Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Unknown pleasures

Not so much Manchester as Northern Quarter, so much to answer for. After a Saturday out and about up there, I may be in very real danger of actually liking the third city, and I'm holding the Northern Quarter responsible - and the following establishments on and around Oldham Street in particular:

* Piccadilly Records: A fine selection of music and staff descriptions affixed to nearly every CD or record, just like Selectadisc of yore. Marvellous mailing list, complete with free MP3 samplers and on-the-money staff recommendations. A copy of Animal Collective's Feels for a fiver? Oh yes indeed.

* Magma Books: Lots of formidably pretentious graphic design magazines, to be sure, but also a great selection of entertaining books, cards etc. If only Christmas was coming. Oh.

* The Night & Day Cafe: The fact that there's nothing on tap is the only black mark. Great coffee and a decent selection of bottled beverages, plus it's a gig venue with impressive listings past and future - The Fiery Furnaces, Malcolm Middleton and Sky Larkin in the last month or so, and Cymbals Eat Guitars and The Drones to come. It's the Cafe's 18th birthday this month - many happy returns.

* The Castle Hotel: Apparently this compact boozer has had a bit of a trendy overhaul lately - not that it's much in evidence. Two cosy rooms, six different real ales and (it being Halloween) pumpkin lanterns on each table and free pumpkin soup for the peckish.

* Keko Moku: A tiny tiki bar serving large and lethal cocktails (several of them set aflame with a blowtorch before serving) in extraordinary vessels, made all the better by the Halloween Zombie Fest theme. It's not often you'll see Freddie Krueger look up from his decks and a woman in a blood-splattered wedding dress moving aside as Teen Wolf strolls in nonchalantly bouncing a basketball.

We did venture further afield, too - most notably to the Temple, a pub converted from an underground public toilet - though decided it would be a bit of a waste of an opportunity to explore the city if we just headed for the Efterklang / Jonquil gig at the Deaf Institute (you've got to love whichever bright spark thought it would make a good gig venue, if only for the name).

Perhaps next time we'll be able to squeeze a gig in along with further explorations.

1 comment:

alison said...

I keep being told it's the 2nd city actually. Controversially, I'm becoming more inclined to agree. Yay to the return visit, there's so much more to show and I still only know a tiny bit of the place.