I’ve been to Yard and Coop a couple of times now. The first time I was wrestling with the worst hangover of 2016, the second time I was looking to line my stomach before a friend’s birthday at Funkademia in Manchester. It was successful in helping me through both scenarios. The first, thanks to its rum and chocolate milkshake which worked wonders in taking the edge off my apocalyptic state. The second thanks to the sensational food that they offer that kept me eating and eating.
Yard and Coop is in the top end of the Northern Quarter, a buzzing area of Manchester filled with restaurants and bars. This place appears to thrive as a crossover between the two – somewhere that sells a decent selection of drinks and an amazing menu of food. It was set up by two friends in 2015, enthusiastic about fried chicken but wanting to serve up something different to the usual grease from a late night takeaway. As you can guess, the whole menu focusses on chicken. Buttermilk chicken, served as breast, thigh, wings or nuggets, offered with loads of different sauces. There are also burgers (the “Massive Cock Burger” to name one) and large plate combos on offer. Oh, and salads. The owners have clearly put a lot of thought into the menu, and side dishes are quite rightly given almost as much attention as the main piece, from sweet potato fries to mac and cheese balls.
The only way to describe the interior is like a chicken coop. There is plenty of wood dotted around, spirits locked away in cages, and actual wired coops for people to sit in. Not to mention the huge fox painted above the bar that keeps everyone on their toes.
Both times I’ve been I’ve had their “Dirty Bird Fries”, chips loaded with buttermilk fried chicken thigh, bacon, cheese, BBQ sauce, blue cheese dip and chillies. An absolute feast. The meat to chip ratio is spot on and the sauces are amazing! The first time I tried the dish I swapped in some gravy for the blue cheese dip (living in the North is rubbing off on me) but I preferred the blue cheese/bbq combo which actually goes really well, despite not liking blue cheese. The Smokin’ Aces sauce is great as well, but the spice might not be for everyone.
The dirty fries are more than enough to fill you up, but it’s almost impossible not to add in a couple of sides. The Chorizo Thins are nice, but very greasy. The Mac ’n’ Cheese Balls are good, but a bit boring and there are better sides on the menu. My faves are the “Not Chicken Nuggets”, cubes of breadcrumbed haloumi, and the Battered Salty Jalapeños but you won’t want a whole portion. The slaw is meant to be really good as well! They also serve up a good selection of beers and milkshakes that you can chuck a shot of alcohol in. When I was nursing a hangover, I tried the chocolate shake with a shot of rum. A bit on the pricey side but smashing!
Not only is the food worth raving about, the service is sweet and the prices are good. The Dirty Bird Fries are one of the cheapest mains at £8, with the most pricey option being the “Yippy-Ki-Yay-Mutha-Clucka” at £15, an enormous triple decker chicken and bacon burger which to me sounds well worth it. Most of the sides are around £3.50 which is also a steal given the portions aren’t stingy.
Yard and Coop ticks all the boxes. They’ve got another branch in Liverpool as well – it would be amazing if they came to Yorkshire, but it’s a great treat when I cross the pennines. I’ll go again soon, try one of the burgers, the rest of the sides, and another boozy milkshake!
P.S. their blog on the top 10 foxes is also a funny read (http://yardandcoop.com/top-10-foxes/).