Yes, this week JL Merrow and I went on a factfinding mission to Manchester, checking out potential venues for the 2013 UK Meet. We visited three different conference venues, but this report is going to be all about the bars and restaurants, because that bit was the most fun
I hadn’t visited Manchester since I was a teenager, but I remember loving the city back then. Since then there’s been a lot of redevelopment in the city, but those gorgeous red brick buildings I remembered still predominate in the centre. In some ways it reminded me of Cardiff and Bristol, two other cities I love which both have that vibrant mix of new and old.
Of course, in the years since I last visited the city, there’s been the marvellous Queer As Folk. I rewatched the original British series recently so I was particularly excited to visit Canal Street in the Gay Village. In reality it seemed somehow smaller, but even more picturesque than I’d imagined. We were lucky enough to have great weather, and there were plenty of people sitting outside the bars by the canal. You really get the sense of a city that is proud of its GLBTQ heritage. Not only are there rainbow flags all over the Village, but they are even mosaiced into the pavements to mark spots of special historical interest.
We visited a fair few bars, all of which served a selection of premium continental lagers. This is a fantastic city for beer drinkers, it must be said. I sampled as many as I could, while Jamie cheated and stuck to mainly lime and sodas. I’m just going to list our favourite places here, or this would get silly:
Taurus Bar and Restaurant – we ate in this Canal Street restaurant and the food was wonderful! We chatted with one of the owners and some of the staff, all of whom were incredibly welcoming. I particularly loved Taurus because it seemed to concentrate on being friendly and providing quality food rather than on being trendy.
The Molly House - we ended up in this Richmond Street pub as our last stop on the Monday evening and I have to admit, I didn’t want to leave. The downstairs bar was small and quite busy so we headed upstairs to the Bordello, which was just gorgeous! I don’t think I’ve ever been to such a cosy, beautifully decorated pub. When I tell you there was a stag’s head above the chaise longue we were sitting on, that’s going to make it sound much grander and more pretentious than it really was. In fact, the place just felt like home. Well, okay, how I’d like my home to look. Also, they had the most amazing array of brandies and bourbons up behind the bar, and the staff clearly knew their booze. I had one of the most delicious bourbons I’ve ever tasted: Woodford Reserve.
The Richmond Tea Rooms - We had lunch here on the Tuesday, and it was a real treat. The whole cafe at the front is done out in Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland style (we sat in the greenhouse part), with the Cocktail bar the back like a traditional Victorian study, but with a slight steampunk aesthetic. Truly fabulous decor, and wonderful food (and real tea!)
I’m finishing off with a selection of photos:
Look – there were narrowboats in the Canal street lock! I got really excited, I must admit
Jamie did have to stop me taking pictures several times as we were running late for appointments, but how could I resist all these wonderful buildings? I loved all the fire escapes
All the trees down Canal St are lit up at night. It’s like Christmas every day
The wall of spirits in the Molly House Bordello bar
That’s all, folks!