Like big eyebrows, veganism is a surprising trend. Speaking as someone who has been vegetarian for many years and has drawn their eyebrows in since the goth days of yore, I didn’t think either would ever be embraced with such fervour and imagination. So, vegan food in restaurants no longer avoids the tastebuds, and everyone has come to terms with a chip butty being an ethical choice.

Molino has gluten-free and vegan menus and also offers children’s activity sessions and groups such as Monday night crochet. Man, you would think you were in Chorlton instead of Oldham. But this, in actual fact, is a chain with a heart and keeps prices relatively affordable.

Molino, OldhamMolino belongs to the Loungers chain. With more than 100 venues, it maintains unique touches influenced by the local town and each specific building. Oldham’s Lounge is built around – as well as within – an old police station with the ornate entrance to the former station retained as a doorway to one of the rooms. There’s also a mural behind the bar showing officers in Victorian police regalia with superimposed archival photographs.

We opted for tapas. My daughter had buttermilk fried chicken, salt and pepper squid, and spinach and goats’ cheese croquettes, all of which she loved. I had the vegan tapas of patatas bravas, hummus and the super-green bowl which were all fit. We chose the homemade drinks as we were impressed by the variety and imagination. My daughter enjoyed watermelon iced tea and I had the sherbet lemonade. For dessert, I ordered the vegan chocolate orange tort and there was an ice cream sundae for my daughter.

Molino, OldhamMolino has a fun feel, a light, enjoyable atmosphere and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I reckon it will be a slow burner for Oldham, sometimes packed and sometimes not so much, as it builds a reputation and the trust of different community organisations. I was impressed that groups can meet there free of charge and are under no obligation to buy a drink or any food. There are many interesting events coming up that I will certainly go to.

It’s good to see that businesses in Oldham are becoming creative spaces instead of cheap boozers. The more people and businesses thriving in the centre, the safer the town will be. I love a cheap boozer as well, though. Even Chorlton has a Wetherspoon.

By Cathy Crabb