MediaCityUK is home to BBC North, ITV, Coronation Street, SIS LIVE, the University of Salford, dock10 and over 250 smaller creative and tech businesses. It has also recently announced that it will undergo a £1bn expansion with the development including more TV studio and production space, and shops and apartments. It’s certainly established itself as the north’s media and creative hub, as well as a property hotspot. But, unless you work or live there, would you venture to Salford Quays for a relaxing evening to unwind?
Manchester Social 101 spent a Friday night in MediaCityUK to find out…
Where to eat?
A tonne of eateries have sprung up in MediaCityUK so there’s lots of choice. Myself and my guest opted for Japanese-inspired wagamama, which has launched a fresh new menu.
We started our meal with a small bowl of spicy cauliflower, recommended by our waiter. Cauliflower perhaps isn’t a classic choice of starter but I would highly recommend giving this dish a chance. It’s crunchy and fresh with a strong spicy kick that puts your taste buds into gear. I made a note to recommend the dish to a few vegetarian friends.
For our main meal, I opted for a bowl of the teriyaki chicken. I swapped brown rice for sticky white rice – the restaurant is more than happy to oblige to requests like this. The rice is cooked to perfection, as you’d expect from a Japanese restaurant. The chicken is succulent and tasty and complemented well by a small pickle salad that comes on the side. My guest tried the fragrant katsu curry with rice – a wagamama classic – and if my dish hadn’t been so nice I’d definitely have had food envy! Its topping, spiralised, crunchy sweet potato, is nothing short of sensational. The smell itself is enough to make your mouth water. The curry sauce is flavoursome and creamy, which is ideal on a wintry evening. If you haven’t tried this dish before, it’s a must.
The portion sizes are huge so you certainly get your money’s worth. Our eyes bigger than our bellies, we also shared a side of the prawn lollipops, which are well seasoned and meaty in texture.
Finally, the staff recommended the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake and we couldn’t resist trying a slice to finish the meal. It doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I might go as far to say it’s the best cheesecake I’ve had for a long time and, again, the portion size is more than enough. I enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey tea to wash it down, although I was tempted by the healthy, freshly squeezed juices on the menu too.
We will most certainly be returning to the MediaCityUK restaurant very soon. It was great to try out a couple of the new options on the menu, and some old favourites too.
Tip – When it comes to chain restaurants it can sometimes feel as though the service is a little under par, but this isn’t the case with wagamama in MediaCityUK. The staff can’t do enough for you and are happy to recommend or alter dishes based on your preferences, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
What to do?
There’s no chance of being bored on your trip to MediaCityUK, especially if you’re a Culture Vulture. The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is housed at MediaCityUK, as is The Lowry, or take a behind the scenes tour of the BBC. The iconic Imperial War Museum is very much at the heart of the Quays too.
After enjoying the wagamama’s menu, we made our way over to The Lowry for the charming musical interpretation of Wind in the Willows.
Rufus Hound as Mr Toad, Fra Fee as Mole, Thomas Howes as Rat and Neil McDermott as Chied Weasel truly bring the book to life. The stage design is spectacular, creating a dynamic back drop for the action, transporting you to another world. Rufus Hound injects boundless energy, humour and emotion in to the show from the moment he first appears on stage and you’ll be rooting for him throughout the production.
The show is perfect for a family trip out. It’s a lively, uplifting experience and the catchy songs will stick it your head for days afterwards. If you’re a fan of the book, give it a go.
Where to drink?
You’d be forgiven for thinking the bars at MediaCityUK only attract after-work revellers – it is mainly made up of office space after all. But, Pier Eight in The Lowry has a fantastic atmosphere around the clock and we enjoyed a tipple both before and after the production. Alternatively, you could venture to On The 7th, an exclusive members club that doesn’t break the bank, for once! It is part of Eclectic Hotels’ portfolio, which also includes Great John Street Hotel. Cosy snugs are ideal hideaways on a chilly Friday night and the cocktail list is lengthy – it would be easy to lose an entire evening there.
All in all, I’m persuaded that MediaCityUK is a food, drink and entertainment destination, as well as an employment and property hotspot. With a massive expansion having been granted planning approval earlier this year, its offering is set to grow. So, stay a step ahead of the crowd and plan next weekend’s night out around the Quays.