It’s always great when some of your favourite food and drink acts get the major plaudits. The weekend buzz was all about Erst in Ancoats being praised to the skies by Observer critic Jay Rayner. Deservedly so. I last reviewed it pre-pandemic and still remember a remarkable experience.
Equally immense has been the contribution of Pollen Bakery, not far away at New Islington Marina. Check out my recent celebration of their 28 hour sourdough. The public obviously share my opinion. They voted them Artisan Food Producer of the Year in the Manchester Food and Drink Awards on Monday, held in the really rather remarkable Escape To Freight Island Ticket Hall. Fittingly Escape themselves won Pop Up/Project of the Year.
But the big winner on the night was Baratxuri, the Ramsbottom pintxos bar that also has a wood-fired outlet at Freight Island. It won Restaurant of the Year and its chef Rachel Stockley (above) Chef of the Year.
Receiving her award, she gave an impassioned speech about the role of women in the hospitality industry. To see what all the fuss is about re Baratxuri and its big sister Levanter read my glowing review from earlier this month.
In total 16 award winners were announced from food and drink establishments across Greater Manchester in this fitting climax to a resurgent Manchester Food and Drink Festival, which saw a record 80,000 visitors coming to the Festival Hub at Cathedral Gardens.
This year it was an Awards with a difference. The shortlists were compiled by the MFDF judging panel, made up of the region’s leading food and drink critics, writers and experts (including yours truly). Amid challenging circumstances, the ‘mystery shopping’ element of the judging process was paused this year. Instead, the winners were decided entirely by the public – with food and drink fans voting in their thousands via the website. And the winners were…
Restaurant of the Year – Baratxuri, Ramsbottom
Shortlisted: Adam Reid at The French; Erst, Ancoats; Hawksmoor; Mana, Ancoats; Sparrows; Street Urchin; Where The Light Gets In; Baratxuri, Ramsbottom.
Recognising the ‘best of the best’ dining establishments in Greater Manchester in 2021, this category refers to venues visited primarily for a full dining experience featuring table service, alcohol license etc.
Chef of the Year – Rachel Stockley
Shortlisted: Adam Reid (The French); Eddie Shepherd (The Walled Gardens), Mary-Ellen McTague (The Creameries, Chorlton); Patrick Withington (Erst, Ancoats); Sam Buckley (WTLGI, Stockport); Simon Martin (Mana, Ancoats); Terry Huang (Umezushi); Rachel Stockley (Baratxuri, Ramsbottom).
Aiming to recognise the most talented and outstanding work of chefs cooking in Greater Manchester kitchens – their skill, menu, commitment and contribution to the dining scene.
Newcomer of the Year – Ramona, Swan Street
Shortlisted: District, NQ; Open Kitchen MCR; Osma, Prestwich; Pho Cue; Schofield’s Bar; Society; The Moor, Heaton Moor; Ramona.
Recognising the best new food and drink operations to open in Greater Manchester since the last awards decision period (August 2020). Date eligibility: Establishments opened between August 2020 and June 2021. Sponsored by the Manchester Evening News.
Bar of the Year – Albert’s Schloss, Peter Street
Shortlisted: Henry C Chorlton; Kiosk West Didsbury; Schofield’s Bar; Speak in Code;
The Blues Kitchen; The Jane Eyre, Ancoats, Three Little Words, Albert’s Schloss.
Recognising the best drinking venues in the region that specialise in a “wet-led” offer and aren’t considered ‘pubs’.
Pub or Craft Ale Bar of the Year – Edinburgh Castle, Ancoats
Shortlisted: Beatnikz Republic; Cob and Coal, Oldham; Heaton Hops, Heaton Chapel; Society, Manchester; Nordie, Levenshulme; Reasons To Be Cheerful, Burnage; Stalybridge Buffet Bar; Edinburgh Castle.
Recognising the finest pub and beer bars in the region, focusing on quality and range of ales, beers and atmosphere.
Artisan Food Producer of the Year – Pollen Bakery, Cotton Field Wharf,
Shortlisted: Bread Flower; Companio Bakery, Ancoats; Gooey, Ducie Street Warehouse; Holy Grain Sourdough, Great Northern Mews; Just Natas, Manchester Arndale; Lily’s Deli, Chorlton; Manchester Smokehouse; Pollen Bakery.
Celebrating the fabulous array of food producers popping up around the region, including bakeries, picklers, pie makers and everything in between.
Pop Up/ Project of the Year – Escape to Freight Island, Baring Street
Shortlisted: Eat Well MCR; GRUB, Red Bank; Homeground, Medlock St; Kampus Summer Guest Events, Aytoun Street; Platt Fields Market, Platt Fields Market Garden; One Central, Charis House, Altrincham; MIF Festival, Festival Square; Escape to Freight Island.
Recognising exciting projects and events and showcasing innovation and creativity within the food and beverage sector.
Neighbourhood Venue of the Year – Lily’s, Ashton-under-Lyne
Shortlisted: Bar San Juan, Chorlton; Levanter, 10 Square St, Ramsbottom; Erst, Ancoats;
The Fisherman’s Table, Marple; Porta, Salford; Oystercatcher, Chorlton; Stretford Foodhall; Lily’s.
This award is set to recognise the superb establishments that are based in the suburbs of Greater Manchester. Sponsored by Roomzzz Aparthotels.
Food Trader of the Year – Wholesome Junkies, Manchester Arndale
Shortlisted – Abeja Tapas Bar, Hatch; Archchi’s; Gooey, Ducie Street Warehouse; Honest Crust; Maison Breizh; Pico’s Tacos; Tender Cow; Wholesome Junkies.
Awarding the Greater Manchester-based food heroes that are gracing our food halls, markets and events with an ever increasing range of gastro goods.
Affordable Eats of the Year – Rudy’s, Ancoats and Peter Street
Shortlisted: Abeja Tapas Bar; Chapati Café, Chorlton; Ca Phe Viet, Ancoats; Little Yeti, Chorlton; Lily’s, Ashton-under-Lyne; Mi & Pho, Northenden; Platt Fields Market Garden; Rudy’s Pizza.
Recognising the best venues that are visited for a high value, quick and simple dining experience. Sponsored by Just Eat.
Coffee Shop of the Year: Federal, Nicholas Croft, NQ
Sortlisted: Another Heart to Feed, NQ; Ancoat’s Coffee, Royal Mill; Ezra & Gil, NQ; Grindsmith; Grapefruit, Sale; Just Between Friends, NQ; Pollen Bakery, Ancoats; Federal.
Recognising the best coffee shops and bars in Greater Manchester.
Veggie/Vegan Offering of the Year – Bundobust, Piccadilly
Shortlist: Eddie Shepherd (Walled Gardens, Whalley Range); Four Side Pizza, NQ); Herbivorous, Hatch; Lily’s, Ashton-under-Lyne; Sanskruti, Mauldeth Rd; Wholesome Junkies, Manchester Arndale; Vertigo, several venues; Bundobust (also now on Oxford Street).
This award recognises venues that provide innovative and exciting dining options for vegetarian and vegan diners.
Independent Drinks Producer of the Year – Manchester Gin, Watson Street
Shortlisted: Bundobust; Cloudwater Brewery; Diablesse Rum; Hip Pop (Formerly Booch & Brew), Dunham Massey; Northern Monkey, Bolton); Pomona Island Beer Brew Co, Salford; Steep Soda Co,; Manchester Gin.
Celebrating the many exciting and innovative producers of artisan drinks in Greater Manchester.
Food and Drink Retailer of the Year – Ancoats General Store
Shortlisted: The Butcher’s Quarter, NQ; Bernie’s Grocery Store, Heaton Moor; Grape to Grain, Prestwich and Ramsbottom; Isca, Levenshulme; Out of the Blue, Chorlton; Unicorn Grocery, Chorlton; Wandering Palate, Eccles; Ancoats General Store.
The Best Food and Drink Retailer celebrates the best food and drink shopping experiences in the region.
Foodie Neighbourhood of the Year – Altrincham
Shortlisted: Heaton Moor, Prestwich, Ramsbottom, Sale, Stockport, Stretford, Urmston, Altrincham.
New for 2021, this award has been set up to celebrate those thriving communities and neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester that continue to build a name for themselves as a foodie destination outside the city centre.
Outstanding Achievement Award – Mital Morar (Store Group)
Recognising someone who has contributed something outstanding to the hospitality industry in Greater Manchester.