If you’ve wandered past the Manchester Arndale in recent weeks, chances are you’ll have sniffed out more than just a bargain in the shopping mall.
Because a range of quirky food pop-ups have been gaining the attention of hungry shoppers, and sparking huge queues.
We headed down to check out the new foodie additions My Cookie Dough, Tango Ice Blast and Waffle Island. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re in for a treat.
My Cookie Dough
The first thing you see is the queues at My Cookie Dough. Then as you get closer it’s the wafts of sweet, freshly-baking sugary stuff that hit your nostrils and grab you by the gut.
This devilishly decadent dessert haven is the latest addition to the pop-up foodie scene in the Arndale and has proved ridiculously popular with queues forming all through the day.
And it’s not surprising when you see the warm, oozing sugary treats that are being dished out from the stall.
Most popular? The cookie stack options which layer up a slice of the warm, melt-in-the-mouth cookie dough with loads of other sweet stuff. And as if the cookies weren’t sweet enough, try TWO of them sandwiched with Nutella – oh AND a melted Kinder egg on top.
Manager Josh Whiting said they can’t believe how quickly it’s taken off. He said: “We’ve only been here two weeks and it’s been absolutely insane. The queues start from 11am onwards, and once school is out everyone is lining up here for their sugar hit.”
We asked how many calories there are in such delights, but no one seemed to know so we’re assuming that means it’s not that many at all.
We ploughed on and tried the, ahem, “Sl***y Brownie” which has a wedge of hot cookie topped with Oreo cookies and a brownie, slathered with Nutella and then finished off with two dollops of whippy ice cream (£6.95). It felt a little bit criminal to be eating this much sugar in one hit, but there is no doubting this is an extremely satisfying treat.
And we still managed to try an insane ice cream dough shake (£4.50). It came circled in a puff of pink candyfloss, just in case I hadn’t had enough sugar for one day.
If you’re after a lighter treat, you can just have one portion of flavoured cookie dough – caramel and white chocolate, toffee popcorn or fudge and honeycomb for £4.25.
Tango Ice Blast
This frozen version of the cult fizzy pop has previously only been available in cinemas. Until now, that is. The UK’s first Tango Ice Blast pop-up has just launched at the Arndale, and a week into opening the crowds are guzzling the blue and pink stuff in their droves.
Is it like a slushy? Well, as pop-up owner Darren Miller puts it: “This is the creme de la creme of the slushy world”.
You can choose from two flavours – pink (cherry) or blue (raspberry) for £4 for a small or £5 for large. Or you can have the two flavours swooshed up together for an aesthetically pleasing cup of the stuff.
If you’ve never tried one, it’s a weird sensation – like drinking frozen fizzy fluffy clouds. And while with a traditional slushy you have to make sure you don’t suck all the juice out and you’re left with ice, it doesn’t happen with a Tango Ice Blast, such is the special frosty machine’s magical blending powers.
And, before you start worrying about the calories – this one is SUGAR FREE. Happy days!
It’s proven so popular as a pop-up that Darren is hoping to make it a long-term let in the Arndale. It was his teenage daughter who first suggested the idea to him at the cafe they run in Scarborough. He sent his proposals to Tango HQ and they were so impressed they let him set up the first UK concession of the fizzy slushy drink.
Heading up the escalators to the upper mall food court you’ll find the recently launched Waffle Island where they’re making fresh batches of bubble waffles to order.
Bubble waffles seemed to be everywhere over the festival season, and now as winter draws in you can get your fill of the pancakey-stuff in easy to carry cones.
Choose from a range of belly-busting fillings like Nutella heaven (£5.99) Reese’s pieces (£5.25), cookies and cream (£5.50) or go all out with the Millionaire which comes with fruity pebbles and a lollipop (£5.75).
The bonus of a bubble waffle is that, in essence, it’s quite a light sugary treat – until you start to pile it with Nutella, ice cream and chocolate sprinkles, of course.
They also specialise in fresh blended milkshakes from £3.25, although having attempted to do both in one sitting over at My Cookie Dough, I passed on doubling up again here.