Scribblings from the hard shoulder of the Information Superhighway

Hard Rock Café

(Carole King)

I’d visited the Manchester Hard Rock Café a few times before this particular sojourn in the ‘Rainy City’ and decided to lunch there after my interview for the role that takes me up there each week.

Bob Massey at the HRC Manchester - at Tolfalas.com

The owners of the Hard Rock Café brand (the Seminole nation) are pretty ruthless in closing cafés that don’t make the grade. In the past there have been (and I have visited)Cafes in Birmingham, Guadalajara, Kowloon, Leeds, Newport Beach and Nottingham.

All gone now, so the Manchester café would appear to be keeping its fiscal head above water.

The Manchester HRC is housed within ‘The Printworks’ a dining/leisure complex housed in what was once a massive newspaper plant in central Manchester, adjacent to ‘Exchange Square’. In its day it was responsible for printing the northern editions of the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Sketch.

The Printworks now houses some fifteen bars and restaurants, a gym and 20 screen cinema.

Printworks, Manchester - at Tolfalas.com

I should perhaps declare a (non-pecuniary) interest. I’m a fan of Hard Rock Cafés. As you’ll see from my ‘Been There, Done That’ pages, I’ve visited some 32 of them since I first visited the London café in 1971 as a callow teenager. The way I figure it, they’re clean, safe and, pretty much anywhere in the world, you’re assured a decent western meal and some rock music. What’s not to like?

Hard Rock Cafe Manchester - at Tolfalas.com

The Manchester HRC seats over one hundred people downstairs, with an exclusive terrace lounge area with room for another fifty. The spacious bar area has some bar stools, and as I’m usually dining alone I’ll grab one of those rather than a table in the dining area. The walls are festooned with the usual array of rock memorabilia, albeit with an emphasis on local Manchester bands – mainly Oasis.

Hard Rock Cafe Manchester Bar - at Tolfalas.com

The menu is pretty much the same as other western HRC’s steaks, burgers, salads… the ‘local’ special burger features, I understand, Lancashire cheese – so not very special then. My personal favourite of late is their ‘Texan’ pulled pork sandwich. I’m fast becoming a fan of pulled pork, and this one comes topped with cheese, shoestring fried onions and deep fried slices of Jalapeno chilli.

Hard Rock Cafe Manchester SOB Burger - at Tolfalas.com

This one, however, is their S.O.B. Burger.

Prices aren’t cheap, some of the trendier diners in the Northern Quarter serve (dare I say it) better and more imaginative burgers at better prices, I guess there’s a ‘global brand’ premium in play here, got to keep the Seminoles away!

And, for the record, the chefs won’t serve burgers any rarer than ‘medium’, which for me at least is overcooked.

The staff are friendly enough, and have been known to dress in fancy dress for occasions such as ‘Halloween’. Although it must be said, the bar staff sometimes need to be ‘encouraged’ to serve a full pint.

Overall, as I said earlier, you know what you’re going to get in a Hard Rock Café, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Rating: ★★★★☆