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B Lounge @ the Brunswick

Dave Bishop misses David Gest and Peter Andre but joins the Gay Critics at an unassuming Manchester pub

Published on September 1st 2008.

B Lounge @ the Brunswick

A claim to fame is arguably more useful to a pub than good beer or food. It certainly appears that some punters really are more attracted by a tenuous link to celebrity - such as Jade Goody’s second cousin’s best friend once having got bladdered on alcopops there - than whether or not the pub’s service, clientele or atmosphere is any good or even if the ale is drinkable.

The B Lounge @ the Brunswick might be a clumsy name but it seems to attract David Gest and Peter Andre. This pair apparently often pop in – Mr Gest is staying over the road at the Malmaison - buy each other a couple of beers or glasses of chardonnay (which would you bet on?) and chat about reality TV and the women in their lives.

There was a pub I knew in Berkshire which was popular simply because Ernie Wise had his own reserved table, but it was utterly rubbish – the beer was rank, the food overpriced and they made me remove my denim jacket, even though I was wearing a tie (style faux-pas, I know, but it was the eighties).

Sorry, but no number of short, fat hairy legs, albeit on the end of a comedian regarded as a national treasure, could compensate for a pub’s deficiencies. But when I heard that a couple of ‘celebrities’ had been regular visitors to a certain Manchester pub, I was so intrigued that I felt compelled to check it out, simply because it seemed so incongruous.

Not that it was entirely unknown to me. I’ve walked past The Brunswick a million times over the years, but never once been in, probably because it used to be as rough as a badger’s bum and the venue of choice for winos, ruffians and petty criminals, and that was just the women.

But with the gentrification of the Piccadilly area (some parts of it Dave, you should see the open dealing going on down Spear Street, editor), plus a facelist and name change for the pub itself it’s a whole different ball game.

The B Lounge @ the Brunswick might be a clumsy name but it seems to attract David Gest and Peter Andre. This pair apparently often pop in – Mr Gest is staying over the road at the Malmaison - buy each other a couple of beers or glasses of chardonnay (which would you bet on?) and chat about reality TV and the women in their lives.

And that’s one conversion you’d want to earwig, picking up little titbits about the human juggernaut known as Katie Price and why life was far from a cabaret with Liza Minnelli.

That, though, was nothing like the conversation I listened to on my visit, accompanied by the missus and daughter, on Bank Holiday Monday, with nary a sign of David and Peter in the pub.

The subject matter was Pride this, Pride that, as several punters, all girls as it happened, had just decamped from the Gay Village a short distance away, to join up with a male pal. And there’s nothing more boring than hearing about other people having ‘a crazy time’ and about how much alcohol they’ve consumed over three nights, not to mention all the bitching about the DJs, other revellers, the security staff, the bar staff.

It reminded me of one of the other most boring conversations I’d experienced – with a group of doctors at the Jolly Sailor in Davenport, when all they could talk about was the unholy trinity of expensive cars, their children’s private education and golf.

At the Brunswick – or B Lounge, whatever (it still says The Brunswick outside) – we at least had the diversion of the music, and for once James Blunt actually came as a blessed relief.

We also amused ourselves by counting the number of backpackers we could see through the pub window walking to and from Piccadilly station, presumably, we reasoned, because they were returning from the Leeds Festival the day before. Actually that wasn’t hard to work out, as they all had muddy wellies, some trimmed in dayglo colours. Nice.

Listening to people’s conversations, counting backpackers…I make it sound like the Brunswick is dull, but it isn’t at all. It was just us having that Bank Holiday torpor.

The pub, décor wise, couldn’t be more welcoming, even to the extent that it’s got fancy chairs and tables outside, all contained within a nice little rope, providing that movie premiere look.

Apart from the excellent Abode Hotel next door, it’s the first taste of alfresco Manchester visitors to the city get, and it’s not a bad impression either. Inside, it’s petty much what you’d expect these days, with neutrality of colours in abundance, ranging from white to, er, off-white.

We sat in the room imaginatively called ‘The Snug’, which is half-panelled (in white) with a huge black and white mural on one wall of what appears to be a scene inspired by La Dolce Vita, while an electric guitar and bass guitar hang from the walls. For retro freaks there’s even a carpet on the floor!

Elsewhere, stripped wood flooring runs throughout, taking in the raised ‘Stage’ area, the main bar and the restaurant at the back. Fancy standard lamps, ornate vase arrangement in the many fireplaces and modern relief wall sculptures give an overall effect of stylish cool, although I wonder if that persists at chucking out time on a Friday night.

In spite of its aspirational vibe, however, the pub’s menu is far from exclusive. We had tagliatelle with salmon (£6.95), jacket potato with smoked salmon and cream cheese (£5.95) and a tuna melt for the kid, which while never being contenders for Michelin recognition, were nevertheless ample and well-flavoured. The tagliatelle, it should be noted, was far better than the same pasta at a well-known and celebrated Italian eaterie beloved of Manchester’s chattering classes.

On our visit, the pub’s cask ales – Lancaster Bomber, Theakston’s bitter and Old Peculiar - were all off, so it was either keg rubbish or bottles. Luckily, they stock Budvar, the acceptable branch of the Budweiser family, and that was what I had.

A nice tipple, but, in the context of a pub rather than at home, never an adequate replacement for real beer. With cask ale sales soaring and keg fizz plummeting, I can’t understand any pub not making sure they have plenty of the former. But I’ll give the B Lounge/Brunswick the benefit of the doubt on this occasion, hopefully such neglect will not be evident on my next visit. Or else that’s it.

Generally, though, as a place to stop off between station and the city centre, without the need of a detour, this pub is more than acceptable, especially on a Wednesday night when they have live jazz. There’s music with a DJ on Thursdays and Saturdays. No baseball caps are allowed, thank God. Nor baseball for that matter. Although not sure if that applies to Messrs Gest and Andre.

Rating: 12/20
Breakdown: 3/5 Food
3/5 Drinks
3/5 Decor
3/5 Atmosphere
Address: The Brunswick/B Lounge
97 Piccadilly Station Approach
M1 2DB
0161 236 4161
Food served noon-9pm daily.

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

RastusSeptember 1st 2008.

Often stop here to meet up with mates from out of town before we go out in Manchester. Beware sitting outside as a crazy woman with a dublin accent often stops to accost anyone having an al fresco beer. The staf usually get rid. It's hit and miss usually with the cask ales.p.s. Crazy John's comment (up here ^) is very forthright, although hardly in context. Fair play to him for sharing though eh?

don't mean to bitch but...September 1st 2008.

......the brunswick is possible the plainest, most unremarkable pub this side of the Rising Sun. Much prefer the dodginess of the Picadilly, or the Marie-Celeste qualities of the Waldorf. Keep meaning to try the Hotel International bar but on the one occasion we tried to get in, they wouldn't let me in! Something to do with looking too straight and threatening...wonders never cease!

crazyjohnSeptember 1st 2008.

3 out of 5 four times sounds pretty decent but 12 out of 20 sounds gashanory.I think it's a half decent pub for a cheeky couple and who can honestly put their hands up and say that they don't like abit of jizz on a wednesday night?

AlexSeptember 1st 2008.

If the Bomber is off, then there really isn't any reason to call in here.

LynnSeptember 1st 2008.

Always found the food good and ample, and a child friendly place during the day. Never had anything but service with a smile.

MarySeptember 1st 2008.

Me & my husband chose the Brunswick for a meal to celebrate our anniversary. We went on a Sunday & chose a Sunday roast. Very bland! Tasted like a very bad frozen meal. I conveyed my thoughts to the lady in charge. I do apologise, I will have a word with the chef. Accompanying tables were empty. I remarked that the quality of the food may be the reason!

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