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Blackdog Ballroom NWS Food Examined

Jonathan Schofield adores a Philly wrap, a burger and other tasty Americana fillers

Published on June 4th 2012.

Blackdog Ballroom NWS Food Examined

BLACK DOG BALLROOM in the Northern Quarter was Manchester Confidential's bar of the year in 2011. 

It was confident, clever and passed the visitor test.

As a city tour guide as well as the Confidential editor I get a lot of tourists, journalists and other visitors into Manchester. I recommended the Black Dog as one of the city places to be seen in on many occasions. I only ever received excellent reports back. 

If a beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and that's definitely the case with cities - then the Black Dog was a definite plus for Manchester. 

Mackenzie and Ferguson have found the right balance and tone again. 

Black Dog Ballroom NWS (New Wakefield Street) is going to do the same for the Southern Quarter.

I think it was rockster John Robb who tagged the area around Oxford Road Station and All Saints this a decade ago. You can see the logic behind the idea given the several indie bars and businesses in the area. 

Black Dog NWSBlack Dog NWS

The key to the Black Dog success is the experience Ross Mackenzie and Jobe Ferguson bring to the notion. Mackenzie has been running clubs and bars in Manchester since the nineties, and Ferguson has experience under his belt with Confidential hero associate, TNQ, The Northern Quarter Restaurant and Bar. 

Black Dog NWSBlack Dog NWS

Black Dog Ballroom NWS sits in the former Generation X. It's been splendidly reworked by Sharp JG who also designed the original Black Dog. For a bar design based on New York speak-easys and poolbars it has all the moody lighting, the flashy tables and the pin-sharp design required. The Manchester location is emphasised by the Neil Dimelow prints we've already adored on Confidential - click here.

“With the Black Dog Ballrooms,” Mackenzie told us prior to opening, “it’s about the location, the feel of the place, keeping the door policy tight, having the right music and crucially having variety. 

“There’s a lot going on there’s a pool bar, food, different areas to move into. You need a good combination of factors and that leads to a great atmosphere. It’s also about being creative and flexible in approach. We use the smaller pool tables, easier for women to reach across, so the game becomes more about technique rather than strength."

The food fits the theme perfectly.

Sat on fine roof-terrace of Black Dog Ballroom NWS, now partially enclosed, and featuring an al fresco kitchen we tucked into a fantasy of American diner chic. By the way the prices of the food are pitched low so that you can eat with little wallet or purse pain. 

The al fresco kitchen boysThe al fresco kitchen boys

We had philly sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, kebabs and rounded off with a knickerbocker glory. It was all damn fine fare. Fun, lip-smackingly juicy and delivered with that hallmark, as mentioned above, of the Black Dogs, confidence.

The philly sandwich for £5.95 is nosh fans of Americana need to rush down and devour. I had it in a tortilla wrap that was overflowing with luxuriously moist shredded beef, red onion and bursting with melted cheese. 

You can examine its inner beauty on the main picture at the top of the page.

The kebab was equally moist and danced a jig with peppers, red onion and salad. There was also a classic tin mug of fries - £1 extra. It was the feeling of just-cooked freshness - in this case, just cooked in full view - that lifted the dish.  

Juicy kebabJuicy kebab

The hotdog (£5) with a huge chilli topping continued the party although my dining partner objected to the lack of cheese topping - in hindsight I should have gone for that as well.

Food excites memories of other dining occasions.

This put me in mind of a trip I'd once taken to the world's most boring sport, a baseball game at the New York Yankees, where the only distraction was two chilli hotdogs, the immense girth of some of the fans and the way the game stopped every now and then so the locals could sing the national anthem. On the pitch big men swung wildly at a ball for hours on end. I munched contentedly on the hotdogs, much as I did with this one.

Chilli monster

Chilli monster

The burger was equally entertaining. The New York classic with cheese comes at the very atttractive price of £3.50 - £4.50 with fries. I had the £6.50 Northern Quarter Burger with Black Dog relish, pastrami and blue cheese. Good meat, not overdone, nice crown of blue cheese, decent enough bun, job done for under seven quid.

Black Dog 027Black Dog 027

It seemed right to finish off with a knickerbocker glory and again this delivered with a good mix of cream, ice cream, and fruit salad. The milkshakes looked tempting but we passed on those, instead bagging a carafe (nice touch to sell the wine in carafes rather than full bottles) of Merlot for £5 (an offer on until 8pm every day).

Black Dog 036Black Dog 036

From 10am there's a full English breakfast for £5.95. Vegetarians are well catered for. 

Black Dog NWS should crack this corner of the city centre, whether you call it Southern Quarter or not.

There's a huge market around here of city residents and students to tap boosted by the hordes of people that come into the city centre to party. After the summer break and right next door, 520 students will be moving into Manchester's fourth tallest building, Student Castle.

Mackenzie and Ferguson have found the right balance and tone again. Clarity of thinking is the key allied with the resource to back it up. Black Dog NWS is a winner in atmosphere, design, drinks and food.

This meal was hosted by Black Dog Ballroom NWS.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 11–13 New Wakefield Street, City, M1 5NP. 0161 236 4899

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