Open Kitchen at The People’s History Museum is serving some of the best lunches in town. But the food isn’t just good, it’s food you can feel good about eating. Almost all the ingredients in the daily changing menu are ‘intercepted’ on their way to landfill and re-purposed here, in the stunning, glass-clad café on the banks of the River Irwell. I get such a thrill from being able to use up things in the fridge I thought would go to waste, and the idea of designing a whole restaurant, with this purpose in mind feels perfectly pitched for our troubled times.

The cooking towered over our expectations. A perfect vegetarian chilli, with sweetcorn salsa is framed with a fan of deep-fried, butter-crisp tortilla chips (£8). Macarconi cheese comes with squash chunks and an inspired crust of pumpkin seeds (£8) See how they echoed the squash there? It’s so good. Sides include spiced wedges with harissa mayo, and there are sandwiches (brie and homemade pear chutney, falafel and babaganoush £5) and soups too. Round things off with a root veg, raisin and chia or snickers rocky road cake (£2.50). As you’d expect, drinks are as environmentally sound as the rest of the menu. Think Karma cola, Café Direct and beer by Ardwick brewery, Beer Nouveau.

Before setting up Open Kitchen, founder Corin Bell used to run the Real Junk Food Project on Oxford Road. While there, she supplied Mary Ellen McTague who was at Manchester Art Gallery café at the time with ‘intercepted’ free kids lunches. She’s not doing kids food for free here but there are daily offers in the region of £2.50. The menu changes all the time. We advise dropping in as often as possible to see what’s on offer.

Win a meal for 2! 

Fancy giving it a go? We’re lucky enough to have a 3-course meal for 2 with soft drinks up for grabs. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.

Panzanella salad (dried toms, sourdough) at Open Kitchen Manchester £8 - by Ruth Allan, Manchester Wire
Panzanella salad (dried toms, sourdough) (£8)


Macaroni cheese with a pumpkin seed crust (£8) at Open Kitchen Manchester by Ruth Allan Manchester Wire
Macaroni cheese with a pumpkin seed crust (£8)


Root veg, raisin and chia seed cake (£2.50) at Open Kitchen at People's History Museum by Ruth Allan, Manchester Wire
Root veg, raisin and chia seed cake (£2.50)




Tue 10 Aug - Fri 20 Aug, Open Kitchen Manchester,
People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Tue 10 Aug 2021