Food and drink: Mackie Mayor, Northern Quarter, Manchester

Simon Donohue

I paid my first visit to Mackie Mayor this week – an amazing space with a brilliant atmosphere.

The charmingly rustic ‘Victorian’ food hall sits within the listed former Smithfield Market building in Swan Street, Manchester, not far from Band On The Wall. I suspect it took an awful lot of effort to retain the elegant 1858 aesthetic of the place while creating a cool and vibrant modern dining experience. 

It’s really informal with plenty of seating on two levels, and a selection of achingly fashionable food and drink outlets lining the walls of the ground floor space.

You’ll be awestruck at first, such is the hustle and bustle of the place, but all you need to do is find a table and tell the people at the various serving counters where you’re sitting. With a table waiting service, there’s no need to all order from the same place.

Mackie Mayor is the sister to the wonderful Altrincham Market and the same caterers are represented too, including the Tender Cow steakhouse and wood-fired pizzeria Honest Crust.

It’s priced at about the level of a once a month Friday lunchtime treat rather than a more regular destination, with most food offerings hovering around the £10 to £15 mark.

I settled on the Cornish spider crab (£12) on toasted sourdough bread, with a side of salted skin-on potato fries (£4), from the Fin Fish Bar. They also do fish and chips (£15), a fish finger sandwich (£9) and a spicy mackerel wrap (£8), which gave me touch of lunch envy. The skate wing looked pretty fancy too. 

The crab was really tasty, with a touch of spice, while the fries were really moreish. 

A nice touch was free tap water on the table but there’s a wide selection of drinks to be had next time I go.

There’s loads of choice already in the Northern Quarter but Mackie Mayor definitely feels like a landmark new destination in terms of both architecture and the history of the area.

The Northern Quarter has come a long way since it was better known as the slightly scuzzy bit of town around Oldham Street. Mackie Mayor finally lives up to the area’s hype.

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