AN old journo mate, North London Irish with a taste for the Guinness, finding himself stranded in an uninviting US Midwestern city, headed for the comfort zone of some bar called ‘Bridey Murphy’s Shebeen’ or the like.
A pint of stout ordered, it arrived minus the expected creamy head; no chance of inscribing a shamrock on a surface as scummy flat as the Shannon wetlands. Of course, he challenged the barman to explain, only to be told that’s how Guinness is served. Strong language ensued.
This is, of course, the exception across the globe. Even in the unlikeliest of Celtic boozers such as the thatched pub on Dubai Airport ice cold keg Guinness has an admirable consistency. Still, in England, the equation of Irish theme pubs with drink-fuelled (usually lager) craic has had its day surely? And all those job lots of Old Oirish memorabilia cluttering every available space.
Which brings us to the arrival of The Corner Boy in the Northern Quarter site that was West Corner, which had supplanted the Original Koffee Pot, where the breakfast craic had always been Full English.
With The Patron bar it bookends the Hatters Hostel block and declares itself an Irish Bar and Deli, the latter asset a cute little vestibule counter dispensing sandwiches and Tayto crisps. Inside it’s full of, well, job lots of Old Oirish memorabilia cluttering every available space. I’m not sure how the D Cup bra and other laundry dangling from the ceiling fit the theme; the cosy more contemporary snug certainly does in a fit-out that grows on you a an antidote to all those clanky NQ industrial gloom pits. This feels a genuinely warm haven.
What we like about the food offering is the chance to indulge in one of life’s great pairings – Guinness with mussels, only bettered by ‘with oysters’, which aren’t available is. More substantial fare includes colcannon (cabbage with bacon and mash with parsley sauce) and traditional Irish Stew with soda bread. each under a tenner as is their tripe deck ultimate toastie, where for £7.50 you get baked ham, double cheese, tomato and onion with Ballymaloe Irish Relish.
Draught beer is standard NQ stuff but you’ll discover some interesting craft cans, while the Irish whiskey selection runs to unusual small batch examples. The cocktail selection inevitably runs to punning tipples such a the Culchie Cosmo and Go On Ya Boyo at £7.50 a go and whiskey cocktails such as On The Lash, made with Bushmills (£8).
Alternative Irish experiences?
In the city centre look no further than Mulligan’s tucked away between San Carlo and Bridge Street. Waxy O’Connor’s in The Printworks is the place to pull up a pew and soak up the wacky ecclesiastical vibe; for live music and a full range of Irish grub look no further than the refurbed O’Shea’s on Whitworth Street. Amazingly it’s nearly a quarter pf a century since Ireland football manager Jack Charlton pulled the first of more than two million pints of stout served in this former warehouse. A recent arrival on the city centre scene is Kiely’s on Watson Street, replacing a more interesting craft beer bar, No1, while the old school Shamrock on Bengal Street in Ancoats has now shut for good as the demographic of the area shifts. Out in Levenshulme catch all kind of telly sports, including Gaelic, at Hennigan’s Sports Bar or cradle a pint of Guinness like you were in old Donegal at The Fiddlers Green.
The Corner Boy Irish Bar and Deli, 21 Hilton St, Manchester M1 1JJ. 0161 241 7070.