The Central Manchester Slow Pub Crawl - Day 5


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Day 5 - Tuesday 28th January 2003 (Map)

Pub 32 - Havana (Blackfriars Road)

We forgot this one on the way past it last time.  This time it's Tuesday night and guess what?  Yep, Bar 10 is shut.  We decide to leave it for a while and include it on the final leg of the pub crawl on a more popular night.  The pumps for draught beer are "being cleaned" and we cannot bear to wait the 10 minutes required.  So we go for bottles - one Budweiser, one San Miguel - which cost £5.50.  The weather is awful - it's teeth-chatteringly cold, the wind is bitter and blows from whichever direction, and drizzle hanging in the air as it does so wilfully in these parts.  The place is quite empty as we seek a quiet corner and a zebra skin semi-circle cove thing (barney fancied the leopard skin one).


Set at basement level, this place hosts salsa, happy hours (5pm to 7:30pm and 10pm to 12pm - we don't know what's on offer), food (5pm to 1am - there's even a twilight menu at the table, which barney unsurprisingly approves of).  There is an extensive drinks menu, which also includes a cigar menu of all things.  This place clearly has it all.  Apparently they present top Latin DJs and live bands on selected evenings.  It also says "please enquire about our Latin dance classes" - no thanks, we both think.  Several people seem to change their mind about coming in as they peer in.  Quite what they were looking for we don't know.  As we head out into the night, the venue seems like it is set for a party that hasn't started yet.  Up the stairs, across Deansgate, past Marks and Spencers to...


Pub 33 - Zinc Bar & Grill (The Triangle)

A much more upmarket place, we have the choice of Becks and Kronenbourg.  We choose the latter, which we are informed costs £5.80, but we are charged £4.80.  Bizarrely, the receipt says £5.80 and two Becks.  Make of that what you will.  Barney asks if whether it was worth buying a bottle of wine for £30, but spaceman doesn't like wine, the neanderthal.  Barney says "that's a no then is it?".  A curtain has been put up in the restaurant area to block out the disarming view of an empty-in-the-evening Triangle shopping precinct (barney has been here before).  The ceiling looks like a floor and sultry music plays over the stereo system.  Looking at the drinks menu, all lagers sold here are at least 5%, so it isn't possible to have any weak lager tonight.


Barney mentions that there is another Crown & Anchor in town that we will have to drink in.  Oh no.  Spaceman reckons we'll need some lemon and salt to survive the taste of the beer -  a la tequila.  It's quite a trendy looking place and expensive to boot.  Barney likes the blue wall on the background - do they shoot stunts against it, spaceman wonders?  Barney says no.  Everything here is very square.  And that's it.  We discuss the route for the rest of the night, which we settle on as going first via...


Pub 34 - Victoria Station Bar (Victoria Station)

This is described by the writing on the wall above outside as a refreshment room and bar.  It's eerily quiet here - station bars must rarely be rammed, though.  There is no music playing.  It's £4.40 for two pints of Carling and as we get our beers, we notice most people are half-asleep, and in some cases fully asleep (presumably, hopefully, waiting for trains).  Barney mumbles "mental note - never come here again", but then also admires the relatively impressive glass dome ceiling.  It's the bar that time forgot.  We take a bit of time getting out of the place as we play a poker quiz game.  Also, the doors have been locked (at about 8pm or so) but finally we are let out, allowing us to head on to...


Pub 35 - Waxy O'Connors (Corporation Street/The Printworks)

Nice little place, but we don't fancy eating here.  Barney keeps mentioning the Hard Rock Café, but spaceman is resisting.  Barney continues to churn on endlessly about obscure pub names just 'cos barney's moved into an out-of-the-way place in town.  Spaceman sneaks to the toilet on the way in - desperation had set in.  It requires going past a big screen showing Chelsea versus Leeds, currently one-nil to Leeds.  There is a crazy set of stairs leading to the centre of the Printworks, we'll figure them out later.  It's an Irish pub - as made obvious by the Irish music and the Irish maps on the wall.  And Irish comedy on speakers in the toilets.  We are perched at the bar and spot a notice saying "all day, Monday to Thursday, 2 bottles for £4".  We exit into the main part of the Printworks and make our way to...


Pub 36 - Riki Tiki Tavi (The Printworks)

We lazily take the lift upstairs and do this place as a restaurant 'cos we're dead hungry, getting a table and ordering the food almost straight away.  The menu contains an array of Asian-style food, setting it all out by origin, but no spicy curries for spaceman's tastes.  The Rogan Josh has yoghurt in it!  Spaceman opts for beef and black bean sauce, even though spaceman had chinese for lunch.  Barney orders sweet and sour chicken and we get two bottles of Tsingtao beer for £4.90.  The place is deserted except for one massive party and two other people.  The beer's okay but not great - we should have gone for Tiger.  The food in general is passable but the sauce perhaps too sweet.  Reasonably generous portions and the total bill is £22 plus a tip.  We head briefly out of the Printworks to try and get in the John Willie Lees pub but it's not possible (access by main stairs and ramp are both blockaded), so we go back to the Printworks opposite, to...


Pub 37 - Hard Rock Café (The Printworks)

We ask the bouncers about the JWL but it has been shut for some time, it seems.  So we come here - the home of cheesy music memorabilia and huge meal sizes.  Spaceman again rushes to the toilets - they are not bad - and barney follows not long afterwards.  In betweens, we notice at the bar (as we pay £4.70 for two pints of Fosters) that the spirits are on shelves high above the bar.  Spaceman jokingly asks the barman for one off the second top shelf.  The barman replies "mister originality!".  After a short while of thinking, spaceman retorts that the barman should come up with something more original himself.  Spaceman wonders out loud how many times the barman must have said "mister originality" in response to a comment about the spirits.  The barman is strangely silent - clearly beaten...


Anyway, we take our seats and take our customary look around.  On the ceiling, there is a large guitar shape protruding.  Barney mentions of a past desire to paint one on the ceiling, but barney's mum wouldn't allow it.  Enough of this reminiscing as last orders is approaching, so we head deeper into the Printworks...


Pub 38 - Norwegian Blue (The Printworks)

It's cold in here - as always, as it sounds.  They are obviously trying to recreate the temperature of Norway.  We purchase two pints of lager for £4.70 and in our infinite expertise find a comfy sofa.  There's a weird sculpture nearby under the stairs, which looks like it's from Aliens or something.  The far wall changes colour periodically, impressing barney.  This is our last place as it is fast approaching 11pm.  We drain our glasses and enter into the night...



On to day 6