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Folk Cafe Bar, Didsbury, Review

Lynda Moyo finds something perfectly imperfect about this Burton Road favourite

Written by . Published on July 17th 2013.

Folk Cafe Bar, Didsbury, Review

IN a conversation some years ago, someone referred to West Didsbury as "Double-yew Dee".

At the time I had no idea what they were talking about, much to their amusement. Looking back, I see what they were trying to do. I’d be smug about living there too.

Folk’s website clearly states: ‘If the person serving me has a bit of soul and the place has a bit of style, I can live with the odd wrong.’

West Didsbury is among the most desirable places to live in the region, admirably close to Manchester city centre but suitably distant too. In fact you only have to walk down Burton Road in the summer to wish you’d paid attention when your teacher wrote ‘could try harder’ on your school reports.

But with the Metrolink expansion to now take you straight down there, we’re all practically locals anyway. So the tram from Cornbrook led me to the least smooth looking place on the block – Folk Cafe Bar.

Folk’s name sums up what it’s all about – food for all people and all palates. The weekend menu is made up of sandwiches, salads and wraps plus three types of burgers and hangover food such as breakfasts (served til 4pm) and pies-a-plenty.

Seated outside on their bamboo pavilion, a very chirpy chap bounded over taking our drinks orders, helping us with the menu and delivering the news that there were no pies. Not the steak and ale, not the magic mushroom.

“Oh and nothing that includes hollandaise either, we’ve run out of that too.”

Folk Cafe BarFolk Cafe Bar

Having been eyeing up the pies it was disappointing to say the least given the two choices of pie make up the entire ‘Bigger Plates’ section. Eggs Benedict or Eggs Royale may have been a second choice but although the waiter was still willing to take the order, a Benedict without Hollandaise is basically an Egg McMuffin. No thank you.

We went for the chicken fillet burger (£10) and then, due to indecision, decided to ask the waiter which he’d recommend out of the steak and onion sandwich (£9.50) and the grilled halloumi and roasted vegetable wrap (£5.85). The reply came without a moment’s hesitation – “definitely the wrap”.

With no ifs, buts or maybes, the steak didn’t even get a shot and it clearly wasn’t a ploy for profit either, with the wrap being decidedly the cheaper of the two. His confidence and vigour was refreshing to say the least. Maybe it was the sunshine? Maybe he'd eaten all the magic mushroom pies?

Either way, recommendations are one thing but obliterations are another, still as Folk’s website clearly states: ‘If the person serving me has a bit of soul and the place has a bit of style, I can live with the odd wrong.’

The food came lightening quick but luckily it wasn’t nuked in any way. Again according to their website, most of the food is homemade or fresh and this really came across in every single bite.

The burger wasn’t necessarily up to the standard of some of the burger joints to have landed in the city centre in recent times as part of the burger-takeover, but it was decent enough consisting of a real slab of hot chicken breast doused in mayo and fresh lettuce. The chunky chips and side of homemade coleslaw helped it along too.

Folk Cafe Bar Chicken BurgerFolk Cafe Bar Chicken Burger

The halloumi wrap (main image), which let’s not forget had beaten a steak and onion sandwich, was enjoyable enough but nothing to write home about. Halloumi has the ability to make most things taste half-decent though. Salt tends to have that effect.

Teamed with one of the many draft beers here, you could be on to a winner. But from the Japanese Kirin Ichiban (£3.90) to Jamaican style lager, Red Stripe (£3.80) and London’s Young’s Gold beer (£3.20), you can’t help but think Folk could come up with a better selection, more locally sourced and fitting with the suburban theme.

Still, the food and drink at Folk certainly couldn’t offend anyone enough to the point of no return. From what we could see looking around, most people were here for brunch or lunch, looking for something to fill a hole while they happily people watched. Probably they were just happy to be on that lovely road.

Folk Cafe Bar InteriorFolk Cafe Bar Interior

Inside and out, this place has character, from the staff to the furnishing, of which inside it’s dark and mysterious and outside it’s your chance to soak up the street.

It may have been described as a hipster spot over the years but I’d say it’s evolved to be much more than that and capable of drawing in the masses who want a little refinement.

The Metrolink should see to that.


Folk Cafe Bar, 169-171 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester
0161 445 2912 www.folkcafebar.co.uk

Rating: 13/20 (please see the criteria below for an explanation of the scoring)
Food: 5/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: 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, we get carried away.

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

MJuly 17th 2013.

It used to be a (very busy) deli/cafe originally and the food and setting were the main draw. They extended the hours some years ago and after a slowish start the evening punters started turning up in their droves. Nowadays I'd say it's more bar than it is cafe. It's never dead and is usually busy. Hard to fault really. There's not a city in the UK that wouldn't jump at the chance to have somewhere like this. In terms of a unique and successful independent, it's one of Manchester's finest. I agree with the choice on tap though. They're probably trying something different, which is more thoughtful than simply jumping on an American craft beer bandwagon but the choices could be better.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Axel LariatJuly 18th 2013.

"It used to be a (very busy) deli/cafe originally" It was a Polish shop as I remember, THEN it turned into a deli/cafe

AnonymousJuly 19th 2013.

Yes that's right. It was a polish deli, then Folk opened it as a cafe. It did really well. Later Folk extended the opening hours and it became more of a bar in the evenings. It still does really well, day and night.

Poppy HumphreyJuly 18th 2013.

Honestly, I prefered it a few years ago when Nessi owned the deli there, I can't help but feel that it's just a little bit 'trendy'. Just like many other establishments in West Didsbury it seems to have gone a bit up it's own arse- which saddens me to say having lived in the area for the past 10 years.

lukeunabomberJuly 18th 2013.

for me folk gets better....perfect vibe...alot of love has been put into this place... staff are great...music wonderful and on summer its my favourite manchester bar.........a wonderful manchester institution

1 Response: Reply To This...
Richard AthertonJuly 18th 2013.

LukeUnabomber! You are a legend to whom I have danced my ass off to many a time, and as a result I shall give Folk a go this weekend. Easily led, sheep, baa baa...yeah yeah, check out Luke somewhere soon.

AnonymousJuly 18th 2013.

Just had a look at their website - awful. Page after page of self indulgent rubbish just to get to the menu. That rubbish would never load on a mobile. We are not in 2003! Rant Over.

AspersJuly 19th 2013.

We love Folk - we've moved from Didsbury now but regularly go back and visit. Food is always great - it's simple but tasty, service is always ace and their Chocolate Guinness cake with a frothy cappuccino is amazing! We want one here!

Simon TurnerJuly 19th 2013.

Great place, the dark interior comes into its own in the winter months. Cool music. The breakfasts are good. In the evening its much more of a bar than an eaterie or a casual hang-out, very full, maybe too full sometimes.

Lucy RichardsonJuly 20th 2013.

No one has mentioned the jokes they tell there - its worth a visit for that alone.

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