You may have heard of The Pen & Pencil in Manchester’s Northern Quarter because they were one of the first to make bottomless brunch the incredible thing it is in Manchester (including unlimited food – what more could you want) but it is also a quirky, Manhattan-inspired bar as well located just on the border of Picadilly Basin.
The name came from a mid-20th Century bar on East 45th Street in New York’s ‘steak row’ which was a popular haunt for the original mad men – journalists and ad men. As soon as you walk in, you can see the decor is inspired by this era of Manhattan-living and it brings a charm to the bar that you don’t get with other places in the Northern Quarter.
I brought my friend Hannah with me to sample the menu and neither of us had eaten there before so we didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, I had a little peruse of the menu before we went and had my eyes firmly set on the halloumi burger – grilled halloumi, spicy tomato chutney and rocket – but if I was to go again, I would definitely give the beetroot falafels or Moroccan lentil stew a try as they both sounded delicious.
My burger was really tasty, and they were heavy handed with the halloumi, which was a welcome surprise for me and the sweet potato fries were lovely and crispy. Hannah went for the Philadelphia Flat Steak, which she told me was one of the best steaks she has ever had – so that’s saying something!
To go with our food, Hannah had a glass of Sauvignon and I went for the ‘Hot Off The Press’ cocktail which was Manchester gin, Manzana Verde Liqueur, cherry bitters, lemon, gomme and egg white, and was a mix of sweet and sour, but very tasty.
One of the things I found quite strange about the restaurant was that they had no starter or dessert offering. I understand that this place is primarily a bar, but this girl usually wants something sweet at the end of the meal, so I was a bit disappointed to not even have the option.
If you need somewhere for a quick bite in the Northern Quarter or fancy a drink from their extensive beer and wine menu then give The Pen & Pencil a go. The staff are lovely and really knowledgeable if you’re stuck for choice and will make recommendations based on your likes and dislikes.
Have you been to the Pen & Pencil? What did you think?