“Manchester, so much to answer for..” or so sang local lad Stephen Patrick Morrissey and I suppose the industrial revolution and the invention of the computer do have a lot to answer for. If it wasn’t for them right now you’d probably be running around a field, covered in mud and without a care in the world. Oh well. Seeing as we can’t go back to a more genteel, innocent time, we may as well indulge in what one of the best of the UK’s cities has to offer. Just bring an umbrella because it rains a fair bit here yeah? Or better still drive yourself around in a Smart car.
First things first, lets get something to eat. Forget about big posh, swanky, nouvelle cuisine type restaurants. They just don’t work in Manchester. I’ve lived, worked and played in this town for a couple of decades now and if you’re hungry my advice is to aim low. All the best places to eat are modest unassuming little places to look at that let their food do the talking. You won’t go wrong getting a plate of Mezze at Katsouris, a bowl of Ramen at Umami, a lamb karahi so amazing it will make you cry at Kabana or a genuine burrito made by a genuine Mexican at Panchos in the Arndale centre. If you really do want to go for more of posh, sophisticated type bit of scran (food) then I’d probably head over to The French in the Midland Hotel or the brasserie at Harvey Nichols. And I guess if you want to something akin to traditional local fare you should pop into the Castle Hotel for a Manchester egg or Sam’s Chop House for some corned beef hash which will also involve an egg.
Right, shopping, the great thing about Manchester is that there is pretty much one of everything and all are within fairly close proximity of each other, it’s basically the opposite of London. I can’t speak for women but in terms of menswear Manchester does have a few shining lights. The brightest of these being the legendary Oi Polloi on Thomas street in the Northern Quarter (where most of the interesting, independent shops are). This unique and very Mancunian outpost of style has been copied by everyone, everywhere. Just as the Hacienda changed the country’s nightclubs back in the day, Oi Polloi now too appears to have been replicated in towns and cities up and down the land. If vintage threads are more your thing then pop round to Bags of Flavor and Bionic Seven to be amazed and dazzled by some of the finest gear from yesteryear. If you have an ear for music you may want to pop into Piccadilly records whilst you’re here then maybe head across the road to Magma to stock up on cool books, magazines and posters. Speaking of posters the Richard Goodall gallery is also a definite stop off if you’re looking for something unique to adorn your walls with. Outside of the cool and cosy coffee sipping cocoon of the Northern Quarter you will also find some great shops for getting kitted out in, RAN and Size? are both ace for footwear, LiFE has an enviable selection of Stone Island and CP company, then there’s the ever reliable Barbour shop as well as the men’s basement at House of Fraser for a bit of Nicole Farhi and Paul Smith action.
I suppose I’d better mention a few drinking dens hadn’t I? Well for a decent selection of proper grown up ales and for a lively, Mancunian night out you could do a lot worse than checking out Cask, Port Street Beer house and my favourite the Marble Arch Inn. If you fancy stopping out a bit longer and cutting a rug to some tunes then the Soup Kitchen, Kosmonaut and the Kraak gallery in the Northern Quarter are where you’ll find the best, more underground type nights happening. If you want to rub shoulders with footballers and neck shots to a Pitbull-heavy playlist then head down to the Printworks and Deansgate locks but please don’t tell anyone I sent you.