Pull Up Bar Cafe is a welcome addition to Manchester city centre. One of the very few independent Caribbean restaurants in the centre, it’s a colourful, fun-looking cafe based on Swan Street in the Northern Quarter. Of course, in normal times we’d have spent a couple of hours in there, soaking up the atmosphere along with some cocktails and most of the menu. Sadly, these are lockdown times and the honourable Mr Cummings aside, we the people are no longer allowed in restaurants, for the time being at least.
Curried goat, jerk chicken and even a few surprise pieces of saltfish
So for this review, we purchased the ‘Hench Box’, took it home and guzzled the lot. Curried goat, jerk chicken and even a few surprise pieces of saltfish, plus plenty of perfectly-cooked fluffy rice and a few sprigs of coriander. It’s not a cheap option, coming in at around £15, but this is reflected in the quality. Curried goat varies wherever you go, and Pull Up’s iteration is as good as it gets. Slightly sweeter and less packed with Scotch bonnet heat than some, it’s still incredibly moreish, packed with all kinds of flavours – a touch of cinnamon here, some rich, murky, meaty gravy there.
The jerk chicken is just as good. The bone slides out with ease – we’re clearly dealing with high-end produce, none of your mass-produced frozen poultry, we’re happy to say. Again, the heat is gentle but steadily develops with each bite, it’s not a wham bam thank you mam kind of cheap chili heat – and all the better for it.
We’re clearly dealing with high-end produce, none of your mass-produced frozen poultry
Interestingly, the saltfish is probably the best of the proteins, despite my not even asking for it. It’s smooth, delicate and blends beautifully with the spices from the two meats. The rice comes scattered with pomegranate seeds, not often seen with other Caribbean restaurants round these parts, but they’re a fantastic addition. Crunchy and sweet, and adding little blots of bright red colour to the plate.
If we’re looking for faults, it’d be nice to have a bit more jerk chicken – one leg simply wasn’t enough, but the saltfish made up for it, in fairness. Manchester has long needed a genuine independent Caribbean restaurant in the city centre, and Pull Up Bar Cafe is most certainly that.