... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Monday, September 26, 2011

408: Arndale Market food court = best place in Manchester city centre

Is anyone paying enough attention to have noticed the recently emerging theme in this blog-thing I've been working on for the past thousand-or-so years? There has been a tiny amount of negativity; a wee swipe of moaning aimed at targets like Solomon Grundy, Blackpool Tower, and Teapot (deservedly so, especially in the case of Teapot). Today I'm going to take a new direction; one of blind sycophantic positivity. And by the power vested in me (when giving my details to blogger to create this online repository of my every waking thought) I declare Manchester Arndale Market's food court to be the greatest place in Manchester city centre.

a picture from someone else's flickr; not mine
Let's be clear: I'm not talking about the Arndale food court, which is all Subway, KFC, McDonald's, massive groups of teenagers laden with shopping bags, filthy tables left uncleared by an apathetic mob unable to use the bins provided. I'm talking about the smaller, more perfect food court in the Arndale Market, situated between the butchers/fishmonger, and the stalls selling high-heels, clutch bags and mobile phone unlocking. Desperate for a cuppa, but unwilling to pay the insane prices at Costa (or whatever; I've yet to bother noticing the difference between chain coffee shops), we went to the Market and discovered Parched.

Parched is a coffee and tea shop, which also does cakes and bagels at extremely reasonable prices. We got a tea, a coffee and an apple pie for less than the cost of a single crisp at Nero's or Costa (you know, if they sold single crisps pick n mix style). The service was swift and friendly, the coffee I had was delicious, and the counter was host to a framed photograph of Elvis Presley. Compared to a chain coffee shop (and just in general, without the comparison) the Market food court is relaxing and interesting, and at the time I was there there was none of the insane clamour for tables. In my experience Costa is always full of people sitting alone at a table without a drink, because they have captured the table while their friend or partner is in the queue buying the drinks. This is wrong: the queue is for the table as well as the drinks, no table hogging should be tolerated by the management. But I digress.

I glanced around the Market food court to see a much more appealing and appetising selection: Ethnic Bites (curry), The Market Plaice (fish n chips), Munch Pancake House, Milk Shake (you make, we shake), Pancho's Burritos (hottest food in town), Zorba's (Greek & Cypriot food), as well as many more not directly surrounding the seating area. Cheekily there is a Wing's (wok n go and sushi pick n mix) which also has a branch in the big Arndale food court upstairs, but the food here is the least appetising-looking of all the Market retailers. Unlike the main food court upstairs, in the Market's food court it is almost impossible to chose. Upstairs you already know what you are going to get, because you have already got it thousands of times before, the world over. But downstairs there is a much more massive range, tucked into a comparatively tiny space, and it all smells so delicious. Diverse, interesting, delicious, independent.

And most importantly, I've just realised it is two minutes walk from my day job (this calls for an exclamation mark)! What good have I done in a previous life to deserve such a wealth of reward; what has Manchester done to deserve this, you know, besides being great and all that?

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