Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Baratxuri at Escape to Freight Island, Manchester.

Way back in May 2014 (I had to look it up on here) we were stood outside the shuttered doors of Levanter in Ramsbottom waiting for it to open for the first time. We were their first customers that day and were impressed with their authenticity from the start. As I started taking photographs professionally, Fiona and Joe were amongst my first clients, especially when Baratxuri opened. I think we were there on opening night, eating pintxos and documenting the occasion.
I like to think that as they have developed their restaurant business, I have developed my photography and we have worked together ever since. I've tried to repay their loyalty by always creating the best set of photos I possibly can for them.
I wasn't expecting a phone call from Fiona a few weeks ago as we're in the middle of a restaurant covid related shut down, only now are my clients opening up or considering doing so soon.
At that time Escape to Freight Island wasn't on my radar, I think it had been under wraps, and I'm no longer on social media so much, so I had no expectations and no real knowledge of what it was. I should have known that if Luke and Justin of Volta another of my regular clients The Refuge were involved, it was going to be a winner.
Fifteen years ago when I used to travel by train up to Yorkshire every day, I would park my car around these what were then run down dodgy back streets of Piccadilly near the station. Now this, the Mayfield Depot has been developed to the tune of £1.4 billion. It's just the beginning of this site I believe but it's a fantastic space and there's easily enough room for social distancing too. I've been twice now, once just working and a second time to shoot a little more and eat ourselves though the fine menu at Baratxuri.
I think Joe (pictured below) has been inspired by the open air grill cooking found in the Basque country Asadors.
Restaurants like Etxebarri in Atxondo and Kaia Kaipe and Elkano in Getaria have inspired our taste too. Give me this robust cooking over Michelin-style frippery any day, although I didn't always feel this way. Although seen as perhaps more traditional, I view this less is more simplicity as actually more modern than most over elaborate overly expensive, fussy high end restaurants, especially in this area.
Whole fish cooked over coals, BBQ'd meat, char-grilled veg, it's such enjoyable food to eat and to watch the theatre of it cooking on the flames and smoke.
I work with lots of chefs in my job. Their work ethic is a constant inspiration to me. It's quite rare to keep hold of the same chef over the years. Chef Rachel Stockley (pictured below) has been at Baratxuri from the beginning. Rachel's passion and skill with Spanish food makes Baratxuri a perfect team.
Whole Vegetable Skewers. Skewered whole red pepper, red onion and sweet potato, baked deep in the fire with chilli and garlic salsa. (£8).
Shell on BBQ king prawns. Whole king prawns, grilled over oak embers and served with bomba rice cooked with shrimp and clams. (£16).
Whole Grilled Sea Bass charred over the fire served with roasted new potatoes. (£16).
Rump Steak. Herefordshire 10oz rump steak with fire salt crust served with vine tomatoes and salsa verde. (£18).
Fire Roasted Pork. Pork Belly slow roasted over the wood fire with smoky new potatoes and chilli, garlic and sherry vinegar. (£9).
Some shots of the site.
We loved Baratxuri at Escape to Freight Island. It's an exciting space and the food is exactly the kind of food we like to eat.
To see the full set of photos in high resolution have a look at my photography website here.

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