You’ll find North Kitchen and Bar in Hanley’s Cultural Quarter, nestled between Bloom and Bottlecraft. Its welcoming exterior has had a lick of paint from mural legends We Are Culla to give the venue a fresh new look.
Some of you might be thinking – that’s where RAWR used to be, isn’t it? And you’re right. Back in November 2019, the team took the decision to change the name of the eatery to better fit their scandi-style and Nordic vibe – but maintaining their passion for great food and culture.
Pre-lockdown, North was my lunch-break hangout to escape for a London Fog and people watch on Piccadilly.
The newly branded site is cool and casual, offering stripped back wooden and industrial décor, house plants and the smell of authentic, home-cooked food. The versatile venue can offer that hygge feeling with a steaming speciality coffee and a good book in the afternoons, but also lends itself to a bustling nightlife alongside an extensive cocktail menu.
Jake and I headed up to Piccadilly on Friday night, where the City Centre Business Improvement District had put on some live music from local DJs. The City Council has allowed businesses in the cultural quarter to offer outdoor seating as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme launches, offering a metropolitan vibe to the ever-growing community hub in the heart of Hanley.
Inside North, we were seated in one of my favourite spots – the window. Either side of the door there is a two seater table made from scaffold bars and reclaimed wood, with the warm glow of exposed bulbs hanging in the window.
I ordered a Sevilla Fizz gin cocktail, featuring my favourite Tanqueray Sevilla gin, angostura orange bitters, orange and Mediterranean tonic. I took a look at the newly-launched evening menu, half knowing what I was ordering anyway. I’ve been drooling over this menu since its release on July 10.
Jake ordered a chicken and bacon burger, with southern fried chicken breast, crispy bacon, blue cheese dressing and salad on a brioche bun, served with fries. We also ordered mozzarella dippers and mac and cheese bites to share, for all the cheesy goodness.
My arm was nearly twisted for a cherry cola pulled pork taco set, but my heart had been set on the bacon and blue dog for weeks. The wild boar and pork sausage is topped with crispy bacon bits and a blue cheese dressing, with optional crispy onions. It’s served in a pretzel bun and comes with fries.
The soft, chewy bun took me back to New York, tearing at the glutinous doughy bread full of flavour. The hotdog was thick, packed with herbs and chillis – combined with the blue cheese and bacon, it was sensational. It was by far the best quality sausage I’ve ever had, and tops the ones I’ve encountered at German markets.
North co-owners Gemma and Rusty have a beautiful ethos at the heart of North, which resonates with their customers. They champion sustainable, eithical and other independents, even shouting them out on their site.
During the Covid-19 crisis, they donated immune-boosting juices to NHS staff at the Royal Stoke hospital. They launched a delivery service for essentials like fruit, veg and tea when supermarket home-delivery slots were snapped up, and published recipes using cupboard staples to spark inspiration when supplies were sparse.
North Kitchen and Bar is currently open Wednesday to Sunday (opening times on their socials). They are proudly taking part in the governement’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme with bookings preferred. That means you could get the bacon and blue dog for just £6.25. (You should definitely get the mac and cheese bites, too!)