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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Marble Arch, Manchester

Last Friday saw me meeting some friends for a meal and a few pints at the Marble Arch Inn in Manchester. This pub is in Rochdale Road, about 10 minutes walk from Victoria Station, about 20 from Piccadilly. It has an attractive granite exterior and inside tiled walls and ceiling, with the words of various drinks in the tiles that make up the coving of the room. I recall being told by the owner in the 1980s that when he had taken over the pub, there had been a false ceiling covering the beautiful tile work. Typical 1960s vandalism aesthetics.  The pub is also home to the Marble Brewery.

The Marble Arch is justly well known for its food. No pre-cooked microwaved meals here: a good range of home-cooked choices, including vegetarian options, was available at reasonable prices, and I think we all enjoyed our respective meals.

The main business of a pub is of course beer (gastropubs notwithstanding). 11 hand pumps in operation served a range of beers, mostly from the Marble Brewery range, but with a couple of guests too. There is a full range of strengths, from Pint at 3.8% to Dobble at 5.9%, a beer that was deceptively drinkable, not tasting thick and cloying like some strong beers do. The Manchester Bitter is an excellent 4.2% light beer, which I believe is their best seller. Their Brew 14 (4.3%) tasted rather similar to me, and therefore rather good as well. Others I tried included a guest Ossett Warhorse, a tasty 5.% dark bitter and, out of curiosity, a half of the Choc Marble beer (5.5%) - definitely chocolaty, but not overwhelmingly so. All the Marble beers are organic and vegan, and despite the lack of finings to clear the beer (finings usually come from the sturgeon), the beer was not at all cloudy.

We were there for several hours and saw the changing clientele. There was a pleasant buzz of happy customers in groups enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and good drinks, with quite a wide age range. I made friends with one young girl who smiled and waved at me across the room ~ as she sat on her mum's knee.

I'm no expert on Manchester pubs, but this is the best in my experience, and is quite what a pub should be nowadays. If you're in the area, it's well worth a visit.

The slightly fuzzy photo was taken on my mobile.

4 comments:

  1. A slight correction. Once upon a time, all Marble beers were indeed organic and vegan. That is not the case now and beers such as Manchester Stout and JP Best are non-organic.

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  2. Thanks ~ I didn't realise that. I suppose anyone who needed to know would have to ask.

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  3. An exquisite pub in what can most kindly be called a 'downtown' area and a favourite with Donal Maguire and myself on our "madchester" days out. A flower in the dust no less, and followed up with a visit to the Red Chilli Chinese restaurant on Portland Street = Mm,mm, does it get much better?

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  4. Clive: now that's two of us Merseysiders being nice about Manchester. The world turned upside down indeed.

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