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Odder than thou?

Odder is the latest offering from the people behind Odd Bar. It’s early days for the quirky bar, but as Jayne discovers, it seems to be finding its feet…

Published on January 22nd 2007.

Odder than thou?

You know how it is. Your older sibling is cool. They’re popular, clever, and have their own sense of style. You want to be like them. You already share a name, so you steal their clothes, you copy their haircut and you try your very best to mimic the way that they act. But it just doesn’t happen for you. No matter how hard you try, you’re not them, and by trying to emulate them you’re just inhibiting your own identity.

One such younger sibling is Odder. Obviously, everybody loves Odd Bar in the Northern Quarter. It’s vibrant, quirky, and full of character. It has its own identity, forged gradually over time through various contributions by locals and regulars, and you get the sense that every nik nak and picture tells a story.

Odder has been established by Odd’s creator Cleo Farnham, in the vacant space that was the ill-fated Zumbar on Oxford Road. At this early stage in its cognitive development however, it seems to be suffering from a few identity issues.

Odder has all the makings of a great bar. It’s large, comfortable and quirkily decorated. But is suffers by comparison to the original – a comparison which is unfortunately inevitable when a bar builds its identity on the reputation of another.

Downstairs, the bar feels a little vacant, with the uncommitted atmosphere of a hotel lobby. ‘Don’t look at me!’ screams the décor. ‘Pass through and head straight upstairs!’. Travelling up the wooden staircase however, past a wall of mis-shaped mirrors, the bar unfolds into a delightful Alice in Wonderland space, with themed booths, plenty of comfortable seating spread out across different levels, and interesting, oversized objects.

We took our seats in between a monster sized wooden lizard and a giant vase, and surveyed the room.

Odder, being located opposite the BBC, has a mixed clientele of students, office workers, townies and media types. But they all shuffle around happily enough together – a group of suits sitting comfortably around a table next to a group of pierced, tattooed and dreadlocked student types.

The décor is eclectic – one wall being covered in clocks of all shapes and sizes, and another in different coloured fans. You get the picture. But, due to the size of the space and the stylish

exposed brickwork, large windows overlooking Oxford Road and leather seating, the ‘quirkyness’ doesn’t feel too in your face.

The bar service is as friendly as we’ve come to expect from Odd, and the drinks selection is top class, with Fruli, Leffe and Hoegarden on draft and traditional spirits sitting side by side with more funky offerings such as Monkey Shoulder and Maker’s Mark. I opted for the recommended ‘tipple of the week’, the Sailor Jerry’s Rum and coke. ‘Mmm, mmm’ thought I, as I slurped the spicy vanilla rum down just a little too quickly.

My friend hadn’t had chance to eat anything before heading out, so she decided to try something from Odder’s imaginative menu, which leans towards Spain in its influence. She opted for the Chorizo potato cassero (£4.50) - which I obviously had to taste some of for research purposes – a huge flat bread covered in spicy potato, red onions, peppers, courgettes and chorizo in a spicy tomato sauce. The food was delicious, and extremely good value stodge.

As the evening went on, the suits gradually disappeared and more and more student types arrived. Every table was taken, with groups of people stood at the bar – not bad going for a wet and windy Tuesday night. We even spotted some friends in there and our twosome became a foursome for the rest of the evening.

Odder is a top quality bar, and just what this section of Oxford Road, already being dubbed by some ‘The Southern Quarter’, needs. Hopefully over time it will mature like a good wine and create its own identity, different from its Northern Quarter sibling, but just as expressive. I for one look forward to watching as Odder’s own story unfolds.

Jayne Robinson

14 Oxford Road
0161 238 9131

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