Eating out in Manchester – we review Platform 15 at Escape to Freight Island
PUBLISHED: 11:43 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:02 04 August 2020
Outdoor dining has become all-important, and Escape from Freight Island shows how it should be done
Queuing has become standard these days, so don’t be worried when you arrive for your booking and find a line of happy punters waiting outside, it’s simply a sign that the people behind Escape to Freight Island are taking things as seriously as we could wish. Once we reached the head of the queue our booking was found (you have to book, there’s no chance of dropping by and getting a table) and we were taken straight to our table. There’s no wandering about allowed of course (there’s an excellent one-way system to the indoor loos, which each has its own sink) but each table has a QR code to scan, which links you straight to the menus for each of the bars and food vendors currently in place. Set up your account, choose your dishes and prepare to enjoy.
Part of the multi-million-pound redevelopment of the Depot, Mayfield complex, Escape to Freight Island has been designed to be, say its owners, an international destination reminiscent of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, New York’s Coney Island and Grand Central Market in Los Angeles. It certainly has atmosphere - colour and light and fire and music and lots of lovely cooking smells. Platform 15 is simply a taste of what’s to come, so kudos to those who dreamt it up and hurrah for imagination and that irrepressible Manchester spirit.
So, what can you eat and drink at Freight Island?
There’s not a huge range of options, but space is of course at a premium. In the centre of the space you will find Baratxuri, purveyors of live-fire Basque cooking; Voodoo Ray’s offer vast pizzas (seriously, you have no idea how vast a 22” pizza (from £21) is till it fills your table) luckily they also offer pizza slices (£4) – also vast, but manageably so. Madre Tacos has a tempting selection of non-traditional, upscaled, ingredients-based tacos, Patty Queen does burgers and Krum has an outrageously tempting selection of vegan, artisanal doughnuts. Add the option of a full drinks service from Platform 15 bar or Kopparberg Cider and you are on to a winner.
I chose the Fire Roasted Pork from Baratxuri: slow roasted pork belly, with smoky new potatoes and a chilli, garlic and sherry vinegar dressing (£9), and as a side-dish, the cauliflower steak with garlic alioli (£7). Now, I can only think there have been teething problems at Baratxuri, because what I received, after a more than 45-minute wait, wasn’t great. A small piece of pork belly (which was delicious – soft and squishily sweet, just as it should be) and two rather dry slices of pork loin. The cauliflower was overcooked and so too soft. Within minutes of me placing my order, they closed for more, clearly overwhelmed with the demand. I hope they sort this out, I have heard great things about their food so think I was unlucky.
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My husband headed straight for the Double Beef burger (£9) from Patty Queen. He almost inhaled it; it was so good he couldn’t stop telling me about it. This quite spectacular burger wasn’t enough for him, apparently, and he next moved onto Madre Tacos and their Carne Asada (£7): grilled onglet steak, burnt habanero salsa and green avocado salsa. Not for those who like it mild, this is a flavour-punch of a taco you won’t forget in a hurry. Again, it was declared fabulous. When asked which he preferred, he was unable to choose – always a good sign.
Luckily, a blood orange and rhubarb gin cocktail (£8) from Platform 15 Bar consoled me. Try this, it’s delicious.
After my meal I dived into an entire box of Krum doughnuts (£17). No guilt, not one iota. They’re too good. And vegan, so the calories don’t count, surely? I can’t decide if the Jam Jam (£3) exploding with raspberry, strawberry and rhubarb compote, or the Apple Fritter – soft, sweet dough wrapped around chunks of spiced apple – was the best. I may have to re-test to narrow it down.
Covid-19 and Freight Island, August 2020
With regard to the recently implemented restrictions in Manchester: Platform 15 at Freight Island is open as usual. As it has been set up as a safe and social space and fully outdoors they are in line with the new, local guidance. Up to six people dining together can be from unlimited households, any groups larger than six must be from a maximum of two households.
Visit Freight Island to reserve your table.
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