Chorlton-cum-Hardy has never been short of bars. The place is teeming with the blighters, some of which last about as long as mayflies. One particular establishment changes its name so often that they might as well write it in chalk on a blackboard above the door.
Having been established since 2009, Electrik is a relative old-timer. It draws an eclectic, often devoted crowd and has built a reputation by uniting two potentially unlikely bedfellows: good food and DJing. In fact, its owners Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford first made their names in the mid 90s as a DJ team (the Unabombers) with a legendary Manchester club night, Electric Chair, which of course gives its name to the bar they set up once the decks stopped spinning. A love of music and a sense of cool remains deeply rooted in its genes. Basically, if Electrik was a record format it would be 12” vinyl.
Inside it’s a big old place, deceptively so, all low lighting, subdued colour scheme and wooden fittings. For the most part the clientele is as you’d expect in beloved Bohoville, resplendent in neat beards, geometric haircuts, expensive trainers and the occasional hat. Readers of the I-Spy Book of Hipsters could rack up a very tasty score. But it’s by no means a monopoly, and thankfully Electrik does have more to it than that. It offers a relaxed, homely vibe, as informal as can be, and the staff are similarly easy-going and welcoming. There’s a good mix of drinkers and eaters but it doesn’t feel like an awkward mix at all.
Electrik is renowned for its Sunday roasts but, for better or worse, Northern Soul‘s visit was on a Thursday night. It has to be said that the veggie options aren’t exactly wide-ranging, and they’re all a bit heavy on the unthrilling likes of halloumi and chickpeas. That said, the Spanish potato omelette with broad bean, mint and feta – with a particularly pleasing scattering of pomegranate seeds – turned out to be excellent, and much more filling that its modest dimensions suggested.
Alternatively, the beef bourguignon, much fêted by the serving staff, was a seriously rich and hearty confection of mash, small onions and crunchy bacon pieces – the latter contrasting nicely with the softness of the beef. Glorious stuff, in fact, and just right with a pint of cider on a chilly night.
Somehow we found room for a side order of the intriguing-sounding mushroom fries. They turned out to be sliced portobello mushrooms fried in breadcrumbs with a helping of garlic mayonnaise. Not remotely as greasy as you might fear, they were a delicious addition to the table.
Another Electrik staple is its selection of cakes on the bar. We went for the chocolate, almond and Daim bar cake – not too intensively chocolately, thankfully, and so a pleasing little taste of Ikea in South Manchester. We also tried the cinnamon and waffle cake – that’s to say, a dessert with broken sweet waffle pieces on top. In this instance the slice was generous enough to fell a bull elephant. But we persevered and we’re might glad we did, though our ventricles might not thank us for it in the long run.
Overall, it’s very decent bar food fare in an agreeable atmosphere, though somehow the suspicion remains that, with Chorlton’s eating venues proliferating constantly, Electrik will need to keep raising its game to provide a menu strong and diverse enough to remain a unadulterated dining destination.
By Andy Murray
Rating out of 5:
Where: Wilbraham Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester
More info: www.electrikbar.co.uk