Box on the Docks Mediacity, MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2BS – Visit Now
Box On The Docks is a brand new initiative from the restaurants at Mediacity, involving local artists, socially-distanced seating and semi-al fresco dining. It’s an experience that combines art, drinks and food, all by the riverside.
Mediacity is beginning to build an identity, establishing itself as a destination to visit in its own right
And it’s something that points the way forward for Mediacity. Long regarded as a mere outpost of London, it has a perhaps undeserved reputation for feeling a little soulless. Thankfully, this is changing and Mediacity is beginning to build a kind of identity of its own, establishing itself as a destination to visit in its own right. And Box On The Docks is a great leap in the right direction. It’s an attempt to add local colour and flair to an area that previously lacked identity – and it works.
This quayside area consists of a picnic area, a lowkey stage, some classic 1950s-style deckchairs dotted around, and most importantly, a bunch of brightly-coloured greenhouses and deluxe sheds decorated with forward-thinking designs from artists like Tasha Whittle (her sunflower-covered shed is a personal highlight – if you’re looking for a space with waves of warmth and joy, this is the box for you). This is the crux of Box On The Docks. They provide a stylish place for people to eat, up to a maximum of four, while enjoying the sun – but with useful shade if the sun is too bright, and protection from the Salford rain. Participating restaurants include Dockyard, The Botanist, Wagamama and more, with coffee provided by Grindsmith.
Of course, in the COVID era safety is an ever-present issue and Box On The Docks is perfect for those who err on the side of caution. You can enjoy restaurant-quality food without putting yourself in breathing distance of other diners, though you can happily wave at your neighbour through your shed or greenhouse window.
And that’s what we’re here for today. We’re in one of the greenhouses catered to by Vertigo, an all-vegan, plant-based restaurant with a couple of locations in central Manchester and a very new venue that has just opened in Mediacity. We’re brought a platter full of a variety of different dishes, from bao buns to burgers to ‘mac and cheeze’.
Spoiler, they’re all stunning. This isn’t food for vegans only, this is food for anyone who loves to eat. We begin with the bao buns, flavoured with hoisin and seitan as the filling. It’s perhaps a touch gauche to say ‘you wouldn’t know it was vegan’, but it’s true – even the most carnivorous diner would be impressed.
The buns are softy and springy, as all good bao buns are, and the flavours and textures throughout each bite are utterly fantastic. The 1/4lb ‘cheezeburger’ is wonderful, also. Made with a Beyond Burger that replicates the best elements of meat while sidestepping all the moral and environmental issues – this is the kind of the burger that could take over the world. A triumph. The garlic and sesame tenderstem broccoli and Caesar salad are equally delicious, adding a bright, light element to the dark and dirty burger and buns. The mac n cheeze is pleasant enough but lacks the powerful flavours found in the other meals on offer – it’s very easy to eat and totally moreish but doesn’t quite have the wow factor of its platter rivals.
Box On The Docks adds colour and vibrance to Mediacity
By this point, my dining partner and I are stuffed to the gills but manage to try a spoonful of the sweet potato and peanut butter dhaal and kick ourselves for not trying it earlier. We’re too full to eat the lot but this rich, creamy curry stands out as possibly the very best course among some very tough competition.
Finally, we manage to polish off the warm black cherry brownie topped with a hefty blob of melt-in-the-mouth ice cream. Like everything else offered up today, it’s perfection. Soft and crumbly in all the right places, with a sharp cherry flavour that cuts through the cake without overpowering it. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this isn’t just some of the best vegan food available in Manchester, this is some of the best food in Manchester, period.
Box On The Docks is a fantastic idea, adding colour and vibrance to Mediacity and transforming it into a safe, family-friendly go-to destination that sparkles in the sunshine. As for the food, Vertigo is an absolute must for anyone who cares about forward-thinking, delicious food. Beyond the next few weeks, the fate of Box On The Docks is unknown so we’d recommend booking quickly to make sure you get to try out this truly modern dining experience.