It’s a hard life working for ManchesterBars.com and RestaurantsOfManchester.com – seriously it is! No matter how hard you try to go through a week without any alcohol or to stick to your diet, something crops up and you find yourself drunk by lunchtime and eating out 3 times in one day.
That’s what happened yesterday. I popped out with Nick to review Ikan – the wonderful Thai and Oriental restaurant next to the Ibis Hotel on Portland Street. The owner, the delightful Catherine Lim, is really proud of her restaurant – and rightly so – the food is delicious and the surroundings plush. Jazz music plays and there’s a grand piano that adds to the chilled out vibe. In a city that has no shortage of quality Thai restaurants, Ikan comes highly recommended.
A quick walk around the corner to Obsidian threw us into a surreal moment. As soon as we walked in, all the lights went off – it turned out that Baracardi were filming a new advert in there and kept tripping the fusebox. We were invited to go and watch the advert being filmed, which saw our 2 ugly faces mixing amongst the beautiful guys and girls dancing away in a corner, pretending to be on a packed dancefloor. The DJ (another model) was pretending to spin his discs behind the bar, encouraging everyone to throw their hands up in delight – we duly did, until the lights went off again. No dear reader, if the advert ever makes it on TV, I can let you into a secret. The DJ isn’t actually spinning any discs on his decks. In fact – there were no decks behind the bar at all – just a dishwasher. So what you’ll actually see is a load of Barcadi models throwing their hands up in the air not to the DJ’s mixing talent, but rather to his washing up skills!
Back into daylight and we had time for one in Temple – it’s a weird little bar this Oxford Street wonder. We love it – back when it was called Temple Of Convenience (named after the public toilet that used to be here) it was one of the first bars in Manchester to offer German wheat beers and Belgian import ales. It’s not lost any of its charm – although the bogs are still a shithole! – Howard, the superb bar man gave us some cash to put some tunes on the jukebox so it was with great pride that I chose two or three tracks from the ‘O Brother Where Out Thou’ OST, I Am Kloot, Led Zeppelin, Stephen Fretwell, Van Morrison and Elbow. And as if by magic, as soon as Elbow’s ‘Red’ started to play, in walked Pete Turner, the Psycho Bob haired bass player from the band and the actual writer of the track. Embarrassing! I wonder what it’d be like to listen to your own music on a jukebox? And boy, what a jukebox!
A quick walk down the canal to Castlefield taking in all the beautiful old buildings that are being dwarfed and demolished by the modern monstrosities they dare call ‘architecture’ and then Jim H joined us.
A quick twist of the arm and we were back out ‘reviewing’ once more. First stop – our favourite bar, Cask, another import ale place with an amazing Manc jukebox – Ian Brown, Morrissey, Smiths, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets were quickly selected before we headed back to Temple, which was surprisingly dead. By the way, you can now pick up our highly sought after “Pride Of Manchester chewing gum wrappers” at both these amazing bars. Although we noticed they were going down rather quickly whilst we were there.
Somehow we found time to review Livebait – the truely awful fish restaurant next to the town hall. I’ve been here many times and for some reason, still find myself revisiting even though it’s overpriced and very average. What annoys me most though is that they charge 10% service charge. The waiter then gives you the option to add gratuity on the credit card machine, to which – if you have noticed you’ve already paid it (many people won’t) – you click ‘No’. The waiter then gets all stroppy and explains that ‘Service Charge’ is apparently not a tip and the waiters don’t get a share of it. Daylight robbery!!! A bit like their prices really! There’s a serious lack of fish restaurants in Manchester, so Livebait has survived on a reputation as being the best in town. For me though, you can get better fish dishes at many of the other places in town.
A quick visit to Mojo, where the likes of Tom Petty, Lynryd Skynryd, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors were on the soundsystem – for us, any cocktail bar with photographs of Richard Thompson, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and BB King is worthy of a good review. Too many caipirhina’s later and we were off to Manchester 235 for a quick flutter and an amazing raspberry & blueberry caipirhina before going home to bed at 5am, having spent on drinks than what we’d won on roulette.
So in brief…
BAR OF THE NIGHT – Cask– great friendly atmosphere as always (although they need to sort the bogs out!)
DRINK OF THE NIGHT – Manchester 235 – raspberry & blueberry caipirhina
TUNE OF THE NIGHT – Mojo – free fallin’ by tom petty
JUST NOT ON – Livebait – charging 10% service charge then asking for a tip on top
– Neil, Nick, Jim H (Thurs 19th April)