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The Grain Loft at Manchester Airport

Neil Sowerby takes a look at a brave new world at Manchester Airport

Written by . Published on April 2nd 2013.

The Grain Loft at Manchester Airport

AFTER the Oast House, I didn’t see where the next contemporary, commercially cute cask ale bar with a folksy monicker would come from.

Enter The Grain Loft in of all places, Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1.

Serving local real ales and regionally-inspired dishes, it's not your usual airport eaterie. I went for a sneak preview of the Loft, and found the surprises don't stop at the food.

There are pour-your-own-pint stations where you can set up a tab, swipe a card and avoid queuing at the bar. 

Star of the menu was undoubtedly 'Beer Can Chicken', a whole roast bird surreally splayed over a can of Thornbridge Jaipur ale. Development chef Glenn Evans sliced the chicken, moistened by its ale marination and suffused with a gentle hoppiness. A zingy spring onion slaw and tripled cooked chips completed the £22 package.

More conventional was a steak and ale pie containing beef and roasted root veg in a Dunham Massey Big Tree Bitter gravy (£22 sharer for two, £12 individual) with mash and seasonal veg. Filling a mite meagre, but the suet crust was stunning. Big Tree is also used to cook beef brisket for a pulled roll (with beer mustard naturally). You’re getting the theme of the place?

Head Chef Lewis Mcardle With His Beer-Flavoured DishesHead Chef Lewis Mcardle with his beer-flavoured dishes

Each dish on the menu has a recommended beer to accompany it. Jaipur and Big Tree are two of the well-kept cask ales on draught along with others from Salopian and Marble, whose mellow Manchester Bitter features in the batter for haddock and chips (£11).

A Beer and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bucket (red with white pots, don’t ask) will feed two for £20. I preferred the Beer Dog and Fries (£8), where a sturdy Krakauer sausage is first marinated in Weetwood’s Cheshire Cat Ale, then finished on the griddle.

Clever spacing means it will take 300 plus punters without the usual clutter. And I love the gimmicky bits that set it apart from the crowd. There are pour-your-own-pint stations where you can set up a tab, swipe a card and avoid queuing at the bar. 

Similarly hi-tech are a row of booths with sound pods where you can dock your iPod to create your own soundtrack – Leaving On A Jet Plane, Bennie and the Jets, Speed of Sound, that kind of thing. Not the soundtrack to Snakes On Planes.

Beer dog And friesBeer dog and fries

There's flight information screens within easy view of all seats for anyone worried they might get a little too comfortable in there. A thirteen-minute maximum wait time on most dishes means you can eat there on a tight schedule. 

It's a genuine, bold attempt by operators SSP to provide a quality bolthole to soothe away all those air travel stresses. I wish it well.

If you're going to Manchester Airport in the next six months, make sure you enter our Grain Loft competition (here) to win free food and drink worth £60. 


The Grain Loft Is Strong On Local AlesThe Grain Loft is strong on local ales

Bottles Of Dunham Masset, Most Local Brewery To AirportBottles of Dunham Massey, closest local brewery to airport

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

Richard HJApril 2nd 2013.

Someone put some pants on that chicken fast...

TimetoshineApril 4th 2013.

Beer bird gizmos are great, we use ours all the time!

AnonymousApril 4th 2013.

A valiant attempt to make going to the airport a pleasant experience. I too wish it well. But jeez Louise, eight quid for a gourmet hot dog and fries, I need a pay-rise.

Karl WheatApril 4th 2013.

To be fair it's at least £7.50 for a Burger King meal across the other side of the terminal.

Garreth ToddApril 5th 2013.

Visited here recently and it was utterly dire.

Service was slow, uninterested and verging on incompetent.

£13/14 for cheeseburger, fries and a small glass of coke!

Burger was overcooked and flavourless, stale bread bun etc etc.

Next time I WILL go to Burger King :/

Food LoverApril 8th 2013.

I visited here on Friday on my way to Dublin, great place, really nice service, I had the beer brisket roll, which was fab, really good music and atmosphere, good to see a really modern menu done well

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