One way to stand out against the flurry of restaurant competition that has hit Manchester this year is to come up with an idea for something different, then execute it to the highest standard with unwavering attention to detail.
And that’s what Carl Morris and Laura Morris (no relation) have done over on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter.
As the name suggests, Yard and Coop is all about chicken; buttermilk fried chicken to be more precise.
The chicken theme doesn’t stop with the name and the food. Quirky chicken features run throughout the restaurant, but not in a twee farmhouse kind of way.
The restaurant has a stripped back warehouse vibe that accommodates 120 diners. It’s a casual dining space offering maximum flexibility. Long bench seating, dotted with comfy cushions made from farm themed material, allows tables to be joined or separated for large groups or more intimate dining. Designated chicken coops offer a quirky space for a party.
I loved the fox door handles, the recycled jam jar salt and pepper pots, and the instructive murals that show you how to enjoy your chicken. There was even a jar of mini eggs by the till, which accompany your bill.
The star of the show is a giant fox, who cheekily winks at the diners he surveys. It’s a wonder he’s not licking his chops with all that chicken.
Talking of chicken; no short cuts have been taken here. It’s been a long journey for Carl and Laura, who tried many permutations until they settled on the perfect buttermilk recipe and crumb flavourings. It’s not surprising that they are closely guarded secrets.
The result is succulent, tender chicken, served in whichever way you choose. There are larger plate options if you’re particularly hungry, and even a group sharing bucket. It’s all about getting stuck in and sticky fingers.
We sampled the chicken thighs (boneless) with The Bee’s Knees and Blue Cheese sauces for dipping. The Bee’s Knees was just that. Made from cayenne, lime and honey, it hit just the right sweet notes, with a satisfying heat.
Next came chicken breast with Bourbon BBQ sauce, quickly followed by chicken coated with the cajun and chip shop crumb. Each dish was cooked perfectly and full of flavour.
If you’re not a fan of chicken there are halloumi ‘not chicken nuggets’, and a selection of tantalising side dishes. We sampled the Peas and Love (garden peas with fresh mint and chilli) and Heritage Tomato and Onion Salad.
To complement the food, there is a wide drink selection including cocktails and craft beers. The milkshakes look particularly tempting.
Despite the size, the layout keeps the atmosphere relaxed and the noise at just the right pitch between buzzing and still able to talk to the person opposite you. The staff are friendly, happy, and will do anything to help, making the whole dining experience a pleasure.
Chicken can be a hard thing for restaurants to get right but done well, it’s amazing. And these guys do it exceptionally well.
Yard and Coop: Ground floor, 23-37 Edge Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1HW, Tel: 0161 710 25 70.
Thanks to Yard and Coop for the chicken and to Time Out Manchester for putting my name on the list.