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The North Pole review

Helen Ramsbottom gets a little frosty at the North Pole bar

Written by . Published on November 25th 2009.

The North Pole review

Fresh back from a lovely sunshine break off the west coast of Africa, the sharp slap in the face that is the Great British winter weather needed to be dealt with. Out with the girls we agreed the holiday blues could be kept at bay by the start of party season.

We settled on a couple of La Mumbas and three Sailor Jerry's and gingers (one ale, two beers). There was some debate about whether they had ginger beer. Or ginger ale. Or both. Or neither. They had both. Then we had the same debate again. At the next round. With a different bar person.

Given the temperatures it seemed appropriate to try the seasonal special that is North Pole. Especially since the list of hot cocktails could be just the ticket. The North Pole’s 2009 reincarnation sees it next to the Ice Rink at Spinningfields. Gone is the wigwam previously at Urbis, it is now a cosy little canvas hut providing a bird’s eye view of the icy shenanigans.

The place is Christmas cheer personified.

Decked out with snug little booths, faux flaming fires on screens, snowflake projections on the walls, log-seated grotto area, and plenty of stand-to tables – if you want to pop in for a swifty or sit and chew the fat then it ticks the boxes. It even smelt of Christmas thanks to the pine trees pinned up in the rafters. Ladies note, there’s a wood chip floor, not the most heel-friendly.

It was buzzing with people when we arrived and we saw a few familiar faces on the way in. At the bar we were licking our lips taking in the hot cocktail list. There’s the obligatory mulled wine, Hot Rum Punch, Winter Crumble infused with vodka and a classic Hot Toddy amongst others. Some friends already there recommended the Toffee Apple – Sailor Jerry's rum, kahlua and finished with warm apple, £4.50. Mmmmmmmm hmmm. The three of us opted for that.

Disappointingly, we were told they’re all out of those. Blurdy hell, it was only 9.30 and on a Friday eve too. Surely they should have been well stocked – or could be that they’re so good they sold out in the stampede. Whichever it was the fun bubble is starting to deflate a little. One friend commented “Oh dear, Helen’s got her Anne Robinson face on...” I wasn’t aware I had an Anne Robinson face. Must try not to show my disapproval so much.

“Ok, how about a Winter Crumble?”

“We’re out of those too. In fact we’re out of all hot drinks apart from mulled wine and La Mumbas.”

Bubble. Pin. Pop.


We settled on a couple of La Mumbas and three Sailor Jerry's and gingers (one ale, two beers). There was some debate about whether they had ginger beer. Or ginger ale. Or both. Or neither. They had both. Then we had the same debate again. At the next round. With a different bar person.

The La Mumbas were lovely and I have since been back to try some of the other hot offerings. I can fully recommend the Toffee Apple and also the Winter Crumble. No stock level issues on a Tuesday after work.

Food wise Strada are on hand with a special seasonal offering; Santa Margharita, Rudolph Rossa, Winter Cotto, Cracker Caprino and the Spiced Rustica a range of reasonably priced pizzas all at £7.95. Very good they were too – we demolished a couple in less time than the waiting time and true to North Pole’s word we had them within 15 minutes. For a delivery pizza these more than suffice, the Rudolph Rossa providing a good kick in the pants from ample lashings of chilli, the Cracker Caprino not mean on the goats cheese or the sweet tomatoes. There are other bits and bats of food available, mince pies, crisps and chocolate, enough for a nibble – although the proprietors may want to note it was reported by people in there that they’d seen some pikey types helping themselves to the tuck basket on the end of the bar.

The North Pole took a bit of a knock last year for its level of service, mainly to do with food delivery. This year they’ve remedied the food side by keeping it simple and sub-contracting it, that works for me. Drinks-wise the cocktails are good, if they have any left.

Service; well, it could have been the big fluffy hats that contributed to the befuddlement in the ginger ale/beer interaction but given that the place is managed by the professional chappies at Bay Horse and Soup Kitchen, they should get that right.

Go. It’s good fun, very festive. You can even get one of your friends really pissed put them on the ice and laugh at them from the comfort of the tent.

Rating: 13.5/20
Breakdown: 3/5 food
3.5/5 drinks
4/5 d├ęcor/atmosphere
3/5 service
Address: The North Pole
Skating Rink
Hardman Boulevard

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

little dNovember 25th 2009.

why does Christmas always make people fight so?!

PedantNovember 25th 2009.

"The place is Christmas cheer personified."How can a place be a person?

Father ChristmasNovember 25th 2009.

All the people on here correcting others simple mistakes at a time when we're all supposed to be being kind to our fellow men (and women), please note I am watching. I know when you are sleeping, I know when you're awake. I know when you've been bad or good or tried to piss take.

AnonymousNovember 25th 2009.

think your wrong Bored Parent - and I certainly don't think you should swear on a post about Christmas. I believe the correct metaphor would have been to say a waitress was Christmas cheer personified - the person can personify something else, not the other way around. A simile is a comparison of 2 unlike things - which this is not. It's incorrect and Pedant is right, so maybe you can have a go at answering your own rude question.

Ali McGowanNovember 25th 2009.

After a few weeks of laziness, I am back. I am loving all the pedantry on here and hope I spel sumfing wrong too. I actually hate bad English so well done on correcting each other. You know more than I do. ANYWAY. Love this place, it's mint. Mint as in good, not as in a butter mint. The hot drinks are very good and I hope they'll sort stock levels out. The floor is indeed bark chippings - it's just that the photos isn't very clear. The place is very festive - I love it!! Oh and there are toilets right next door. So no need to piss in a pot. You can do and do that next to the big wheel thing.

twinkle toesNovember 25th 2009.

I love it - I think the vibe is warm and friendly the staff have always got a smile and seem quite chatty and the hot drinks are ace. I've been loads and really enjoy it when these "pop up venues" open its what its all about. Much better than walking round the German in the rain - get your self down there you don't no what your missing ! bah humbug

blah blah blahNovember 25th 2009.

this place is rubbish...sorry everyone...i work locally and was looking forward to the bar being set up..but it is overpriced and has inadequet staff, in fact one member of staff...long dark hair, was behind the bar, swearing like a trooper and lookin less than full of the joys of christmas. great idea, and in my humble view...badly executed

Rick Morfokin JamesNovember 25th 2009.

Yeaaahhh budddddy, stay away from the Tuborg. Superfreak, Superfreak, Superfreaky, ooooowwwwwwww

lucky-chrisNovember 25th 2009.

Even if the service is rubbish, just look at it. It's at least worth checking out for yourself. Last year the service was slow but it didn't put me off one bit. It's like a little slice of fairytale that gets you drunk. I mean look how happy and smiley she is! Even the linguistic police wouldn't be grumpy leaving The North Pole.

a cunning linguistNovember 25th 2009.

More specifically I say it's an anthropomorphism, giving the inanimate North Pole human characteristics namely "cheer" relating to Christmas time.

FishbabblezNovember 25th 2009.

Oh dear! The place was excellent last year!! The food was cheap and the drinks were reasonably priced! Has the greedy bugger who run this clicked on and forgot about all the poor people in the city??? Remember Xmas is for everyone not the rich! And why put the tent on such a well trodden path? Are the punter that stupid they can't follow directions to the previous location?? Or has Manchester fallen for the pretentious crowd? Oh and about the staff I loved them to be honest... They forgot to take any money off me ;) beware cheap staff people!!!

AnonymousNovember 25th 2009.

it actually is the same as chippings thrown around gardens

scoteeeNovember 25th 2009.

In that case Rick I think i'll have a mulled wine :@S

ChrisNovember 25th 2009.

Absolutely loving the level of pedantry on this rant! Brilliant.For the record, I'd agree that the 'Christmas cheer personified' thing is an anthromorphism, and completely acceptable. I also agree that the picture does look like some sort of chip board, but since we have a second report on here from someone who’s been and says it’s definitely wood chip, I’ll concede that it must just not the best picture. Carry on.

Mr CuprinolNovember 25th 2009.

Wood chip floor....? Looks more like plywood ( probably something similar to sheathing ply to me) you make it sound as though its the same as the chipping you throw around your plants in the garden !

Rick Morfokin JamesNovember 25th 2009.

...or piss in the glass and let them keep the quid. It will make you laugh everytiem you think of it. That's what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna go tonight, order a pint or Turborg, piss in the glass and give it them back.mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Well worth a quid.

AnonymousNovember 25th 2009.

Is this bar allowed to host private functions and therefore not allow any of the skaters or public in? Is this not against the terms they'll have been given the spot? Reason I ask is it's holding a private party for Bank of New York tonight. Wonder what the rate paying businesses make of this.

TomNovember 25th 2009.

Because we're British?

C 2 the GNovember 25th 2009.

I thought this was a great little place, full of Xmas spirit. Why do we have to nit pick about words instead of making a comment on what we all actually think about the venue?

A Bored ParentNovember 25th 2009.

Oh dear Mr Pedant. Metaphors - even mixed ones - or even extravagant similes, can add to the colour of the language. How can a person be as brave as a lion, how can a person look as sharp as pen, how can a footballer be as sick as a parrot? Then again maybe the writer meant it was Father Christmas personified, as Christmas can be a presumed term for the jolly fat one. Maybe your pedantry means you can't see the wood for the trees or you're as thick as pigshit?

Late ComplainantNovember 25th 2009.

Last year, the place was filled with dry ice, with Elbow playing over the sound system, a cute Eskimo girl welcoming you in on the door, free Guinness because we had to wait all of two minutes to be served, and a lovely atmosphere.This year? Horribly disappointing.Smaller and less imaginative than last year and with just terrible staff. I mean, awful, untrained, belligerent staff. It wasn't even particularly busy but we waited half an hour to get served whilst this snotty, androgynous, rat-faced bar-thing kept giving us eye contact through her/his/its fringe but deliberately ignoring us and the girl in front of us, who warned us she had been waiting 15 minutes already by the time we started queuing. So eventually we just left without even having an over-priced drink.And the toilets outside stunk of wee.

Tee Hee Hee the PedantNovember 25th 2009.

Well, Tee Hee, you have placed a comma inappropriately. I'd have used a full-stop before "Doh!"

Tee hee!November 25th 2009.

I love the anonymous comment correcting Bored Parent'ss use of similies and whatever but saying "your wrong" instead of "you're wrong", doh! Bound to have written something wrong myself now!!

DescartesNovember 25th 2009.

Service has been fine for me whenever I've been down, they could do with a few more seats, and some (ANY) sort of shelter for smokers if it's raining. But aside from that I love it, off skating again this weekend and shall be spending the afternoon in the bar. You can keep the hot cocktails, they're nice enough but well, I just prefer a nice cold beer.

PaulNovember 25th 2009.

You could have gone into that hut near the big wheel and had a pint of larger at three an a half notes and paid a deposit of another pound yes i laid out 9 quid for two pints and nowhere to piss after. if you sell liquid you should provide some wear to piss never mind i got my two pound deposit back on the glasses and pissed in la tascas and got my 50% off food and 3 quid off wine

lucky-chrisNovember 25th 2009.

Awww... she looks so cute in that hat!

C 2 the GNovember 25th 2009.

Blah, Blah, Blah - this is the kind of things people are looking for. Honest feedback about what they experienced on there visit good or bad. It was quite when I went in so the service was good and they sell Tuborg which is a winner in my eyes

AnonymousNovember 25th 2009.

Saddos, the lot of you apart from Chris.

Out LoudNovember 25th 2009.

Thank you C 2 the G that is just what I was thinking. Let's all try to be nice to one another instead of sarcastic comments and rude replies. 'Tis the season to be jolly!

DescartesNovember 25th 2009.

There's something fishy in what you say babblez (forgive the pun). You complain it's too expensive, but then congratulate staff on not taking your money. From my memory drinks are priced exactly as they were last year, you having a dig for the sake of it?

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