Banc Review: Matt Braves the Northern Quarter for a Weekend Brunch

Following last month’s blog from Jade in which she enthused about her trip to swanky Tapas joint, El Gato Negro, we asked around the office for our next Banc Review. SEO extraordinaire Ryan White enthusiastically offered to contribute, but he’d been so impressed with Jade’s review of El Gato Negro he decided to take his custom there too. With 1,730+ eateries in Greater Manchester, we though two reviews in a row may be too many for one joint.

Thankfully, PPC Manager Matt Taylor stepped up to the literal and figurative plate, and has blogged about his brunch time trip to Ezra and Gil in Manchester’s hipster paradise, the Northern Quarter…

Sunday tasks abound and hunger creeping up, the wife (Amy) and I decided to do the trendy thing and have brunch in the Northern Quarter. As everybody knows, there’s no shortage of eateries in the NQ. If you’re looking for the perfect balance of good quality food, slight air of pretentiousness and off-the-wall theme then there’s no better place to choose to eat.

We didn’t have anywhere specific in mind where to eat that day, but Amy recalled a strong recommendation to try Ezra & Gil from one of her Korean language students. A quick check on Google Maps revealed it was close by.

Off to the restaurant we went, which is located on Hilton Street (just off Piccadilly Gardens). Initially, I was a little overwhelmed with the size of the restaurant. We’d been expecting a more low-key affair and a bit more intimacy with a bit of an arthouse vibe (a-la Trove in Levenshulme). The general vibe of the place is nice (and intentionally a little rough around the edges). Dogs are welcome, which is good even though we didn’t have our little Champ with us at the time. Free dog treats sat next to some free water, which is a nice touch.

The restaurant also functions as a food shop, with a lot of fresh produce available as well as other food items. There was a large range of fresh vegetables, eggs and bread/pastry. There were also some luxury items such as exotic juices, gourmet pasta and a few other bits and bobs. We weren’t in the market for foody purchases at the time, but it’s nice to have a nose around and see what’s available. It certainly adds a bit of life to the place.

We were worried that with so many tables to wait on, whether the service would be up to scratch. There were a few empty tables, but unfortunately they had not been cleared as quickly as people were arriving to eat. Too many empty tables with dishes and cutlery left dotted around the place. Luckily, we spotted a bench for two and sat down relatively easily and started going over the menu.

banc review northern quarter

Having dietary restrictions wasn’t much of an issue, as there were many different kinds of dishes available. I’m not sure if there were gluten-free options available, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were upon request. We had opted to share two dishes – chicken and halloumi on sour dough bread, and avocado and Portobello mushrooms on sour dough bread. I spotted an option for a Cumberland sausage for only £1, so I chucked it on to our order.

We also ordered our usual coffees (two Americanos). This is hit and miss at almost every café, as every Americano drinker knows. Luckily, Ezra & Gil did not disappoint and the coffee was tremendous. The flavour was rich and not too bitter. Even the cup and saucer was a nice touch, certainly didn’t feel cheap.

Our food took a little time to arrive, but not too long. And after all, there’s nothing more suspect than ordering food and have the waiter bring it our within three minutes.

The food was superb. Everything was so fresh and felt like care had been taken on presentation. Whilst both dishes were enjoyable, I think the balsamic dressing on the chicken dish was a bit over the top and the taste became a little overbearing. Luckily, we had two dishes that we were sharing so this hadn’t bothered me as much as it potentially could have.

The addition of a Cumberland sausage turned out to be a good idea. Although, interestingly the sausage was actually two tiny, fat sausages. I’m not an expert, but I thought they came in a particular fun, curly wurly shape. It was, however, delicious so it doesn’t matter what shape they are.

One criticism we both shared, was that the knives were very dull. When you’re trying to cut through sough dough bread, you really need something up to the task and it was practically useless. We ended up just tearing through this with unorthodox dining methods, but we got the job done.

All in all, I do recommend dropping by and having brunch at this place. If you can do so outside of peak times and weekends, you’re probably going to have a much nicer experience. And maybe bring your own knives.

If you fancy a chat with Matt about PPC, the correct shape of Cumberland sausages, or life in general, send us an email to [email protected].