The atmosphere will be eclectic at the upcoming Red Bank Festive Trail, the only slightly off the beaten track antidote to the fake jollity and craven rapacity of Manchester Christmas Markets. As 2021 draws to its uncertain close it has never been more important to support the city’s independents and I can’t think of any more indie stretch than the arches above the ‘Green Quarter’ (but don’t get me started on that nomenclature).
Contributing to the Festive Trail celebrations (Saturday December 4, 12pm-6pm) are The Spärrows, Blackjack Brewery, Beatnikz Republic, Popup Bikes, Base Bar, Runaway Brewery, Chapeltown Picture House, GFFdamian Dance Studio and admirable street food champions GRUB, who are the very definition of grass roots.
I’ve been along for the rollercoaster ride with founders Jason and Juliana Bailey from the start back in 2014 across a variety of pop-ups and venues, with a constantly shifting roster of vendors they have supported and mentored. It’s great to see them in a permanent home now at the top of Red Bank – its bar, events space and street food garden a beacon of sustainability.
In a Manchester scene where corporate developers pay lip service to ‘street food’ and ‘artisans’, hosting them for fixed terms to give cool cachet to their building schemes, GRUB is the real deal.
This Saturday afternoon may offer a promenade of brewery tours, live music, dance performances, street food, cinema screenings, fresh produce stalls and a record fair, but such vitality is not a one-off thanks to an eclectic (that word again) calendar of events and fairs GRUB generates. I recently attended a packed wine and cheese matching at their Red Bank HQ featuring Reserve Wines and Chorlton Cheesemongers.
GRUB have led the way in plant-based promotion, so no surprise to see they are hosting a 100 per cent Vegan New Year’s Party.
GRUB’S EXTRA FOR CONTACT
The Baileys’ events company also reaches out across the region in collaborations. Its latest project epitomises their approach. Following their major reopening earlier this year, Contact performing arts venue on Oxford Road has sought to reenergise its catering.
GRUB have recruited for them a street food chef to watch – Michael Anderson, owner and creator of Tikka Chance On Me. Describing himself as “a gobby Irish Mancunian with a big belly and an even bigger mouth who loves life and lives to eat”, he quit his day job in 2019 and has since been creating ‘Northern’ dishes inspired by Indian ingredients, until recently from an Ardwick base. To match his culinary creations at Contact beers will be local, cocktails from the GRUB team. Opening hours will be 10am-8pm Monday-Friday, 12pm-8pm Saturday.
GRUB, The Red Bank Project, 50 Red Bank, Manchester, M4 4HF. Wednesday-Friday 4pm-10pm, Saturday 12pm-10pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm.