Underrated city gem in Portland St

Ever since I started on this ‘posting about what I eat on the internet’ journey, I’ve found that the most fascinating thing of being a food blogger is definitely discovering. Whether it’s food that I didn’t know existed, people I didn’t know I could have things in common with, or amazing places that I hadn’t bother to try before. Manchester has always captivated me with its extensive amount of restaurants and mix of cultures, and this time I found what I didn’t know I was looking for right in the middle of Portland st.

I’ve talked to a couple of our friends about our foodventure in eXchange lounge, and the general consensus is that none of them had any idea of this place. Being completely honest with you, until a couple of weeks ago, neither had I, but now that I found it, I’m planning on coming back for more soon (and I’ll give you some reasons for you to do it too!).

The atmosphere is nice and chill, and the decoration is definitely interesting, as you’ll see in my photos below. I loved the fact that they have seating for every different group of people you can imagine: if you’re coming to grab a bite, drink a cocktail at the bar, or just chat with a group of friends while you’re drinking, they have a space for you!

But I don’t think you came here to read about how pretty the place is, right? Let’s talk about the food.

Lancashire cheese black pudding croquettes

Can’t resist a pretty floor when I see one!

I was expecting something good, but definitely not this level of greatness.

They’re extra cheesy while still keeping the black pudding flavour in the best way possible, and the texture on the outside was just what my heart needed.

I mean, you guys know how much I love a good crispy outside, and this one was on point!

We both fell in love with every bite, and words cannot describe how obsessed G was with these. We’re already planning our next visit just to have some more, so if you pay them a visit, these are a must.

Baked whole mini camembert with breadsticks.

If you’re a big cheese lover just like us, you can’t go wrong with some baked camembert. And as you can see above, it’s definitely #cheesepull material.

Something that I really liked is their variety of small plates. From cheesy treats like halloumi fingers and garlic mushrooms parmesan crust, to things like Korean BBQ wings, these guys are focused on serving things that everyone enjoys while having a drink, which makes this the perfect place for cocktails after work while you share some food.

But if you’re in for a proper lunch (just like we were), I have good news for you too.

Our lunch line up

The small plates raised the bar high, and after indulging on these heavenly cheesy bites, the burger had to be out of this word to rock our world (and palates).

The Baconaiter: Beef burger, smoked cheddar, smoked bacon, baconaise.

We decided to share a Baconaiter because bacon is life, duh.

It was a great surprise, definitely better than what we expected (we thought it was going to be hard for other dishes to compete with those amazing croquettes!).

You’d think it’s “only a bacon cheese burger” but that’ where you’re wrong. I personally think that classic burgers can go wrong if a restaurant doesn’t focus on using quality ingredients, but thankfully the guys at eXchange Lounge nailed this burger in every possible way. Simple yet captivating.

The beef was nice and juicy, and it had more than enough cheddar and bacon for both of us. The baconaise is always a nice touch on my book, because there’s not such a thing as “too much bacon”!

And just before we jump into dessert, let me tell you about our drinks. You couldn’t possibly think that we didn’t order cocktails with all the things they offered at the bar.

Watermelon cooler

The day was nice and sunny, so I decided to go with this watermelon cooler.

The cocktail was everything that I expected it to be. Nice and refreshing, with a fruity flavour that contrasted with the rum base without making it too sweet or too strong. It’s definitely a soft cocktail, perfect for anyone that doesn’t want a strong alcohol flavour but isn’t looking for a super sugary cocktail either.

New York sour

G’s drink was actually my favourite. Not only because how pretty it is (can’t resist an Instagram worthy cocktail!) but also because of how delightful it was.

Don’t be fooled by the name, this drink is just the right amount of sour and gravitates more towards a citrusy flavour that complements the whiskey base in the perfect way. The whiskey flavour itself isn’t super strong (which was great because we were just looking for something nice to drink before/with our food).

It was really refreshing to enjoy a couple of cocktails that weren’t particularly strong but weren’t super sweet either.

Now, if you’re looking for something sweet, I have a great treat for you!

Chris’s homemade warm chocolate brownie (with salted caramel ice cream)

We decided to share this brownie for dessert, but when I had the first bite, I instantly regretted my decision. I WANTED ALL OF THIS FOR MYSELF.

I enjoyed every bite of it because it was rich in real chocolate flavour, almost like it had a dark chocolate base, and then when paired with the sweetness of the salted caramel ice cream, it was just the perfect balance between sweet and bitter. We really enjoyed it!

Bonus points for the edible chocolate bowl!


Overall, we had an incredible foodventure here at eXchange lounge and can’t wait to come back for more! Some of their small plates are calling my name (as well as their nachos!), and there’s definitely a long list of cocktails to try. I surely think that if you’re in for a nice lunch or some drinks while grabbing a bite, this is an amazing spot to visit!

But hey, I’d like to hear more from you. Do you have any underrated places to recommend? Any hidden gems in this amazing city that we all need to know about? Leave me a comment or message me on social media! You can find me on Instagram (@michellelovestoeat), Twitter (@mlovestoeat), and Facebook (@michellelovestoeat).


If you’re a brand, restaurant or fellow foodie and would like to collaborate, you can email me: contact@michellelovestoeat.com, and I’m sure we’ll create something great (and delicious) together!


That’s it for today, mate. Thanks for reading me! I’ll be back soon with more recommendations.

Michelle’s out.


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