Last weekend, I took a trip up the motorway to visit one of my nearest and dearest friends that I met at university. Alice lives in Manchester, but we met during Freshers’ week whilst studying in Birmingham and instantly bonded over a love of cookies, alcohol, and a shared affection of spending much of our time hanging around in our pyjamas and feeling hungover.
I didn’t travel alone – two of my ex-flatmates (coincidentally we were all placed in the same flat in our first year of uni before discovering we all actually came from Gloucestershire!) joined me, and after work on Friday, we all piled into Steph’s car for a road trip up to Manchester.
After a brief (but essential) stop at the services to refuel, we arrived in Manchester about three hours later, and soon bundled into Alice’s house after lots of hugs and unloading the many bags from the car.
In true Mancunian style, Alice had already laid out a spread for sustenance whilst we gossiped about boys, work, and general life until the very early hours of the morning. I definitely don’t get to see these guys altogether enough, so it was lovely to have a much-needed catch up.
The next morning, we were woken to ‘how do you like your eggs in the morning?’, and Alice, my hero that morning, was singing away whilst cooking us poached eggs and bacon on toast with pots of tea – I knew I was friends with her for something…!
Once we’d got dressed, we headed out into the city.
We all decided more tea was necessary (well up north, when in Rome…!) , so we took a quick pit stop at a lovely bar in one of my favourite areas of Manchester – The Lawn Club in Spinningfields.
Offering comfy and impressive furniture and decor, and a lawn complete with deckchairs for when it’s sunny, we enjoyed rolling around on the novel chairs – we’re clearly very easily pleased!
Time for a drink – camomile tea for Steph, strawberry tea for Jo, Earl Grey for me (my absolute favourite!), and a strong coffee for Alice! I think all that cooking this morning must have worn her out…
After we’d finished our drinks, we headed out to do a bit of shopping, stopping to admire all the Mulberry and Prada bags in Selfridges we wished we could afford.
By this time, we’d worked up quite an appetite!
There was only one thing for it. Burgers.
The last few times I visited Manchester, there was only one place for it: Almost Famous. I have honestly not eaten burgers like their burgers. INCREDIBLE. Crispy bacon, melt in your mouth patties, crispy fried onions, gooey cheese. And the best fries to complement: bacon bits and baconnaise. Plus it’s a secret kinda hang out, without publicity and no reservation system. AND the Manchester City goalie was enjoying lunch with his wife and kids next to us, so surely that’s proof it’s good!?
Although I could have quite easily returned, Alice was determined we’d try somewhere new, and given the exceptional standard of independent eateries in Manchester, this wasn’t hard to find.
She opted for Red’s True Barbecue, as she’d been recommended it by a few friends on the basis of their renowned ‘Donut Burger’.
And I must say, I was pretty impressed!
The whole restaurant has a pretty cool biblical theme – even little touches like the menu cover, and the loos are made to look as though they are confession booths.
It’s also got an Texan kind of theme, given the menu bursting with brisket, pulled pork, and meat, meat, MEAT. I really like the grungy kind of appeal, and all the staff are heavily tattooed and pierced.
The restaurant is clearly very popular (particularly on a Saturday!), and doesn’t take reservations, so we sipped at the bar whilst we waited and drooled over the menu.
It didn’t take too long before we were quickly showed to our table. One thing I must point out is the fast-paced nature of the restaurant; it’s clearly very popular and they want to serve as many people as possible, and so they compromise any kind of relaxed vibe – plates were soon taken away even before I had finished eating, so this was one thing I wasn’t too impressed by. Definitely don’t visit if you want to take things slow.
As mega condiments fans, we were, however, super impressed by the choice of sauces for our food that were on offer!
Alice and Jo opted for the Pit Burger – a heavenly blend of steak, brisket, pulled pork, streaky bacon, melted cheese, and all the added extras on a brioche bun.
I had a cheeky bite of Alice’s and it was pretty incredible – but clearly not one for the veggies!
They obviously enjoyed their burgers, as they didn’t hang around long…
That’s one very excited little face!
I opted for the burger the restaurant was famous for.
The Donut Burger.
I was intrigued. I wondered how this (arguable) monstrosity could actually come together. Would it work?
Oh boy, it worked!
Not everyone’s cup of tea, admittedly, but if you’re guilty of occasionally mixing the sweet with the savoury, go and try this bad boy! It came with yummy skin-on fries and hush puppies. I’d never tried hush puppies before, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t that impressed.
Steph, meanwhile, opted for the North Carolina Pulled Pork N Slaw.
I did like the little touches like the enamel plates the dishes came in; just made it a little more interesting and quirky.
Clearly not the easiest thing to eat given its size!
We went back to do some more shopping and grab a few things for our night out later that evening.
Once we were done, we headed to a bar in the Northern Quarter to meet a couple of Alice’s friends for a cocktail.
And then we drove back to Alice’s to get ready for a night out…
I think it’s fair to say I have some very hot friends!
I wore a Topshop skirt, borrowed a Topshop satin cami from Alice (none similar but here’s one I like), Primark shoes (bargain at just £14!), and wore Alice’s Zara necklace (not on website, but it is still in stock, here’s a similar version).
Alice wore this French Connection dress.
And this is poor form but I can’t remember where the other two bought their clothes from! If you’re desperate to know, drop me a comment and I’ll ask them.
Funnily enough, we headed back to Spinningfields, and sipped mojitos out on the deckchairs on the lawn.
There’s something really refreshing about sitting out on a deckchair in the evening, with Motown classics blaring out, and the city lights twinkling from the nearby skyscrapers.
It’s a definite go-to place in Manchester: full of beautiful, young professionals.
Next we headed across the street to The Alchemist. This is a really cool and pretty twinkly bar that serves cocktails like potions: think test tubes and whirls of smoke!
A really cool idea which I’ve not seen done before, and it’s quite a classy place to hang out. I’ve heard the food’s pretty good here too.
The rest of the night didn’t make it onto the camera (fortunately!), but they say all the best bits don’t. It ended in a hazy mix of bars (try the Liars Club if a Tiki style bar and cocktails appeals – it was lovely but we wanted music you could dance to!), before we moved on to ‘The Venue’, a club we’ve visited before and never really disappoints.
If you like indie music and all the Mancunian classics (cue Oasis, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, etc, etc), add it to your list. It’s great fun and not pretentious at all.
After a swift trip to McDonalds for some Chicken Selects (obsessed!), we hopped into a taxi and after somehow staying awake chatting for hours, we went to bed.
When we finally crawled out of bed the next day, the sun was blaring and after a mish mash of toast, ice cream, and squash, we felt slightly more awake and headed outside to sunbathe.
It was a beautiful day; just right for chilling and chatting along to some reggae!
After that, it was unfortunately time for us to hit the road.
I had such a great time – Manchester never disappoints.
And more importantly, it was lovely to catch up with the girls and hang about and just have a laugh with Alice, who I never get to see enough! It definitely goes to show that no matter how far away you live apart from each other, when you’re such good friends it doesn’t make a difference.
Until next time, Manchester!