First of all, everyone I’ve seen so far in the last couple of days hasn’t been less than a 7. Considering there are vast swathes of Oldham where people average around a 2, this has come as a bit of a shock to the system.
Extremely attractive people aside, the country is also beautifully scenic, with Arctic forests and pristine lakes, as well as some of the best salmon you’ll find anywhere in the world. All great so far for the Swedish Tourist Board. There is only one thing missing though, and that’s a proper good boozer.
Now I don’t want to single out Sweden for this. It’s not their fault. I don’t think anyone in the world does boozers quite as well as the British, and that includes Ireland – where most pubs are ruined by them annoying songs they sing with those stupid guitars.
Places can try, but they’ll never beat the atmosphere and warmth of a proper British pub, which is why it has come as a welcome development that The Bay Horse Tavern is back open, offering a no-frills, true pub atmosphere right in the middle of the Northern Quarter. It’s dog friendly too!
Luckily for anyone looking for a decent pint and some top grub, you won’t find any gimmicks or weird dishes consisting of candy floss, bacon and unicorn pubes. The Bay Horse Tavern is a proper pub, well, as much as you can get nowadays, and I recently popped down to try their food and sip some ales.
The gist of the menu revolves around two things. One is the idea of ‘Sharing Plates’, while the other is the huge rotisserie that sits in the kitchen downstairs and draws anyone in with its golden-brown chicken and succulent rotating pork. This therefore gave me the perfect excuse to try as much as possible, and try I did.
We started on the sharing plates, which consist of a variety of British dishes, perfect for two people to tuck into while having a pint and discussing the intricacies of Seabrook crisps. We started with everyone’s favourite pub and lunchtime snack – the Scotch Egg, which oozed both a perfectly runny yoke and plenty of meaty, peppery flavour.
Next up was the Fish & Chips, which was exactly what you’d expect – a perfectly crisp pile of proper chunky chips, with a golden slab of cod in a frankly quite spectacular crispy batter. My initial thoughts between mouthfuls were that I wouldn’t mind a bag of scraps from this batter, which hopefully anyone reading this at the Bay Horse – you should do.
Next up were a couple of personal highlights, mostly because they could be considered a little unusual by anyone who didn’t grow up with their mum serving them liver and lunch tongue at every opportunity she got. Chicken Liver Pate, teamed with a couple of crispy Yorkshire Puddings were first – a great idea and something where it doesn’t matter what your execution is – it’s going to taste fantastic. The creamy, rich liver pate worked especially well with the slightly salty puds, and you’ll find yourself licking the tub clean with you finger once you’ve managed to cake them entirely in the pate.
Furthermore, the Duck Hearts were not what I was expecting at all. In fact, I don’t even know why I ordered them. I was very happy I did once they came however – they were really, really good and unusually very moreish. A plate packed with hearts may sound like something a vampire would have on a picnic, but they were perfect for sitting in the pub, having a drink and chatting. Almost like an offal version of the Pork Scratching – but much meatier, much healthier and much tastier.
With the Sharing Plates out of the way, it was time to turn our hands to the rotisserie meats, which are always something I have a particular weak spot for whenever I see one with its orange lights and slowly turning spit. We started with the Roast Chicken, which was exceptionally juicy and easily pulled apart with a fork and some minor wrist action. It was very nicely spiced on the skin, and came with what I would consider the best gravy I’ve ever had, and I once made gravy sandwiches.
I was stuffed by now, but I soon found room for one half of their Rotisserie Beef and Horseradish butty, because once I took one bite, there was no way I wasn’t going to finish it. Beef can sometimes be dry, which I’m sure you already know, but this particular slab of cow was bloody lovely, and I would definitely consider it a ‘slab’. There was loads, and it was thick and it was delicious, while the Horseradish offered a very sharp and hot contrast with the subsequent dipping gravy, which was probably my blood type by this point.
The food was excellent, and all through this eating I was downing pint after pint of The Bay Horse Pilsner, which came served up in one of them proper glasses with a handle and was colder than a penguin’s tit. They’ve got plenty of other beers available too, as well as one of the best Irish Coffee’s ever (apparently) so you’re not going to go thirsty either. Go check it out.
The Bay Horse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
0161 669 5799