Tariff & Dale, 2 Tariff Street, Manchester, M1 2FN – Visit Now
Manchester’s Northern Quarter is changing, and not always in a good way. So will newcomer Tariff & Dale be hipster, hyper-themed – or in the old spirit of the district?
There’s a war happening on the streets of the Northern Quarter that makes The Scuttlers’ gang battles look like kids playing conkers. Yes, a chain restaurant is opening on Oldham Street, right there on the city’s official artsy bohemian neighbourhood main drag! What a drag. Basically, we can forget about the area from Shudehill to Stevenson Square. It’s hipster Disneyland, all £5 cold-brews and beard-trimming joints and shops full of stuff with birds embroidered on. Edge Street has lost its edge. There’s kale in Common now, for fuck’s sake.
We need to target the contested zone running from Stevie Square to the canal, above Piccadilly, where the NQ blurs into Ancoats. A grid of narrow, bleak and vaguely dodgy streets. Tariff Street still looks kind of bleak. But it’s currently the front line in the battle for the soul of the NQ. Kosmonaut, Takk, Whiskey Jar, El Capo – and now Tarriff & Dale – have opened in quick succession. The bars are all pretty similar: textile mills sandblasted into service as rustic urban watering holes (leather furniture, pizza oven, duct-y ceiling, etc.). It’s easy to imagine nipping out to the alley behind them for a smoke and wandering back into the wrong bar. Could take a while to notice.
Tariff Street still looks kind of bleak. But it’s currently the front line in the battle for the soul of the NQ
Okay, this is serious. We need something like the famous “Keep Austin weird” campaign in Texas. But what would our slogan be?
“Keep Ancoats… prostitutey?” my friend offered.
We were doing re-con in Tariff and Dale. My friend lives just north of Piccadilly basin, so she’s well acquainted with the area’s active nightlife. As a rallying cry it may lack a certain something, but consider this: it’s the strangeness, the emptiness, the (oh okay) edginess of the area that’s changing. The artists originally came here because no one else wanted to, and they brought their good coffee and funky bars with them. But when the sex workers leave, it’s all over.
Tariff and Dale has just been opened by the owner of The Lead Station in Chorlton, an old standby renowned for weekend breakfasts. T&D is very particular about not being a restaurant, insisting on the more casual “bar and kitchen.” Based on my first couple of visits they’ve got the bar nailed and the kitchen less so.
Good things: the building’s cool. The dining room downstairs is handsome, and the bar has a decent range of craft beer by the can (Beavertown galore), and on tap. Pizza featured a burly sourdough crust and toppings ranging from classic margherita to the suddenly ubiquitous spreadable Italian sausage ‘Nduja (I blame Rudy’s Pizza). The house snack of choice, pork nuggets, sounds silly but get over the name and they’re absurdly moreish. The servers were friendly jokey sorts, knew their menu, and brought everything on time.
And yet, the Sunday roast (beef, avec trimmings) was nothing special, while the beetroot risotto was inadvisably jazzed up with shouty tastes like porcini and orange zest. A salad of grilled salmon delivered very little food or flavour, being mainly a lettuce job. The final proof of a hungry gap between ambition and actuality came with dessert. What was listed as ‘pea and white chocolate’ on the rather terse menu turned out to be a curiously bland ring of pea and white chocolate fondant around a scoop of coconut ice cream. Meh.
I’d come back, but for now it’s a place to order conservatively, while the kitchen masters the basics. And I hope they do. What we need here are more solid eating places. Wait… I’ve got it: “Keep Ancoats bleak and edgy but with better moderately-priced restaurants please.” There, someone print that on a banner. If any members of the press would like to learn more about this urgent civil action in Manchester, I’m available for interviews. Bring ‘Nduja.
This is an independent review, but our writer didn’t pay for her meal. For more info on our editorial policy, read our About page.