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Lynda Moyo recommends Walrus as Manchester’s best new bar

Written by . Published on January 15th 2008.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If only I'd have got up earlier I wouldn’t have missed the bus, if only I'd have worked harder I wouldn’t have got sacked. Or in this case, if only I'd have gone to Walrus on Saturday instead of staying in, I probably would have had a really great night out in Manchester's best new bar.

There is actually no mention of alcohol on many of the cocktails because after some thought, the clever Walrus waiters have decided that the secret is in the fruits not the loopy juice.

To most, the walrus is a large marine mammal immediately recognisable due to prominent tusks, whiskers and great bulk. In a few months time that walrus will be extinct from our minds and replaced with a large modern drinking-hole immediately recognisable due to its prominent decor, inviting staff and great cocktails.

With such a peculiar, earthy sort of name, what was I found was not expected. Walrus has a cool calibre layout which is intriguing and enticing. It provides a very distinctive type of bar experience. The only thing vaguely related to an actual walrus is the aquarium as you walk in, although it isn’t big enough to fit a walrus, thank goodness.

The first floor bar is light, bright and summery with a spacious and spacey feel to it. Spacious in layout and spacey with the planetary style light shades and NASA-esque chairs. The whole look complements the cocktail menu - a playful and experimental blend of light drinks. Northern Flight (Apple Peach and Gentle Spice £6) tastes like the sadly missed Jolly Rancher sweets but with a twist of alcohol. There is actually no mention of alcohol on many of the cocktails because after some thought, the clever Walrus waiters have decided that the secret is in the fruits not the loopy juice.

Hubba Bubba (Strawberry and Aloe Vera £6) is a fun mix like the name. Aloe Vera? Yes it’s not just for skin, and works perfectly in this tangy citrus cocktail. Sticking with this fun theme, other cocktails on the menu include Ice Pop (Raspberries, Passion fruit, Apple £6) and Pineapple Upside down cake (White Chocolate, Vanilla and Pineapple £6). The staff are like meerkats waiting for your next move to see if they can assist. They are happy to help you with their menus.

The beer selection is also a bit different from other bars. Forget your Carlsbergs and your Carlings. Walrus Beer Lao (£3), Pacifico (£3), Chang (£3) and Little Creatures Pale Ale (£3.50). It also has Arton 56 (£3) a Swedish beer enjoying its UK premier at Walrus.

Downstairs the basement is a psychedelic wonderland of colour and child-like charm. The upstairs is a mellow introduction to Walrus, but after a few drinks discovering the downstairs is like jumping into the ball pool at Jumping Jacks. Designed by Bernard Carroll, the brains behind Panacea, Ampersand and Sugar Lounge, Walrus’ look is ten times better than all of these put together.

There are two DJ stands and a decent sound system in there too. Walrus hasn’t forgotten any of the trimmings. The toilets are totally cool: pink for girls and orange for boys. And whilst Walrus is still finding its feet, it appears to be adopting a relaxed character, going for funky soul beats as opposed to anything too hectic music-wise. Walrus sells Asian food and snacks which again, is still on trial, but will most certainly make for a full food review in due course.

Walrus offers something which isn’t mainstream and manages to be arty and creative without being at all grubby or kitsch. It’s the line where Deansgate meets the Northern Quarter. Sophisticated-quirk. I know where I’ll be on Saturday night.

Rating: 17/20
Breakdown: 4/5 Drink
5/5 Decor
8/10 Ambience
Address: Walrus Canteen & Bar
78-88 High Street
Northern Quarter
0161 828 8700
Sunday-Wednesday 11am-12am
Thursday 11am- 1am
Friday and Saturday 11am- 2am

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

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

i'm 22 and struggle sometimes to get in bars, i would like to visit walrus but is this one of those bars?

ktfairyJanuary 15th 2008.

I haven't been in because it had no beer on tap - guess I must be a lout then!

DescartesJanuary 15th 2008.

I love walrus, the decor kinda makes me think of Mr Blobby throwing up after a night out binge drinking but it works so well. Love the lights on the front of the bars and I especially liked being able to hold a conversation without shouting - that's a definite USP. I'd like to see Guinness on tap, and some kind of covering outside for smokers but I can live without both. One visit made it my new n4 local after Common.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

If you want decent drinks and food from people who are enthusiastic about the industry. You'll come to the Northern Quarter.If all you want is a pint for £1.60 or 3 blue wkd's for £5.00 and to get completely legless, then go to the pub around the corner from your house, or to the printworks where you belong.

Just another clip jointJanuary 15th 2008.

I think that the place stinks - of pretentiousness like all the other southern momney grabbing clip joints that is (or off) Tib Street. Whats this Northern Quarter bollocks??? Its a posh way of saying "**** end of town" but you cant put that on brochures flogging hundred grand flats can you? Its annoying that southern students and graduates etc are claiming this place as their own! Its also annoying that the very Mancunians who live,come from and socialise in town are slowly being squeezed out cos they dont earn four pound a pint wages! its disgusting the amount of licences being granted along with the increase in drink related crime, Karney and Co at the town hall and licencing department should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. Hopefully they'll all be victims of their own successes when the bust happens soon anyway. We need haberdashery boutiques! and nice stationers etc on Tib Street not more noise and litter and louts!!

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

Walrus is a bit crap but so is TV21 and Bluu and that margharita place isn't exactly great. I do however get a bit annoyed at this presumption that if you dont drink bottled beers you are a lout. What nonsense. Also there's a variety of decent pubs in the NQ. Trof, The Northern and Bay Horse to name a few. Walrus in my opinion is a gaudy dump but it doesn't harm me that its there. I don't have to go in if I don't want, think thats the point people are missing. And the skinny jean wearing indie types (I included myself) are just as liable to be pretentious and elitist as the deansgate perma tans. Who really gives a **** about a bar????

Street CleanerJanuary 15th 2008.

Proud manc.. come again??? Your entry makes as much sense as a "habadashers" shop on thomas street.

Street CleanerJanuary 15th 2008.

Stevie J where do i start??? Bluu being the only chain..isn't odd a chain now?? And how is Odd a wannabe, and whats all this garbage about line cleaning fluid?? The behemoth across the road that he vaguely refers to was going to be a tokyo joes until it was succesfully stopped...they are reapplying currently as just a bar not a pill popping coke sniffing rave joint. Was just asking for a little coherence...

John McrJanuary 15th 2008.

Love the moi lampshades and decor BUT what the hell is this doing in the N/4? Shouldnt this be on Deansgate?? already the Label/Sugar Lounge crowd have descended on this venue, i say keep them penned into deansgate and the printworks!

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

Deansgate vs. The Northern Quarter - comments like that make you all as bad as each other!!Walrus is just a bit of fun, its not trying to force you to like it.Most of Northern Quarter gets a slight foreign element at the weekend, that's what happens when 100,000 people descend into Manchester.

crossJanuary 15th 2008.

damn it man con, walrus belongs on deansgate for the idiots. your ego is in danger of ballsing up your reputation. this bar will have to adapt fast if it's to survive.

Street CleanerJanuary 15th 2008.

A souless, minging and useless addition.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

I was worried about the deansgate folk frequenting this place. Its looks good design-wise but its too bright. When places are really bright with unobstructed views through floor to ceiling windows you can't help but look around at other the people in it. And places that entice you to look at other punters tend to be full of people that like to be looked at. They pose, they show off their expensive drinks, they exagerate their actions because they know you are looking. They are pretentious. They belong on Deansgate. Lets hope they don't take over the place. I'd be interested to hear if the writer noticed any of this.

DarrenJanuary 15th 2008.

Had lunch in there yesterday and the food menu is really good and the food itself was excellent.I can recomend the Bento boxes really clever and very tasty!

secret squirrelJanuary 15th 2008.

I like Walrus. The fact that they have actually spent some money on it and have a decent fit out is a plus. And unlike Bernard carrols other designs, Sugar Lounge and Panacea, this time the toilets are actually big enough to cater to the capacity. Hurrah! Anonymous..have to agree there are as many pretentious NQ indie twats as there are Deansgate permas. The thing they all have in common is wanting to be lookalike and doalike sheep rather than free thinking individuals. Vive le difference.

robstohJanuary 15th 2008.

How can Deansgate be pretentious it has a Wetherspoon's and a Slug and Lettuce?

OonaghJanuary 15th 2008.

I had my birthday there on the 5th it was amazing the staff were fantastic helpful and i was even given free shots. I have been telling everyone to go there since. I did have to rescue a guy trapped in the toilets thou. Great place and night.

Dick TwitcherJanuary 15th 2008.

Another bar in the northern quarter which is supposedly a bit different. So you can try new bottled beers eh? How unusual... I can't tell the difference between any of them except that they don't taste anything like they do when you actually are abroard... perhaps I'm just getting old, but I can't tell the difference between any of them.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

I had the misfortune of visiting Walrus recently and have to say it is a serious contender for 'Worst Bar Ever'. The decor is awful, like somebody with delusions of being a 'quirky/eccentric designer' threw up his beleaguered decor repetoire all over the floor and walls - a migraine inducing design nightmare. In the case of Walrus, once is definitely more than enough.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

Excellent bar, decor may not be for anyone. Food is outstanding, amazing and great value not sure how they do it!

JonJanuary 15th 2008.

Walrus in ethos is pure Northern Quarter. It's Bluu that buggers everything up. This horrible barn of a bar could slip into Deansgate Locks like a slim hand in a fitted glove.

topherJanuary 15th 2008.

i really like this bar, good drinks, good food, friendly staff and nicely laid out, i don't understand why people think every new place in the N4 should be a carbon copy of the existing ones

JohnJanuary 15th 2008.

Get beer on tap!!

bluefitz17January 15th 2008.

Awful place! Went in Saturday lunchtime and walked up to bar. Was told by waitress to take a seat and she'd serve us. She promptly ignored us and served others at the bar at a snails pace! Ultra pretentious if you ask me, decor awful too. Worse bar in the Northern quarter!

brett sinclairJanuary 15th 2008.

The service is really friendly and efficient and the design is cool, but seems to have been built on the cheap. If it gets really busy I can't see those tables lasting or the walls staying up in the loos for that matter! Not too many Deansgate types when I went. Can only be a matter of time before the permatanned masses descend.

smartiemcrJanuary 15th 2008.

This place is (thank heavens) nothing like anything on Deansgate. That the Deansgate crowd are starting to frequent the Northern Quarter is hardly a surprise, given the fact that all the media are talking the area up as the most hip place to be. No beer on tap is definitely a good thing - there are plenty of other bars (even in the NQ) doing beer on tap, but this place is more of a Socio Rehab rival, aimed at cocktail and wine drinkers, and those who like to try new, continental beers. If you want to get tanked up on pints of Stella head for Deansgate! Some may consider it pretentious, but style and panache are often considered so. As long as the crowd do not cause trouble and people can get on with socialising and drinking in peace (unlike some other parts of town) what's the problem?

GezzabelleJanuary 15th 2008.

I agree. I like it but need beer on tap and Guinness!!!!Sort it out Mark!

DownsizerJanuary 15th 2008.

Are the Deansgate crowd going to leave their violence behind? Time for the "skinny jean wearing indie types " or "pretentious NQ indie twats" as Secret Squrrel puts it to find a new quarter altogether.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

went in , looked like a bad film set from Life on Mars . What a .hithole !!!!!!!! Dreadful .

duncanJanuary 15th 2008.

it is god awful. no redeeming features.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

ha,ha. Sarah Jones, I mean floor to ceiling windows of a bright bar entices people from the street look into it, the same way a shop window does. Of course not everyone on deansgate are pretentious but those minority of women who go out to find a "rich footballer" (I quote because I've heard it said) do attract attention to themselves and I don't feel the need to appologise for not wanting to be in the same room as them. Some Deansgate bars are very nice to be in but I find them more agreeable during the week when the said minority are not in such force.

Doubting JohnJanuary 15th 2008.

"Poisoned by line-cleaning fluid? Contributory factor to hangovers?" Are you sure, ProudManc? I thought that was more to do with mixing drinks (wine, followed by beer than add in a few cocktails a bit later on and add a Red Bull or 2. "Just to freshen me up...").If anything, line-cleaner would get flushed through in the first couple of pints, max. Unless it'a conspiracy by the Fascist-Capitalist breweries trying to eke more beer from their kegs by making us drink rather more expensive line-cleaner...

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

It's like being inside a Kate Nash album cover. No, single. 4th release from her third album. Extra B-sides.

russellJanuary 15th 2008.

please!! we dont want deansgate to meet the northern quarter! how vile ...

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

Upstairs makes me want to vomit. Downstairs not too bad. Beers are good.

Sarah JonesJanuary 15th 2008.

MR ANNOYEDMOUS- no you never meant the people outside looking in as you quote ''but look around at other the people (in it)And places that entice you to look at (other punters) tend to be full of people that like to be looked at' Your intellegent writing is impressive but you're not very honest!!! Ha xx

ZapatistaJanuary 15th 2008.

QUOTE: Anonymous says.." I was worried about the deansgate folk frequenting this place . . . They pose, they show off their expensive drinks, they exagerate their actions because they know you are looking. They are pretentious. They belong on Deansgate."- You think people on Deansgate are more pretentious than those in the "N4"?!!The Northern Quarter is pretention manifest. The bars would be empty it it were not for posers. There are men that wear scarves over T-shirts for Wilson's sake, or cardigans with jeans designed for eight-year-old girls.

Just another clip jointJanuary 15th 2008.

Proud manc, i was being sarcastic when i mentioned Tib Street should be full of nice stationers and haberdashery shops! of course the high rents can't ever now justify their existence, thats why they closed in the first place sadly! thanks city council. So what do we have to replace them? Bars of course! they are the only types of establishments that can make enough profits to cover the daft overheads! you pay three to four quid a bottle cos your'e paying for extortionate leases for christs sake!Whats wrong with the classier Wetherspoons? I agree with Proud manc about the southerners turning Manchester into a pretentious la de da hellhole void of character, real accents, opinions and humour and lifes so ****ing rosy for them isnt it?? What planet are they on?? whats that annoying raised inflection about?? where every ****ing thing they say is posed like a question, definitely a trait from "darn sarf". twats. they all even sound the same due to their cloned public school education! Isnt education about promoting individuality?? Flashing their wads about(credit card induced mostly), These are the materialistic empty types that fuel consumerism and keep the whole sordid "Keeping up with the Jones" sad phenomenon going and going, lining the pockets of the greedy fatcats at the top. Shame lots of Mancs are following suit. My Moda in Pele boots were a fiver from my local market instead of the usual 80 quid! let the southerners got fleeced, they deserve to be!!

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

I don't like it. But that's because I have to live next door to it & it looks rubbish.

Sarah JonesJanuary 15th 2008.

Mr Annoyed-mous! you must remember that not ALL the Deansgate crowd are as you describe 'pretentious'. Maybe YOU are the one looking around in the bar, enough to notice everybody else having a good time. I know that when I'm having a great night out frequenting the bars in Deansgate, I'm far too busy enjoying myself laughing and dancing about to notice others, start livin' man! Funnily enough I've never noticed I look at other people more when there are floor to ceiling windows! Ha! xxx

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2008.

No beer on tap does keep the louts out but it also means you have to pay a lot more to drink there, which makes it a bit elitist. Whilst NQ bars aren't exactly cheap, £3 for a standard 330ml bottle of beer works out at over £5 a pint. A little excessive don't you think? Selling good but unsual draught beer also keeps the louts out at a more reasonable cost to the customer. Unless you want the place full of WAGs and wannabees, of course.

DescartesJanuary 15th 2008.

No beer on taps keeps the louts out Gez, it's a good idea.

northernquarterladforeverJanuary 15th 2008.

awful decor, rude staff, stupid menu - no mention of alcohol - i thought thats what the drinks were about - this is like a hideous smoothie bar nightmare, with dishonest drugged up staff to top it off! it's a Lawrence Llewelyn‐Bowen wet dream after he's banged too much acid - i really dont know what the designers were thinking - there's no way you can sit in there and not feel a complete twat - some queer strawberry and wee juice cocktail which may or may not contain alcohol - if the bar staff haven't already snaffled it and stitched you up, polka dot walls, and sensory torture on every wall.i'm surprised people dont start spasming in the middle of the floor - it's enough to turn you epileptic or plain spasticoh yeah and here's why i think they're rude - i asked what beers there were - meaning draught, was told ' we dont feel the need for draught here, it's rather common dont you think' i nearly punched the twat! i was going to go but my girlfriend wanted her strawberry and pissflower baboon or whatever it was - so he rattled off half a dozen plain weird sounding beers - when i asked if they had corona (is that such a crime?) i was told no but i think blu do - and he turned and laughed to his accomplice behind the bar - i let him choose, it was warm, getting bored of relaying all this now - long story short, the final straw for me came when i paid - think it was 9 pound something - i gave a tenner and he actually said to me 'do you need your change?'!RUDE RUDE RUDE STAFF! I'll stick to my pubs in future - the new northern is great!GO TO BLU GO TO ODD GO TO RODEO GO TO COMMONDO NOT GO TO WALRUS

RobstohJanuary 15th 2008.

Fantastic atmoshpere, love the bright decor, the drinks are origional and yummy and the food is something special. The bar staff are obviously still finding their feet but on the whole a great experience was had and one that I hope to repeat soon.

EJanuary 15th 2008.

I live just around the corner, have not yet been to Walrus and quite possibly never will (I like my evenings to be slightly less well lit now i'm nearing 30). I would like to share, however, there has been less noise and peeing by our flat since it opened rather than more and there is a lot of hatred here from people who i'm sure would like to think of themselves as being nice. Walrus seems respectable and harmless enough! It's preferable to walking past a run down, boarded up building as this location had been previously. Surely there are bigger fish to fry, as it were.

Street CleanerJanuary 15th 2008.

I too live near this eyesore of a bar...when will the council stop granting Licence after Licence to these ever appearing money grabbing bars. I'd rather see a more stable attempt at commerce in the northern quarter that would turn it into a busy area during the day, not just an overspill from the printworks where i have to dodge piss puke and rats every saturday sunday morning. I love living there in the main but there should be more facilities in place for the more mature longer term resident not just catering for the transient post university crowd how can now afford a city centre pad. grrrrr!!!

StevieJJanuary 15th 2008.

Streetcleaner what exactly do you mean? Sounds likke PM is fairly accurate with their conclusions

DescartesJanuary 15th 2008.

Was at a party there last night, music had been whacked up a little but still at a good level. Plus, the best canapés I've ever had at a bar shin dig - can't wait for them to start serving food proper

Jimbo JomesJanuary 15th 2008.

I liked that arton beer a lot. Cool place. very rubbery.

ProudMancunianJanuary 15th 2008.

I can't belive people are whinging about £3 for a bottle of beer when Socio have been charging £3.20 for years, granted the cocktails are very good there but have you ever tried to get served at the weekend? Have you ever had a cocktail in Bluu? Save your money. Bottled beer may be slightly more profitable but it also means that your have your drink served in a chilled container, you are not being poisoned by line cleaning fluid (a contributory factor in hangovers)and the time you spend at the bar is much less (cumulatively, that could amount to several days of your life). The scum come to the area for various reasons; yes, because of Bluu, the only chain bar in the area, but also because as humans they are entitled to and are inquisitive. They would hopefully feel uncomfortable and not come back, returning to Deansgate. Areas like this are always victims of their own success eg Shoreditch/Hoxton and, lamentably, there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. Walrus is not taking anything away from the area (which I still call Ancoats!) nor is it bringing anything undesirable, it's not try hard and looks fun, much more so than that glorified Fab Cafe (no offence Fab, I spent several hours of my youth there) and the ultra-wannabe Odd. Save your anger for when that bheomoth opens across High Street, now that is (from what I hear) going to be the wrong place for the area. Walrus is daring to be different and anyone with a hint of creativity in them would marvel at the decor. Who wants brown sofas? Get with the times. And whinging that it's pretentious! Hahaha. I'm a born and bred Mancunian and all I see is my home city being over run with southerners who can't afford London property, it's them that make the area pretentious. Granted, many of them have much to offer but to exclude them from the 'pretentious' crowd would be grossly misguided. So some people want 'haberdashers shops'? How romantic. Do you seriously think your average haberdasher can afford the rents that are now around in the area on sites that size? As nice an idea as this is, this is the city centre and property owners want to make money. Need I mention the tragedy that is Afflecks? Instead of moaning about a bar you haven't got the balls to go into why not petition the council over that, the greatest loss the Northern Quarter, perhaps the city will experience for a very long time.

baggioJanuary 15th 2008.

i think it's the louts who are more likely to buy bottled beer. i suppose it's low maintenance,high profit with bottles though isn't it!

marshaluanJanuary 15th 2008.

I really enjoyed my first visit to walrus (which we found by accident whilst on a Northern Quarter pub crawl). Not sure about the purple & green polka dots but was impressed with the general feel of the place. Also a big thumbs up for the lovely chunky glasses that complimented my scotch on the rocks!!

JohnJanuary 15th 2008.

I really can't tell you how much I laughed at the "cooler than thou" Northern Quarter crowd objecting to all those tosspots from the "straight village" on Deansgate on the grounds that they are pretentious. They really should have called Walrus "The Pot and Kettle". Still, don't despair NQ types, things could be much worse, wait until there's an invasion from the Peter Street Louts' Quarter !!

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