Review by Chris Patrick
First impressions of Friska were of a huge, fresh, clean space that would be instantly relaxing to anyone coming in from work. It’s in the perfect location for this too, just over the tram-tracks from the town hall. A sense of efficiency, energy, life and colour pulses through the place. Enthusiastic staff suggested I have the Pulled Pork Burrito and the Lebanese Meatball Hotbox. Many other Burritos and Hotboxes are available besides.
If, unlike me, you sometimes needed to stop eating, this would be a perfectly sized portion
A Hotbox is a well-presented take-away lunchbox, and this one, when I opened it, gave off a minty fresh smell with a foundation of decent lamb. It came with meatballs, rice, yoghurt, coleslaw and pitta. The meat was succulent, not greasy; the rice was moist, not dry, and I enjoyed it immensely. My main thought was, that if, unlike me, you sometimes needed to stop eating, this would be a perfectly sized portion.
Having got through part one, I then moved on to the burrito, with tender pulled pork, rice, beans, actually hot jalapenos, and some nice sour cream and cheese. The bread was nice and soft, not an afterthought. This was filling, but also within spec for a very reasonable working lunch, and easily taken away if you had a few precious minutes to spare.
I noticed that the staff were actually calling the customers by name
Everything I had eaten was real and fresh. It almost felt odd to be eating actual real food in a setting like this. Not a wilting croissant or toastie in sight. As I sat there enjoying myself and scribbling, I noticed that the staff were actually calling the customers by name.
This sort of cheeriness can come across, in some places, like that Microsoft paperclip that wants to help you write a letter. And in some London cafes such an effort is made, but with such deference, that you feel rather like a dark lord that has come down from the castle. Not here though – it felt like a very real positivity. The customers looked satisfied too – much throwing down of heavy work bags and grateful chewing.
All in all, we now have somewhere to go for a working lunch where you can get real food fast, which to my knowledge represents a step-up for Manchester. You may have your own haunts, but my advice, as I recall the meatballs fondly to memory, is to give Friska a try.