The Manchester Union building is a vibrant and modern co-working space, sitting opposite Albert Square in the city centre. It also hosts Ditto Coffee, launched by the company of the same name: Ditto Music, fittingly.
Ditto holds independent music close to its heart, supporting over 150,000 artists in an attempt to create a fairer music industry, and the coffee shop has similar goals. Citing a great cup of coffee as a key element to growing the business globally, they decided to blend their two loves and create a concept that serves up both great music and great coffee. However, tonight we’re here to try their new Christmas menu – a locally-sourced three-course menu with a glass of prosecco on arrival for £30.
It’s clear that a wealth of consideration has gone into every element on the plate
For starters, a house-made ham hock served with winter chutney and toasted brioche. It’s a delicate but meaty dish, balanced nicely with sweet brioche. The vegan option is charred heirloom tomato and purple basil bruschetta, providing a light, summery feel which contrasts playfully with the December weather.
For the main event, prime turkey ballotine, filled with sausage, cranberry and sage stuffing. It comes with baby carrots, which were hand-picked by head chef Michael before being cooked in honey, alongside maple roasted parsnips. Then there are pigs in blankets made by a local butcher and Maris Piper fondant potatoes rolled and roasted in butter. And not forgetting the superb chicken demi-glace gravy, reduced over 48 hours until it morphs into something rich, golden and delicious.
The vegan option is a lentil wellington prepared like dahl, using garam masala and cumin, cooked in coconut milk to create a hearty, filling dish. The pastry is made with margarine and mixed with sesame and chia seed, giving it substantial nutritional benefits, along with an appealing texture. This comes with a fragrant tomato and romesco sauce made by slow roasting peppers over two hours, which creates a gentle warmth in the back of the mouth.
For dessert, a completely vegan chocolate mousse, magically made with nothing but water and chocolate
To end, a Madagascan vanilla cream – set in the style of panna cotta but more mousse-like in texture. Interestingly, the flavours developed throughout, making for an ever-shifting but delightfully creamy experience. This comes with a vivid Amalfi lemon curd and some seasonal mixed berries which add a welcome tartness. The other option is a completely vegan chocolate mousse, magically made with nothing but water and chocolate. An exceptional dish, it arrives with Maraschino black cherries and redcurrants to balance the light bitterness of the dark chocolate.
As yet, Ditto is more known for coffee than food, but this Christmas menu looks set to change that. The various flavours in every course are powerful and well-balanced, making it clear that a wealth of consideration has gone into every element on the plate. Whether you’re a meat-eater or a veggie, this is a must-try meal.