Manchester's Thriving Deli Scene (2009)

Manchester's Thriving Deli Scene (2009)

Manchester now boasts some of the best delicatessens in the UK. Some just concentrate on the retail side of things but many also offer the chance to unwind and relax with seriously fresh, impeccably sourced food. One of the longest-established deli-cafes in the city is south Manchester's Barbakan , on the border between Chorlton and Whalley Range. Named after the historic city of Krakow, and catering originally for Manchester's Eastern European community, Barbakan boasts some 40 years in business and has massively extended both its range and its clientele over the four decades since it started selling simple fare like Polish jam, pickles and traditional rye bread. Now run by Stefan and Joanna Najduch, it is justly famous for its wide range of continental breads -- all freshly baked on the premises each day by highly skilled Master Bakers The bakery produces over 15,000 loaves of bread a week and supplies many restaurants, sandwich shops, café bars and hotels in Manchester, as well as its own award-winning delicatessen in front of the bakery. Varieties are myriad but favourites include Cheese, Bacon and Tomato Bread, Norlander Rye Bread and the unique Chorlton Sourdough Bread All are made using authentic recipes from all over Europe, traditional baking methods and are free from artificial improvers or preservatives.

Barbakan's deli counter is equally famous -- offering a cornucopia of meats, cheeses and salads from all over Europe, including Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain. It's particularly noted for spicy sausages, smoked hams, salamis, traditional pates, olives and continental cheeses. The sweet-toothed can enjoy a wide range of cakes and pastries, including traditional Polish Cheesecake, Poppyseed Cake and German Stollen as well as Banana Cake, American Muffins, Carrot Cake and Fruit Cake. Barbakan also has a wide range of pasta, grains, jams, sauces and canned delicacies on offer. Its café, complete with al fresco seating, offers homemade soups, smoothies and salads as well as quiches and hot sandwiches plus the unmistakeable aroma of freshly ground coffee.

In Manchester city centre, on the corner of John Dalton Street and Deansgate, is the Katsouris deli, a real favourite with office workers as well as those in search of a break from the rigours of retail therapy. As the name suggests, the general theme is Greek, with lots of olives, cheeses and mezzes to take home. At lunchtimes, it's packed with people enjoying ciabattas crammed with Continental sausages or other sizzling meats straight from the giant pan or carvery. Breakfast is also available anytime along with pastries and cakes, hot and cold drinks. Healthy appetites can check out the salad bar.

Manchester's department stores are now singularly lacking in foodstuffs but Selfridges is an exception to the rule. Sadly, the bread, meat and fish counters which were once a highlight are no more but if you want to impress a dinner party guest or two, or fancy treating yourself, this is the place to come. Head for the very upmarket "ready meal" counter where everything is freshly cooked. Goodies include Thai and Indian curries, starters like samosas and spring rolls, other Chinese specialities and Middle Eastern favourites like hummus, falafels, and dolmades. There are wraps and sandwiches -- plus set Chinese and Indian banquets, which are exceptional value to take home. Extra dishes are often offered "on the house." Francophiles can check out the pate and cooked meats counter, which also has excellent seafood. There is also a sushi bar, Champagne bar and Krispy Kreme doughnuts to enjoy. On the well-stocked shelves they have some of the most difficult to source foodie products - many from the US. Specialist beers and wines also feature -- at a price. Over the road Harvey Nichols has a small but perfectly formed food department selling artisan cheeses, fresh pesto and lots of speciality goods, wines and champagnes - plus a divine chocolate counter.

Back in the suburbs is Chorlton's North Star Deli on Wilbraham Road. This one opened in December 2003 and is owned by foodie Adam Berlyne and his sister Deanna Thomas, who is a professional chef. The shelves are packed with carefully sourced products from independent local producers and gorgeous finds from further afield. It has an open kitchen where chefs make the food sold over the counter and in the popular café. North Star deli also caters for parties, business lunches and corporate events. There is a raft of soups and sandwiches plus enticing casseroles like pork, bean and smoked paprika and butter chicken masala. Jacket potatoes, omelettes and North Star platters of cheese, fish and Middle Eastern favourites also feature. The café is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 6pm and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. A great place to go for a Sunday hangover cure. They also stock everything from jams and chutneys and sell coffee beans ground fresh. Gourmet hampers are also available.

In West Didsbury, Thyme Out deli sells fine foods, organic produce, sandwiches, gourmet ready meals, homemade cakes and luxury delicatessen fare, all available to take away. Located on Nell Lane, it's split into a takeaway deli and a sit-down cafe, with an al fresco area. The menu includes Full English and lighter breakfasts like Eggs Benedict or bagels with smoked salmon. Lunch options include soups, risottos and pasta plus burgers made on the premises. There are salads for the diet-conscious and goodies like carrot cake and chocolate fudge for those who are not counting the calories. Speciality teas, smoothies and freshly ground coffee complete the culinary picture.

Just a few hundred yards away is The Deli on Burton Road. For years, this has been a serious haven for foodies and offers a wide selection of luxury food, sourced locally and from around the world. Recently re-branded as Folk (but still widely known as The Deli), its focus is these days more on the café side of things (complete with twinkly lights) but the deli counter still has a good range of cheeses, meats and speciality goods. From brunch treats like poached eggs to hearty homemade soups, there is a good range of tasty food on offer. You can grab a sandwich for less than a fiver with fillings including turkey, pancetta and avocado to tomato, mozzarella and pesto. If you fancy something more substantial you can opt for pie and mash or a mezze plate from the deli with loads of stuffed vine leaves, salads and olives etc. For those with a sweet tooth the iced cupcakes are a good choice or you can tuck into a big slab of carrot cake. It's also licensed with the option of wine or beer from a carefully chosen range. Great local ambience and laid-back music too.

A little further afield in Altrincham is Jam Deli and Café Bar (pictured above) owned by chef/businessman David Sharp. Formerly in situ at The Ritz in Paris and Opus One at the Manchester Radsson, one of the highlights of David's culinary career was cooking up a private dinner for Tony and Cherie Blair -- and special guest Bill Clinton. Jam opened in spring last year on Stamford New Road and now provides a one-stop source where you can eat in at the 30-seater restaurant, or take away sandwiches and salads. Jam's range includes freshly cooked roasts, smoked meats, cheeses, quiches, olives, roast peppers, cakes and desserts. Serious foodies can enjoy the chance to buy your own first press olive oil, with a refillable bottle provided. The café menu offers everything from simple Deli bread and olives, to pate, fishcakes, soups, and specialities like beef hot pot & pickled beetroot, chicken & vegetable stew, and vegetarian options like tomato and goats cheese bake. Sandwiches are equally innovative with options including poached chicken, with piccalilli & roasted peppers, hot roast topside of beef, served with salad & hot mustard dressing, or Char grilled vegetables, pesto & baby goats cheese There are home-made pies, and sweet stuff like sticky toffee pudding. It's open from 8am to 6pm, transforming into a restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings. Another great bonus is that you can bring your own booze. There is often music, too, including live jazz.

One of the oldest delis in Manchester is back in the heart of Didsbury village, where Cheese Hamlet is renowned for its vast range of artisan dairy produce. In business over 60 years, long before being a foodie was fashionable, Cheese Hamlet still occupies a relatively small space but its design has been ingeniously adapted to cater for an increasingly sophisticated range of cheeses. They also have an excellent range of locally baked bread and hand-produced pies. Top 10 cheeses here include Raclette (indispensable for fondue) Colton Bassett Stilton, Smoked Applewood, Emmenthal, and authentic Brie de Meaux (which bears no relation to the ersatz mass-produced version found in supermarkets). Still most famed for cheese, they also provide speciality meats, wines, champagne, gift hampers, biscuits and chocolate. And you can order by phone or on-line.

Nearby in Withington, opposite the Red Lion pub, the Little Samsi restaurant also offers takeaway sushi and the chance to buy other speciality products like tamari sauce plus seaweed and noodles. And the ever-growing number of city dwellers are catered for by Olive, on Whitworth Street, a real neighbourhood store with a great array of sandwiches and salads to take out -- plus the exotic store cupboard specialities needed if you are enjoying a truly metropolitan lifestyle.

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