Just a quick post, while I continue to delay any follow-up posts to my trip around Sydney, to blab spunckily about two pubs that reopened in Manchester, after a few months hiatus from the both of them.
This article contains no pictures, if it more inclined to try to make you check them out of your own free will.
I’ll also preface this with the fact that I wasn’t what you would call a regular in either pub.
I went to The Mark Addy, only it is previous final incarnation as a restaurant with Robert Owen Brown at the helm and a bar with a wide selection of local cask beers .
The Lass, on the other hand, was a place I went into even less frequently, but this was staggered over a longer period of time…
…time in which you could feel the decline happening around you.
So basically I have no real historical references to either pubs, other than say their last 10 years.
Here is what I found on a wet Thursday evening/night when I ventured into each pub.
Lass O’ Gowrie
The Lass O’ Gowrie stands on Charles Street in Manchester, opposite a giant Zombie car park. The car park used to be the site of the BBC on Oxford Road, but they moved to shiny new structures (with terrible Metrolink tram services) to Media City in Salford Harbour Bay.
Much has been written since about the Greene King owned pub.
Seeing as Odder on Oxford Road and Joshua Brooks further up Charles Street (boarding Princess Street) being the other closest pubs, if my shabby geography is correct, have continued their trade. The Lass folded.
An ultimate sign of bastard PubCos, with sky-high rent and disregard for their landlords and the punters?
The refurb has seen much of the character stripped out. Its stream-lined now, a wider space around the bar and more ordered in is table locations, the decking outside over the River Medlock (again, ropey geographical knowledge) has been spruced up too, or probably just pressure-washed.
It is all green and cream inside. Like a PubMaster chain pub and those really dodgy looking burger vans you see at festivals and big open-air gatherings.
All new polished wood, well MDF.
The bar had about 5-6 cask pumps on, not all were Greene King, I went with the Privateer Dainty Blonde, which was as good as ever, if nuttier than I remembered.
There seemed to be a free range of spirits too.
But then there was my Kryptonite. Big signs advertising their ‘craft’ beer range.
I’m trying to make it clear, I have no problem with the beers that call themselves ‘craft’ or the brewers that produce them.
No, my gripe is the marketing term that is ‘craft’ and its off-shoots ‘crafted’ and ‘crafting’ (along with artisan and boutique, etc.).
Most usual pubs would make do with having the imported bottles of beer they have, be listed under the heading of ‘Bottled Beers’ but to band wagon jump, calling something ‘craft’ is now the way to advertise, and probably whack on a few more pennies to the price too.
Anyway, when I went it was about 7 in the evening and there were a couple of small groups and a few singular and couples also there. A wet Thursday? Have people not got the memo it’s opened? Better pubs in the area? Boycott?
I don’t know.
All I know is to enjoy a place I have to enjoy the beer they serve and I can’t really fault the range, or either cask or ‘craft’.
The (new) Mark Addy
Nothing has changed much and everything has changed for me in this place, located on Stanley Street in Salford on the River Irwell (geography alert).
The gents toilet on the entry still strikes me as a public toilet, its improved a lot since its worst incarnation, but that was done before its closure in mid-January of 2014.
I went into the Addy quite regularly up until its closure. For food, for the gourmet nights, for a beer. The last I was in there was for the book launch of Robert Owen Brown’s cook book Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle.
An event that highlighted (that I was going to blog about) the ligging nature of some (or a great many actually) and also the quiet, reserved nature of a man with talent (ROB) contrasted with the loud, obnoxious ones who have to have ‘big personalities’ in order to make up for their general lack of talent and an over inflated ego driven by surrounding themselves the doe-eyes sycophants; Gordo aka Mark Garner.
I always enjoyed the food at the Mark Addy. Granted the portion sizes declined over time, but they started off as gargantuan slab of various locally sourced produce and numerous bits of offal.
But I suppose people of a certain mind-set now only want high-calorie food if it comes with the word ‘dirt’ or ‘dirty’ somewhere in the title.
Because for some reasons, cooking local dishes, or even UK dishes, is not the done thing in a vibrant metropolitan centre like Manchester.
No, it all has to be Yankee based now but with an arty “influenced by…” in the food descriptor, whereby its named after a local landmark or a play on the place name.
Again, not that this is ever bad food, it just the repellent marketing nature of it all. Creating a brand. A soulless, empty brand.
Walking down the same stairs and opening the same doors and entering into the same dimly lit surroundings of old, I’m greeted by the old familiar bar.
The large range of local casks (5-6) at the far end, away from the door. Again Privateer is there, as is Deeply Vale and a host of others. Again nothing much has changed.
It felt a bit warmer I suppose.
The old booths have been knocked down. Replaced by tables and sofas, or settees if you prefer.
The thing that hurt most was that where there used to be the kitchen and serving area, now stood giant mirrors.
There was some quiet music coming through the PA.
There were more small groups of people – very comparable to the attendance in the Lass.
I went over to the Salford Arms – it was fairly busy (it too also had Privateer beers on).
And there you have it.
Two pubs (or bars, or former gastropubs or whatever), located near rivers, which closed for various reasons but are back open with a range of ales, which I felt were properly kept.
Oh, of course, price per pint in bother places hovers around £3.50.
Let us see what the future holds – for any pub, tied or not.