Welcome to the Food & Drink Survey 2014, Northwest
You ate, you drank, you voted – and we rifled through your responses to bring you your favourite places to grab some grub and grog in Manchester and Liverpool
Welcome, one and all, to the results of our first ever Food and Drink Survey.
To get you in the spirit, think of this intro as the print-based equivalent of that protracted pause favoured by all awards ceremonies ever, before the envelope is opened. We'll get the boring overview stuff out of the way, and then you can go have fun reading about curry tips, rare beers and how to survive a hangover in West Kirby.
So. These next few pages represent a mini-insight into the state of the region's food and drink scene, Northwest gastronomy circa 2013 if you like, through the public’s eyes. As we would a time capsule that has immortalised the zeitgeist for generations to come, we can look back on this all one day and remark how silly we were to obsess over meat patties and craft beer. Alternatively, aliens might find it and wonder, in their superior wisdom, at the very efficacy of surveys.
But not yet. For now, let’s live in the present/recent past. It’s safe to say that even the most blinkered of us can’t have failed to notice that 2013 was one hell of a year for food and drink in Manchester and Liverpool.
It was a time for some long overdue inter-city loving. In a kind of restaurant foreign exchange program, Almost Famous found a new home in Liverpool, Lucha Libre bunked up with Manchester, and Moose Coffee, too, headed east down the Mersey. It was also a time for A-list chefs to launch a small-scale, aproned assault on Manchester: James Martin, Simon Rogan and Aiden Byrne each opened a restaurant to more or less positive reception. And, more or less, they all got a mention in your votes.
The beer scene grew bigger, reflected by the sheer number of different names mentioned in the Best Brewery category. New bars sprung up left, right and centre, but the old haunts still held their own. We had a new festival in Liverpool in Camp and Furnace’s Summercamp, and the Independent Manchester Beer Convention held their second annual event. Street food burgeoned under independent trader collective Guerilla Eats, who staged ‘food parties’ of their own as well as lending support to events throughout the region.
In short, a lot's gone on, and we're glad to see both the familiar and the not-so-familiar, the new and the old faces featuring in the voting.
So, after much spreadsheeting, alphabetising, colour-coding, email-threading and old-fashioned bloody counting, the next four pages are our interpretation of your votes – and rather than just list your picks, we've got a bit creative. For those of you left without funds to venture abroad thanks to December’s debauchery and present-giving, we've got a world-tour-ish of the best non-British cuisines near you. We've also got a tongue-in-cheek Google Maps guide to your favourite fast food picks, as well as the aforementioned tips for budding curry-cooks and beer aficionados. Finally, there's a list of all your favourite places, so you've got a handy checklist of new places to visit in 2014.
Thanks to all those who voted – it really wouldn't be anything without you. Really. We’ll see you here again next year.