A Night Out in Manchesters Northern Quarter

It is a Thursday evening and I am walking around the Northern Quarter. I am cold and soaked with rain, therefore I’m in a slightly ratty mood.

Richard Dyer

Date published: 1st Dec 2008

It is a Thursday evening and I am walking around the Northern Quarter. I am cold and soaked with rain, therefore I’m in a slightly ratty mood. Never mind though, because I am heading toward the friendly red glow of the Trof sign to meet a friend. ‘Cheery’ is a word that encompasses Trof; as soon as you step in, the jovial mood of the punters (a mix of the young professional and student crowd) is infectious. The bare brick walls and soft lighting illuminated by fairy lights create a cosy feel.  

With my bad mood rapidly evaporating, I have a quick look around and see that my friend has bagged a diner-style table in the far corner. We order hot chocolate, which arrives at our table in a tall glass with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate flakes on top. I am in fat saturated heaven.

As we leave Trof, with all good intentions to go home and get dinner on, I spy a sign boasting ‘£6! Bottles of house wine before 7pm’. Check watch. It’s 6.45pm. Shall we? So we wander into Odd bar, which is very busy, but we manage to perch on someone’s table. Despite Odd’s obvious popularity, I think that the square and open layout of the bar doesn’t lend to a very intimate atmosphere. The music is a tad too quiet, and on the whole it lacks the ambience and personality of its younger and sexier sister Odder. Luckily it has a great, prominent location to make up for this.

After we’ve polished a bottle of wine off, my friend suggests we go to Rodeo, which I’ve previously never heard of. He assures me they do great Mojitos, which I love. Rodeo is a tiny bar that has a South-American theme to it. It probably couldn’t fit more than fifteen people in it. Luxury is not of the essence as the bar is furnished with wooden benches (and a cushion if you’re lucky). I pick up the drinks menu, which actually specializes in Margheritas, not Mojito cocktails, and I order myself an ‘Apple Crumble’ style Margherita. It’s delicious but holds a serious kick of tequila, so I restrain myself to just the one.

Next stop, Common, a tucked-away drinking establishment on Edge Street. As we wander in we experience momentary confusion – everyone has dressed themselves in fantastic and freakish Halloween outfits. It seems on the eve of the popular holiday that Common is hosting a special themed quiz night. The small bar area has been transformed into a hellish grotto with decorations adorning every possible wall and surface. My favourite touch is the string of fake bloodied butchers knifes hanging above the bar. Several people are also avidly taking part in a pumpkin carving competition.

We absorb the good-natured mood of the bar, and stay for a few drinks. Eventually and regretfully we remember that it is getting late for a school night, so we say a final farewell to the ghoulish characters lurking behind the bar and head home. Northern Quarter nightlife for me offers unparalleled quality and variety in its bars, and tonight has proved no exception to that rule.

Melissa Mead