With so many new bars or restaurants opening in Manchester’s arty Northern Quarter, it can be easy to overlook the longer standing venues. So hearing that The Bay Horse had upped its food game to compete with the dining revolution currently sweeping the Northern Quarter, I went along to experience what the new head chef of one of the area's original venues had to offer.
The Bay Horse is proudly situated on Thomas Street in the midst of neighbouring Northern Quarter bars, and although it looks like a more traditional pub, don’t let the building fool you. From its terraced house-like exterior, you would never guess how much space there is inside. The ground floor has a main bar and offers an array of comfortable seating for a more chilled drink, whereas the larger basement area has pool tables and feels more like a night time haunt you could lose more than a few hours in. One of the other perks of the venue is its private outdoor seating area at the back of the building, where you can catch some rays in the summer but has heaters for when the typical British weather kicks in again.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
You are likely to find a more grown-up crowd frequenting The Bay Horse than the standard young arty types you'd expect to see in other Northern Quarter bars and pubs. We visited on a Saturday lunchtime so it was fairly quiet (and meant that we got a good spot in the sunshine out back!), however this place is bustling of a weekend, and you'll be hard pushed to find a seat. Not that you need one, as the music is always the kind that will get you up from your chair anyway.
The Food and Drink
One of the best things about the food menu at The Bay Horse is that it is not huge. It offers a carefully chosen selection of tasty and hearty food that is perfect for sharing with friends. The main emphasis is on gourmet hot dogs, pizzas and pies, all of which are homemade and really good value for money. The blackboard lists the pies available each day, which offer a refreshing twist on the normal classics, including chicken and cider, and Mediterranean vegetable. The homemade pizza was by far the star of the show with its thin and crispy fennel seed base packed with topping. The salami pizza is particularly good as it comes with sun dried tomatoes, goat’s cheese and chunky pieces of salami. We also had the pleasure of meeting one of the chefs, who offered us homemade salsa (which was lovely) and dips to go with our meal. I should also say that the chips were super! It is hard to find good chips in a lot of places but these had a spicy dusting on them and were nice and fat but not soggy. The food goes really well with the great selection off beers that are available. It is also worth checking out the various drinks offers at the venue, such as a bottle of house wine for £10 until 8pm Monday to Friday.
With so many places serving up top quality casual dining in the Northern Quarter these days, it could be all too easy to forget about established venues like The Bay Horse when thinking about somewhere for lunch or dinner in Manchester. But thanks to its new food menu with a focus on homemade, gourmet bites, this long standing Northern Quarter pub is a great option for somewhere to go with a group of friends where you can share good food and drinks, and feel comfortable and relaxed. There is no pretence and you don’t have to worry about there being a pricey menu, which is all too normal in a lot of places. If you haven't been to The Bay Horse in a while - check it out. You might just be surprised. Book your table for food or drinks in advance through DesignMyNight.