Where: Mayfield? Near Piccadilly station in a building site with fairy lights
Price: ‘Trendy’ (overpriced)
Tastiness Factor: 2-10
Return Custom: Maybe during the afternoon, if it is nearby
What can’t fairy lights do? I ponder sipping a cool beer sat at a table underneath the scaffolding of a building site. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Hipster faux-utilitarian design taken a little more literally here where the metal piping is used to hold up tables and unfinished buildings. It works though, and the lights make everything a bit softer and look less like a building site. But let’s not kid ourselves, I’m no fool, fairy lights do not maketh the food establishment. That’s the food’s job. And at Grub there’s plenty of choice–if you get there early.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was that there weren’t as many stalls as I had expected. No doughnuts or mac and cheese. Some of the stalls aren’t always the same but this was a little underwhelming. Particularly so after I spent the day pining over doughnuts from the Manchester Doughnut Company, that had been there the evening before. Google them if you want doughnut cravings so bad that the next day you will visit every shop within a mile radius of your house on foot in search of any doughnut only to be left empty-bellied and sobbing on a Sunday evening. Or so a friend of mine told me… The moral of the story is don’t believe in everything you see on Instagram. And no, that isn’t a typo, I believed in exquisite doughnuts.
Trauma aside, there were other stalls, six to be exact, and we tried something from all but one. No particular reason for the omission other than the size of our appetites and what we fancied. We started with a steamed chicken katsu bun. The accompaniment of the warm soft bao bun with crispy katsu chicken was perfectly comforting, flavoured with the contrasting tang of pickled veg with creamy wasabi mayo. There wasn’t enough wasabi to get a taste of it, I understand that it is a difficult flavor to balance but after being used as a part of the description a mild burning in the nostrils would have been nice. Plus there wasn’t much food considering the price.
Next up was cheesy potato croquettes with garlic aioli. I’m not too sure what else to say about it. They were obviously great. You can’t mess up deep-frying cheese and carbs and as a spokesperson for mayonnaise with potatoes and a lover of garlic it’s a simple but uber-delicious combination. High on all necessary food groups to induce what feels like a hug for your tum. The contrast of the crispy potato shell with its gooey soft insides maximises texture pleasure reception. (And yes that is a thing!)
The stealer of the show, and possibly my heart, was undeniably the calzone. Fried dough pockets of cheese and fresh tomato sauce. I had never had a calzone before so I think I may understand what Ben from Parks and Rec is going on about now. But I’m quite aware that the calzones at Grub are of a much higher standard than ones that come with donner meat from a take-away that serves curries, burgers and pizza. This came from an Italian food stand whose crowning jewel is the hot oozing pizza pasty, known as the calzone. I’ve certainly been spoilt but I shan’t complain. Some first times are worth waiting for until the moment is right and this was the greatest moment. Lose your calzone virginity at Grub! If you have already had a calzone before, go and have this one too but don’t blame me when you don’t see the others in the same way any more.
These foods I shared with my tall friend, to maximise our sample range. To fill up and explore things outside of our cross-palette Venn diagram. So I had, to describe plainly, a chicken sandwich. It was much more exciting than that; the bread was naturally gluten free and I can’t remember what it was now but it was big and surprisingly heavy. Filled with juicy spicy chicken with salad and avocado as tasty as it was messy to eat, which is quite. A few bites left and I had to hand it to my tall friend to finish off. It was the best value for money in terms of quantity.
But something was missing. I was craving the sweet release of fluffy dough and sugar. Then I made a mistake. I spent £3 on an upside down cupcake, whose flavour was described as ‘burnt butter’-that is a mistake, not a bold step for baking flavour profiles. It was disappointing and made me feel sad. And yes, that is a pathetic image. But maybe not as much as how this drove me to crying on a Sunday then eating four doughnuts after a bowl of zoodles on a Monday.
Grub is a good shout if you and a few friends can’t decide what to eat on a Saturday afternoon. Trusting that you are OK being ripped off a little, which is the cost of having multiple cuisine options that are high quality. If you go and get to eat doughnuts don’t tell me–or better–bring me a vanilla.