Restaurants & Bars

[Manchester, city centre] Southern 11

Harters | Oct 16, 201102:23 PM

The nephew and I both reckon that one of the pleasures of eating States-side of the Atlantic is southern BBQ and, in particular, pulled pork. Long cooked, over smoke, and with the tang of a sauce mixed in. We might disagree about whether the sweeter tomato based sauce is better than the Carolina mustard one but we don’t disagree about the meat. This can be piggy at its finest. I take the view that it is one of the cuisines of the world that simply doesn’t travel well and I’ve never come across decent BBQ north of Dixie, let alone the UK. So, it was with some surprise that we found ourselves in Southern 11 this evening.

It’s a slick modern room, with slick modern service, in Spinningfields, that newly developed slick, modern part of the city centre. The sort of place that might make you think you’d walked into a little known chain that was striving to expand. You hadn’t – at least not yet. And what had attracted me was the reference to sourcing. This isn’t any old pork that was about to be pulled. This is free range, rare breed pork, supplied by Yorkshire’s Ginger Pig. Longhorn cattle turn themselves into steaks and what the menu describes as “Li’l burgers” but Americans would know as sliders. Chicken, almost needless to say, comes from up the road in Goosnargh. All good signs here – but can they cook it?

Well, yes they can. There was a salad starter – a wedge of iceberg, topped with blue cheese and bacon. I like this in the States where the iceberg is ice cold. Here it was just OK, but the cheese and bacon added a nice tang. As for the main event, the pork had been properly long cooked and pulled perfectly. It was mixed with a tomato based sauce – perhaps a little too much sauce – sweet, sharp and with a kick of chilli. Alongside, decent coleslaw and a piece of cornbread. Now I’m glad we’d ordered extra portions of fries as this was a dainty piece of cornbread. Soft & moist – a well flavoured piece of cornbread – but dainty. And the fries really were good, dusted with a little Parmesan.

Desserts were cheesecake, chocolate brownie and the like. And were fine, although the cheesecake biscuit base would have been better if had not been a choccie bikkie – it started to make it a bit over sweet.

Overall, this was not at all shabby by way of casual meals. Of course, it didn’t quite whisk me back to North Carolina – everything was all a bit too refined for that. But not at all shabby.

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