There’s a familiar face popping up in Manchester Arndale Market and those who have been to Hatch or YES in last year or so will recognise it. It’s Firebird Hope, a poultry pop-up offering a fresh take on the chicken burger and a few lessons on how to keep things real.
Firebird Hope’s logo is striking simplicity. This reductive, but effective ethos bleeds into the stall’s menu, which lists just three items.
My word, what a chicken burger
Firebird Hope does one thing and one thing well; a chicken burger. Well, there is a vegan option featuring a juicy, home-made seitan fillet and there are some refreshingly sharp lime and chilli salt fries to bolt onto your order, but that aside, it’s a place you visit to get a chicken burger. And my word, what a chicken burger.
Doing one thing and one thing well is a great strategy; look at Usain Bolt, Richard Hammond or Nigella. These guys have built careers around one, single thing because they’ve poured everything they have into their art and conquered their fields. It doesn’t matter whether you run really fast, make juvenile gags about cars or giggle at eclairs… if you’re good at it, people will appreciate it.
A chunky, handheld feast
The chicken burger is different to ‘other’ chicken burgers. For a start, the bun is a huge sourdough cob with a mind of its own. The chicken thigh is fried with care and the depths of the meat are hot, juicy and tender. Big too. The twist comes from the koji mayo, house slaw and the pickled cucumbers, which bring its profile closer to a sandwich than a burger, but it’s still a chunky, handheld feast. It’s a five-star burger and the vegan option isn’t far behind either.
The fries are standard, good fries really, but the lime and chilli salt is a real point of difference and the homemade mango sauce is unreal if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
Every day, the Arndale adds another food option, but who wants a smorgasbord of ‘meh’ when you can savour a single showstopper? Look further afield and there are plenty of lunchtime options around the NQ, but if you want something with a bit of substance, take a left at the stinking fish counter and grab something from FH.