Menagerie, Manchester

“This is Manchester, we do things differently here.” - Tony Wilson


Since its launch last year, Menagerie has become a firm favourite with Manchester's celebrity crowd. Partly owned by Cheshire Housewives stars, Seema and Stacey, the exotic interior of the bar/restaurant is a definite talking point.


Menagerie combines gastronomy with art/theatre and aims to take your dining experience to the next level.

Based on the edge of Spinningfields, the £1.5m development boasts a happy hour chandelier; a light fitting by day but at night dancers hang overhead to pour Champagne for guests. 

As you arrive you are met with a huge ornamental bird cage and a flock of white paper cranes suspended from the ceiling.

menagerie: noun - 1. A collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.

The gold leaf bar holds a sculpture resembling the Greek god Hermes. The walls are covered in ornate decor and neon light installations. There is even a bathtub which can be filled with Champagne. 

The restaurant area is big. Boasting 250 covers, it features a catwalk which runs through the centre of the room for performers to entertain diners and to host fashion shows and theatre performances.


The venture has been so successful there's talk of it expanding into other northern cities and possibly even Dubai. 

The beauty of Menagerie is it doesn't take itself seriously. Everything is tongue in cheek and fantastically over the top, yet it still manages to keep the feel of glamour.


The cocktail menu is quirky with names like "Jealous or Crazy" and "Mine Tastes Better Than Yours", which features a (fake) burning £20 note as a side garnish.

It's a fun place to enjoy brunch, dinner or an evening drink. I love it! 

The first time I visited was a few weeks ago for a hangover brunch. The friendly staff noticed that my friend was particularly struggling and suggested a Bloody Mary. She started to come back to life within a few sips.

The food hit the spot perfectly and we decided to return again today for a charity event.


Following the horrific events in Manchester on 22nd May, Menagerie hosted a fundraising event, with all proceeds going to the official We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. 


There was live entertainment, a fashion show, auctions and raffles, along with the occasional celeb or two. 


Thank you Menagerie. It was a fantastic night to raise money for an even better cause. 

If you would like to donate to the official We Love Manchester Emergency Fund please visit:

Menagerie Restaurant

Albert's Schloss, Manchester

Last weekend during a trip to Manchester my friend and I discovered Albert's Schloss. Located under the famous Albert Hall on Peter Street, the bar-restaurant has been designed as a Bavarian palace, Bavaria being a region of Southern Germany where the locals consume the most beer on the planet. The average annual consumption in the area is 170 litres per person! 

Albert's Schloss is so dedicated to sourcing the best beer that they make weekly beer runs to the Pilsner factory in the Czech Republic to fill the bars 4 x 900 pint copper tanks.

The beer sourced must be drunk within seven days and a board on the barrels counts down the days remaining. This commitment to fresh beer, alongside a unique Alpine cocktail menu, mean Albert's Schloss has become one of the city’s most exciting venues.

The interior is part chateau part Alpine retreat, only with a gigantic bar taking centre stage. Copper piping and wood features heavily with most of the materials being reclaimed, including doors from the former BBC studios on Oxford Road. There are roaring fires, a gentleman’s snug and cozy booths to squish into with your friends.

My favourite feature had to be a button which you can press to have a bottle of Prosecco delivered straight to your table. I’m thinking of installing one of those at home!

We visited on Saturday evening and immediately made full use of the drinks on offer. My memory is a little hazy but I can recall drinking some of the bar’s own range of schnapps, which comes in flavours including chocolate, salted caramel, mint, and orange. In between drinks we danced the night away in front of the band. Live music plays on Friday and Saturday nights, featuring saxophonists and performers who dance on the tables in amongst the crowd.

The bar has an incredible atmosphere. Downstairs there is a free photo booth for visitors to get snap some obligatory selfies.

The following morning we awoke with seriously sore heads and in much need of a hangover cure before catching our trains home. We managed to drag ourselves back to Albert’s having spied the brunch menu the night before. 

A lot of the brunch menu comes from Schloss’s own in-house bakery which creates pretzels, doughnuts and sourdough loaves. Over 200 items are baked fresh everyday and it has become one of Manchester’s finest artisan bakeries.

We both ordered a steaming pot of tea to revive us while we drooled over the menu. I chose poached eggs on a potato rösti with hollandaise and a side of buttery sourdough. 

My friend had smashed avocado, feta and poached eggs on rye with a side of bacon. 

It was the perfect hangover cure, comfort food sat by a fire while drinking copious amounts of tea. The waiter who served us was excellent. We didn’t catch his name but he was so helpful making sure we had everything we needed and explained that we could help ourselves to some freshly made fruit juice. We’ll definitely return next time we’re in Manchester!

Thank you Albert's Schloss, you might have ruined us with drunken debauchery on Saturday night but you thoroughly made up for it with your delicious Sunday brunch. 

Albert's Schloss

27 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR

0161 833 4040

Shhhh! It’s a secret…

I recently went on a hunt to find Liverpool’s newest secret cocktail bar.

Brought to Liverpool from the founders of Washhouse in Manchester, Ex-Directory is based around a hidden red telephone box. Guests are given the mission of cracking the code via to make a reservation. Without a booking, the telephone box will refuse you entry.

Feeling rather pleased with myself that I’d actually managed to decipher the code, I phoned to secure a table and asked the hostess how to find the bar. “Sorry I can’t tell you, just look for the red telephone box hidden away somewhere in the city centre”… 

The night of our booking arrived and we set off to find the bar, confident that we knew roughly where it was. Nearly half-an-hour later, completely lost, and about to give up hope of finding it in time, we noticed a stylish group of people scurrying up an alleyway trying to look inconspicuous. Unbeknown to them, we followed them and were eventually led to a big red telephone box. We entered the code and the back of the box opened to allow us entry.

Source: Ex-Directory

A hostess met us at the door downstairs. She led us to our table and explained that it’s a seated only table service. We were given a detailed menu of every cocktail imaginable and began by ordering a Little Fluffi Clouds containing Portobello Road gin, limoncello & fresh raspberries topped with cream soda and candy-floss and a Man From Del Monte Daiquiri which had Reg Leg spiced rum, Aperol and Blossoms Mango syrup with fresh banana, pineapple and Fizz Wiz popping candy. We then ordered Two Little Ducks to share, an impressive cocktail of Portobello Road gin & violet with lavender bath bubbles served in a miniature bath with two little ducks. 

All orders are taken on an iPad which is then relayed to the bartenders making the various concoctions. Although slightly more expensive than other bars in the city, the cocktails are bespoke and are made using premium products. 

Ex-Directory is more than a cocktail bar, it is a truly unique sensory experience, something different and completely exclusive. 

The bar is open Wednesday to Sunday. It’s wise to book in advance, if you can crack the code…


Ex-Directory, Somewhere in Liverpool