Thursday, 22 March 2012

Bakerie - Northern Quarter, Manchester

The smell of freshly baking bread is very intoxicating, apparently eager home sellers will bake a loaf just before having viewers round and supermarkets will pump the scent into certain parts of the store willy nilly. It conjours up images of home in Berkshire, all gathered round the Aga; even if you didn't have one and grew up on a Redrow estate in Wales.

Bakerie, on the very edge of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, has set itself up as a baker of fresh bread and a seller of good wine - according to the website it's the perfect place to chill out with your mates with good bread and wine around you. And it's certainly a chilled out space - walls in neutral, earthy tones are mostly unadorned, bar the recipes for Bakerie's bread that they make in house. There's an open kitchen with wholesome looking boys baking fresh batches; booths with blocky, leather seats and slightly subdued lighting to take the strain of your eyes.

Bakerie - paired back and modern, with thanks to Manchester Bars

What’s different about this place, and very refreshing, is that Bakerie hasn’t followed suit with other places in the Northern Quarter that have baking as their mantra - there's no vintage materials, no sickly pastels, no bunting and servers dressed up to the nines like 1940s hookers. Bakerie has a sophisticated, almost masculine atmosphere, without being overbearing or full on 'lads.'

Food is a mixed bag here – all of it is pretty decent, it’s just sometimes the prices seem a little high for what you get. The boards are an absolute bargain – choose five small dishes from a list of about seven; you get that AND a whole basket of assorted breads for just £6.50. I needed help finishing mine - this would work brilliantly as a starter for two or as part of a larger sharing meal.

Good value veggie board (don't worry, there's a meat one too!)

I chose the veggie board – garlicky homous, stickily spicy sweet potato, juicy stuffed vine leaves and alright (but very wholesome feeling) bean salad. Beautiful and bargainous – you even get a salad garnish to boot. The side of bread was massive - about five slices of all the different loaves they bake up - and good bread too. Light without being cakey, not too salty and some of it still warm even.

T’boy went down the comfort route and opted for the goulash; thick, warming and paprika-y though a little 2D in the flavour – it was lacking an extra layer of flavour I’ve found elsewhere, that rich undercurrent of umami savouriness. This was served with a hunk of Bakerie’s bread, but for £8.45 there wasn’t as much food on the plate and it just seemed a tad too much for what we were served.

Goulash and big hunk of bread

The staff are great, the food is pretty good, they have brilliant drinks and it seems like they cater for everyone - there's gluten free, vegan and veggie options galore. Whilst we were eating there was a good mix of families (distracted), students (hungover), suits (deep in discussion) and general bods all getting what they wanted and looking pretty happy about it too.

Bakerie’s a good place for honest food – there doesn’t seem to be anything pretentious or over styled here and it’s nice to see somewhere that makes their own bread, but then isn’t committed to shoving the fact down your throat at every single turn. It’s just there, they do it and that’s that. But the best thing about the place is that it’s not all about the food – here’s a space that’s equally good for having a drink in and not feeling like you have to order; a hard feat to manage, but one they’ve pulled off well and by serving quality food too, usually it’s one thing or the other in these places.

Price for one veggie board, one goulash and two beers (both t’boys) – £21.85

Food – 7/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Service – 8/10
Value for money – 7/10

Total – 31/40

Go again? Yes it’s a great place for after work food and drinks, or for whiling away a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Bakerie, 43-45 Lever Street, Norther Quarter, Manchester M60 7HP - 0161 236 9014 - Twitter - Facebook

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