Feast of the M60 on the fast food variety which has taken Oldham by storm
Imagine any of these scenarios: it is a Friday and you’re in the centre of Oldham. As a special treat instead of your usual butties or chemist chain’s meal deal, you fancy something different for your dinner. Or, it is the very same Friday, only 12 to 15 hours later after a few scoops in one of Oldham’s finest hostelries. You could have plumped for a pie or a fish supper. Or chips. Or a totalitarian burger on High Street.
If you happen to be around Union Street or Yorkshire Street, you are literally spoilt for choice: pizzas, burgers, curry, Peri Peri chicken and most of all, fried chicken. When I saw spoilt for choice, I mean that most sincerely folks – over 31 takeaways on Yorkshire Street, Union Street and George Street. Excluding Levers and Mr Chippy on Tommyfield Market. Exclusive of bakeries, the baked potato stall near Hilton Arcade and take-out facilities from local cafés. Oh, and the totalitarian burger joint that was Yates’ Wine Lodge till the early 1980s.
Though McDonalds and the chippies on Tommyfield Market are a popular option among Oldhamers’ fast food requirements, fried chicken is equally so as well. Plus, like fish and chips, it is egalitarian: even the wealthiest and poorest people relish the odd chicken piece as well as a fish supper. Fried chicken is popular among all sections and ethnicities. For working class people and college students, a cheap and cheerful alternative to pavement spraying sausage rolls and similar foodstuffs. For families, an alternative to making a quick tea after a hard day’s work. Sometimes it can be stoner food, or an ideal post-pub supper without the need to use cutlery.
But, as fried chicken and its companions are high on the Nutritionally Incorrect Scale, little as possible, thank you. Occasional treats only. Ta. (Right, here endeth East of the M60s concession to Nanny Statedom).
The arrival of Oldham’s town centre Metrolink line will offer rich pickings for takeaway owners, particularly along Union Street. Most of them are clustered by each stop, including one formerly a public house. One other note for when the trams arrive, I do not recommend crawling from takeaway to takeaway just to compare the chicken wings. That’s 11/10 on the Nutritionally Incorrect scale. Needless to say, you would probably have your favourites. Therefore, for the purpose of this Feast of the M60 entry, I shall only go in to some detail on a small number of the 31 independently owned takeaways in Oldham town centre.
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- The Charcoal Grill: George Street’s only takeaway does a good line in Peri Burgers as well as fried chicken. Soon to open will be the Charcoal Café next door.
- Georgia Fried Chicken: a recent entrant, occupying the ground floor of the former Star Inn. Its ambience is more of an American style diner with the name taken from the American state. Then again, the name could be applicable to being on the junction of George Street. Their Tower Burger is worth a try;
- Kansas Fried Chicken: adjacent to Georgia, Kansas’ Oldham branch has been close to the former Butterflies night club since the late 1980s;
- Al Marrakech: popular Middle Eastern takeaway and fast food restaurant with two floors. Formerly Chicken Cottage;
- Frango’s Peri Peri: chicken in a Peri Peri style, opposite Al Marrakech;
- UK Fried Chicken: next door to Al Marrakech. Title self-explanatory;
- Raja’s: steady growth has seen Rajah’s become a small regional chain with tasty Halal pizzas and burgers alongside fried chicken. Their spicy meat feast pizza is unmissable and – quite probably in my view – the crack cocaine of the pizza world. Also available on Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne in the former McTucky’s unit;
- Virginia Fried Chicken;
- Masala Hut: formerly Oldham Fisheries;
- The Godfather: fried chicken and pizza;
- Peri Peri Grill: self-explanatory – grilled peri peri chicken;
- Dallas Fried Chicken;
- Kamal Balti House.
By the Kamal Balti House, the strip of takeaways is interrupted by Oldham’s Jobcentre Plus, The Lyceum and Gallery Oldham, and the library. The position of which was consistent with the amount of nightclubs and the cinemas which populated Union Street. Adjacent to Virginia Fried Chicken is the site of the Mecca Bingo Hall before its move to the Shopping Giant building. The Jobcentre was built on the site of the Cats Whiskers night club. At one time, Kansas would have catered for clubbers leaving Butterflies and Reflections. Today, Kansas and its nearby rivals are handy for Oldham Sixth Form College as well as hungry tram passengers.
- Gold Star: Indian tandoori takeaway with fried chicken based options. One of three – confusingly – with Gold Star to their name;
- Dragon Palace: Chinese takeaway, next door to…
- Pizza Pan: one of a regional pizza chain’s outlets and a long standing business, situated in Oldham since 2000. Also available on Market Street, Stalybridge a few doors away from Krunchy Fried Chicken;
- Cluckers Fried Chicken: former Allen’s Fried Chicken unit’
- Café Lahore: Punjabi and Kashmiri cuisine;
- Al Fayyaz: Indian dishes, kebabs and fried chicken. Hailed by some as the best kebab house in Oldham, though seemingly lost its way according to recent reports.
- Al’s Kebab and Curry House: exactly what it does on the tin. Handy after a few pints in the Royal Oak opposite;
- 241 Pizza: need I say more – pizza on BOGOF of course;
- The Exclusive Gold Star: Tandoori takeaway and curry house;
- Iksy’s: off Bailey Street junction behind Oldham and Bardsley Cars taxi office;
- Florida Fried Chicken: the fifth American state influenced fried chicken shop. Handy for the 81 or 343;
- Al Wasl Kubeda Hut;
- YOLO: clichéd acronym inspired takeaway with emphasis on burgers and milk shakes as well as fried chicken;
- Montana Fried Chicken: sixth American state influenced fried chicken shop;
- The Original Gold Star: Tandoori takeaway and curry house. Only opposite Montana’s shop;
- Dixy Chicken: part of a regional chain of chicken shops;
- Funky Chicken: another chicken shop though ideally placed for local pubs, particularly The Squire Knott and Number Fifteen;
- Crunchy Fried Chicken: note the spelling, not to be confused with the one in Stalybridge with a ‘K’. Formerly the Pizza and Potato Factory, though signage remains. Second one of Pizza and Potato’s Factory’s outlets to become a chicken shop (Ashton’s is now Chicken Station after a spell as Mr Cod).
This is probably more or less a definitive list of takeaways in the centre of Oldham, based on my fieldwork and some personal experience in sampling their delights. If you have any favourites or like to add to the list, feel free to comment.
S.V., 14 January 2014.