In Manchester’s Northern Quarter, there’s a certain kind of vibe. Whether it stems from the unusual shops, bars and tattoo parlours, the street art (not graffiti) adorning the walls, or the bearded, quirkily dressed individuals who wander its streets, it’s a mellow place.
Common on Edge Street is exactly what you’d expect of a Northern Quarter bar – chilled, urban and chic. After its recent refurb the place is looking good, with a swanky new bar and minimalist décor that’s all the rage nowadays. Brick walls and bare floorboards are the fashion here, which together with low hanging ceiling lights creates a stylish look. The folding windows are easily one of the most appealing features because they can be pulled right back to merge the indoor and outdoor seating areas on warm days.
True to the area it calls home, Common is as relaxed as the rest of the Northern Quarter. Its customers are a familiar crowd – some recline while tapping away on their laptops, others sip white wine surrounded by shopping bags. Across the room, friends share a cheeky tipple or two. Meanwhile, an ever-changing backdrop of framed modern artworks completes the mood.
As for the drinks menu, there’s a fairly average selection, including wine, cocktails, craft beers and so-called craft soft drinks (apparently this is a thing now). If you’re so inclined, you can try a cucumber soda or a cinchona tonic – made from tree bark. Brunch is available until 2pm and scrumptious cakes (I recommend the chocolate brownie) and fresh doughnuts are served throughout the day.
In conjunction with the recent refresh, the dinner menu has also had a revamp. Alongside Northern Quarter-stylee sarnies (yes avocado, shrimp and chorizo butties are on offer), chilli bowls and burgers there’s a small plates option where you can try three small plates for £12. These are brilliant for sharing or scoffing by yourself, and with a mixture of meat and veggie dishes available there’ s sure to be something that makes you go ‘ooh’.
I tried the proper lush Korean fried chicken with gochujang sauce, salt and pepper squid with lime aioli, and the cured mackerel which, for someone squeamish who avoids any food that looks remotely raw, went down a treat. And you know how batter is going to be spot on when it’s beautifully bubbly? Well, the crispy squid was bubbled to perfection.
And, after our waitress described the maple bacon burger as a ‘cake burger’, my partner in crime, from now on known as wor lad (geordie for my lad), couldn’t resist it. OK, this sounds odd, but never a more fitting description has been uttered. With the combination of the soft brioche bun, maple syrup bacon and perfectly pink burger, this is a sweet-tooth’s ideal savoury, and will certainly leave you satiated, albeit a little sick.
As complaints go, this is a minor one. Me and wor lad will be back.
Where: Edge St. Northern Quarter, Manchester
When: Sun–Wed, 10am–11pm; Thurs–Sat, 10am–12am
More info: www.aplacecalledcommon.co.uk