The Pen and Pencil

Creative Tourist

Review by Tom Hallet: The Pen and Pencil is a lovely little spot right on the edge of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, just a five-minute walk from Piccadilly station. This cosy bar has opted for a more communal feel to their furnishing, with long tables and benches running along one side and cushioned stools perched up next to the bar. The wooden floorboards and exposed red brick walls give off a quintessential Manchester vibe (we love a bit of red brick), while the metal shelving holding up your favourite spirits behind the bar help tie together an industrial-yet-comfy look.

Side note. The word on the grapevine is that The Pen and Pencil gets its name from a famous steakhouse frequented by Don Draper et al in AMC’s award-winning series, Mad Men. It’s a show offering a peek into the everyday lives of ad-men, and women, working in 1960s New York, and although the bar itself is far from 1960s themed, you’ll find plenty of subtle hints when you look around. I like it. On to the drinks.

Maybe inviting a man whose diet rarely strays far from gravy was a bad idea

Corey, my mate from Huddersfield, a.k.a. “Yorkshire’s finest”, made the executive decision to order two pints of Guinness rather than try the lovely looking cocktails available. Maybe inviting a man whose diet rarely strays far from gravy was a bad idea. Nonetheless, consider the selection of drinks thoroughly perused. The Pen and Pencil has a strong selection of draught lagers, alongside a good range of ales and guest beers. That said, it would be nice to see a couple more ales or guests on draught, with only one IPA hooked up to the pumps. But, with 16 cocktails on the menu, you won’t be short of liquid luck to take you through the night. The U.K. is currently pushing Gin-based drinks left, right and centre, so it’s refreshing to see this bar presenting us with a menu celebrating the classics and modern twists, all while using a variety of different spirits.

Corey and I order our food. Now, I usually employ a strict ‘never order steak from a place that isn’t a steakhouse’ policy, but today I’m feeling adventurous. The place is named after a steakhouse, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, my Argentinian Flat Steak arrived at a temperature that can only be described as ‘not quite warm’. However, I was more disappointed by how good the steak could have been if it was still sizzling hot, rather than the lack of culinary talent. The meat was tender and beautifully seasoned, and the skin-on-fries that came with were great too. At the other side of the table, Corey was getting stuck into a Moroccan lentil stew (vegetarian), which to our surprise came without a broth that the word ‘stew’ usually implies. However, the flavours were there, and the baked okra that we ordered as a side were bloody brilliant. Seriously, vegetables shouldn’t taste that good. The rest of the menu is well balanced, with a strong selection of burgers, vegetarian options, and dishes for both lunch and evening. Definitely worth checking out.

All in all, neither of us were put off by the not-so-sizzling steak and we’d definitely try some more of the menu. The Pen and Pencil is definitely worth your time. The staff are lovely, and we both agreed that this bar offered something unique and different to Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The trip wasn’t perfect, but to be honest, it just made us want to visit again for round two.

 

 

* valid with the purchase of a drinks and not valid on bank holidays.

57 Hilton StreetManchesterM1 2EJ View map
Visit Now

Accessibility

Wheelchair access and a disabled loo

Opening Hours

  • Monday10:00am - 12:00am
  • Tuesday10:00am - 12:00am
  • Wednesday10:00am - 12:00am
  • Thursday10:00am - 12:00am
  • Friday10:00am - 2:00am
  • Saturday10:00am - 2:00am
  • Sunday10:00am - 10:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near The Pen and Pencil

Until
ComedyManchester
Killer Comedy Club

Killer Comedy Club showcases “the UK’s best upcoming and coming comedians” for a night of roof-raising laughs, with pop-up nights all across the North West.

from £12
Until
ActivityManchester
Sí Manchester Daily Tour

Sí Manchester’s daily tour is a brilliant way to get an overview of the city with tours running in both English and Spanish.

free entry
Until
ComedyManchester
Creatures of the Night Comedy Club

An insanely committed seven-nights-a-week, Creatures of the Night Comedy Club opens its doors (20.30-22.30 typically, though please check) for evening after evening of side-splitting comedy.

from £5.00
Until
ComedyManchester
The Comedy Vault

Every Monday night upstairs at Fierce Bar, The Comedy Vault hosts an outrageously funny open-mic night. Come and try your hand or just to watch and laugh.

free entry
Until
MusicManchester
Open Deck at Band on the Wall

Bring your records for a spin at our Open Deck session this Saturday! If you’ve bought some new vinyl from a local record shop this week, just show your receipt at the bar to get yourself a free 9” pizza!

MusicManchester
Un-Convention Manchester 2024

Un-Convention is the ultimate independent music industry conference and showcase taking place at Band on the Wall in Manchester this November.

Where to go near The Pen and Pencil

Manchester
Bar or Pub
El Capo

El Capo is another addition to the Northern Quarter’s sprawl towards Manchester’s Piccadilly Basin. Between Kosmonaut and The Whisky Jar on Tariff Street.

Manchester
Hilton House

Built in the late 60’s, Hilton House is a thriving contemporary office space and a beacon for local creatives.

The Whiskey Jar
Manchester
Bar or Pub
The Whiskey Jar

Warehouse-chic bar and events venue in Manchester’s Piccadilly, on the edge of the Northern Quarter.

Manchester
Restaurant
Northern Monk Refectory

Formerly known as Kosmonaut, this bar reopened on in 2018 as Leeds brewer Northern Monk’s first North-West venue. Expect real ale with a variety of cask and keg lines.

Manchester
Bar or Pub
Kosmonaut: Loka Polly Tap Takeover

Based in the Northern Quarter, Kosmonaut is a haven for middle-class millennials searching for their own little Williamsburg. Decked-out with the now-standard exposed brickwork and repurposed furniture, it has three large rooms, each with their own bar.

The Feel Good Club exterior
Manchester
Event venue
Feel Good Club

Our flagship Feel Good Club in Manchester, open 7 days a week, providing a beautiful friendly environment for coffee, brunch, lunch, cocktails and beers with an amazing selection of non alcoholic beverages too.

Takk cafe in Manchester.
Manchester
Café or Coffee Shop
TAKK

An Icelandic coffee bar on the edge of the Northern Quarter

Manchester
Restaurant
Pelican Bar NQ

This Northern Quarter modern microbrewery offers a vast selection of beers, pizza and live-music.

Manchester
Café or Coffee Shop
Ezra & Gil

One of our favourite spots for caffeine in Manchester. A spacious, stripped back location serving up great coffee a delicious menu of fresh cooked food. The counter is always full with a tempting selection of cakes and sweets, resistance is futile. By the way, Ezra means ‘Helper’ and Gil means ‘Happiness’.

Manchester
Restaurant
Tariff & Dale

Tariff & Dale is a bar and kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, taking its name from its location on the corners of both Tariff Street and Dale Street.

Beatnikz Republic
Manchester
Restaurant
Beatnikz Republic

Beatnikz Republic Brewing Company is a microbrewery based in Manchester which has focused on innovative and high-quality beer since 2017.

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.