The recent Easter bank holiday gave many people a chance to relax, to soak up some sun, to eat, drink, and be joyful. Working in food I didn’t quite get the chance to have a full four day weekend but I did make the most of the time I had off, turning to weekend into a mini holiday at home with Josh where we were able to relax and eat some really great food.

Friday – Honest Burgers

On Friday evening we got off to a great start, visiting a new Manchester venue which I already know is going to become a favourite – Honest Burgers. They’re a brand that started in London and recently spread out to Manchester, they promoted their upcoming burger bar with a kitchen takeover at Northern Monk Refectory(a fabulous craft beer spot in MCR who recently launched a Henderson’s Relish beer).

I fell in love with the Plant burger when I first tried and was very happy to be reunited with it on Friday. It was just as amazing, if not better, than I remembered – juicy Beyond burger patty, soft bun, and a delicious balance of sauces, toppings and vegan cheese. If you feel like you’re yet to find a truly amazing vegan burger I’d urge you to stop by Honest Burgers – 100% the best vegan beef style burger I’ve had. Accompanied by rosemary salted fries and a refreshing pint from the Runway Brewery taproom, enjoying that meal on their roof terrace with views of the city was a feast for the body and soul.

Saturday – Everything’s Gone Green

Saturday’s word of the day was ‘vibes’ with a visit to the Everything’s Gone Green Festival at YES, this was the 3rd time YES has hosted a vegan food festival and I’m kicking myself that I missed out the first two times now. It was great to see Manchester vegan brands that I already knew about like Wholesome Junkies and Doner Summer shoulder to shoulder with new comers Common Decency and Mello MCR. Both of whom are brand to watch coming from Dan Hope, (the mind behind Firebird Hope who I’ll talk about more later) and ‘Mello’ Myles who I worked with a YES, respectively. It was great to see Myles’ pop up after talking with him so much about his aspirations for his CBD brand and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

After browsing the stalls from Wholesome Junkie, Doner Summer, Common Decency, Mello MCR, and Chou Choux, we decided to go for the kebabs from Doner Summer to start. I got the kebab which was served up on crispy potato hash browns, which were deep fried delicious carb nuggets. The kebabs were zesty, spicy, and nicely balanced. Unfortunately I found the texture of the ‘meats’ were a little chewy and the flavour to be a lacking there, as the toppings were so flavoursome and fresh I would I preferred just a load of toppings served up on my hashbrowns.

To follow we had some delicious pastries from Chou Choux. I had a lemon meringue tart, it reminded me of my childhood favourite which I would also get from the bakery-come-sweetshop round the corner from my school when I had some pocket money. The lemon curd was lovely and zesty and the pastry crisp, it was certainly more elevated and tasty than the one I remember from childhood. The vegan meringue was a miracle! Perfect marshmallow-y texture and a delicate sweetness. I will definitely be following Chou Choux to their next pop up.

Sunday – Picnic in the Park

Sunday saw me back in the kitchen putting together a picnic to eat in the park. I made a spread of cous cous, bean salad, smashed avocado, hummus, grilled veggies, and falafel with a big Trove sourdough to mop it all up. All the elements for the picnic probably cost me about £10 and 30 minutes to put together but the feeling of contentment sitting in the sun on a blanket in the park was priceless. There is nothing more joyful than sharing food and enjoying nature. I was rather saddened to see the amount of trash left in the park from the day before though, it takes no effort at all to take a carrier bag to collect up your trash after a day enjoying a picnic – we all must remember that if we don’t look after amazing public parks which are oases of nature in our metropolises they may one day be gone.

Monday – Firebird Hope

After swimming at the Manchester Aquatic centre there was only one thing on my mind – food! With YES, the current permanent home of Firebird Hope, just round the corner it was a no brainer, the burgers were calling me. The Firebird Hope Triple Six Burger has reached almost cult status in Manchester at this point, I’ve seen articles about them in many publications across the city and photos of them on many a food blog. The seitan is prepared using a magical secret recipe (which I am privy to having worked at YES but will never ever share), the bread from Lovingly Artisan is by far one of the best sourdoughs I’ve ever had, and the pickles, slaw, and mayo are all zingy, delicious and perfectly layered.

On this occasion I was able to try some of the new sauces – ketchup and kimchi pineapple. Both sauces were delicious, the kimchi pineapple especially was amazing, a refreshing and creative balance of sweet and sour notes. Where Honest Burgers provided me with the best beef style vegan burger ever I think Firebird Hope provided me with the best chicken style one. Firebird Hope was one of the first gems we discovered in Manchester while they were in residency at Hatch so it was really meaningful to revisit them on a mini holiday in our own city. As long as Firebird Hope keeps making that seitan I will keep turning up to eat it!

You can find all the lovely businesses I mentioned in this blog on instagram listed below:

  • Chou Choux – @chouchouxpatisserie
  • Common Decency – @commondecency_mcr
  • Doner Summer – @donersummer
  • Firebird Hope – @_firebirdhope_
  • Hatch – @hatchmcr (previous home of Firebird Hope, they have constantly changing traders who usually provide great vegan options)
  • Honest Burgers – @honestburgers(they do only produce one vegan option currently, although it is amazing, so do bare this in mind before following if you don’t like to see meat products)
  • Mello MCR – @mellomcr
  • Northen Monk Refectory – @northernmonkrefectorymcr (worth following to keep up with any upcoming kitchen take over as you might find an absolute gem)
  • Wholesome Junkies – @wholesomejunkies
  • YES – @yes_mcr (permanent home of Firebird Hope)

It’s well worth following them and supporting the vegan food scene in Manchester, or in your own city, because the more we support it the more it can grow. Just like Firebird Hope moved from a temporary spot at Hatch to a now permanent spot at YES, I’m excited to see Wholesome Junkies is opening soon at the Arndale, and Common Decency will be coming soon to a brick and mortar spot. I’ve been in Manchester now for almost a year and I’ve discovered so many amazing vegan places which I did discuss in a recent post but having explored even more, and seen the food scene continue to grow, I’ll definitely be doing an part two very soon.

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