First published in Manchester's Finest
As Michael Jackson once said before embarking on his largest worldwide tour ever – “This is it!”
Even though he died before even starting the tour – the words still have some power; from Monday 12th April we will once again be able to visit our favourite bars and restaurants, and although it’s only outside for now – it’s enough to keep us going until the 17th May when everywhere can swing those doors open wide.
Eating and Drinking outdoors isn’t something that we do often here in Blighty – except for the usual 15 days a year when the sun is shining and the clouds piss off long enough for us to go truly mental – drinking too many ciders, firing up the BBQs and eventually falling asleep on the sofa with 3rd degree burns to the face and the back door wide open.
The venues in the city that CAN open this Monday are doing so – with many of them fully booked for the whole week. It’ll be busy, it’ll be a bit chaotic but ultimately it’ll be glorious – we can’t wait.
Until then though, I present to you our Guide to Eating and Drinking outside – a little reminder of the rules that we should all follow, as well as a few insider tips on having the best experience whilst out there. Enjoy…
The ‘Rule of Six’ is Back…
So we can’t all just ring our mates from years back and get them to come down for a pint with us. The ‘Rule of Six’ that we all know from Autumn last year is back for the time being – but as you’d expect – it’s as complicated as ever.
Changing things up a bit you can have up to six people meeting from any number of households, or any number of people from two households. That make sense?
Choose your Food wisely…
One of the most welcome changes to the new rules is the abolition of the ‘Substantial Meal‘ rule from Tier 3 last year – one which saw us all scoffing Scotch Eggs and bowls of chips to justify our purchase of an ice cold pint of lager. That’s all gone now so don’t feel like you have to order food with your bevs any more.
The thing is though – not everything works while outdoors. While it’s easy scoffing a burger when it’s a bit windy, a full Roast Dinner out in the elements doesn’t really have the same effect as it does inside next to a sleeping dog and a roaring fire.
But that’s where the venues of the city have stepped up, with many erecting gazebos, heaters and covers so that you can essentially have an ‘indoor’ dining experience just technically outside. For example – Mana – the city’s Michelin-starred restaurant have created a small outdoor dining section for April – where else can you have a slap-up dinner like that outside on a terrace?
You’ll need to Check-In…
This weekend spend a couple of minutes downloading that ‘Track & Trace’ app that cost us all 12 billion quid onto your phone – because you’re gonna need it when places open again from Monday.
Everyone will be required to check-in – covering the venue’s back, your back and ensuring that if you get the sniffles everyone knows about it and can isolate/get a test.
Masks will still be needed…
There’s likely to be A LOT of drinking going over the next week or so, and with all of that beer comes a lot of pee – especially once the floodgates have opened after your 3rd pint.
When you nip into the bogs in a venue you’ll be required to wear your mask – so keep one on you at all times – you don’t want to be messing about trying to find a mask and get caught short.
The Best Drinks for Outdoors…
A lot of venues are using this new opening opportunity to launch new cocktail menus – most painstakingly mastered and perfected during these lockdown months.
Of course, what you drink is entirely up to you – maybe a hot boozy number when it’s cold, an ice cold cider with tonnes of ice when it’s hot. With the weather at the moment it could be both of these during the same session!
Pick the Best Spot…
Vast swathes of the city have been turned over to dedicated outdoor terraces and most of your favourite bars and restaurants have even bigger spaces available this time.
The whole of Thomas Street is now pedestrianised, so you can enjoy Wolf at the Door, Fierce Beer, Cane & Grain, The Bay Horse, Terrace and the new Smithfield Social all in one spot.
You’ll find even more spots over on Stevenson Square, as well as bigger spots for Bunny Jacksons and WOOD at First Street, Crazy Pedro’s on Bridge Street, the Ivy on Spinningfields, 20 Stories, Ducie Street Warehouse, The Refuge – basically too many to mention right here. So, here’s a list of the best terraces opening next week – pick a spot and enjoy…
Scout’s Advice: Be Prepared…
The weather this week in Manchester has been mental. On Tuesday, in the time it took me to buy a packet of AAA batteries from Tesco, it went from sun shining to blizzard – all in about 4 minutes. So, when eating and drinking outside – BE PREPARED.
Umbrella. Raincoat. Sun Cream. Gloves. Sunglasses. DEET. You might look a bit like Ray Mears off on his holidays but you can be assured that nothing’s going to get in your way.