ISIT, the brainchild of Harry and Joe, was born out of a love for all things BBQ.
Make no mistake about it, these two are a highly talented pair of chefs.
Currently situated in Green Arches, this is an incredible culinary hidden gem that is well worth your time seeking out.
Amazing beer, amazing food in a lovely sun trap beer garden – what could possibly go wrong?
We sat down with them to discuss their incredible food.
Harry: “We started two and a half months ago with ISIT.
Joe: “We were previously the owners of Diamond Dogs, which spent a lot of time at the Green Arches doing a bit of catering.
“We’ve known each other for 6 or 7 years, and we’re both so passionate about BBQ, we decided to get stuck in with ISIT.
“It’s been a huge temptation for a while.”
Harry: “Lockdown was the realisation, living apart and being unable to cook for people, that this is what we wanted to do.
“It was a bit of a catalyst.
“We wanted to be our bosses working together and the Covid-19 lockdown just amped up the complete love for cooking because we had nothing else to do really.”
Joe: “From there, when lockdown lifted we moved up here and worked while planning.
Joe fully trained at a cookery school called White Pepper down in Bournemouth, aimed at Michelin Star cooking and run by an ex-Michelin Star Chef, and Harry’s background is set in a passionate love for cooking and working in restaurants previously.
Joe decided that he wanted to make more sharing-style food to be enjoyed with friends, so struck out with Harry to make food they loved.
And their passion is evident in the incredible melange of flavours in their cooking, with inspiration taken from BBQ dishes from around the world.
You should not miss their amazing starters, with beautiful ISIT garlic bread (bread supplied by the brand new Half Dozen Other bakery) with honey and parmesan, and their amazing samosas and masala fries.
Main Dishes at ISIT
For our mains, we tried the Jerk Chicken (£13.50), made of two marinated boneless chicken thighs, sunshine-seasoned skin on fries, with Caribbean coleslaw and Jerk gravy.
Now they rotate their offerings weekly, but this was a massive hit when we went down to try them out.
As you take your first bite, the sunshine-seasoned skin on the fries brings a satisfying crunch that yields to reveal a burst of warmth and zest.
The seasoning dances on your taste buds, a harmonious blend of tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy notes that pay homage to the sun-drenched spices of the Caribbean.
The star of the show, the jerk chicken, unveils its secrets with every succulent bite.
The marination process has marinated the meat with layers of smoky richness, balanced by a tantalising kick of heat.
The skin boasts a glorious sun-kissed char, with the meat itself deliciously tender.
The marriage of the marinade and the heat of the grill creates a divine interplay that keeps you coming back for more.
Complementing this enticing ensemble is the Caribbean coleslaw, a refreshing respite from the robust flavours of the chicken.
Its crisp and crunchy cabbage and carrots are adorned with a delicate dressing that offers a cooling contrast.
The slight tanginess of the dressing harmonizes beautifully with the boldness of the jerk chicken, creating a delightful interplay of textures and tastes that is simply unforgettable.
And finally, the pièce de résistance – the Jerk gravy.
This velvety elixir, infused with the essence of an incredible array of spices ties the entire dish together.
With its smooth consistency and a depth of flavour that pays homage to the traditional Caribbean jerk seasoning, this gravy is the crowning jewel that unites every element on the plate.
Indian Chicken Shashlik Skewers
We also tried the Indian Chicken Shashlik Skewers (£13.50).
These were made up of two marinated chicken and white onion skewers, with a divine mint and cucumber raita, bell pepper chutney, with pickled red onions and cilantro.
The Indian Chicken Shashlik Skewers were an elegant offering and arrived at the table with a beautiful set of flavours and aromas.
The centrepiece of the dish, the marinated chicken and white onion skewers, presented a tender embrace of perfectly grilled meat.
Each bite was an explosion of taste – the chicken, succulent and juicy, bore the marks of its marination, embracing the spices that whispered of far-off lands.
The melding of flavours was seamless; the marination process transformed the chicken into a canvas painted with notes of ginger, garlic, and a subtle blend of Indian spices, infusing every fibre with a very comforting warmth.
Accompanying this masterpiece were the divine mint and cucumber raita and the bell pepper chutney, two condiments that elevated the experience to new heights.
The mint and cucumber raita, a refreshing and creamy concoction, lent a cooling touch to the dish, harmonizing with the vibrant spices of the chicken.
Its minty freshness offered a respite from the rich flavours, a soothing balm that complemented the journey through the intricate layers of taste.
The bell pepper chutney, on the other hand, played the role of a bold and spirited companion. Bursting with the zesty sweetness of bell peppers, it danced on the palate with a lively tang that awakened the senses.
Its playful demeanour created a lively contrast against the backdrop of the marinated chicken, forming a duet of flavours that left an exciting impression.
The supporting cast of pickled red onions and cilantro added an incredible diversity of textures and colours, enhancing the visual appeal of the dish while offering an extra layer of complexity.
The pickled red onions provided a sharp and piquant note, a delightful counterpoint to the other elements on the plate.
Meanwhile, the cilantro lent its unique flavour, a welcome fragrant touch that brought a hint of fresh charm to the ensemble.
The Ever-Changing Menu of ISIT
When asked about why they set up the business, Joe said he was looking for an easier life than the rigours imposed on chefs in the kitchen.
“I didn’t want the stress of working in a stressful kitchen, and just love BBQ, so here we are!” added Joe.
Harry said: “We were big fans that BBQ, is something to have with friends.
“It’s table foods, small plates scene that people seem to be enjoying. You can try a bit of everything, what’s not to love?”
Style-wise, the two said that’s where the name ‘ISIT’ came from.
Joe elaborated, saying: “Everything varies, we can move our styles about a lot. We don’t want to get fixated too much on one thing, to keep it interesting for our customers.
“At the moment it’s all smoked, but we’ve done an amazing spread of cuisines. At the moment we’re doing Indian and Jerk, and have also done char siu, Thai, Spanish and Chinese and all sorts.
Harry added that this was the nature of modern BBQ, ‘presented from around the world’.
“We’ve picked famous BBQ dishes from around the world and put our twist on them.’
With such unique flavours and an incredible breadth of influences, I asked the pair where they learned such unique and wonderful flavour combinations.
“We are just constantly testing flavours, and finding out what works through trial and error” added Joe.
“We used to make our hot sauces and I think this just comes out of that. We’ve got a lot of experience making sauces and fermenting pickles and chutneys, that’s all I did in lockdown.
“We’re not sure where next but were at Green Arches for two more weeks, then are heading out to a few places where pop-ups operate.
“You can find out what we’re up to on our Instagram.”
The pair are now looking to experiment as the summer ends, trying to move away from BBQ, which is so dependent on the capricious Manchester Weather.
“Pulled pork, brisket and ribs, maybe things like smoked veggies are coming next. Smoked will now be the next focus with winter coming, and heartier foods as it gets cold,” said Joe.
One thing is for sure, these guys can cook and are an amazing hidden gem you’d be lucky to catch around Manchester.
They were originally hoping to get onto the festival circuit, combining their two loves of music and cooking.
In the future, they are looking to involve music events with DJs and Artists, serving food alongside some of their famous performers.