Just the tonic! Interview with Emma Roberts, Founder of Into the Gathering Dusk

Into the Gathering Dusk is a botanical drinks project. I find wild ingredients and use them to make all kinds of drinks, cocktails, health tonics, cordials and teas. We walk past wild food and drink every day and my project highlights the interesting and tasty plants we have all around us in the city. I hope to inspire people to appreciate and use them.

Manchester is full of brilliant ingredients. Our streets and parks are full of beautiful mature trees and the wild, unmanaged spaces in the city also have useful plants and weeds just waiting to be noticed.

We also run workshops where you can explore flavours, traditions and techniques and make your own wild drinks. We’ve been hosted by some marvellous places like Caffé Lupo Italiano and Isca Wines and have collaborated with local food legends, Holy Crab and Manchester Tart Co. We’ve also been invited to ‘pop up’ in some of Manchester’s most beautiful spots like Barbecue Coffee, Idle Hands and Ducie Street Warehouse where we serve our botanical creations alongside the best live music acts and DJ’s.

We’re part of a diverse community here in Manchester made up of people who have brought their plants and traditional methods and techniques here. A trip to an Asian fruit and veg shop or a supermarket in Chinatown will introduce you to fascinating new ingredients you’ve never heard of but that can do so much good.

We benefit so much from cultural diversity and should be welcoming people in to our communities, especially those seeking refuge. That’s why we give 10% of our profits to Manchester-based refugee support projects and charities like Together Now, who support families to be reunited after separation during the asylum process, and Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) a charity supporting women with practical, legal and social support. We feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to continue to do this during the pandemic.

Ancoats is such a creative and vibrant community. So many of the city’s cultures are represented here and the local businesses support one another and collaborate brilliantly, making it a truly friendly place for a day or night out. The local businesses are exceptional –  a concentration of cool, award-winning venues, all working really hard to be wonderful.

A cocktail that represents Ancoats? I’d probably leave that to the cocktail heroes who are based there! But I do love to work with ethical raw honey, gin and some of the local trees in Ancoats such as gingko and beech leaves. That could be a fitting and delicious mix!

We’ve recently been invited onto the Eat Well Manchester marketplace alongside some of Manchester’s food and drink heroes. The collective is made up of hospitality professionals and volunteers to support the most disadvantaged people impacted by the Covid-19 crisis by providing delicious chef-made meals.

We’re continuing to run our cocktail delivery service and are collaborating with a selection of small retailers to provide a range of bottled cocktails and vermouths. This has been really good fun and is driving creative development of new products.

We’re adapting our workshops to be safe for smaller, more distanced groups without losing the fun, creative group atmosphere, and we’re also hoping to appear at some Manchester Christmas markets, both online and in-person, so watch this space!

As we come through this crisis, I think that our hospitality culture will continue to be driven by excellence, a spirit of collaboration and generosity to its community. It’s hard to predict how we will adapt and change in response to current and future events, but I’m guessing that the spirit of Ancoats will remain innovative, hardworking and fun. Whether you’re single, part of a couple, or a family – from any culture, at any age – Ancoats is a diverse, welcoming and exciting place to be.

We’re hoping to organize some events at Broadside as soon as it’s safe to do so. You can expect a variety of socially distanced and online workshops, group events and competitions to keep you feeling entertained, cared for and creative! Think yoga, plants, cocktails, food, arts, crafts and more. We want to organize events that you’re interested in, so do get in touch and let us know what you want.

To find out more about Into the Gathering Dusk, the amazing products they concoct, the charities they support and the unique events they run, head over to their brand new website or Instagram page. If you’re interested in a collaboration for your party, event or business, make sure to drop them a line.


Just a quick one…

Favourite food spot in the city centre?
Erst is my favourite – beautiful, exciting and incredible attention to detail in a lovely spot. Best spot for a family night or first date? Sugo or Rudys – you couldn’t be more comfortable there. You can also enjoy gorgeous smaller plates at Jane Eyre (and cocktail brilliance) and Nam – really clean vibrant dishes, it offers an exciting, bustling evening out with great music. I haven’t been to Mana yet, but it’s a must-try apparently.

Favourite bar?
It’s got to be Cocktail, Beer, Ramen & Bun – so fun and innovative – but again there are so many and the standard is very high.

Best place for a brew?
I do love Idle Hands but there are LOADS of great coffees on offer – Trove, Pollen, Just Between Friends, Another Heart to Feed…the list goes on!

Where do you like to go for a walk?
I love walking in the city but I am no guide. I can’t tell my left from my right and often go the extra mile (aka get lost!). You should check out Not Quite Light photographer Simon Buckley’s Instagram for beautiful spots to explore in the city. If you want to get out of town you can always hop on the Metrolink and be in Chorlton in 15 minutes, from there you have the water parks and the beautiful paths running alongside the River Mersey.

Favourite brunch spot?
It has to be Idle Hands again. I’ve never had a breakfast better than their Turkish eggs. Meat eaters, veggies and vegans are equally well catered for there too.

Favourite arts venue?
The programmes at the Royal Northern College of Music are brilliant.

Favourite place in the whole of the city centre?
Joint winners: City Art Gallery on Moseley street and John Rylands Library on Deansagate.

What’s YOUR favourite cocktail?
It has to be my Nettle Martini! Obviously I’m blowing my own trumpet, but I did make it for myself with all of my favourite wild plants so…

Tell us about a local business or hidden gem we may not have heard of…
I really love the elegance and care in the vintage clothes collections at Retro Rehab on Oldham street, its a really gorgeous shop. For general gifts and treats, Form Lifestyle store is a hidden gem.


A local lockdown success story: Q&A with Jerome Boullier, Founder of Le Social Wine, Food & Life

Lockdown has had a varied and erratic effect on our hospitality sector. Our favourite bars and restaurants have been forced to adapt and change the way they do things in the hopes that they’ll keep their doors open and survive these uncertain times.

It’s so important, now more than ever, to focus on the positive things happening around us where we can, celebrate the good stuff, and support our local businesses. 

That’s why we wanted to have a chat and a big glass of red with our friend Jerome, owner of Le Social Wine, Food & Life – a sustainable wine and food provider based in Ancoats.

Le Social was actually born during lockdown when Jerome started delivering wine straight to his friends’ houses for a small fee, with all profits going to charity. He soon realised how much of a difference his socially distanced visits were making. More than an online platform, Le Social is now a community of people sharing a common interest for gastronomy, creativity, and wellbeing…


Our focus at Le Social is on a small but sharp selection of natural, organic and sustainably made wines from around Europe. We deliver the same or next day in Manchester and Greater Manchester, by bike if possible. We see wine as a medium for social interaction, hence our name. It’s also very important to us that our wines are offered at an accessible price point. They start at £9.99 a bottle, so there’s something for everyone.

We needed a flexible space, and a community to join in, so Pollard Yard was the obvious choice for a base for Le Social. Ancoats and Pollard Yard (Manchester’s newest creative hub, housing affordable workshops and studio spaces in converted shipping containers) host so many of our favourite food and drink places. There’s a suburban/village feel to the area that you can’t find anywhere else in the city centre.

We focus on wines that reflect the environment, the place, the history, the culture and the people they come from. Our wines are great tasting and good looking. Each bottle is an extension of the personality of the producer, as shown by some of the fabulous labels. When we can, alongside our suppliers, we visit all the vineyards and are in touch with the producers too. We have very short supply chains based on friendship and a mutual love for great sustainable wines. And now our customers are part of our community too, which is amazing.

In terms of our most popular wines, we seem to be running out of orange wines a lot these days. The colour, texture and taste comes from the skin of white grapes in which the wine is left to macerate for a certain amount of time. These wines have been under the radar for too long, so it’s great to see them flying off the shelves.

Our motto is hospitality, generosity and empathy, and we tend to collaborate with people who share the same values.
We like to team up with local restaurants and businesses and host tasting evenings and experiences. We recently hosted a wine and tapas evening with The Molly House, a great little spot in the Gay Village. We also delivered an Italian wine, food and music experience which went really well. With everything that’s going on, our events are moving online again and we’re bringing back Zoom tastings, private classes, and focusing on wine and food deliveries.

We have a few things in the pipeline exclusively for Broadside residents…We’re looking to set up an exclusive wine delivery service for residents so they can get their favourite wines delivered straight to their doors without venturing out. In partnership with other independent businesses, we’re also developing bespoke experience boxes with food, wine and other goodies from the local area and beyond.

Ancoats is home to so many creative and entrepreneurial people and companies, all sharing a positive and future-looking attitude. It’s full of life and there’s always a buzz around it. It’s a place where past, present and future successfully coexist. It’s thrilling, inspiring and it’s a comfort, especially when times are so uncertain.

People in Ancoats do things differently. We’ve already mentioned the buzz and positivity, but there’s also a very continental, European feel to it with the plaza, the natural light and space between buildings, the Marina…not to mention the food and drink offering! Our personal favourites are Rudy’s, Sugo Pasta Kitchen, The Jane Eyre, Cafe Cotton, Erst, and the amazing bakeries – Trove, Pollen and Campanio.

We’re very confident the area will keep its edge – it’s very independent and creative at the moment and hopefully that will continue. If initiatives like Broadside continue to support small independents then this will remain a very exciting place to live, work and chill.

Unfortunately, for now at least, COVID isn’t going anywhere. We are very concerned for the arts and hospitality sectors in particular – most of our friends have been directly affected. We’ve built a model that’s very flexible between online and offline experiences, but going to an event or a bar where you end up meeting new people and bonding over delicious food and drinks is an important part of it and it’s challenging to recreate that at the moment. We’ll keep trying to find creative ways to conjure that magic though – with all the safety measures in place!

We’re gearing up for our strangest Christmas ever. Our selection will continue to focus on under the radar, sustainable wines and keeping prices accessible to most alongside our growing (and alternative) events calendar – so watch this space…


You can find out more about Le Social over on their website, and make sure you stay up to date with their latest events and amazing deals exclusive to Broadside residents by following them on Instagram.


Quick Fire Questions
Best coffee in the city centre? Just Between Friends
Favourite Ancoats’ bar? The Jane Eyre
Favourite Ancoats’ restaurant? Erst
Where do you like to go for a walk? Up and down the Rochdale and Ashton canals
Best breakfast spot? And favourite dish? Trove’s French toast
Favourite place in the whole of the city centre? So many… but there is no place like HOME
Favourite arts venue? Hope Mill Theatre
Tell us about a local business we may not have heard of but should really check out…I am obsessed with Goldbear’s nut butters this week – grounded nuts without any nasties. Also you can’t go wrong with Mattia Paradiso’s Tiramisus.

The Best: Brunch spots near Broadside

You know the drill. It’s the weekend. Not quite breakfast, not quite lunch. You need carbs. What do you do? You brunch! And whether you prefer something virtuous and plant-based, or a full-blown fry-up, there are loads of delicious cafes, eateries and greasy-spoons for you to choose from near Broadside.

We’ve done a roundup of our favourite brunch spots, all less than a ten-minute walk from Broadside, to help you get your food-fix and start the weekend right…

A firm favourite here at Broadside, Elnecot’s food is downright delicious, from their small plates to Sunday roasts. Their brunch menu is no exception and the options are as inventive and delectable as you’d expect. We recommend the Breakfast Sandwich, a fully loaded brioche bun packed with sausage, smoky bacon, cheese, Bury black pudding, fried egg, ketchup and hot sauce, or the Smashed Broccoli – chunky hummus, mint, hazelnuts, pickled carrot and beetroot on sourdough. Feeling thirsty? Wash them both down with bottomless booze – oh yes – Elnecot offers bottomless Prosecco, pints of Amstel, Bellinis, Bloody Marys and a few gin-based cocktails for two whole hours for just £20. All of this and just a 5-minute walk back to Broadside at the end of the night!
Elnecot, 41 Blossom Street, Cutting Room Square, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AJ, Elnecot.com

Tucked away just off Cutting Room Square in the heart of Ancoats you’ll find Trove, a destination for innovative, seasonal brunch dishes alongside freshly baked sourdough, pastries and cakes. Get down early and try a Kimcheese – grilled cheese and house-made kimchi on toasted sourdough – or keep it classic with a bacon butty. You can also choose from a tempting selection of boozy brunch cocktails, coffees and teas. The Mancunian weather might not be the most predictable, but if you can, get a table outside and watch the world go by. Oh, and don’t forget to grab one of their famous 48-hour sourdough loaves on your way home.
Trove, 5 Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6HS, trovefoods.co.uk

Another Heart to Feed
Over the road in the Northern Quarter (but still just a 5-minute walk from Broadside) is Melbourne-inspired café, Another Heart to Feed. After making a name for themselves over in West Didsbury, they’ve recently set up shop on Stevenson Square. Their signature dish has got to be the Smashed Avo with feta, poached egg, dukkah and hummus – but there’s plenty more on offer. Try their tasty Turkish eggs on sourdough, or if you can’t make your mind up, you can always build your own brunch from a choice of fabulous ingredients like smoked salmon, halloumi, bacon and much more…
Another Heart to Feed 10 Hilton St, Manchester M1 1JF, instagram.com/anotherhearttofeed

The Koffee Pot
Koffee Pot is a popular and prominent spot here in Manchester, serving up hearty breakfasts and other wholesome favourites from its home on the edge of the Northern Quarter. Their Full English (they serve up Irish, Scottish and Welsh versions too!) comes with hefty portions of all the good stuff – bacon, sausage, tomato, hash browns, eggs, shrooms, beans and toast, with black pudding ‘free to those heroes who dig it!’. Their Forest Mushrooms are also a must – served on Trove sourdough with creamy truffle dressing and toasted hazelnuts. If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, try the Vegan Pancake stack with berry coulis, coconut yoghurt and drenched in maple syrup.
The Koffee Pot, 84-86 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE, thekoffeepot.co.uk

For brunch with an exotic twist, try Cottonopolis, a Japanese-inspired restaurant and (fab) bar based in a stunning Grade 2 listed building in the Northern Quarter. Their Tokyo fried chicken and scrambled eggs with siracha butter on waffles is out of this world! Or if you’re really hungry and want to throw brunch traditions out of the window, go for the 6oz Sirloin steak with truffled egg, vine tomatoes and tonkatsu jus – fancy and filling!
Cottonopolis, 16 Newton St, Manchester M1 2AE, cottonopolis-nq.com

Find out more about all the great things you can see, eat and do in and around Broadside over on our Instagram.

Floral Fancy: Q&A with Dan France, owner of The Ancoats Florist

Our lovely friend and neighbour Dan (AKA, The Ancoats Florist) has been keeping Broadside in full bloom for weeks now with her beautiful bouquets, so we thought we’d sit down and have a proper chat about botany, local businesses, and where to get the best brew in Manchester…

Hi Dan, tell us a bit about The Ancoats Florist and your role there?

Hello. I’m Dan France, the gal holding the scissors here at The Ancoats Florist. I always quite fancied the idea of being a florist when I was little, but my mum quickly pushed it from my mind by reminding me that I unfortunately have hay fever! Nonsense! So, after a half-arsed attempt at an English degree, and a string of jobs I endlessly moaned about, my very patient husband asked me a big ol’ question – what is it you’d actually love to do? And so here I am. Loving every petal, every leaf, every minute, of every day, doing something that makes me dead happy. From weddings to workshops; bouquets to business contracts; events and beyond. I still feel silly calling it a job to be honest! I am as passionate about people as I am about flowers. And wonderful service. Because going that extra mile costs nothing but makes all the bloody difference.

Why did you decide to put down roots in Ancoats?

I moved to Ancoats 13 years ago for my first year of University, as it was cheaper to live in a lovely new flat than a grotty student halls. It was the ‘up and coming’ area at the time, ‘close to the Northern Quarter’ and a place that people wanted to avoid believe it or not. My fella and I then bought our flat in Islington Wharf 12 years ago and have been here ever since. I love it!

Do you take inspiration from the local area and people and reflect that in any of the bouquets or floral arrangements you sell?

Absolutely. Ancoats seems to have a closer sense of community than ever before and it’s full of such a wonderful, eclectic mix of people. I take inspiration from the architecture, people’s sense of style, the colours. I suppose everything I create tends to have a juxtaposition between soft, delicate blousy flowers next to dried, crispy stuff. I think this reflects that wonderful charm that both Ancoats and city life in general have; a mix of the rough and the smooth!

What are the most popular flowers that you sell?

Everything really, I make them all bespoke so nothing is ever the same. That’s part of the fun of this job! I tend to try and encourage customers to give me a loose brief so I can choose the best flowers I see when I go to the market. That way you get to enjoy something unusual, influenced by what you like, that’s super fresh that day.

What’s your favourite combination of flowers?

I’ve got a few all-time favourites but they vary as the seasons change. I absolutely love a palette of nude, peach-blush next to super dark reds and lots of feathery, textured dried flowers. I love using dried next to fresh blooms as it adds such great texture.

What’s special about the Ancoats community?

It’s just so vibrant and varied whilst still feeling local. With all the amazing new bars and eateries opening it’s busier than ever, but what I love is it doesn’t feel like you’re surrounded by people on hen dos or here for the weekend. The atmosphere is relaxed and it’s like you’ve popped to your local village rather than in a city centre. I have a little girl who is turning 2 and I also like that Ancoats has a lot of families and children here especially with the primary school opening – it’s generally a place where people want to stay.

How do you see the local area evolving over the next few years?

I just think it’s going to get better and better. More people, more places to enjoy. More community!

COVID-19 had an initially devastating effect on local businesses. It’s now inspiring to see so many of them adapting to the changes – reopening with restrictions in place and boosting their online presence etc. How has the pandemic affected The Ancoats Florist, how did you adapt, and how has the local community responded?

It was a massive shock. I  was so busy and overwhelmed with work when it first happened, I felt like I had just realised exactly what I wanted to do and it was all taken away overnight. It has been devastating for so many people in so many ways so I can’t complain too much, but it has been hard. Doing weekly flowers, event flowers and weddings meant I went from not having enough hours in the day to literally no work. However, after a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself and enjoying some family time with my little girl, doggy and husband, I thought, ‘right. I need to adapt.’ I started offering hand tied bouquets with contactless door step delivery and it worked really well. It was something I hadn’t done very much of since working in a flower shop and I realised it was something I missed. It was even more special because it was a way for people to show they cared and stay connected with loved ones despite not being able to meet up with them. So many of the beautiful cards and messages made me blub and it felt like I was doing something lovely in a really dark time. And it’s something I am now continuing to offer that I wasn’t before, which is great.

What’s next for The Ancoats Florist?

I’m so overwhelmed with the amazing response I’ve had since opening my little business. Lockdown meant I had much needed time to step back and think about what’s next. I’m back to being a really busy bee and it’s fantastic. With the current climate it’s been a funny few months and more than anything I am looking forward to getting back to doing some lovely weddings. It’s by far my favourite part of the job! I’m also hoping to get an apprentice or a member of staff to be able to help meet demand and do more of what I love.

What would you say to someone thinking about moving to the Ancoats area?

What are you waiting for?!


Quick Fire Questions:

Best coffee in the city centre?
The Ancoats Coffee Co

Favourite bar?
The Jane Eyre

Favourite restaurant?

Where do you like to go for a walk?
Around the marina if I’m near home, or Delamere Forest for some fresh air

Best breakfast spot? And favourite dish?
Takk. Nduja eggs with a side of halloumi

Favourite place in the whole of the city centre?
My studio!

Favourite arts/culture/concert venue?
Matt and Phreds

Tell us about a local business we may not have heard of but should really check out…

Companio Bakery on Radium Street – get the Focaccia. Take it home and make yourself a posh Italian butty out of it. Or try the mortadella ham and mozzarella from Salvis if you feel dead fancy – it will change your life!


You’ll find Dan at her studio over in Pollard Yard, a vibrant, creative co-working community in New Islington.

Discover more about Dan’s beautiful bouquets and the services she offers over on her website and be sure to follow her on social media for the latest news and updates @TheAncoatsFlorist.