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Dog Bowl Food Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield strikes lucky at a bowling alley with the biggest burger

Written by . Published on April 15th 2013.

Dog Bowl Food Reviewed

YEP it is everywhere. Brit-Americano.

Confidential understands that chickens were genetically modified in the battery farms of Chorley so they grew five wings on each side of their bodies because boy-oh-boy did people want lots of fried chicken wings piled in bowls.

If you stand in a Manchester street long enough with your mouth wide open someone will stuff a burger in it. 

Not since goddam cup cakes has a food fashion invaded the British public's privacy so emphatically. 

The burger breakthrough moment in Manchester came with Almost Famous Burgers about fifteen months ago.

The crazee, crazee boys there grabbed a burger, brioche-bunned it up, gooed and spiced it, and then rubbed it hard in the face of the trendies in the Northern Quarter

The trendies did not sneer. They paused, licked their smeared faces, then licked each others' smeared faces, and fell in love.

Pork scratchings in DogbowlPork scratchings in Dogbowl

Minutes later you couldn't move anywhere in the High Street/Thomas Street/Stevenson Square nexus for pulled pork, tacos and slaw. 

Every single bar was creating a burger bonanza. There was probably a run on brioche buns. Mayonnaise stocks dipped nationally.

Confidential understands that chickens were genetically modified in the battery farms of Chorley so they grew five wings on each side of their bodies because boy-oh-boy did people want lots of fried chicken wings piled in bowls.

The weird and contrary thing about all this is that the slackers and opinion-formers in the Northern Quarter who usually profess hatred for the land of the free and the home of the brave proved their slavish adoration of everything Americana.

I reckon, if a bar were to provide wall to wall, twenty-four hour loops of Breaking Bad/Homeland/Dexter/Madmen (series 10,000 or whatever they're bloody on now) complete with mac'n'cheese, beef chilli and burgers (of course) then they'd clean up. 

Fried wings - are they from Chorley farms?Fried wings - are they from Chorley farms?

Now we hear Byron, a stratospherically popular burger bar, is moving into the Deansgate space formerly occupied by the hapless, lacklustre and frankly dull Pesto.

Byron is London-based and maybe hasn't heard that nobody has been eating anything but burgers in Manchester for twelve months. 

All this brings us to Dog Bowl and its nosh. Some bars aren't up to all the Americano pressure.

Functional but perfect for goo noshFunctional but good for drip nosh

Dog Bowl, a bar, restaurant, and bowling alley, has an advantage because it's got a fine, fine chef.

This is Barry Gamble, formerly of Livebait. The Scot knows his menu and knows how to cook. When he says he'll slow-cook the pork then you know he'll do it right.

Gamble is Livebait's loss and Dogbowl's gain. 

His DB burger for £15 is all you need to know about how to make a messy mountain of American-inspired food required Manchester eating - high fat, high cholesterol, high-protein, high, literally high, in terms of centimetres. 

It comes in layers, like the geology of the Mojave desert, with 1lb of beef in the burger, a hill of pulled pork, stabilising beef brisket and a whole Piglet of smoked bacon. 

A knife is skewered through this foodie still-life to make it stand. There are several onion rings tossed on top like a game of edible hoopla. The sauce and juices that pour from this delight leave the table awash with goo.

You might want to lick the table.

Of course, it's stupidly big as a burger but it's wonderfully right too, and emblematic of the quality Gamble's delivering in Dog Bowl, although some reports say he needs to make sure the other burgers are of the same standard. 

That said, Gamble already delivers some of the best pork crackling (£3) around, complete with delightful spiced apple sauce, and an equally good bowl of excellent smoked nuts (£2) -  home-smoked in Dog Bowl's hickory smoker, with almonds and peanuts, in something called ‘Bruce’s BBQ Rub’ too.

A quesadilla of southern shrimp for £4.95 shows Gamble can also do subtle but in this company the quesadilla was a bit boring. Fortunately tacos with pulled pork for £5.50 restored the more bullish virtues.

A Quesadilloh - as true Mancs call themA Quesadilloh - as true Mancs call them

A pudding of churros, covered in chocolate and mountains of sugar, is special. Dentists would run a mile from this rotten wrong £4 Spanish dish of pure fat, but then they'd miss out on the type of candy floss experience delivered on sunny days in the fairgrounds of one's youth.

I love Blue Pig's churros on High Street in the Northern Quarter, I've got a Southern Quarter churros supplier now. That can make a man happy.


The only fail on the menu is the hot fudge sundae for £4.50; it looks dull and tastes dull. It simply isn't sweet enough, and all the flavours are a blur. Maybe the kitchen uses all the sugar up on the churros. 

By the way the kids menu is a good deal; three courses and a drink at £6.50. 

Everyday is like SundaeEveryday is like sundae

Dog Bowl is part of the Black Dog Bar staple of venues in Manchester. It has the best food of any of them. True, you have to be tolerant of the thwack of bowl into pin and the cheers of the gamesters.

But despite Byron's impending arrival, and the ubiquity of the burger in Manchester, Dog Bowl stands tall with DB burger. We're going to have to add that particular baby to our Best of Manchester Burgers list asap - click here

Anyway beetroot, cupcakes, fro-yo, burgers...where next for food fashions?

PS. I'm feeling pleased with myself that I refused the urge to make any puns on Barry Gamble's surname. What were the odds of that? 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here@JonathSchofield or connect via Google+


Dog Bowl is at Whitworth Street West,  0161 228 2888

Rating: 15.5/20 

Food: 7.5/10 (DB 9, nuts 7.5, fried wings 7.5, crackling 7.5, quesadilla 6.5, churros 8, sundae 6.5, tacos 7.5)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5 (But you'll have to not mind the clack of the bowling balls) 

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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22 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousApril 15th 2013.

I'm not suggesting that the above review is a stitch up as the other Black Dogs already have decent food, but how do you reconcile the conflict of interest between having adverts on the site for local businesses and impartially reviewing their food? If ManCon had given Dog Bowl a bad review would they have pulled the adverts which have been on the site for the past few weeks?

7 Responses: Reply To This...
Mark Garner PublisherApril 15th 2013.

Oh dear Anon, how long have you been reading us? We are famous for being totally ruthless in our reviewing; client or no, we tell it as we see it and will lose an advertiser before we lose our integrity. All scored reviews are done unannounced and paid for. Over eight years now I have offered an instant £1000 to anyone 's favourite charity if they can prove otherwise. Over that period we have slated a number of paying clients. Including an £8000 per month deal to promote Liverpool 08 when Jonathan, my editor, exercised his right to editorial independence and slated the Mathew Street Festival debacle by the council who promptly renamed on our deal. That's life. Black Dog are a great brand and I know Barry Gamble well, he is going to produce great food. We have this year already blown out one new Italian restaurant who were demonstrating an inability to maintain quality along with another who told me personally he would advertise with Confidential at £3k a month if I wrote a review that scored highly. He, frankly, was an utter *unt whom I blew out and told him I will never accept his business as long as he had anything to do with his daughter's restaurant. As it happens, it looks like it will score well from trusted reviewers.

The reason why Mancon is far and away the largest online media in the North West for food and booze is my teams commitment to honesty and integrity.

AnonymousApril 16th 2013.

Well I can't say fairer than that.

SimonApril 16th 2013.

The reason the public has complete trust in this site is because it IS obviously totally independent and doesn't pander to advertisers or investors. Not a single other magazine, ezine or anythingzine comes anywhere near Man Con.

Get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness, Anonymous, you plonker.

Long live Man Con.

the Whalley RangerApril 16th 2013.

Exactly, Simon.
May I add that I have been last w/e and I can confirm their postres (not reviewed here it appears) include a choice of some rather big chunky balls and al dente leathery footwear.

AnonymousApril 17th 2013.

having seen Mark's come dine with you appearance i'm pretty sure the mancon team have no problem telling people their food is shit if they think it is, even if they're sat in their front room eating it. i dont always agree with their recommendation's, braai steakhouse for example is absolutely appalling, but it's clearly honest.

AnonymousApril 17th 2013.

rogue apostrophe there... if only there was a comment edit function.

AnonymousApril 20th 2013.

What a load of sycophantic rubbish. You offer £1k as you know nobody can ever possibly prove otherwise

Manc GuyApril 15th 2013.

"His DB burger for £15 is all you need..."

And that's just for a burger? Dude!...that's more than I need to spend to feed myself for a whole week!!!

Eating out at independents in Manchester is expensive...full stop.

Mind you...so is clothes shopping in the NQ...eek!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AVOApril 16th 2013.

It's a 1lb burger though!! Think of the sheer size if it. I'd pay £15 for that.

Barnaby JonesApril 16th 2013.

I am new to ManCon and I'd just like to say I am lving the honest reviews and food section. Keep up the fantastic work guys.

MeApril 16th 2013.

I thought the food was pretty average. Maybe teething problems, but the majority was cold, took too long to arrive, ingrediants weren't as good as expected. The pulled pork and mash was the best of the lot, i'd give it a 7.5, Tacos 6, Quesadias 6, Crackling 6, Fries 6. I was expecting more as i dont mind the food at the other Dogs, but this wasnt as good.

CrispoyApril 16th 2013.

The review gave it 7.5 out of ten as well.

AnonymousApril 16th 2013.

Me and my misses popped in here on Saturday night around 7:00ish just before the fratellis gig. Wehn we walked in we were unsure if we were to take our own seat or be shown to one. So we shoed ourselves, a few miniutes when by and no staff came over. So i went to the bar to order a drink and the staff were too busy faffing about or making a cocktail to even see me. So we left. good job as you couldn't hear yourself think with the bowling going on in the back ground. This place is for bowling only not for food.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Robert HodgkinsonApril 19th 2013.

...we then went to a rock concert where I was unsure where to stand as I didn't have a seated ticket, I had to wait an awfully long time to get a warm tin of cider at the bar (they too were 'Faffing') the music was again terribly loud and I couldn't even hear my missus offer me my thermos of soup...

food for thoughtApril 16th 2013.

Just bored of this type of food now

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 18th 2013.

Don't worry, there is some other food 'movement' going on somewhere in the world right now (probably the USA), which will reach London in about a year's time, and Manchester a year after that.

Poster BoyApril 16th 2013.

"The weird and contrary thing about all this is that the slackers and opinion-formers in the Northern Quarter who usually profess hatred for the land of the free and the home of the brave..."

Sweeping generalisation. How so exactly?...

Food BabyApril 17th 2013.

I'm getting really bored of american type food, is there anything new and exciting opening in Manchester soon?

AnonymousApril 17th 2013.

Yeah the old Pesto unit will be a Byron Bur.....oh oh..

SpennerApril 27th 2013.

I had a visit here yesterday evening with my son to sample the food. I got stuck into the DB Burger, which was very tasty. The £15 price tag was also tasty and I was surprised by how hungry I still was at the end of it. So much so I had a desert of Pecan Pie. Son number two, on the opposite side of the table, had the pulled pork with mash which was delicious but again a bit on the meagre side for a lanky, and still lengthening, 15 year old. He had the Fudge Brownie Sundae for pudding, which looked great. I didn't actually get a look in so cant tell you how it tasted.
Service was ok, venue is smart and lively with a good mix of people, but I probably wont go back because I think its over priced for what it is (by way of a comparison, the triple threat burger at Lust Liquor Luck and Burn is of a similar style and size to the DB Burger, is £5 cheaper and, for me, tastes better).
Having said that, on Tuesdays BDBowl do 50% off all food. That could be worth a visit to try a few other items on the menu.

AnonymousMay 28th 2013.

Byron Burgers is opening end of next week in the old Pesto on Deansgate. Look forward to that - really good burgers!

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