With the Northern Quarter awash with bars as it is, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. In a sea of cool venues serving craft beers, organic food and lashings of quirkiness, how does a bar differentiate itself? TV21 doesn't really seem to have a problem with that. With its B movie kitsch decor, sci-fi appeal and ideal location on Thomas Street, this stalwart Northern Quarter bar has always managed to pull the crowds without having to really try. So when we heard that TV21 had introduced a new cocktail menu and Tex Mex inspired food offering, we couldn't wait to head down and give it a go.
TV21 is kitted out like a Men in Black-come-Star Wars watering hole for star troopers and comic book guys from across the universe, yet manages to remain attractive and cool. When you walk in you’re greeted by the charismatic staff and a full size figure from the film Alien. The TV and film theme is rife throughout and adds a brilliantly charming air. It’s quirky and comfortable with booths, tables and chairs spread nicely around a central island bar presided over by a glow in the dark Grey Alien. With so many bars feeling underwhelmingly similar in style and decor these days, nights out are becoming a blur. That, or I’m drinking more. So for all its bizarre little quirks, the outstanding attribute of TV21 is its irrepressible, in your face, intriguing character that makes you question why you don’t come here more often.
The Clientele and Atmosphere
From the venue description you might assume that TV21 is a hub for movie geeks, however what we found was a far more eclectic affair. We were greeted by business men and women, the after work drinkers making the most of the happy hour and lapping up the film nostalgia from yesteryear. A team building exercise was also taking place between a group of female employees who were tasked with guessing an A4 sheet full of famous clowns. Couples sat and enjoyed a quiet date night and a group of younger student types hovered around the bar sinking shots and doing large amounts of damage to the cocktail list. TV21 is diverse and interesting, the clientele that go in there are widespread in age, taste and style, which makes the atmosphere of the whole bar relaxed and cool. TV21 offers a little bit of something different for everyone; an eating and drinking experience that isn’t replicated anywhere else in Manchester.
The Food and Drink
Upon arrival we were given a selection of cocktails to tear into. With one of my party being a sucker for anything Tom Cruise, he (yes he) was suitably impressed by the menus which are branded with the logo from the film ‘Cocktail’. The cocktails were unreal as well; one garnished with glow sticks and the other with rainbow sherbet laces, in keeping with the delightfully odd theme. The food was equally imaginative. The menu offers a huge selection of burgers and wraps, brilliant nibbles and deserts - and the wild card option of Crocodile Fajitas. Being the Pulp Fiction fans that we are, several Big Kahuna burgers were ordered. Two burger patties, home made with bacon and pineapple, melted cheese and served with a bucket of fries. I took the plunge and ordered the Crocodile Fajitas - and I was pleasantly surprised by the dish's amazing flavour; well seasoned and served on a hot plate with salsa, guacamole and all the Mexican trimmings. Side orders of cheese sauce and onion rings lasted all of two minutes and the entire thing was washed down with a few pints of Tuborg and plenty of Tom Cruise banter.
There aren’t many places I haven’t visited during in my time in Manchester, but TV21 was one of them. So for me, I loved being able to go out and have an amazing time at a new place that served cocktails with glowsticks, burgers as big as my face and crocodile wraps. The entire diversity and weird and welcoming atmosphere grabbed me as soon as I walked in, and something I didn’t think I’d ‘get’ ,I really enjoyed. The food was amazing, the drinks could of been made by Brian Flanagan himself and the staff were as good as any restaurant I’ve eaten in. I can’t wait to go back to TV21 for more Big Kahunas, aliens and after work beers. It’s dead good.