Our Kelly rolls up her sleeves for saucy dining and decadent cocktails at Cane & Grain, Manchester.
In a word:
Big eaters, Boardwalk Empire fans and cocktail connoisseurs. Like the U.S.A itself, this bar and restaurant really is the melting pot of American style and taste.
Northern Quarter is truly crammed with cocktail spots and burger joints, so you might wonder what Cane & Grain brings to the table. Situated smack bang in the middle of Thomas Street, the bustling bar below the restaurant is a relaxed, New York-style speakeasy, with a hidden entrance that ascends to the rather more sophisticated eatery upstairs.
Wood-panelled walls and leather booths may give a touch of elegance to the restaurant, but the overall feel is very much quirky as you drink in eccentric additions like the squirrel wall lamps dotted around the room. It’s an underrated spot for a first date in Manchester, if you ask me.
Let’s get one thing straight – this is real cheat-day fare. So if you’re searching for somewhere suitable for clean or fussy eaters, don’t bother. However, for anyone (like us) hunkering for a downright delicious, indulgent feast, you’ve come to the right place.
p.s. unlike the cocktails you’ll see later, the pictures really don’t do the flavour justice…
Chicken wings – £6 (for 10)
A real test for any American restaurant, we order a basket (would you expect anything else) of chicken wings. Blathered in buffalo sauce, yet not in the slightest bit greasy, these moreish morsels of chicken were nibble-to-the- bone good.
Two meals for one by the time you’d licked your lips, the combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip was delicious. Thankfully, Cane & Grain is one step ahead – the wet wipes included with the serviettes were a godsend to clean our sticky hands at the end!
Jalapeno hush puppies – £4
Less messy but equally delicious, the jalapeno hush puppies were bite-sized balls of peppery, cheesy goodness. Crispy and surprisingly delicate, they had a nice kick that was offset well by the cooling dip on the side. So if you’re a bit hit and miss with hot food, don’t worry – they won’t leave you grasping for the cucumber water!
Risk it for a brisket – £9
Turning the heat up a notch, this burger satisfied my chilli craving well and good. Piled high with beef brisket chilli, top and tailed with an incredibly soft cross-hatch bun, it was a fiery dish full of flavour, not to mention very filling!
St Louis – £15
The star attraction of Cane & Grain has to be its ribs, and the St Louis belly pork ribs sounded too good to miss. A double layer of glazed, meaty ribs, the crispy end bits surrounded the tender strips of meat, which almost melted on the tongue.
Served with whiskey sauce on the side, it went perfectly with the old fashioned cocktail, (psst, scroll down!).
Pit Fries – £4
All of the main meals include chips, but we couldn’t resist upgrading ours to check out the pimped up fries. Spoilt for choice with options that ranged from truffle cheese to pulled pork, we eventually settled for Pit Fries, topped with smoked beans and cheese.
Melted to perfection, the topping was a delight to dig into – even more so when we found that the fries below were just the right level of crisp. If BBQ beans are your thing, these really are not to be missed.
Having recently transformed the restaurant and renamed it ‘The Science and Industry Bar,’ we were compelled to sample their cocktails. Although the elegance of these drinks seemed a far cry from the down-and-dirty nature of the food, it was chemistry at first gulp.
Mr Bradsell – £9
Almost every gin lover will have tried a Bramble before. This cocktail is named after its creator. As an ode to Mr Bradsell himself, this spectacularly presented drink would surely have done the old man proud.
A modern twist on a favourite classic, Mr Bradsell features infused chamomile gin, lemon juice, salted blackberry and vanilla cordial and smoked black tea. Sweet but not sickly, the citrus overtones gave the smoky berry flavours a lift.
Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned – £8
Brought over from the old menu, it’s easy to see why Cane & Grain saved this favourite. With a deep oaky flavour, the Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned brought together Woodford bourbon, brown sugar, sherry and bitters.
Piled high with ice, this refreshing whisky cocktail had a smoky, zesty taste, topped with orange peel to give it a colourful finish.
A hodge podge of flavours and themes, Cane & Grain has everything you might want for a weekend feast or fun date night. Indulgent food, gorgeous cocktails and a quirky setting all contribute to a winning formula for informal drinks and dining.
49 – 51 Thomas Street
Tel: 0161 839 7033