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Lena Peter thinks Bluu has got the blues

Published on March 20th 2008.


Bluu is was a bit of a Northern Quarter pioneer, there before Trof, Odd and TV21. But can Bluu cut it with the new competition?

I’ve been in Bluu many times before but it wasn’t until in the interests of my research for this review (obviously very thorough…) that I realised that it isn’t a Northern Quarter independent, but rather a Marston’s chain bar or some such, which is a disappointment.

Bluu it seems is the bar of choice for people who’ve just discovered the Northern Quarter and haven’t found the better options all around.

Bluu always appears full, it’s an easy meeting place, located as it is in the old Market Office buildings at an important junction. The design helps to create this impression with the sofas along the window attracting the first drinkers in. Ah, sofas: sofas are great for your living room, but in a bar they’re a double edged sword, comfortable yes, but greatly reducing the amount of sitting room.

Bluu also has the odd idea of putting Perspex round the central pillars, presumably done to stop people bumping into them, but using clear plastic with jagged edges kind of defeats the purpose. The pseudo-burlesque/retro theme of Bluu also doesn’t quite work – not full-on enough to make a point.

Considering Bluu is a brewery bar, the beers are woeful. Taps consist of Fosters, 1664 and Strongbow and there a couple of Marstons. The bottled beers fare similarly, with usual suspects such as Sol and Cruzcampo. The spirit selection is far better, probably due to the extensive cocktail menus scattered around the tables. The cocktails list is great but I spied the dreaded fishbowls – the preserve of skint students. Please remove them (the fishbowls, not the students…).

I would be wary of ordering a cocktail (I didn’t), as the bar staff pull faces if you just order a beer - which you would think wouldn’t to be too much of a chore to produce, it being a bar and all. The staff at Bluu seem moody, and not even in a ‘cool’ way. However, the doormen are friendly enough.

Bluu’s food selection is better than the drinks, with two available menus. I’ve never eaten from the ‘restaurant’ menu but the bar menu serves up a decent beer-battered fish and chips and a sizeable burger. It’s competent stuff, served quickly. For above-average pub food, Bluu is probably one of your best bets on Hilton Street.

The route to the toilets downstairs is odd. The downstairs of Bluu is available to hire, which in theory makes good businesses sense, but scarcely gets used. This, combined with the downstairs décor, means that when you go to the toilet, you feel like you’re on a catwalk at a lock-in in a strip club – pervy, but unnerving on a Saturday afternoon, say.

Bluu it seems is the bar of choice for people who’ve just discovered the Northern Quarter and haven’t found the better options all around. It looks and feels like a national chain which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but here given the surrounding indie choice, makes Bluu feel a bit pointless. Again it gets too loud on weekend evenings – not uncommon around here - and if there is any trouble in the Northern Quarter Bluu seems to be the focus. Stick to Common, Odd and the Northern if you want a better contemporary bar Northern Quarter night out.

Rating: 11/20
Breakdown: 3.5/5 Food
2.5/5 Drink
2/5 Service
3/5 Ambience
Address: Bluu
85 High Street
M4 1BD
Sun to Mon 12pm – midnight
Tues to Thurs 12pm-1am
Fri-Sat 12pm-2am

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

RikFMarch 20th 2008.

I went to eat at the restuarant just last week, and that will be the only time I will be visiting.For starter I had the venison carpaccio with puy lentils and while the venison was nicely cooked i did have trouble finding it hiding behind 2 lentils.My main course was braised pork belly which was nice but nothing to shout about.For dessert (which I dont normal have but was still hungry) I had the chocolate melt in the middle pudding. When I receieved it it was undercooked with barely any of the pudding sponge cooked and I ended up with just a plate of raw pudding mix on my plate.My girlfriends meal was ok but she did finish with the tiniest piece of lemon tart ever to be servered in the worldIn summary while it may sound like I am a big eater, I am not it is just that the portions were small, the food at best was nothing special and at worst undercooked. The total cost with 2 glasses of wine each was £60 and there are a lot better places to spend my money at

crazyjohnMarch 20th 2008.

Eiffel 65 - I'm BLUU

?????March 20th 2008.

I think bluu is good and a nice place in the week day. weekends is very busy for me but the restaurant is very nice any day with a lot of choice.- staff have always been friendy to me and door staff are just doing there job for a safe crowd.

justinMarch 20th 2008.

Too pricey to put up with such rude and slow staff. They seem to finish their converstaion before even thinking about serving.

Leewoz ereMarch 20th 2008.

AS most people say Bluu was good. I used to work there when first opened and it was a small group, part of Fat Cat. Karl who was GM had the feel and delivered a great ambience to the bar with his encyclopedic enthusiasm for the music.Recently went in and ate. The restaurant was understaffed poor buggers running around while the bar staff where too busy looking sullen. Asked if could have just one item of one of the platter dishes. The wiateress went and asked the chef who was laid across the bench seat at the back of the restaurant in civvies, lording it over the place. On her return the wiateress seemed in some kind of fear of the chef. This left a sour taste especially as the food was decidedly average!!Maybe concentrate on whats coming out the kitchen???As with everywhere, see £ signs and the big boys move in and they can't handle the culture!!!

JennMarch 20th 2008.

And now JEF it'll be full of blokes looking for sluts looking for cock!

jomovMarch 20th 2008.

The staff at bluu are not the best, neither is the food...infact it's pretty bad.Last place in NQ I'd go!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

I agree with 'Frank's Trousers' comments about the bar itself, it is unfortuately full of the type of people that NQers patronised the area in order to avoid and who now come over from other parts of town, however, Lena's review is pathetic. I'm not even sure it cold be considered a review, more of a pointless rant. The bar is scored on food and drink yet neither are talked about to any degree of thoroughness. Kinda makes the ratings a bit unjustified. I reckon Mr Garner needs to up the wages at MCHQ and find some decent writers and reviewers, the current crop seem as clueless as the staff at Bluu.

nogoMarch 20th 2008.

we recently tried to hire out downstairs coz i think its quite cool down there, there bar manager was really friendly until we mentioned our own music. we were almost escorted off the premesis! god forbid........

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Bluu is the most depressing place ever! I went for a night out with 10 friends, 3 split and went to see a gig while the rest of us went to Bluu. The next day, all 7 who had gone there had the worst sickness and runny bum bug ever while the other 3 were fine! And we didnt even eat! The same thing happened to 2 friends last week. The staff need to clean the lines, wash their hands and cheer up i reckon! never going there again.

Miss MMarch 20th 2008.

Never been there - just doesn't look appealing. I'm regularly out in the Northern Quarter and generally avoid Bluu - it just looks out of place in the Northern Quarter.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

'Once a regular' - completely agree, they didn't let me and 3 mates in just because we were male (what's the world coming to? we only wanted a quiet beer not a fight with some printworks scallies), then they immediately let in 2 groups of 3 lads with unnecessary scarves right behind us as they were probably considered trendy and fitted in a bit better. Rubbish, plenty if better places around there

JEFMarch 20th 2008.

Used to be an alright place, now just full of sluts looking for a free drink and cock.

Oldham_MancMarch 20th 2008.

Bluu was great when it first opened, then all the townie brigade from the Printworks discovered the place and it went rapidly downhill. Queuing to get in when it's only half full is just stupid. why bother? And yeah, the bar staff are the most miserable bunch I've ever been served by too.Sadly I think Bluu is an indication of what most of the Northern Quarter is turning into - a spill-over from the Printworks. I won't go out round there on a Friday or Saturday anymore - it's just full of drunk pillocks looking for a shag and/or trouble.

bar cruiserMarch 20th 2008.

i agree, bluu was great when it first openend, something new and fitting with the style of the times and the then northern quarter but it is looking a bit dated (as are the clientele) i think it was originally an independent when it first opened up here (there were a couple of others in the cool bits of other UK cities) but then sold out. the food in the main restaurant is actually pretty good, you just wouldn't expect it from the rest of it. you can definitely tell the difference now it's part of a chain. it's not that bad but i certainly wouldn't join the weekend crowds in queuing up to get in. (me thinks they are the 'new northern quarterers')

Jack FoleyMarch 20th 2008.

I've been beaten to mentioning that it was part of a chain from the very beginning, although a small and specialised one. Had none of the other posters heard of Bluu in Nottingham? Independents don't necessarily have superiority over chains, there's just snobbery in some of the thinking here. If you want to take that angle, consider that there are 3 Trof venues, 2 Odds, etc. Those are the beginnings of chains and if the owners can go national and become millionaires, bet they will. Does everyone know about the FAB Cafe in Leeds?Aim for the slim, ginger barman in Bluu if you want professional service. He serves 2 at a time and does it swiftly. If you want great food, try a restaurant. Top chefs don't take bar jobs. Finally, live and let live people. The neighbourhood doesn't belong to NQ residents, there isn't a quarantine zone and if you want to just socialise with clones of yourself, try having a house party and just invite your friends. I may not have anything visually in common with unnecessary scarf with t-shirt guy or Printworks girl, but I won't be instantly judgemental of them either.

Frank's TrousersMarch 20th 2008.

When it first opened Bluu was good - I wouldn't go in there if it was the last place on earth now. to be fair i wouldn't go anywhere in the NQ on Friday or Saturday night. The 'frontless dress brigade' seem to beat a path up from the Printworks, it looks like a scene from 'Faliraki Uncovered' when you walk past. I say this with sadness as I have lived just round the corner for the last 4 years and used to really enjoy the place.

ktfairyMarch 20th 2008.

I guess I'm a dated looking Northern Quarterer as I go in Bluu a lot - but only in the week and I wouldn't think of going in any of the bars in the Nq at the weekend now. As for it being only for new NQers - not true I've lived in the NQ for 6 years and spent a bit of time in Odd when it forst opened - but now it is too busy and full of posers even in the week. The Bay Horse is good but I like windows. Bluu is just easy going, laid back fun with seats. There may need to be improvement in the surly staff stakes, but at least I don't have to queue up to get a drink.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

I'd like to thank everyone for their honest reviews in saving me from setting our Christmas after meal drinks here! Cheers guys - don't think we'll bother

Julie AndrewsMarch 20th 2008.

hurrah for lena's review. i too have suffered at the hands of bluu staff (very kind of him to slip something unpleasant in my G&T) and regularly stumble on my tipsy way to the disabled toilet.

Red KenMarch 20th 2008.

Odd is the best place in NQ , and the food has improved 100% , bluu is crap

the priestMarch 20th 2008.

Everyone is being a little harsh. For Lena Peter to say she was disappointed learning it was not an independent is verging on the pretentious. Should the mere fact it is not independent be something that negatively affects your impression of a place? Is it really so odd to put perspex around a column? On the other hand they clearly need to sort the staff out but this was an important bar for the area that is really not that different to when people loved it save the staff!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Last time I went to Bluu I asked for a Pimms and Lemonade. That's not too much to ask for is it? The guy serving me looked at me as if I was a loon. "What's Pimms?" He asked. Shocker!! I had to point out the bottle of Pimms on the shelf and explain about lime, mint, etc etc. It's not "Pimms o'clock" in Bluu bar!

Ali McGowanMarch 20th 2008.

Not the best write up - I am worried that someone writing about bars had never seen a Bluu elsewhere. Anyway I do agree though - Bluu has had it's day, it's crap. The draught beer is indeed crap [though last time I went they did at least serve bottled Brooklyn beer], service is crap, the door staff are crap [not letting nice people in but letting riff raff in + making people queue just to make it look popular]. I used to like the place years ago but won't be going back in a hurry.

Bloke looking for slutMarch 20th 2008.

G'day ladies

HMarch 20th 2008.

As a long term NQ resident I am getting a bit fed up of the area being overrun at weekend and was dismayed to see that they want to open a live music venue, now I love live music and wouldn't want to stop anyones progress but there are now too many bars in such a small location without any extra street cleaning or policing !!!

nailbiterMarch 20th 2008.

Bluu Schmuu!! Used to be cool, used to do darned tasty fish finger sarnies...chunky buttered bread, LUMPS of breaded fish, dolloping of sauce AND chips. Not too bad for £6.00. Went a few weeks ago - No frills fish fingers, thin sliced bread, no butter, no sauce and to replace the big baton chips...salad...and rubbish salad at that. Wont be going there for food again. Oh, and the staff - Dont remember your order, take AGES and think they are ubercool (far from it!)...oh and q'ing up. leave it out!!

Once a regular...March 20th 2008.

I miss the days this was a great bar, we'd be in from 4.30 every friday, usually a saturday afternoon and once in the week too. It was a great local, we enjoyed a chat with the staff, spent well and had a good laugh with other regulars. Celebrated my engagement there with my closest pals, started my stag do @ Bluu (not to worry - evening before the flight to Las Vegas!) and hold the place close to my heart. I blame the low cost flight mags and virgin train recommendations. All good for tourist business but when you're told you can't enter a bar you consider your local because they "can't" allow a group of four males in together - well, shows to what level the place has now stooped. Sad, but a sign of the times - place is a bit like the print works now.

welldunneMarch 20th 2008.

What a pointless review. Is it really worth making an evaluation of a venue based on the route to the toilet? Perhaps "Route To Toilet" could be another score out of five in the breakdown box? It'd at least give Lena Peter something to talk about when she bestows her words of wisdom to the nation about Zinc...

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

'I’ve been in Bluu many times before but it wasn’t until in the interests of my research for this review (obviously very thorough…) that I realised that it isn’t a Northern Quarter independent, but rather a Marston’s chain bar or some such, which is a disappointment.''Bluu it seems is the bar of choice for people who’ve just discovered the Northern Quarter and haven’t found the better options all around. It looks and feels like a national chain which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but here given the surrounding indie choice, makes Bluu feel a bit pointless.'Great bit of writing. Visited the place plenty of times before and never knew it was a chain but finished your story stating how much it looks like a chain?

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

The attitude of the doorstaff here is an absolute disgrace. Don't bother trying to get in much after 8 as you'll be forced to queue (even when it's half empty) and whether they let you in or not is entirely arbitrary. Avoid !

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