Thursday, July 21, 2011

House of many rooms

While they do many things well, I’ve often been critical of Wetherspoons for the soulless, barn-like nature of their pubs and the well-nigh total lack of “pub atmosphere”. Several people have suggested that I should try the Waterhouse in Manchester City Centre. “That’s different,” they said, “it has lots of small rooms.” So, finding myself in the area, I thought I would pop in for a swift half and see for myself. And indeed it does.

Unusually for a Spoons, it’s in a row of three town houses from the Regency or early Victorian period. Inside, there are at least eight separate drinking spaces, plus the bar, which is at the back on the left. However, due to the complete absence of any fixed seating, it still doesn’t really feel like a pub should. It’s just four tables and sixteen chairs plonked down in each room. If even half the walls had benches, it could be a rather wonderful recreation of the multi-roomed rabbit-warren pubs of old. But they don’t, and it isn’t. I also had some distinctly underwhelming beer.

Spoons’ prices seem to be getting distinctly mainstream as well, with the premium lagers all well over £3 a pint, and many of the main meals on the menu over £7. (This is “city centre” prices and maybe around 10% above Didsbury or Stockport.) They’re by no means the bargain they once were.

The name, incidentally, comes from Alfred Waterhouse, architect of the Victorian Gothic Town Hall just across the road.