Follow Wilmslow Road long enough and you'll hit the bright lights of suburban Didsbury. Didsbury is full of young, rich, beautiful people at various stages of their careers. People who might have just met and fallen in love, people trying for babies, people who... Hang on a minute, we hear you say. Isn't that just the premise of Cold Feet?
Ok, so Cold Feet was filmed in Didsbury, but there's a good reason for that - it's a lovely little suburb of Manchester, full of quaint and original shops to lose an entire day in and upmarket bars you'll want to stay in all night. Didsbury Village tends to be about prestigious chain bars, while West Didsbury is more independent - but whichever side you choose, you're likely to be glad you stayed out of town.
True story: when one of the After Dark team was flat hunting in West Didsbury a while back, she went to see a lovely flat off Burton Road. It was spacious, the rent was very cheap (considering the location) and it had only just been decorated. But did the estate agent use any of these as selling points? No. Instead, the estate agent told her, in hushed tones, that it was only one and a half minute's walk away from The Met.
Such is the pulling power of this enormous pub in West Didsbury. It is an attractive place; imposing from the outside and divided into inviting rooms inside, with an old-school charm to it. The waiters and bar staff have clearly been well trained and service is generally speedy. The food menu is a little dear, but the dishes tend to be worth the price.
The clientele tend to be more All Saints and Top Shop than Affleck's and Primark, but they're a friendly bunch no matter what you're wearing.
On Friday and Saturday nights the pub gets absolutely rammed and the car park fills up at around 7pm - but when you see a pub in the suburbs drawing such massive numbers, you know they must be doing something right.
2 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2WS
0161 374 9559
If The Metropolitan is mainstream and super-popular, The Railway is its indie alternative. It isn't as shiny and you won't see girls in their Saturday finery (or at least not as many of them). But do you really want dressy and shiny in your local? The Railway is the kind of pub that you could drink in wearing your slippers and no-one would bat an eyelid. They have the odd open mic night and a quiz on a Tuesday and because they are a Joseph Holt pub, they stock plenty of unusual ales and a fine line in interesting lager. Other than that, you won't find much to chat about; think bare wooden floors, hard wooden chairs and so on. It may not sound inviting, but when you're trying to find a seat in this often packed out pub, you'd be surprised just how good those seats look...
3 Lapwing Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2WS
0161 445 9839
Slug and Lettuce
Most towns have a Slug and Lettuce around somewhere, which means that you probably already have a fair idea of what to expect in the Didsbury version. It is generic, but has a lively atmosphere all its own on a weekend. It also has a large selection of beer. The bar queue can get a little ridiculous, but if this is your kind of thing, we're sure you're going to have a good time.
651, Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6QZ
0161 434 1011
The Pear Tree
Whilst being a bit of an old man's pub, The Pear Tree is a comfortable and relaxing place to sip a pint or two. It's a smallish place and gets pretty crammed at the weekend, but if you want the atmosphere of a country pub in the bright lights of the city, this should be top of your list.
653, Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, M20 6QZ
0161 445 9130
Est Est Est
Lovely Italian restaurant near the back end of the high street. Expect pizza, pasta and tiny pieces of steak for twenty quid. The food is nice, although it gets uber busy at the weekend, so it's best to book.
756, Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, M20 2DW
0161 445 8209
To hear the fuss the West Didsbury massive have been making about chain restaurants, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the entire area had just been bought up by McDonald's. But actually, the sole recipient for all this consternation is Piccolino, the fairly unobtrusive new restaurant on the site of Assembly. We're all for independent and boutique restaurants. They bring colour and a sense of identity into an area. But we're not adverse to the odd brand name, and Piccolino is one of the more palatable ones in town. It is early days yet, and we've not had chance to eat there. The word on the street is that the food is good, the prices are fair enough and the atmosphere is buzzy. Having said that, there are plenty of restaurants with these qualities around the Lapwing Lane/ Burton Road junction; whether you choose to make the journey through the stony-faced ranks to partake of Piccolinos charms is between you and your conscience.
6 Lapwing Lane West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2WS
0161 434 7524
Spanish finger food joint. Bright, cheery and a great atmosphere, this is a definite party place. Take some friends, steal each others' food and wish you could book that cheap Easyjet flight without Al Gore glaring at you.
704, Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2DW
0161 448 2515
A French place without the uncomfortable matter of lax hygiene or snobbery. Classic French dishes and a couple of English variants thrown in make this a casual restaurant for a nice bit of lunch. It's a lot cheaper than some of its city centre equivalents, so your wallet won't look so upset once it gets screwed for the bill.
651-653, Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester, Lancashire M20 6RA
0161 438 0444
Vegetarians have a hard life. For centuries they have been persecuted, driven out of their homes and tried at the steak (hehe) as witches. Greens attempts to offer some sort of sanctuary for the lettuce-munching collective, with food good enough to turn the head of even the most confirmed carnivore. Just don't mention the time you ate that entire cow. People will look at you funny.
43 Lapwing Lane, Manchester, M20 2NT
0161 434 4259
A sophisticated addition to the roads of Didsbury, Rhubarb has been praised to the heavens and back for its delicious grub, contemporary décor and ridiculous name. It's one of the classiest meals out in Didsbury, so if you want to impress a date/parents/ Neil Diamond, then take them here.
167 Burton Rd, Manchester, M20 2LN
0161 448 8887
The Gurkha Grill
Many of the Gurkha Grill's best customers stumbled upon this tiny Nepalese curry house when they were students and continue to eat there long past graduation. There's something insidiously addictive about the food here. Perhaps it is simply the contrast between the classy Nepalese and Indian dishes on offer here and the lurid slop on offer a couple of miles up the road in Fallowfield. It could be the comfortable atmosphere, which is cosy (if occasionally bordering on cramped) and relaxed. Or maybe it is just that the prices are so reasonable that you will invariably end up in either The Railway or The Metropolitan before and after your meal. Whatever the reason, we've yet to leave the Gurkha Grill without a belly full of beer, curry and love.
198 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 1LH
0161 445 5444