Solita NQ Part 2

21 Jul

What to say about Solita that hasn’t already been said? As the darling of the Manchester blog scene, it’s safe to say it’s pretty much been covered. Already a stalwart of the city’s food landscape, it’s incredible to think this ballsy restaurant burst on to the scene just 12 short months ago. Arriving boldly with an Inka-smoked bang and the tantalising smells of pulled pork sundae, Solita made all the right sounds in the year that burgers, barbecue and increasingly dirty riffs on dude food made it big, and understandably, drew us food lovies right in.

One year on, and with all the noise on social media, you’d be forgiven for thinking the place simply made its living out of big beefy burgers, and whilst this past year there has been a crowd-pleasing bent towards serving up beast in a bun, the menu still offers much, much more. Lesser celebrated cuts of meat like hanger steak, the now ubiquitous deep fried mac and cheese and over the course of the year, legendary specials such as the brioche buttressed lobster roll and current favourite, tuna tartare, which will always hold a special place in my heart.

A recent jaunt showed the new summer starter menu to be much in the same vein. Scattered amongst the classics of rooster scratchings and the like, the crispy fried chicken livers with bone neck gravy and the new wings menu – offering everything from chipotle and tabasco and promising escalating levels of flavour and fear – all stand out. Challenging ingredients combined with classic flavours is one of Solita’s favourite party tricks, but in preparation for the oncoming beasting I planned to give myself in tackling the main menu, I opted for the seemingly innocuous option of beer boiled shrimps with old bay.


Plump, tender and flavour packed, the shrimp were a beer bursting success, though my feelings towards the seasoning were altogether more ambivalent. Bitter and overpowering, I deftly skirted round the shrimps laid siege to. Traditionally a classic crab accompaniment in the good old US of A, the mace, cloves and allspice included were a tad too overwhelming for my palate, but given I’d been served a sharing-sized portion (as standard at Solita) I still managed to amply fill my face.

Lucky 7 Dip

Lucky 7 Dip

More sparsely used, the seasoning might have worked, but as with all new dishes, feedback is taken on the chin and used to improve, which is one of the gaffe’s greatest facets. That, and the ability to pair dishes right down and do the simple things stunningly makes eating out at Solita a less risky prospect than often first anticipated; case in point my friend’s lucky 7 dip, of cheese, guacamole, salsa and refried bean fun, plated up with eye-catching blue corn chips. Light, refreshing and encouraging you to dig deeper for joy, it was perfect for the hot summer night we dined.

Less ideal, but no less tempting, were the burger specials. Not on account of the component parts or creative integrity that went into conceiving them. No. The sod of a hangover and skinniest four hours of sleep stolen the night before rendered me incapable of overlooking the carbohydrate comforts of the behemoth that is a Solita burger, and without thinking of the belly bursting consequences, dived right in.

Murray Burger

Murray Burger

The burger of choice? An on special Murray burger, of course. Now an international headline grabber, on account of the Ayrshire bacon, haggis topper and Irn Bru / whiskey sauce combination concocted to celebrate the first male Wimbledon win in 77 years, it’s a show-stopper in many ways. Pillowy, subtly spiced haggis and the sweet, peaty sauce played wonderfully against the salty, crisp bacon, but with a doorstopper for a piece of beef ensconced in the standard brioche bun, it stopped the show for me. Half way through in fact. I left my burger, and I’ll never know its beauty again.

Buttermilk Chicken Burger

Buttermilk Chicken Burger

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one. My friend, suffering the same fate as me, cried off from finishing her buttermilk friend chicken burger on account of the heat and hangover too (though that’s on main so I’m thinking, rematch?), with only the comforting sting of a passion fruit caipirinha to wash away the shame. Obviously, I couldn’t manage even the softest scoop of ice cream for afters, but as the new dessert menu launches tomorrow, it gives me a good excuse to scuttle on back to address my shortcomings.

Rocking up red faced, without doubt there’ll be a new special scrawled on the board, challenging both the senses and my good sense, and I’ll do it all over again. Will I be sorry? Not likely. This boldly challenging, constantly innovating feeder of a restaurant always proves too much of a temptation, but long may Solita hold such sway over me. Here’s to many more years of doing it the Solita way.


One Response to “Solita NQ Part 2”

  1. Robyn July 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    I will always have a soft spot for SoLiTa – birthplace of two lovely friendships 🙂 Great post as always LC xx

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