Now, if you live anywhere within a 50 mile radius of South Manchester, you can hardly have failed to notice that a couple of weeks ago - amidst much fanfare - the tramline between Chorlton and Didsbury finally opened. In fact, such was the excitement that you would have been forgiven for thinking that until this moment, Didsbury had been almost entirely cut off from the world, accessible only down a treacherous dirt track and with only the very occasional message getting in or out thanks to a team of exceptionally brave carrier pigeons. Don't get me wrong - I'm for anything that brings people and business to the area; I just think that for a part of Manchester already well-served by train and bus, the tram is a NICE-to-have rather than a NEED-to-have.
That's why I knew to be suspicious when Mr Liz began continually asking to get the tram into Manchester rather than any other form of transport. Turns out that the tram stop at St. Peters Square is - most fortuitously - perfectly placed to allow the thirsty traveller to sate his thirst in one of Mr Liz's very favourite places, not just in Manchester but indeed in the whole of the world: BrewDog. We've both been big fans since the Manchester outpost of this Scottish craft brewery opened in May last year, so it was with no little excitement that we leapt upon that shiny new tram last week and headed off to try the newly launched BBQ menu. The burgers and pizzas here have always been excellent, but it was apparently time for a change: thus a cute clipboard-style menu offering four mains (more at weekends) and four sides to soak up all that lovely craft beer.
Despite a seemingly limited choice, we found it hard to choose, and eventually settled on the brisket (for me) and the pork loin ribs for Mr Liz. These were priced at £10 and £9 respectively, and came with a side dish of our choice as well as a very good salad (which, as predicted, Mr Liz simply didn't have space for when it came to it). For my side I chose the Smoked Mac 'n' Cheese, largely because fellow blogger Mrs Petticoat had simply tweeted me a number of messages shouting MAC 'N' CHEESE!! MAC 'N' CHEESE!! when she heard I was on my way to eat there; nor was she wrong to do so. This was quite simply one of the best of its species I have ever tasted, with an artery-busting ratio of rich, smoky cheese to pasta, and a healthy smattering of crunchy breadcrumbs on the top. Mr Liz was allowed to try it, and pronounced it good, but nothing special, at which point it was taken away from him once more and he was left in silence to contemplate the (considerable) error of his ways.
Meanwhile, his own side of Burnt Beans was also excellent - smoked beans in a BBQ tomato sauce with some sexy, meaty cuts of brisket mixed in, just in case the two giant pork loin ribs weren't animal enough for him. He proclaimed that the ribs had a very generous ratio of meat to bone, and just enough fat to ensure a tender texture; he also liked the fact that ribs came dry, with a bottle of BBQ sauce provided so that he could add as much or as little as he wanted (he's not a saucy fellow, and often finds BBQ items drowned in too much gloop for his liking). I had no such qualms, of course, and smothered my brisket in sauce, pausing just long enough to note that in terms of texture and taste, the BrewDog brisket was vastly superior to my previous brisket provider of choice, Southern Eleven. This is perhaps because BrewDog have understood the importance of quality meat when cooking this style of food, and have continued to source their supplies from Chorlton legend WH Frost as he marches on with his colonisation of Manchester, one restaurant at a time. NB, you will note in the pictures that the sides came the wrong way round with the mains, a mistake quickly rectified but only after I'd taken the photographs.
Any quibbles? Two, and only small ones. Firstly, I found the bread that came with my brisket a little redundant - I understand that they don't want anyone to leave hungry, but it just didn't really go with the meal and certainly wasn't needed. Secondly, whilst I applaud a small menu done well, we did feel that in a venue like BrewDog, where we often find ourselves standing up at the taller tables whilst having a pint or two, some smaller items that could be easily consumed whilst in the midst of a busy bar might fit well on the menu. Still, these are minor indeed - I'm already planning to go back so I can try the vegetarian offering of chargrilled halloumi burger with hummus, smoked mushrooms, beetroot and charred veg, all washed down with my new favourite beer, Fake Lager. And Mr Liz? Well, now that he can combine BrewDog beer AND ribs all in one handy venue, I fear I'm never going to get him away from that tram stop...
- BrewDog Manchester is at 35 Peter St, Manchester M2 5BG.