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Kosmonaut, Northern Quarter, Reviewed

David Blake isn't blown into the cosmos... but loves anywhere with balls

Written by . Published on June 4th 2013.

Kosmonaut, Northern Quarter, Reviewed

DON'T get me wrong, I like Kosmonaut, I really do... but as a bar.

I like anywhere that has exposed pipes and brickwork, bars, apartments, fireplaces, Jewsons. Also anywhere that bungs a ping-pong table in the basement bar is just cricket with me (I once sold our dining table just to fit a full-sized ping-pong table into our old student house).

The NQ bar attitude is not necessarily rude or off’ish, you just gain a sense that if you don’t like it then you can lump it. Because they reckon they’ll be busy regardless.

So when we finally managed to find some seats (coupled with a wonky table) on this particularly busy evening, I really did want to enjoy the food. It wasn’t that it was notably bad, it’s just that when you’re doing a review, pretty much the last way you want to start the food experience is like this. "Are you doing any food, please?" "Depends what you want mate."(ouch).


The two bartenders then took it in turns to unceremoniously list all the items on the menu that were indeed, off the menu. Pizzas were a no, as were the steaks, half of the hot dogs and burgers were also off, as was the mac‘n’cheese side. So is there anything I can have? “Yeah there’s still quite a lot on there you can have” came the response, “But there’s just a lot that you can’t.”


Mind you, they were pleasant about it, but pleasant doesn’t award me a side of mac’n’cheese. The NQ bar attitude is not necessarily rude or off’ish, you just gain a sense that if you don’t like it then you can lump it. Because they reckon they’ll be busy regardless.

The menu was decidedly meaty: steaks (if they have any), burgers, chilli, chicken, hot dogs, ribs and a large selection of pizzas (once again, if they have any). We opted for the BBQ big boy ribs (£9.50), Texas chilli beef brisket (£5.50), classic 1/2lb burger (£8) with a side of rocket and Parmesan salad (£2), all with lots and lots of fries.

The ribs with rocket and parmesan saladThe ribs with rocket and parmesan salad

The ribs were abundant and slid off the bone but the accompanying Evan Williams bourbon BBQ sauce was a tad dark, gloopy and overpowering which made the dish sickly and difficult to polish off. The burger was a cracker though (and it needs to be with MCR’s sudden obsession with the humble meat patty and resulting competition), it was all the things a burger should be: large, juicy and ever so unhealthy. My companion’s requested mayonnaise never made it to the table, which I was secretly quite pleased about. Mayo is an abomination.

Classic 1/2lb burger and friesClassic 1/2lb burger and fries

The Texas chilli brisket, served in a mug with three dwarfish buns, was decent but dullish. However, this could be counteracted by filling the dwarfish buns with chilli and pretending that you had a gargantuan hand.

Texas chilliTexas chilliThe rocket and parmesan salad was dry, lifeless and came in a bowl that looked like something Oliver Twist may turn his nose up at. Please Sir, can I have no more.

Dessert, much like half of the menu, was a no go. Have you finished serving? “Yeah I’m afraid the kitchen has closed.” But it’s only half past nine, “You could have a liqueur coffee or cocktail” came the response. Well unless you can turn a cocktail into a sticky toffee pudding than that doesn’t really suffice.

Cocktails aka dessertCocktails aka dessert

Drinks-wise the bar fares much better, and this is a bar after all, a New York-styled bar (I’m not sure when this fixation with emulating New Yorkie bars came to Manchester? Kosmonaut, Black Dog, Neighbourhood, NoHo, Kahlua, every other new bar that rears its head. And what is a bloody 'speakeasy'? In 2013 anyway).

With nearly 50 bottled beers from home-grown to Icelandic, Thornbridge and Flying Dog’s IPA on draught, fans of the Richard Geres will be more than content. The drinks menu has an eclectic and colourful selection of cocktails with some for under a fiver, including the wackily named gin-based grapefruity Totes Amazeballs. Inquiring with the bartender I found this to be named after some new-fangled saying from that vacuous fool-fest TOWIE - I hoped it was tongue in cheek.

Still any cocktail that comes in for under a fiver can be called whatever it likes, I’d buy Donkey Bollocked Leper Drivel for under a fiver.


Downstairs they’ve embraced the Old Smoke’s trendy ping-pong bar craze, from those Sloane Rangers in Chelsea to the hipster-douchebags in Holborn, they’re all pinging it about. Akin to your All Stars and Dog Bowlers, Kosmonaut is bringing something else to the table (sorry) in terms of themed socialising for pub-weary booze-hounds.

It’s for those of us who may find a pint, packet of McCoys and discussing whether Moyes has indeed, got it in him, just won’t cut the mustard anymore. We need something else, something interactive, preferably something with a bat, something which allows us to spend half of the night on our knees reaching under people’s feet for a tiny little celluloid ball.

This is where Kosmonaut gets it right. There are plenty of NQ bars that serve food (furnished in a New York manner, naturally), and yes the foods not all that you had hoped. But one of my favourite bars in Manchester, Kosmonaut shall remain. Where else can you slap balls in a stranger’s face all night and get away with it?

Apart from Basement Sauna down the road of course.

Follow David Blake on Twitter here.


Kosmonaut, 10 Tariff Street, Manchester, M1 2FF

Bar rating: 14/20 (please see the criteria below for an explanation of the scoring)
Food: 2.5/5
Drink: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 4.5/5

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

GordoJune 4th 2013.

thats one expensive ping pong table, it blocks at least ten covers a night

1 Response: Reply To This...
MarkJune 4th 2013.

The new dining area should take care of those extra ten.

AnonymousJune 4th 2013.

My only complaint about the food at Kosmonaut is that it usually finishes at seven. Has this changed now that they've got an extra room?

Swiss JamesJune 4th 2013.

I know what you mean about the service in the NQ, but I like it. It's about moving away from that "I'm sorry sir, but we have a few omissions from the menu this evening" to "Sorry mate, the meat fridge is knackered, we've either got pizzas or you can go next door"

AnonymousJune 5th 2013.

Once apon a time I was told that if you have a bar licence, rather than a club licence, you had to be serving food to be able to serve alcohol. Is that not the case anymore?

AnonymousJune 6th 2013.

I think man con are getting too grey and old to enjoy speakeasy bars in the NQ. Get back to the Mark Addy.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJune 6th 2013.

Er...the writer's 26

Axel LariatJune 7th 2013.

26 going on 66 by the sound of it.

James SmithJune 7th 2013.

A-flippin-greed. I'm glad that the NQ 'attitude' is too much. Good. It's supposed to get on our older nerves, whether it's deliberate or not. Bring it on and make it more I say. We've had plenty of places to go to.

James SmithJune 7th 2013.

And by that I meant 'Agreed'.

SmittyJune 6th 2013.

Good review - was going to give this place a go but won't prioritise it now! Also, couldn't agree more with this sentence: "The NQ bar attitude is not necessarily rude or off’ish, you just gain a sense that if you don’t like it then you can lump it. Because they reckon they’ll be busy regardless." Fine for us who are used to this kind of customer "service", what with us being mancs and all, but it's a tad embarrassing when you are hosting visitors.

AnonymousJune 6th 2013.

Mayonaise is not an abomination.

Frazer MunroJune 7th 2013.

Someone should have told your amn that the Mayo is in the yellow squeezy bottles, it's even in your picture of the burger...Plus they're only officially opening the Diner tonight, so maybe send your guy back there again?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Frazer MunroJune 7th 2013.

that should be man, not 'amn' Obvs.

CharlieJuly 26th 2013.

It has a 1 out of 5 food hygeine rating www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk/…/kosmonaut--825044.html…

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 26th 2014.

moved up to 3/5 now

AnonymousAugust 9th 2014.

Still not a good record though

AnonymousAugust 6th 2013.

was in here the other day - my turn to be served at the bar - opened my mouth to order- a friend of the barman walked in the door and got served first. felt completely ignored

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2014.

Visited this place on Friday for the first time - Happy Hour wine was priced at £10 per bottle, yet this did not apply to the Rose. The rudest service I've encountered in a long time. When did friendly service become so "uncool" ?

Ben FordAugust 9th 2014.

By the time we turned up the door staff were only letting women in... Sexist crap. The staff then verbally abused my friend regarding his height, so we had to contact the party of 50 that we had inside to move everyone next door where the staff were great and we had an awesome time. Will never attempt to go to this bar as the door staff are extremely rude, arrogant, and unprofessional.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Not KosmonautAugust 9th 2014.

That alleged group of 50 people that walked out had such a massive financial impact on our takings that we had to close. Hold on, no we didn't. We've just opened another venue. Yeayyyy!!!

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