This Place Is A Haven For All Christmas Dinner And Beer-Lovers In Manchester
Understand the true craft of the trade and taste the future
About four or five years ago, the Manc beer market started to shift decisively towards craft beers.
They’d been around for longer than that but suddenly, craft started spilling into the mainstream (or at least the Northern Quarter) with smaller beers getting shelf space in the likes of Spar and pubs offering dozens of craft beers in both bottles and on tap.
Gone were the days where you’d pretty much walk into a bar and choose between Guinness, Carlsberg, Bud and Heineken - or Bulmers if you preferred cider.
The big guys were suddenly caught flat footed as consumers welcomed the emergence of more choice and, crucially, quality in the beer market.
In short, what the craft revolution has done in Manchester is force brewers back into innovating and creating new products. Consumers no longer want a pint of beer just sold to them as “the coldest beer ever” or slapped on to the front of a football jersey.
Instead, they want a back story, some heritage and obviously - great taste. Newbie on the scene Northern Monk Refectory on Tariff Street offers all three.
This place defines basic-chic but it oozes comfort and is about as "Northern Quarter" as they come, if you catch my drift.
In truth, I'm not a beer kinda gal - I never have been. I used to live in London and there was a lovely little microbrewery down the road and back then the furthest I stretched was one of the many fruit beers, if I'm honest. I told the lovely bar staff as much and was recommended the Eton Mess Strannik - a sweet and malty stout - it is essentially a pudding in a glass and was absolutely gorgeous.
One of my party had the Farmhouse Session IPA - Eternite - which tasted fresh, natural and absent of all of those nasty additives - with a slight citrussy lilt it was oh-so-drinkable.
The great thing about this place is the variety, not only in terms of brews but size options as well - there's something to suit all tastes, tolerances and predilections. Two of us were fairy virginal on the beer scene and we left converted - utterly.
Another I sampled was the Striding Edge Light IPA - the flavour wasn't overpowering but a real easy-drinking beer and a low ABV (a lot of the brews on offer will knock you for six if you're not careful - with the Eton Mess racking up an insane 10% ABV to rival a lot of its Belgian counterparts - so the Striding Edge Light IPA is a good one if you've got a busy morning the next day.)
This place is famous for their platters, which range from an exotic vegan offering featuring butternut squash and roasted winter veg, and a Christmas Dinner platter (more on this later) but they also have a range of mains and small plates which include succulent lamb dishes and a range of British favourites.
The brand-new Christmas Dinner platter is an absolute must-try if you're a festive fiend or just into your beef - it features a spectacular feast of brisket-stuffed Yorkshire Puddings, succulent pigs in blankets, beef dripping roasties, roast parsnips, balsamic and honey-glazed sprouts (if you're not a sprout fan these may convert you, trust me) cranberry and sage stuffing plus mulled wine gravy.
All of that for £13 - the quality of the brisket, stuffing and sausages is top-notch and the whole thing easily serves two hungry tummies - and might even stretch to three, if you're just picking.
An absolute treat for the cold December chill - this, matched with the Eton Mess brew, gives absolute credence to the word 'hearty' and I can't recommend it highly enough.
The experience here is a very exciting one and you'll feel like you are sipping the future and there are all sorts of craft beers here. The big and the small.
Check the Northern Monk Refectory out if you love beer - or beef. You'll fall in love with the place pretty quickly.