of food from their Instagram account... 

Evelyn's, Northern Quarter

Evelyn's is one of my all-time favourite spots in Manchester. I've written a separate blog post all about my recommendations, but in short, if you're a fan of botanical-industrial chic decor, hearty food with a healthy twist, you need to check it out.

Favourites include: The crispy tofu and red pepper dhal, aubergine laksa with coconut, tuna poke and chicken skewers. Please also get the masala chips and saag paneer as these dishes are incredible.

Federal Cafe, Northern Quarter

An Australian & New Zealand cafe bar, Federal has long been a go-to place for me to enjoy a lazy brunch (their brunch menu is served all day!) or lunch on a weekend. 

My personal favourites are; Emily's banana bread, French Toast (with whipped mascarpone and salted caramel omggg) and the Halloumi and Shrooms (my all time favourite - pan-fried halloumi, garlic and thyme mushrooms, free-range eggs, spiced tomato relish, hazlenut dukkah on sourdough bread). 

It's very small inside and so queues are often out the door but trust me, it's worth the wait.

Bundobust, Piccadilly

Taken from Bundobust's website as all my photos on my phone are so dark and don't do it justice..
To give you an idea of how much I like this place, I've been to Bundobust twice in the past three weeks. A 'critically acclaimed beer and Indian street food joint', it will not disappoint.

The entire menu is vegetarian but don't let that put you off if you're a meat eater, as each time I've been, I've been with meat eaters who've raved about how good it is and how they didn't miss meat. So if you're skeptical, please take my word!

My favourites include the paneer and mushroom skewers, the okra fries, the chole saag and the Bundo chaat. 

Kettlebell Kitchen, Ancoats and First Street

Kettlebell Kitchen pride themselves on healthy, fast-food so if you want food in a hurry, this place is a winner. Their perfectly formed macro boxes are ideal for post-workout, and there are plenty of treats to choose from too.

I couldn't find any photos on my phone from KB kitchen, so here's a selection from their website so you can see what all the fuss is about!

These are the top ten places I'd recommend paying a visit to after you've endured a good, long run - go on, you deserve it!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Best Running Routes in Manchester?

I'm so excited to say that I'm working with the team behind the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run to bring you running content, inspiration and motivation in the lead up to the big event on Sunday 20th May.

The Great Run team are putting on a 10k and half marathon. I'm going to be running the half marathon distance - those of you who follow me on social might remember the Manchester half I ran in October, PBing at 1:49:46 (whoooo), so I'm excited to see if I can meet (or beat) this time, this time round!
Manchester Half Marathon Oct 2017 - PB!
As part of this collaboration, I'm going to be creating a few pieces of content on running over the next few months, and I'm really excited to share the first piece with you...

This post comprises of some of my favourite running routes in Manchester. These running courses are the pavements, parks, riverside routes, muddy walk ways (and more) that sparked my love of running, and the routes that keep me coming back for more each week. I really hope that if you're thinking of running the Great Manchester Run, or are looking for new running routes, that this post inspires you to get out and get running.

In no particular order, here are a few of my faves.

1) Chorlton Water Park

One of the reasons I love this place is because it's pretty much a 1 mile loop round the park, so it's great for speed training and for breaking the miles down clearly. Want to run three miles? Jog round three times. Etc. There's loads to see so it doesn't get boring.

It's also really pretty and very easy to get to, especially if you live in South Manc or near the city centre.

2) The River Mersey

Having lived in various areas in South Manchester for the past six years or so, the River Mersey has been one of my go-to running routes, especially on weekends. Obviously, it's huge, so the routes I tend to run along either start around Sale, Chorlton or Didsbury (Chorlton Water Park and Fletcher Moss Gardens (see number 6)) are also just off the River Mersey route).

Map of River Mersey
I love it because it feels like you're in the depths of the countryside. There are always lots of other runners, cyclists and dog walkers making it a very friendly place to get your miles in.

I tend to use these routes for my long runs, running six/seven miles on one side of the river before crossing back over one of the bridges and running back along the other side.

When it's sunny, this is hands down my favourite place to run in Manchester.

Sunny, podcast, running = happy place (greasy hair not optional at 6 miles in)

3) Manchester Ship Canal

If however, it's not sunny (this is Manchester after all), but I want to be able to get some long miles done, I'll head out on to the canal path.

I tend to run from Stretford, turning right along the canal past Sale, Timperley and Altrincham. It's a lovely route (flat and tarmac for most), passing canal boats, marinas and plenty of dog walkers and cyclists (and also some pretty nice looking waterside pubs, should you need a pit-stop or a place to end up!). This route takes you right out to Dunham Massey too.

If you go the other way it will take you to MediaCity, which is exactly what James and I did one summer afternoon. It was around 5 miles, and we had a pint of Ting in the sunshine outside Dockyard as our post-workout fuel (wild).

4) Salford Quays
Speaking of MediaCity, I also frequently run around the quays.

There's no strict route that I follow as such here, just in and out of the quay peninsulas, over the bridges and up and round MediaCity.

There's also a great local running group - Great Run Local Salford Quays - who meet at the Helly Hanson centre at 6.45pm each Thursday. If you're not familiar with the area, this group would be great to join.

Red bridges in Salford Quays
There's something quite soothing about running near water (all these routes have featured some sort of water landmark so far!), but I also love running in parks, too.

5) Local Running Groups

I mentioned the Great Run Local above, and I'm also a huge fan of Park Run. I love the atmosphere and spirit embedded into large group running, as much as I love plugging in my headphones and having an hour of running as 'me' time, too.

I find these timed runs a great way to focus on speed training, and find the communal 'race' environment really motivating and fun. Don't worry though, they're not in any way intimidating. There are (obviously) keen athletes at the front, but this ranges all the way to your light joggers, parents with prams, dogs, groups of friends and people who do a mix of running and walking the course.

If you live near the city centre, Lululemon Manchester do a group run on a Thursday at 6pm and SweatShop do one on at 6.45pm Tuesday (I've been to both - both are great). I also did a quick Google and found this article from TimeOut on other running clubs in Manc. It's from 2015 though so might be worth checking if any have changed.

6) Parks

Some of my favourite parks to run around in South Manchester are: Longford Park, Chorlton Park, Fog Lane Park, Fletcher Moss Gardens and Plattfields Park. All offer really nice routes and loops for you to clock up miles.

Longford Park in the beautiful golden autumn light

I used to do a fair bit of running with SweatShop around Peel Park in Salford, too. It's a lovely green space and great to practise speed drills.

Circuits with Lululemon 

Heaton Park is also lusssh to run around. It's in North Manchester and really easy to get to by car or tram. It's huge. I've run a 10k race there before, but there are plenty of shorter routes you could do, too.

Heaton Park Movember 10k race

7) Ladybower Reservoir

Ok, so not technically Manchester but if you live on the Eastern fringes of the city, Ladybower isn't too far in the car and makes for an absolutely stunning run. It's relatively flat compared to other routes in the Peak District, and is just beautiful. I think the circumference of the reservoir is around 13 miles(?) - could be wrong there - but you could easily pick one quarter of it and do a lovely four mile route along the water.

As well as running, it's a great place to get out on a bike, so if you're looking for a cross-training route, I'd highly recommend!

These are my current favourite routes. I really hope they inspire you to put your trainers on and get clocking those miles up...

If you know of any other routes you think I should check out, let me know!

If you fancy entering the Simplyhealth Great Manchester run, click here.

Franks x


Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Botanist's Vegan Menu

Last night, I was invited to check out the latest additions to the The Botanist's menu - their vegan options. With Veganuary done and dusted, they're keeping on a selection of vegan dishes 'veganually' so there's plant based options all year round.

Before I get on with the post, I just want to say sorry the photo quality isn't amazing - the lighting was quite dark!

I think it's great that restaurant chains are taking this food 'movement' (cringe) seriously. I truly think that plant-based options will become more and more mainstream and accessible and the norm as the environmental impacts of meat and poor factory farming ethics for animal products are more widely discussed. Anyway. Preaching over.

It's also nice to be able to go somewhere that's not exclusively vegan - I get that full on vegan only places can be off-putting, especially if you're trying to get your meat-loving boyfriend to go with you.

So, on to the food.

We got the truffle mushoom ciabatta and falafel to share. The truffle mushrooms were delicious. Meaty mushrooms, tasty onions and a lightly toasted ciabatta. Would make an ideal brunch dish! The sesame coated falafel were an absolute winner too - with whole chickpeas in, and an almost crunchy outer shell, they were so tasty. The peri peri dip was right up my street too, really spicy and tomato-ey.

James and I both said that they didn't taste 'vegan' - I think a common misconception of vegan / veggie food is that it's lacking something, second best, not quite 'right'. It tends to focus on what's 'missing' (so say), rather than the dish in its own merit. These dishes definitely did not taste like they were lacking in anything.

I went for the Malaysian vegetable curry with coriander rice for my main. It was fragrant, fresh and full of flavour. One of those comfort dishes that feels wholesome and tasty at the same time. The veg included baby new potatoes, peppers and courgette with chilli and beansprouts. I love spice, and this did not disappoint - if you're not a fan of spice maybe ask them to hold back on the chilli here!

James went rogue and got the chicken burger with sweet potato fries. Classic vegan dish. The sweet potato fries were delicious, and he got cheese and jalapenos and said it was great, so you can't argue with that!

We also got a side of their tenderstem broccoli to share which was delicious - would recommend this!

We had a smooth pinot noir to wash it all down, before choosing dessert. James got (non vegan) sticky toffee pudding (I don't like sticky toffee pudding, so I was fine with that...), and I opted for the banana, peanut butter and chocolate icecream.

This was the only thing that tasted a little 'vegan' and like it was lacking some cream - still really tasty and exactly the type of treat I'd make at home but with the other courses, I'd not felt remotely like I was being served a 'special' menu, whereas this did (only a little bit, I'd like to add. It certainly didn't stop me eating it all!).

I thought the menu was great and I was really impressed with each course. I'll definitely be back and hats off to The Botanist for making vegan dishes accessible all year round.

I'd also like to say that, perhaps quite naively, my previous thoughts on The Botanist were that it was a little bit 'chainy' - however, the MediaCity branch was LUSH. Live music, a load of plants and really bustling atmosphere - shout out to our waitress Jas who was an absolute babe too. I'm definitely a convert and will be back very soon!

Also full disclosure - as you might have guessed The Botanist invited me to try this new menu so it was complimentary, however, you know me by now, all opinions are my real honest truth.

© Frankie's Weekend. All rights reserved.