Tag Archives: southern 11

Fire, Salt and Grits

31 Oct

Can't even remember what this cocktail was called but look at it. It comes with cheese for God's sake!!

Searing summer heat radiates down as we walk across the bleached white stone-covered car park. The wooden shack we’re heading to is cobbled together from a blend on mesh, stone and timber covered in flaking paint. This fragile-lookingstructure holds something much more wondrous than you would imagine; the finest smoked brisket, sausage and ribs in Texas.

I don’t normally start a review of one restaurant by talking about another; however the taste of good home-style ‘Deep South’ barbeque takes me back to that smoke shed in Texas. Southern 11 fits nicely into Spinningfields by pulling off the slick interior and ambient lighting which almost seems to be a pre-requisite for restaurant ownership in the area, however much like that shack in Texas, the appearance is misleading (I’m not sure if I’ve over-used my trip to Texas enough in this post yet… I went to Texas you know). Inside you’ll find a restaurant that is putting out plates of authentic barbeque food and at very reasonable prices.

A few of the states that make up 'The Southern Eleven'

I took a few friends along with me so that we could eat party style: a few mains and all the sides we could stomach. Fried chicken, smoked beef brisket, pork ribs and pulled pork.  The smoke cooked meat is always tender due to the low heat and long cooking process allowing the meat to retain all its moisture while absorbing the smoky flavour. The pulled pork was a great example of this, being salty, moist and beautifully flavoured by the hickory smoke.  As I said in my previous blog from the Manchester Food and Drink festival, the only slight disappointment (and I do say slight) is the brisket. A slow smoked brisket (8 hours or more) will have what’s called a smoke ring running through the meat demonstrating how much flavour it’s holding. This is where the ribs swing into play to save the day. Tender, meaty and embalmed in a sticky BBQ glaze, they hit you with the sweet bbq sauce before delivering the finishing blow with the great rib flavour.

Ribs and fries served on a slab of wood

All of that’s great but you need a break from all of that meat, so I started to work through the sides. The parmesan truffle fries were just exceptional. Never before have I been so wowed by chips, but a cheesy, intense flavour from a light, crispy chip is too good not to rave about. The barbeque beans were a favourite on the table and avoided the trap of just being beans in a gloopy BBQ sauce. The spices in the sauce cut through the sauce creating a warming sensation inside that is as much emotional as physical. My personal favourite side though had to be the sweet corn pudding. Now this I had never come across. I think Nigella Lawson summed this dish up better than I could as ‘particularly gratifying’. A sweet, sticky side that goes excellently on pulled pork over some jalapeno cornbread.

Ok, you've got yer bbq beans, yer cornbread and yer sweetcorn pudd'n

My main was the Southern Chicken dinner. The name alone sparks the image of a home-cooked fried chicken dinner that the dish itself more than delivers. The chicken is tasty with a beautifully crisp skin that has great flavour. Add to this a slather of sausage gravy and that cripsy skin is excellently complemented. The Pulled pork however is a personal favourite of mine. Slow cooked, traditionally over an open barbeque pit, this pork is so soft it can literally just be pulled from the bone in strips. Great with the sides or just on its own I took more than my fair share from my girlfriend’s plate.

Winner, Winner, Chicken dinner.

What more can I say, the atmosphere was lively, the food was great, the service was friendly if occasionally duplicated with our drinks arriving several times and to cap it all of the cocktail menu was great. I got so many great shots from the meal that I’m putting even more on the facebook page. The best type of cooking is the kind that evokes emotions and pulls you straight back to another time or place. Southern 11 has this quality in spades and I didn’t even make it to the dessert menu. Still, there’s always next time.

Southern 11 on Urbanspoon

Manchester Food and Drink – Round up

24 Oct


The Manchester Food and Drink Festival has been and gone for another year. For those of you who made the most of it, visited events, ate a lot drank even more and hopefully learned something, this post is a warm reminder of a well spent week and a half. For those that didn’t get the chance or just didn’t have the time to get out and taste it, take heed, as this is a quick round up of some of the restaurants and general purveyors of good grub you need to be keeping your eyes peeled for. Here is my quick round up of some of the best food at the festival hub

Round 1

The Festival hub at Albert Square was filled with food stall and caravans as you may have noticed, a lot of them changed during the week. This was all part of the plan as the food stalls were planned in two ‘stages’. The highlights of Round 1 include:

Almost Famous – From the guys at Home Sweet Home comes Almost Famous. First up for two reasons; 1. They were the first stall I went to and 2. Their chilli dog was so good it’s still making my mouth water right now. Thick, rich chilli (US style not UK style), a splash of good mustard, a well toasted bun and a good quality juicy hot dog combined to bring me back here a second time. As a side note, the burgers were excellent quality and easily on par with the dog, but I couldn’t bring myself to attempt their Double Double burger. Mega.

Chilli Dog of Delight

Slow/Fast– Masterchef finalist Tom Whittaker was on fantastic form throughout the festival, and being directly next door to Almost Famous meant it was a short trip to more amazing food. The Black pudding and fennel sausage roll was deliciously salty, surrounded by light crispy pastry. Being asked whether I wanted gravy on it was just the icing on the cake (and also the gravy on the sausage roll).

Pork, Black pudding and fennel Sausage roll

Home Sweet Home– For the sweet toothed segment of the evening, we went across to Home Sweet Home, while I loved the look of the place and had a chat with the guys serving, my friend was less than impressed with them. Not because of the food, but because when I said I’d agreed to come over to ‘hold his hand’, he may have possibly said that my he only looked about seven years old… and I may have gone along with this statement for comic effect. Anyway, putting that aside, the chocolate brownie was dense, moist and the right sugar to chocolate ratiomade it tasty but not sickly.

The scene of the crime for shockingly good brownies

Memsahib Eastern Eatery– Towards the end of our evening, after several ales had gone down nicely me and my friends were sat our under the big gazebo as the rain lashed down watching it all go off at the silent desk, naturally I wanted a Lamb Karahi with a freshly made naan bread. Oh look, Memsahib Eastern Eatery are serving them! Fancy that. The Karahi ticked all the right boxes with a thick sauce, well spiced with a dry heat to it that is not that commonly found in take away curries and the fresh hot naan soaked up the sauce perfectly I didn’t even have to lick the bottom of the box.

Tikka and Karahi, together in harmony

So that was round 1, but what about the next wave of gastro-street food. Ding Ding,

Round 2

Mauritian Street Food – I know so little about Mauritius that I had to look it up on a map before writing this article. It’s east of Madagascar by the way. There is however one thing I know about Mauritius; if there street food is this good, I’d happily go tomorrow. The two snacks on offer were a Du Pan Frier which was a fried chickpea roti (I think, I didn’t write it down at the time) served with spicy sauce and chopped chillies and a cocktail umbrella to top it off. As the spicy sauce also seemed to be tomato based it added a fresh taste to the fried snack which meant there was no risk of this being too greasy or crisp. The Chaud Roti was a tasty wrap with a butter bean and spicy sauce. Both were delicious and both would warrant a trip. The Mauritian Street Food ‘van’ tours the country so if you want to see where they are next, check out their website at www.mauritianstreetfood.co.uk

Southern 11 – Since going to their street food stall, I have also eaten at their restaurant and the quality of their street food made the transfer pretty well from the restaurant. The choice was good between the brisket, pulled pork and burger. We went for the brisket. Having been lucky enough to have eaten in one of the best BBQ shacks in Texas, I’m a hard man to impress when it comes to smoked brisket. This one was not world class, only being smoked for 4 hours but it was a well-cooked piece of meat., Having tried their menu in full, there are plenty of great options, with the pulled pork being some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Manchester Egg– Every great city needs its signature dishes. To quote comedian Stewart Lee, not every town needs a cake named after it, but I would argue that having an egg named after it should be a bloody necessity. Manchester egg takes a normal pickled egg and coats it in black pudding and sausage with breadcrumbs. What a flavour sensation. The salt and vinegary taste of the pickled egg alone made my taste buds sing, though possibly also my arteries harden a little. Add in a little chutney and you’re onto the perfect bar snack. Trying to take one of these in hand, the crumbliness of the coating meant I was taking massive bites, to stop bits of it falling away. You almost couldn’t imagine a snack like this coming from anywhere else other than Manchester.

The Great Manchester Egg

Woodburns Espresso Pizza Bar – Towards the end of another Saturday evening at the festival hub, we wanted one last tasty treat to keep us going for the tram ride home, queue Woodburns. Operating out of a classic Citroën van serving espresso and Italian style pizzas as first seen in London espresso bars in the 1950’s. The pizza was made in front of you and offered up with a selection of toppings. The wood burning cookers give the thin base that great crisp flavour. This was all we needed to end the day and the festival right. Fresh ham and mushroom pizza, the buzz of the festival and fading light left us leaving the hub with plenty to talk about and burn off on the walk back.Wood fired pizza