The Central Manchester Slow Pub Crawl - Day 21


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Day 21 - Thursday 19th August 2004 (Map)

Pub 164 - Sir Ralph Abercrombie (Bootle Street)

We meet initially behind the Library, then head off to try Jar Bar, but it's shut.  Barney inquires if there's a 'three strikes and out" rule, but spaceman denies this.  We turn round and head for One Central Street, but spaceman has a change of plan and wants to go to the Sir Ralph Abercrombie.  This has been a pub crawl day a long time in coming, due to various excuses from uberbeerfans spaceman and barney.  Such reasons have included holidays (spaceman to Santorini, barney to Sweden), illness (barney), laziness (both), giving up beer for short periods (spaceman), Euro 2004, busy social lives (honest), etc, etc.  But we're here now and promise a renewed effort, if only to finish the damn thing off - it's being going on for nearly two years after all.  Indeed, it's taken us so long to do the 21st day that there have been a number of new pubs springing up around Manchester.  The Colour Bar (formerly the Rat & Parrot) is now the Yatra Lounge.  Bar 10, where we tried so hard to get in, is now Prohibition.  There are several more besides...


Anyway, back to the first venue of choice - where it is spaceman's first visit.  We nearly try what seems like a fake entrance, but avoid it just in time.  It's very much an old-fashioned style pub, as we get two pints of Carlsberg for £4.50 and (eventually) choose some seating in the corner.  We fanny around a little finding our seating, but it is quite busy in here and most seats (except those outside, which we briefly consider) are taken.  Barney, in typical fashion, swiftly spots a hen party starting off in the opposite corner (they're all wearing horns, being the giveaway - do you think any girls don't wear horns or learner signs at hen dos these days?).  A TV shows BBC News in the corner by the bar - the sign outside said that they also have Sky.  Also outside, there was another sign next to the entrance saying "No soiled footwear or clothing", as if the pub is next to a muddy field or something.  We notice that the floor is vibrating and wonder why.  Barney's theory is that the whole pub is a vehicle which will drive off at any moment.  Now that would be good.  Spaceman, before meeting barney, had been whiling away the minutes until 6pm by watching Andrew Flintoff get another fifty.  It's blustery weather outside tonight following a crazy couple of weeks of weather (really, most of the summer's been quite crap, weather-wise).  It does not deter these avid drinkers, though...


Pub 165 - One Central Street (Central Street)

Opening hours, dutifully jotted down by spaceman, are 12-late Mondays to Fridays and 6-late on Saturdays (closed on Sundays presumably).  It doesn't specify what "late" means, but it's probably whenever the bar manager feels like going home.  Barney gets 2 pints of Kirin in (after waiting patiently for a member of staff to appear) and is stung with a bill for £6.  We take a seat by the sunlight, with the window giving us a view of the outside (Central Street) from a sub-ground level.  It's quite deserted in here tonight, a place where spaceman had a distinctly average work Christmas meal last year.  The tables are annoyingly pimpled, which is not good for the elbows - they're very stained too (the tables not our elbows - well, spaceman can't necessarily vouch for barney's).  As becomes of empty soulless bars, there's not much to say about them, so we finish our beers and leave...


Pub 166 - Beluga (Mount Street/Central Street)

Formerly known as the Citrus Bar, this is spaceman's first visit in its new guise.  We check that downstairs is a restaurant only (it is) so go back upstairs to the stylishly decked out bar area.  We are after food, just not as formally.  We perch with two pints of Carling (acquired for £5.20).  We sit looking out onto Central Street and a sign on the wall opposite says "Friends Meeting Place".  Er, Moby plays on the music system.  It's a pleasant upmarket bar, which is healthily occupied tonight.  And then we go...


Pub 167 - Slug & Lettuce (Albert Square)

Barney deliberately steers the night's path to the Slug & Lettuce on Albert Square (now the only S&L in central Manchester following the closure of the Canal Street venue) in order to get some food.  It wasn't our planned route (oh yes, we do plan things) but our stomachs are crying out for nutritious intervention.  The eating area is fairly quiet and so we get served instantly.  Wasting no time (we have no time to spare) we order 2 pints of Fosters and a Slug Platter to share.  Barney notices funky pictures on the wall and watches the gymnastics on the big TV in the far corner.  The two Fosters turn out to have been £4.90 and the Slug Platter, which was quite nice, is £10.95.  The highlight of the meal was the chicken and chorizo skewer.  Most of the rest was standard deep-fried fare, the exception being garlic bread, which had the same tensile strength as granite.  This didn't stop barney.  The grub disappeared quickly, anyway, so it can't have been too bad.  The beer disappears soon after...


Pub 168 - The Old Nags Head (Jackson's Row/Lloyd Street)

This is just down the road from the Slug (really, most of tonight's venues are a stone's throw from each other).  It has entrances on both sides, possibly making it handy for a short-cut.  Cellar Vie was shut without a notice but Tmesis (an art gallery bar restaurant thing) was shut, but a sign helpfully let us know that it was being refurbished until September.  We will try again.  We get two pints of Extra Cold Carling for £4.70 and head upstairs to try out the pool room.  Spaceman has been here several time, studiously avoiding the karaoke but not the quiz machine or the jukebox.  Barney recently had a work pool tournament here and so confirms that the pool room is open to non-residents (the pub doubles as a hotel).  Barney hurries back downstairs to hand over a £10 deposit for the cues, and the match commences.  There are four pool tables and a dartboard up here - quite a good games room.  The pool tables are, as so often in old-style pubs, are of average quality and of the usual English pool-type.


Barney takes the first frame as the Stone Roses play I Am The Resurrection on the jukebox (nothing to do with us).  Spaceman had missed the last red before barney cleared up the black.  Spaceman disappears to the random gents which is in the dark with a little outside lighting (makes things a little tricky).  And there's no sink.  Someone goes downstairs to persuade the staff to switch the upstairs lights on - we suddenly can see!  Then they go off again.  Spaceman sneaks a frame back to level things at 1-1 as the lights continue to flicker on and off, usually when spaceman was at the table.  In another tight frame (they have all been close), barney takes it to go 2-1 up and, alas, our beers have been emptied. 


Pub 169 - The Rising Sun (Lloyd Street/Queen Street)

This pub is another old-fashioned pub just across the road from the Nags Head, and also has entrances on both sides.  Barney disappears immediately to the toilets as spaceman goes to the bar with barney's money (which spaceman had lent barney) - two pints of Carling are £4.60.  Barney arrives back and confuses the barmaid by taking the change after spaceman had handed over a tenner.  Barney reports that the toilets have sky blue walls and brown doors (exactly the same colour scheme as spaceman's T-shirt says barney).  We sit down and see that two TVs are showing The Bill on ITV.  The pub has been done up a little bit since spaceman was last here, and is now internally a mix between an old man's pub and a trendy new bar.  It has red and white walls with lots of pictures.  There's quite a lot of space in the middle of the bar while the seats line the walls.  We carry on with our journey...


Pub 170 - The Ape & Apple (John Dalton Street)

We draw another blank tonight - Caffé Uno shuts at 9pm every night and we're too late (by at least 15 minutes).  So we come here, and it's a first for both of us.  Spaceman rushes to the toilets downstairs while barney gets two pints of Carlsberg Export for £4.72 (infinitely preferable to the other options that are Crystal and Diamond says barney wisely).  They are the work of the devil, barney adds.  Apparently the Chef's Specials are being served in the Terrace Restaurant "upstairs" (what doubt is there?).  Shortly, a barmaid proclaims something to be "gone", but we can't remember what.  We carry on down John Dalton Street...


Pub 171 - The Restaurant Bar & Grill (John Dalton Street)

Somehow the imaginatively titled Restaurant had been missed by our pub radar - it definitely counts due to the large bar area on the ground level (the restaurant, which is well worth trying, is in the glass-fronted upstairs).  We go inside - the glass doors are helpfully held open by the bouncers - and order 2 bottles of Tiger beer for £5.80 (ouch).  The barman wouldn't serve us draught beer as it's not cold - he insists we get a bottle.  We sit in a semi-circle drinking booth.  Spaceman had in fact recently visited the upstairs restaurant, taking the other half for a birthday meal, which was enjoyable.  Barney is too scared to go the toilets as it's a bit posh.  This bar is one of the places that Coronation Street actors often come (apparently).  Barney bemoans the fact the excellent Dalton Café (see the Where To Eat page) is not open - bit late for a fry-up, though.  There's a vast array of champagne available behind the bar, but it's not for us tonight.  A waitress comes round and places a little serviette things under our beers.  Which are swiftly consumed anyway...


Pub 172 - The Hog's Head (Deansgate)

This was known as the Hogshead (all one word), but has had a slight change in name, it seems.  We enter and both run to the toilets (regular readers will spot this phenomenon of visiting the gents immediately on going into pubs - this is due to not going at the previous place, usually).  The toilets are upstairs and round the corner.  Spaceman gets two pints of Heineken for an unknown price, as spaceman's other half and her Scottish friend (see the vastly underdeveloped Deep Fried Mars Bar site) show up - they were in the neighbourhood after a leaving do.  We note that these are the first ever visitors to our pub crawl - we have had several possibles before, but no-one had actually showed.  There are several fruit machines around, but we can see no quiz machines.  A little bit under the influence and egged on by barney, spaceman goes for an exploratory wander into the store cupboard at the back (near where we are sat), but is alas immediately caught by a member of staff.  Spaceman quickly pretends to be looking for the toilets, and is directed upstairs (but only bothers going halfway up before returning to the table).  Ah, the excitement.  Our guests for the night leave, and with them, drunkenly, we finish up for the night.  Barney heads straight home without food but spaceman cannot resist the charms of the nearby Topkapi Palace and orders a chicken pita and chips.



On to day 22