Hatch, Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7ED – Visit Now
We’ve been huge fans of Hatch ever since it opened but this new iteration is truly something special. Over the years, the space has seen a massive expansion and what was formerly a handful of street food vendors has become a must-visit space in its own right, basically the town square of the fast-growing Oxford Road area. Now you can have your hair cut by exceptional stylists at The Portland Barbers, buy clothes, get your nails done, eat, drink and pretty much become part of Manchester’s most vibrant community space in 2021.
Due to the current restrictions, it’s outside dining and drinking only, though it feels outside-y due to clever use of canopies, built-in umbrellas and open walls – with heaters to manage the current unpredictable weather. The weekend sees queues round the block to get in, and while this is likely to reduce once venues are allowed to have people inside, a table at Hatch is set to be a hot ticket for many moons to come. It’s welcoming to all ages but the crowd leans heavily toward the Millennial and Gen Z side of things, more of a sign of how effortlessly modern it feels rather than in-built ageism.
There’s a stage providing entertainment throughout the night, ranging from DJs playing a smart mix of obscure 80s disco and up-to-the-minute remixes to local musicians giving powerful performances to a surprisingly receptive crowd. There’s a refreshing lack of cynicism and critical judgement among the punters here, partly because people seem so relieved to be back out and partly because the crowd here are simply… nice.
The town square of the fast-growing Oxford Road area
But one of the main reasons to visit Hatch, particularly at a time when we’re legally confined to our tables, is to eat. And here it excels. There are almost too many street food vendors to count, from the excellent and enthusiastic Sicilian friends who run T’Arrici, to food from Fuku, Herbivorous and Grandad’s Sausages, and drinks from Takk, Ol Brewery and the on-site bar.
Tonight we opt for Parmogeddon. To my great shame, I’ve never tried a parmo before and I’m not sure I’ll try one quite as good as this again. Parmo? It’s a quality piece of breadcrumbed chicken, smothered in cheese and a wild variety of toppings and seasonings, with a side of unputdownable fries. I go for the salt and pepper parmo, and while I’m sure it breaks a number of WTO rules on food-related cultural appropriation, it’s undeniably delicious. The Parmageddon, its more spicey, potent sibling, is great too but the salt and pepper is something else. The seasoning is pitch-perfect, there isn’t too much cheese and, well, it’s only a tenner so go and try it yourself and report back.
But that isn’t the only reason to visit Hatch. It’s doing great things for the city, bringing green space to an area that at last count had precisely none; Bruntwood, the developers, are committed to ethical principles, meaning if for some reason that day’s takings are down for the vendors, they pay less in rates, accordingly – it’s the good kind of capitalism, that we rarely see in the 21st century. It’s also a hub of everything great and exciting about Manchester. It’s fantastic now but when things open up properly and we can dance and hug and live life again, Hatch will well and truly shine.