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Manchester and the North West

Manchester is my current home, and an under rated city. Here is a list of things I've reviewed here, and in nearby towns and cities.

Updated June 12, 2012
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  1. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    This review refers to the branch of Bem Brazil on the edge of the Northern Quarter, near the Ancoats road. There is a chain, and apparently the other ones aren't as cozy. Bem Brazil is a Brazillian style steak house. Basically, this makes it a t…
  2. Cheap "General Tips & Advice" in United Kingdom
    This is a reprint of a previous Blog entry - someone said it wa smore of a review than a Blog, so I apologise to those of you who've read it twice. Round about the two month mark in any trip, people start asking me if I'm homesick yet. I'm not.…
  3. Cheap "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Wigan, England, UK
    Club Nirvana is a nightclub in Wigan, which also occasionally has gigs. I was there to see Delphic, and they were excellent, but of course this is a travel blog so I am reviewing the venue. Club Nirvana is in an excellent location, very near the st…
  4. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Fac251 (aka The Factory) is a new-ish club and live venue in the former offices of Factory Records, near the student part of Manchester. And Factory Records is as much a part of the history of Manchester as the cotton mills were. I will try –…
  5. Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Ramsbottom, England, UK
    Fisherman’s Retreat is high in the hills behind Ramsbottom, up a rough farm track (so watch out for oncoming jeeps). It serves really good food, excellent cask ales, has an amazing range of whisky (and possibly even whiskey – but I was too busy …
  6. Average priced "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Manchester Apollo is an incredible venue on the outskirts of the city centre of Manchester. To get there, you have to walk North-ish out of the centre, past the station and under the Mancunian Way, and follow the crowds of gig going people. The…
  7. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Manchester Art Museum is much bigger than it looks, and is free. There is a perfectly nice Gormley statue in the roof, some pleasant Lowrys and Vallettes, and some contemporary stuff that can be interesting in passing. Unfortunately, the muse…
  8. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Mr Thomas's Chop House is an absolutely incredible restaurant near the Royal Exchange Theatre in the centre of Manchester. It specialises in traditional British Food, which is very good indeed. The food is well prepared, looks fantastic, and is mad…
  9. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is a really interesting museum focusing on the industrial and scientific heritage of Manchester, which is far, far more interesting than I just made it sound. It is housed in Castlefield, a short dist…
  10. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Maldon, England, UK
    UK opening hours over Christmas Check in advance, some people shut up early, and some people stay open all night. The january sales are good fun, but if there's a park adn ride use that - parking is horrific. I've been in car park queues for 4…
  11. Cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Sweet Tooth Cupcake and Milk Bar is the latest reason I've found to fall in love with Manchester. It sells, predictably enough, fantastic cupcakes, milkshakes and tea and coffee. Sweet Tooth is located in the cool Northern Quarter, near the city …
  12. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Briton's Protection is such a good pub that I am actually wondering if I should review it, in case you all go and see it and it gets busy and crowded. I almost want to keep it to myself. It is very definately a pub. There is no music, and no…
  13. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Bull’s Head is on its way to becoming my favourite pub in Manchester. It might not be quite as beautiful as the Briton’s Protection, and it certainly doesn’t do pies, but it is still ace. It is a proper, traditional pub – the walls are …
  14. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Macclesfield, England, UK
    The Cat and Fiddle is a pub at the top of a pass across the peak district, between Buxton and Macclesfield. It is at the intersection of a number of hiking paths across the peaks, above Three Shires Head which is a beauty spot where Cheshire, Derbys…
  15. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Lass O' Gowrie is in Manchester, and it is a bit of a gem. It manages to combine indie music and a bit of an obsession with computer games from the 1980s with really nicely kept real ale and organic cider. I love this city. Located close…
  16. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Salford, England, UK
    The Lowry is a theatre and gallery complex in Salford, which is a city that is part of Greater Manchester. It is interesting architecturally, and focuses on contemporary and modern art. The gallery is free. Theatre ticket prices depend on the pe…
  17. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The MEN Arena is a mixed use arena in Manchester, used for sports, gigs and comedy. I will endeavor to review it, and not the band I saw. The MEN is a bit confusing when you go in. It has helpfully put the merchandise stands out of the way in li…
  18. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Manchester Academy is a music venue a little way out of the city centre, near Manchester University. ALthough lacking the distinctive decor of the Apollo, it is a very nice venue. The accoustics are good, and the stage is big enough to allow …
  19. Average priced "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Manchester Bog Wheel is the large, floodlit observation wheel in the centre of Manchester, between the Arndale Centre and Urbis. It costs about £6.50 for adults. Although this sounds quite expensive, teh wheel does take you round several tim…
  20. Average priced "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Why am I reviewing a cinema? They have odeons everywhere, right? Well, the main reason is that it rains a LOT in Manchester, and I know not all of you are as obsessed with art galleries and shopping as I am. There you are, planning a trip to the…
  21. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Glossop, England, UK
    The Peak District is a national park covering large swathe of Northern England, covering parts of several counties including Debyshire and Cheshire. It is very close to the major cities in teh North of England, especially Sheffield and Manchester. …
  22. Free! "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Royal Exchange is a theatre-in-the-round in Manchester. It has a great company and does some really interesting plays, but as this is a travel site, Pygmalion may well be over by the time you come to visit. I'll be concentrating on the building…
  23. Cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    I wish I had found this place months ago... The Shakespeare is a pub near Manchester city centre. It is an old one, possibly medieval, although it was originally in Chester and got reassembled in Manchester in the 1920s. The decor is very pleasa…
  24. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    My boyfriend wanted to go to karaoke for his birthday, and I was deeply reluctant. it just sounded a bit embarrassing. tiger Tiger's private karaoke booths take care of that whole issue. You hire a little room which only you and your friends can g…
  25. Expensive "General Tips & Advice" in Manchester, England, UK
    Things you need to know about getting trains in the UK: Book ahead No - really. Book ahead. A single to London from Swindon can cost between £7.50 and £45, depending on restrictions and how organised you've been. And almost all tickets you…
  26. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Whitworth Art Gallery is one of the museums owned by the University of Manchester, and it is a much better gallery than the City Art Gallery. Located a short distance out of town, beyond the main campus of Manchester University, it is set in…
  27. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Chester, England, UK
    Chester Cathedral is a lovely cathedral in the North West of England. Like Gloucester, it has intact cloisters. The cathedral itself is made of red sandstone, which is really pretty. It appears to charge quite a high admission fee, but when I we…
  28. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Chester, England, UK
    St John’s church is the original cathedral church of Chester, which was downgraded in favour of the current cathedral. It is nicer and more interesting than the main cathedral. The church is very old, and has beautiful semi-circular arches from…
  29. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Canal Street is one of the few places in Manchester with outdoor tables for drinking, which is good to know if the sun shines. The heart of the gay community, there is a wide range of bars and clubs here, ranging in prices and with varying approache…
  30. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    At the moment, your intrepid reporter is learning to ski. In summer, in Manchester. Chill Factore is an indoor ski slope, with actual snow rather than dry ski slopes. It is conveniently located near the Trafford Centre, and is easy to get to and…
  31. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Ning is a lovely restaurant in Manchester’s northern quarter, specialising in Malaysian food. I really recommend it. I tend to believe that in Britain at least, the bigger the decoration budget, the smaller the kitchen budget. Ning prove…
  32. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The People’s History Museum is a wonderful museum about the rise of the working class as a political force. I know that doesn’t necessarily sound like a light hearted day of fun, but actually, it’s fantastic. The museum is best toured …
  33. Ridiculously Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Michael Caines at Abode is probably the best restaurant I’ve ever been to. Given that I have no immediate plans to head off to The Fat Duck, let alone El Bulli, that might well stay the case for a long time. We went there for my fiancée…
  34. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Phetpailin is a Thai restaurant in Manchester’s China Town. It is currently my favourite Thai restaurant in the city, although obviously I haven’t tried them all yet… Phetpailin is small, and slightly away from the centre of China Town. It…
  35. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Sweet Mandarin is a Chinese restaurant in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. It aims to be more contemporary than a lot of Chinese restaurants, which means that there is a shorter menu than lots of restaurants, and your favourites might not be o…
  36. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Ritz is another gig venue and night club in Manchester. It is small, but has nice lighting and the carpets aren't too sticky. It's obviously a converted cinema, as many venues round here are, but that always means that the acoustics are goo…
  37. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Stockport, England, UK
    The Hat Works is a cool little museum in Stockport. It is a museum, unsurprisingly enough, of hats. Entrance is free. Getting to Stockport is very easy; there are frequent, cheap trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Stockport, and the Hat Works …
  38. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Imperial War Museum North is in a shiny new building in Salford Quays. The architecture is quite impressive on its own, designed to reflect earth, air and water (well, that’s what the architect said) and plated in steel. Entrance is free and …
  39. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    I can't go travelling much this year, so I must search for the exotic, interesting, and down right mad on my own turf. Not least because my ever beloved fiance is spending six weeks in Africa without me. Sigh. But, on the plus side, it doesn't get…
  40. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    I say free - no one makes you buy things. But it's really hard not to. Manchester Craft Centre is a converted market full of artists' and jewellery makers' studios. It's lovely. The studios have ceramics, paintings, textiles and lots of beaut…
  41. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Manchester cathedral is one of the few old buildings in Manchester. It's medieval, although it looks modern because it was extensively remodelled by the Victorians. As cathedrals go, it isn't very grand. It doesn't have a great steeple or an in…
  42. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Band on the Wall is a gig venue in the Northern Quarter.  Taking its name from an old incarnation as a dance hall, where the band perched on a tiny stage half way up the wall, it is recently and gloriously refurbished.  The venue is not huge,…
  43. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Clayton Vale took me by such surprise I didn’t even have my camera or phone with me.  I went out for a walk to clear a hangover, and somehow stumbled into a beautiful park hidden in a valley surrounded by housing estates.   About three or fo…
  44. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Panacea is a bar in Manchester.  It seems to exist purely to help girls with hair extensions and nice dresses meet boys who claim to be in the Manchester United reserve team.  This is obviously a useful and valid mission, but I suspect that if yo…
  45. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Alchemist is a nice restaurant that does excellent cocktails in the Spinningfields area of Manchester. It has a large bar, with a huge clock and very cool lighting.   The food is lovely.  More or less European in theme, there are sandwiches,…
  46. Cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    I know I have a new favourite restaurant about once a month, but I have a new favourite restaurant. Samsi is a Japanese restaurant in Manchester, on the edge of the city centre. Housed in an old warehouse (as is most of Manchester) above a gym,…
  47. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Marble Arch is a pub and microbrewery on the outskirts of Manchester, and it is a thing of joy.  It looks slightly unimpressive from the outside, and we had passed it many times without thinking twice about it, until a man we met in one of our other…
  48. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Port Street Beer House is in a normal looking store front in a windswept part of the Northern Quarter, far from the normal haunts of the area’s hipsters and junior yuppies, almost as far as the Ancoats Road.  In this unimpressive corner of the…
  49. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    TV21 is a bar in the Northern Quarter.  It does food, but I’ve never eaten there and am reviewing it as a bar and night venue. It is slightly mad.  For a start, there can be very few bars, even in Manchester, where you are greeted by a full si…
  50. Cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Rudyard, England, UK
    Rudyard Lake is a pretty reservoir built in the Industrial Revolution, to supply the canal network with water. It is in the rolling green landscape of the southern Peak district, just over the Staffordshire border. As time went on, people decided t…
  51. Expensive "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Cloud 23 is a public-ish bar on the 23rd floor in the Hilton, Manchester. I say public-ish. The only way up is past a bouncer and into a lift, and the door policy is idiosyncratic. I’m unaware of an actual official dress code, and I suspect it d…
  52. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Taps is a bar in the Great Northern area of Manchester, not far from Deansgate. It is a little Gimmicky, in that there are beer taps on the table (you can order other drinks or more glasses at the bar)and they give you your tab at the end of the nig…
  53. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    In the Northern Quarter of Manchester, there is a small, free museum dedicated to the Manchester Police force. There are two parts, some displays, and the preserved police station itself. By far the best part is the guides, retired police officers…
  54. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Blackburn, England, UK
    One of the things I love most about Britain is the parks.  I know other nations have parks, but I’ve never been anywhere where every town with any pride makes such a good job of them.  And if I was going to lay out a park that had all the element…
  55. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Haslingden, England, UK
    For a sculpture designed to be visible from two separate motorways, it is surprisingly hard to visit the Haslingden Halo Panopticon.  It isn’t signposted from anywhere, and neither is Tip O’Slate, the park it is in.  Although when you eventuall…
  56. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Burnley, England, UK
    The Singing, Ringing Tree is a large sound sculpture on a bleak expanse of moor above Burnley.  It is a tree made of pipes, that “sing” in the wind.  By “sing”, read emit a chorus of spooky noises rather like those made by metallic aliens i…
  57. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Rochdale, England, UK
    Toad Lane is the least impressive conservation area I have ever seen.  It consists of one pub (I didn’t go in, but I am sure it is perfectly pleasant), one toymaker, and a building that at the time of writing is entirely hidden by scaffolding.  I…
  58. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Rochdale, England, UK
      Touchstones is a small municipal museum in Rochdale.  It is a good place to get out of the stinging Lanashire rain for a half hour (in which time you can see most things), although probably not worth a special journey.    I love small munici…
  59. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Ruby Lounge is a small gig venue in the centre of Manchester, with club nights sometimes.  It’s just opposite the Arndale.   For a venue just opposite the arndale, it’s surprisingly loveable.  Down a little flight of stairs (aren’t the…
  60. Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Browns is a very nice, mid market restaurant in Manchester. Housed in a glorious old building, it has a good menu with some lovely meat on it. The surroundings are a definite selling point, and it is worth coming in for a drink even if you aren…
  61. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Epernay is a bar in the Great Northern area of Manchester. It specialises in champagne, and if that is what you want, it is an expensive place to go. But it also has reasonably average priced cocktails, wine and beer, including Beer Lao which c…
  62. Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    K2 is a karaoke bar with a sort of a nightclub in it in Manchester’s china town.  Initially, we were told that we could only come in if we paid for three hours, but we pouted and they let us have an hour instead.  The general set us is that you…
  63. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Liar’s Club says it is a Tiki bar.  I have absolutely no idea what that means.  It seems to mean “fake Hawaiian with lots of rum,” but I’m prepared to be corrected on that – the website talks about aiming for a 1950s American atmosphe…
  64. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Manchester puts a lot of effort into its Christmas markets.  They are, according to the locals at least, one of the largest Christmas markets outside Germany and Austria, and aim for a similar sort of feel.  And the markets are huge, with different…
  65. Expensive "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    Prohibition is a bar in the Deansgate area of Manchester.  It has very recently been refurbished (as of November 2011) – when I went it still smelled vaguely of paint.    We went on a Friday night.  It was pretty empty when we arrived, at abo…
  66. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Fringe is a fantastic little pub on the other side of the Ancoats Road from the Northern Quarter, making it pretty much the edge of the known universe as far as going out in Manchester is concerned. There is a sort of rock/ new age feel to t…
  67. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Gas Lamp is a basement pub housed on a backstreet near Deansgate, in the former “Street Children’s Mission” near Deansgate.  Follow the sign down a steep flight of stairs (no disabled access I’m afraid) to a white tiled, fireplace decked…
  68. Expensive "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Grill on the Alley is a very nice restaurant near Deansgate in Manchester in, unsurprisingly, an alley.  It serves excellent steaks in a laid back atmosphere.    It specialises in meat, although I am sure there are vegetarian options on the …
  69. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Manchester, England, UK
    The Living Room is a bar at the city centre end of Deansgate. It is a long narrow bar, and it can be difficult to get a table on the weekends as many of them are reserved. It does food, which looks nice, but I didn’t eat there so I can’t confirm…
  70. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Dough is a pizza restaurant in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. It is located very close to the end that meets the Arndale Centre. Prices are comparable to the big chains (Pizza Express and so on) and the quality is higher, so I think it’s a g…
  71. Average priced "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Manchester, England, UK
    Dry Bar is a bar in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, with a large bar and a live venue.  It is more of a Northern Quarter Indie music place than a dance or hip hop place, and has a long standing association with Peter Hook from Joy Division and N…
  72. Average priced "Nightlife & Entertainment" in Blackpool, England, UK
    The Empress Ballroom is a fantastic venue in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The Winter Gardens are themselves something of a diamond in a dunghill – a fantastic, beautiful set of venues and exhibition halls that somehow manage to remain classy t…
  73. Cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Victoria Baths were built in the Edwardian Era, as a state of the art swimming pool for the people of Manchester. They were known as "Manchester's Water Palace" - coming in at the incredible (for the time) sum of £58000 pounds to build, they cost t…
  74. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Manchester, England, UK
    Fletcher Moss is a pretty park and botanic garden in Didsbury, a very nice suburb of Manchester (although not *every* doctor and solicitor in Manchester lives in Didsbury, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it was somewhere near three quarters of them…
davidx says:
I worked for 20 years in Manchester and you have some places I have never been!
Posted on: Nov 18, 2010
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