Solita in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, is our most visited restaurant this year. Last week was our fifth time, what keeps us going back time and time again? The ever changing specials and bringing fresh ideas with Twitter hype. Solita play the game to perfection. Whilst it is easy to introduce new dishes they also have to appeal to diners or there is little point, this is what Solita excel at. A constant revolving door of specials lasting a couple of weeks, with previews on the Twitter feed, the short window of opportunity entices return visits from the likes of me. Most successful mid-market restaurants need a large group of regular customers whilst attracting new ones.
Some of the dishes we have tried recently include the Burger Thermidor, panko fried lobster on top of the chuck steak and bone marrow burger.
Solita was the first restaurant to offer the ramen burger in the UK. I nearly missed out on this altogether as it was taken off the specials board the day I arrived but a quick tweet from boss Franco ensured the kitchen were kind enough to make me one on the spot.
My favourite burger however has to be the ‘Mac Daddy’, with deep fried mac n cheese replacing the bun. This is my favourite of all the recent burgers, with the balance of the mac n cheese, bacon and burger being ideal. Although I made the mistake of upgrading to the curly cheesy bacon fries which finished me off completely. Must note not to be swayed next time by the sales pitch!
Not all new dishes were a hit with us however, the Lancashire ‘calamari’ made with tripe was rather boring and dare I say it, bland. English tripe by nature is soft and tasteless and not even the deep fryer could elevate this dish for me. Its short lived existence on the specials probably echoes its popularity with diners.
DIY tiramisu – Savoiardi biscuits served with a small mug of alcohol laden expresso and mascarpone pot. This was novel yet hugely additive, the biscuits could be dipped to taste with the exact preferred softness before scooping up as much or little mascarpone as desired.
The ideas at Solita are simple but intriguing. The Solita Onion being a prime example, a humble onion prepared in an attractive blooming style and deep fried. It’s so popular that I haven’t managed to try it yet as they have ran out the last couple of times I have tried to order it. Only the most health conscious are able to resist the lure of deep fried food. The menu retains old favourites such as pulled pork sundae which seems more refined than when we first tried it six months ago.
A forthcoming dish is the deep fried swirly potato on a stick, we have tried a Taiwanese variant and it is simple yet appealing. As quoted by Solita on Twitter ‘you say potato we say profit J’ it is sure to be another hit, why? It is something familiar but repackaged in a fresh and exciting way. Maybe the team could sell ice to the eskimos and sand in the dessert and I for one wouldn’t put it past them. There are rumours that they have been scouting a Liverpool site which can't open soon enough to save me the trip across the M62.