Our Deaf Institute Review
For the last year and a half, there's been a lot of nonsense in the local media about the so-called “Southern Quarter”. They'd have it that the stretch of Oxford Road from Manchester Met down to the Music Box is gearing up to rival the Northern Quarter for funky, creative little bars and so on. We've got to say, we're not so convinced. One bar from the people behind Odd does not a Quarter make.
Still, we've got to admit that the area is looking a lot better than it did a while ago, and the latest bar to cash in on the “Southern Quarter” hype is a great new addition. The Deaf Institute opened up four months ago next to the hideous Footage and roughly opposite The Pub on Grosvenor Street. This is the third offering from the Trof team, following their Fallowfield venue (the only place worth drinking in the suburb) and their recent Northern Quarter venture. While both their previous ventures are great venues, The Deaf Institute blows them out of the water.
The venue is split between three very different areas. The main space is the ground floor bar, a mash-up of crazy wallpaper (look out for the black and white paper with lizards and cockatoos), wood, chandeliers and wall-mounted antelope skulls, huge windows, intimate little tables and long booths just made for sharing a Sunday roast with six of your best friends. By rights it should be chaotic, the interior design of wearing an entire jumble sale, but somehow it works.
A bar stretches the length of one wall. If you've been to either of Trof's other venues, you'll know that the team take their booze seriously and the selection doesn't disappoint; Peroni and San Miguel on draft, Westons Organic Cider instead of Magners and a huge selection of exciting bottled beers between £2.80 and £3.85. We suggest trying Crazy Eds Chilli Beer or Little Creatures Pale Ale - you'll struggle to find them anywhere else in Manchester and they're both stunners. The spirit selection is huge too, and they show it off to its fullest advantage in the best cocktail list this side of town. The raspberry and ginger mojito is our favourite new drink, but all the classics are there too, from Mai Tais to Cosmopolitans (complete with flamed orange zest, no less) priced between £4.50 and £5.50.
Trof has always been as much about food as it is about booze and the menu here is as strong as the cocktail list. From breakfasts through to Sunday lunch, you're bound to find something to tickle your fancy, even if you just go for a cup of tea and a peppermint brownie sweet enough to bring on diabetes for £3.
Downstairs is a tiny basement bar in rough, exposed brick which would be perfect for a private party (yes, they do hire out), but the real fun starts when the sun goes down and they open up the Music Hall. This space has to be seen to be believed, but if you think of the kind of church Elvis might have built and you're not far off. An impossibly tall, domed ceiling is dominated by a massive glitterball, a mezzanine balcony juts out along one side, another wall is cut back into a series of pews. This is a seriously cool club space which is now home to nights like the fantastic El Diablo's Social Club and Chips With Everything. There is also a stage which gets assembled for live bands like The Coral or The Crimea.
Overall, The Deaf Institute is the most interesting bar we've seen open up in Manchester for a good year, and judging by the numbers cramming in there at the weekends we're not alone in thinking so. We're still not convinced that Oxford Road is turning into serious competition for the Northern Quarter - but if this is a sign of the way things are going, in a couple of years' time we could well be eating our words.
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135 Grosvenor Street M1 7HE
0161 276 9350