Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sneak Preview - Miracle on High Street - Northern Quarter, Manchester

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – well it is at 100 High Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter; where festive bar with food, Miracle has popped up; spreading seasonal cheer, warming your cockles and trying to get you through the dark days/nights until Father Christmas actually arrives.

With fairy lights twinkling their festive messages, walls clad in wood to warm your soul and food so hearty I’m sure it beats when placed in front of you; Miracle is attempting to take the seasonal emphasis off the Manchester markets/Spinningfields and bring some joy to the Northern Quarter.

Yeah and you knows it - crafty craft work by the audacious Crass Stitch

Primarily a bar that does food, Miracle is accessed through Socio Rehab and is a sister bar to Almost Famous and Keko Moku. Following in the footsteps of its family brand, Miracle concentrates on quirky cocktails and, like Famous and Home Sweet Home, easy but well thought out food that has been designed to be similar but different enough to the other establishments.

The food at Miracle is a cross between quirky takes on festive food (Christmas dinner in bap anyone? Replete with sprouts, roasties and cranberry sauce…) and hearty wintry fare - they have a list of eight stews on at all times and a chowder so thick its viscosity is being investigated by material physicists.

The Miracle Sandwich groans under the weight of the filling; out bursts plenty of buttery turkey (they slow cook it so it’s rich and moist), roast potatoes and bacon cooked sprouts with a lovely bitter edge from the slightly burnt edges – served up with pigs in blankets, it’s a meal in a bun.

Miracle sandwich, sprouts and all

Pork and cider stew is served in a bread bowl – big hunks of sweet pork and offset by the sweetly sour cider, the lid of the bowl a great tool for dipping and for ferrying the food to your mouth. Beef and ale stew on the other hand is served in a half pint glass with a bread lid (see what they did there?) – the beef could have done with slightly more cooking and the wholegrain with the beef and ale made it slightly too sweet and cloying for my tastes; still a lovely warming little pot to line your stomach for the vast quantities of cocktails they turn out here.

Pork and cider in a nifty bowl you can eat

As a sister bar to Famous and Home Sweet Home, there’s the signature sweet potato/potato fries you find on both menus (guess it makes ordering stock easier/cheaper) – this time jazzed up with a good dose of pepper/festive seasoning and a smattering of that moist turkey. And it wouldn't be a Christmas theme place is they didn't offer pigs in blankets... (so they do).

The aforementioned cocktails is where Miracle has put most of their creative effort; they're dressed up like fancy little presents and taste as sweet as the season – the Apres Ski tasting exactly like a melted mint vienetta and taking me back (happily) to sitting at my Dad’s kitchen table circa 1992. The Berry Merry Xmas is a big mouthy hit of berries and booze that’ll warm you up and put hairs on your chest before you step out in the cold weather (bit too fruity for me) and the Christmas in New York is one that really split the group - dark, chocolate stout with bourbon and a vanilla ice cream float; far too bitter and needed a sweeter/more creamy ice cream in there, but I'm a non-stout lover so that verdict should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Stout and ice-cream - acquired taste me thinks

My bugbear at Miracle is the service; basically it's a do it yourself thing - you decide on what you want to eat, go to the kitchen to order and go back to get it; great for saving on the wage bill, but I'm a grumpy lazy bones who likes to be waited on hand and foot (just saying). However the bar staff and the kitchen staff are very friendly, so a tick to them there.

Miracle isn’t Almost Famous; it’s her quieter, friendlier, more homely sister. If it was an everyday place, open every day of the year, then I'm sure I'd tire of it pretty quickly - however it's here for only one season, it's a happy little pop up that's trying to bring creativity and cheer to the Christmas menu, offering a great alternative to the flabby turkey and dull Christmas puddings on offer across the rest of the city.

And when can you try this out? This THURSDAY (22nd Nov) is the big grand opening. Which makes tonight CHRISTMAS EVE! And an opening couldn't happen without PRESENTS - the first 50 people through the door tomorrow night receive free sliders and the first 100 get a free drink. Looks like Father Christmas has come early. Check out the Twitter for opening times.

Price for one Miracle sandwich, three stews, one gobble gobble (turkey) fries, one pigs in blanket, one pudding and four cocktails (drinks £7 each) - £63.50

Food - 7/10 - for Christmas food it's pretty good
Atmosphere - 9/10
Service - 6/10 full marks to bar and kitchen, but I had to get up off my lazy arse and serve myself
Value for money - 7/10 big portions and small prices make this unusual in the Christmas rip of schemes (however the cocktails are a little pricey, try just drinking off the main bar to save cash!)

Total - 29/40

Go again - yes as it's a fun and quirky place that's full of Christmas cheer and a bit of an exciting alternative to the usual festive offerings

Miracle, Access through Socio Rehab, 100 High Street, Manchester M1 4HP - Twitter

Please note I was comped my meal here but am under no obligation to write anything nice.