Plenty of restaurants and bars bill themselves as ‘doing’ good as well as tasting good, but despite their avalanche of #fitfam smoothie posts they can be a bit… well… boring. Thankfully, this doesn't seem the case at The Counter House, a vibrant all-day spot in Ancoats where virtue meets vice to produce food, drink and a chilled atmosphere.
The evening menu covers both small plate dining and more substantial offerings, so it’s a good pick if you just want some accompaniments to an excellent cocktail list that nods to Northern roots with Vimto-Pimm’s cups and Bakewell martinis. For an elegant highlight, there's a spiced pear bellini or the carefully considered wine list which features choices available by the glass.
Starters include globally-inspired grilled dishes like the firecracker chicken skewers (£7); two appealingly charred kebabs soaked in a sticky Asian marinade and accompanied by griddled pineapple and a spicy dip. In keeping with its wholesome vibe, TCH has plant-based choices for everyone and the vegan enchilada (£7) is a portion that’s healthy both in size and constitution. A fat wrap of black beans, tomatoes and vegan cheese, it’s a satisfying blast of Latin flavours that’s as rich and chocolatey as a Mexican mole sauce.
As for big plates, there's a few staples that TCH once removed, but had regulars knocking down the door with complaints. Thankfully they’ve reinstated the baked chicken katsu (£15.50), a perennial favourite that’s much lighter than any fried counterpart. The nutty, breaded bird comes with a mild curry sauce and a bright side of wild rice, crunchy edamame and tangy spring onions. It’s an appealing patchwork quilt of flavour and texture that’s big enough to satisfy. Plant-wise, the spiced dahl with cauliflower rice (£13.50) has bags of sour tang and a mustardy richness offset by a creamy coconut yoghurt.
Dessert is where things get properly naughty. There are lighter options, sure, but how could you overlook the warm Bakewell slice (£6.50)? It's a hefty double-decker bus-sized slab of buttery sponge and fruit. Then there’s the vegan-friendly peanut and chocolate brownie (£6.50), which comes complete with vegan raspberry ripple and an indulgent side order of “good grief, I am FULL.” Save plenty of room for this cocoa champion.
The DesignMyNight Digest
In a stylish, plant-filled space flooded with warm light and mellifluous hip hop, The Counter House has got your back whether you want turmeric smoothies and avocado toast or stacked burgers and boozy cocktails. It’s definitely working because even on a wintery Thursday night, every table is crowded with folk chatting over steaming plates of hearty food. This is one you’ll want to add to your favourites.
Want more plant-based inspo? Check out our guide to vegan-friendly restaurants in Manchester.