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Electrik re-assessed

Sarah Tierney gets a case of deja vu in this Chorlton cafe-bar

Published on July 26th 2010.

Electrik re-assessed

Some bars set your nerves on edge as soon as you step inside. Scrapey chairs. Bad music. Bad people. Others make you feel immediately at home. It's a harder effect to achieve and it's not as easy to say what creates it.

Laminate wood-topped tables, standing lamps, brown curtains and orange walls. It's everyone's mum's living room in the days before we had to do horrible things like earning money and cooking our own tea.

At Electrik, it seems to have a lot to do with the décor – there's a subtle 1970s feel to the place that takes you back to your childhood (so long as you're in your 30s or 40s – and this being a Chorlton cafe-bar, most people are).

Laminate wood-topped tables, standing lamps, brown curtains and orange walls. It's everyone's mum's living room in the days before we had to do horrible things like earning money and cooking our own tea. As such, Electrik immediately lulls you into a sense of security and peacefulness. That's one theory anyway. It doesn't work so well if you had a traumatic upbringing.

Neither myself nor my guest did, so we were happy to be at Electrik to sample their food menu. One of the team said the sausages and mash was probably their signature dish, so I went for that.

Too many desultory versions of it on pub menus have put me off sausages and mash, but Electrik's showed enough care and attention to restore my faith. Four styles of mash were waiting to be paired with a choice of four styles of sausages from WH Frost butchers in Chorlton precinct, including pork and pepper and Toulouse.

Mine was a creamy mountain of champ mash (spring onion and cabbage) topped with lamb and rosemary sausages, with a little haystack of finely sliced roasted spring onion on top (£6). It was a British classic done well.

My friend went for the mixed veg crumble (£5.50), a homely, vitamin-C packed warmer with carrots, broccoli, courgettes and spicy tomato sauce topped with a sweet crumble. Electrik also has a summer menu of salads and quiches on the go. They're not taking any chances though – pies, stews and soup are weather-resistant, all-year options.

A sign outside advertises 'the best coffee and cakes in Chorlton' which is bold considering the amount of cakeries in this part of South Manchester. We had lemon and poppy polenta cake and millionaire's shortbread, both home-made and both good enough to add weight to the claim on the sign. Not sure I would say they were the 'best' in Chorlton but they were contenders. The coffee impressed my fussy friend who usually has to enter into negotiations with bar staff to get one strong enough for her taste. They do double shots as standard here.

By the time we'd finished our food, the cafe-bar was becoming more of a bar-cafe. At 9pm the lights were lowered and the music cranked up. Electrik's jukebox is an exciting affair, as you'd expect from a placed owned by the Unabombers - Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey.

They could put a sign up saying 'Best music in Chorlton' and few people would take issue. It ranges from Grace Jones to Richard Hawley to Vampire Weekend with lots of funk, soul and a few Manchester standards like Joy Division amongst the more muso-orientated selections. It's free so they can afford to steer away from the crowd-pleasers that fill most money-taking jukeboxes.

The music is one of the things that makes this place feel cool as well as cosy. Although I said it was reminiscent of your mum's living room, I'd better qualify that – most people's parents didn't have stacks of Face magazine on the shelves or Talk Talk on the stereo. Electrik's décor has something of a ski chalet about it too – retro alpine chic, perhaps. I don't know how that fits with the theory.

The thing I liked about all of this is that it wasn't over-stated or try-hard. The service too was competent, friendly and relaxed. A year after it opened and Electrik has a confidence about it – it comes through in the look and sound of the place, and in the food and the drinks which include real ales and classic cocktails (no gimmicky names or 'themes' here).

With Ducilmer, the Bar and Oddest all within skipping distance, Electrik has to be decent or its customers would go elsewhere. It was a rainy Wednesday and the place was busy all evening. Seems like I wasn't the only one who felt at home in there.

Electrik, 559 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 0AE, 0161 881 3315. Click here for more information.

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

John HarrisJuly 26th 2010.

No rating?

NortherngeezerJuly 26th 2010.

Anyone got any comments on the sausage an mash piccy??

AvoJuly 26th 2010.

No rating suggests possibly an advertorial?

Smyth HarperJuly 27th 2010.

Hmmm, champ doesn't have cabbage in it. Also, it's "champ" not "champ mash" and certainly not a British classic!

duncanJuly 27th 2010.

chances of luke/moggsy paying for an advertorial = 0

RobtherichJuly 27th 2010.

Do people really need a mark out of 5 for something described as 'It was a British classic done well.'

NortherngeezerJuly 27th 2010.

Yer not wrong Rob, they'll be marking that old British classic the jam butty next..........Incidentally, Warburtons extra thick WHITE bread, goats butter, and anybodys strawberry jam, mmmm, i'm drooling.

Michele HartJuly 28th 2010.

Myself and 3 pals tried out the Manchester Confidential Elektrik £10 meal deal last week and very nice too. Food was up to scratch, and with 2 courses plus a cocktail (great mojito and they even made a gorgeous apple mojotio for my heavily pregnant friend) this was good value. Bar staff were charming, decor definitely 70s alpine retro chic, just had two small quibbles. Deal was on until 8.30pm and at 8pm the rather abrupt and slightly aggressive chef (we assumed) came to ask if we were ordering and he was all a bit too in your face for our liking - think he was hoping to slope off early!
And being vintage birds we also struggled with conversation once the music was cranked up after 9pm. Don't get me wrong. Great music but just a tad too loud when you're dining and tryng to have a conversation. Kindly barman did turn down the speaker near our table but we still struggled.
All in all though a very pleasant experience and great value.

NortherngeezerJuly 28th 2010.

Vintage burds.....love it hehehe. Michelle - I bet yer didnt have the sausage an mash based on the piccy in this article eh.

gjhJuly 28th 2010.

Is this an advertorial?

pls confirm?!

SamanthaAugust 9th 2010.

We went here on Saturday, where there was also a vintage clothes sale going on. My husband had pea soup and I had the bourbon burger. Service was fast, the scrumpy was delicious, and the food was really nice and pretty cheap too. Lovely setting as well - very laid back and happy.

NortherngeezerAugust 9th 2010.

I'm a big big lover of pea soup, it'll have to go sum to beat grandma geezers tho.

GrapevineAugust 13th 2010.

Why has this place NOT been raided yet? Since its emergence (and the D place next door), there are some creepy people hangin around outside...

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