The word ‘pub’ used to be associated with dingy, sticky-floored old buildings that your grandad and his mates frequented, all eyes turned disapprovingly at any newcomer who dared step through the door. But, in the 21st century, it’s quite the opposite.
A lot more relaxed than a restaurant but with food that tastes just as good, pubs have reinvented themselves into gastro destinations – trendy places to dine and have a cheeky tipple after work. And The Beagle in Chorlton, South Manchester is just that.
Renowned for its ‘merican pancakes and breakfast of champions, The Beagle has become a popular place to brunch over the past few years. Now there’s a new evening menu which features Mexican, American, and Korean-styled main courses as well as street food-inspired starters. A chance to try out some new grub? I don’t mind if I do.
The pub itself has a great atmosphere, with cool décor and easy listening tunes filtering through in the background. There’s an excellent covered terrace area at the front (rather like a conservatory), perfect for relaxing on a Summer’s day but also nice and cosy during colder, rainy months. The place is buzzing with the chatter of happy patrons (obviously a popular choice for an evening treat) and like the best kinds of pubs it’s also dog friendly.
Craft beer lovers will be pleased to hear that The Beagle serves guest beers that frequently change around, and there is also a good-looking wine list. Intriguing cocktails are available too. Alongside the old favourites there are some new combinations to sample, such as the Straw Jerry Mule (an alternate to the Strawberry Mule) which is a mix of strawberries, Sailor Jerry, lime juice, vanilla gomme and ginger beer, and is beautifully refreshing and a great palate cleanser.
But to the food. There’s a lengthy list of starters catering for a wide variety of tastes, including the likes of deep fried pickles, quesadillas and baja fish tacos. These can be eaten singularly or tapas style, with three dishes for £9.95 – not bad! We tried popcorn shrimp and crispy crumb chicken strips with ‘it sauce em’ sauce, a blimmin’ amazing barbeque-style condiment.
The main courses feature mounds of nachos, chilli con carne and buttermilk fried chicken that will forever ruin you for KFC. By god, you must try it. I had a chilli beef brisket burrito that was delicious, chock-full of rice, salsa, and sauces and served with a small pot of spicy tomato soup for dipping. The beef brisket itself was amazingly tender, and much tastier than the plain old mince you usually get in chilli. My partner had a Don’t Cross the Streams burger, a heavenly combination of a beef burger and buttermilk chicken, both of which offer zero resistance to your teeth and simply melt in your mouth.
Though we were almost fit to bursting, we managed to move onto dessert. Despite only a few on offer, they were well chosen. I tried an apple crumble ice cream that was straight out Willy Wonka’s factory – I’m amazed how good the apple-flavoured ice cream was, and the little pieces of crumble that come with it were de-lish. The chilli chocolate brownie is also divine – not so strong on the chilli, more of a warmth on the roof of your mouth.
If you live Manchester way, then The Beagle is easily accessible. It’s only a couple of minutes walk from the Chorlton tram stop, and on weekdays they have an ‘After School’ and ‘After Work Club’, offering 50 per cent reductions on kids’ meals and 10 per cent off drinks. And if you need any more persuading then here is the reply I was given when I asked my partner if he was enjoying the food as much as me: “It’s cringingly good,” he said, his mouth full of buttermilk chicken. “Other pubs should be ashamed.”
What: The Beagle
Where: Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, Manchester
When: Closed Mondays; Tuesday – Thursday, 4pm until 12am, Friday, 2pm until 1am; Saturday, 10am until 1am; Sunday, 10am until 12am
More info: www.beaglesabout.com