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Back to basics

Jonathan Schofield enjoys rediscovering a city centre pub

Written by . Published on April 3rd 2007.

Back to basics

Samuel Johnson famously remarked that “there is nothing yet contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as a good tavern or inn." He must have had a hell of a night.

A good pub does what neither a restaurant nor a bar can do. More relaxed than the former and more mature and diverse than the latter it needs no explaining. Recommend a pub and people get the idea straight-away, recommend a bar and a thousand questions follow about music, drinks and clientele.

Samuel Johnson would have approved of the re-invigorated Deansgate pub on…well, you guess which street. Formerly Galvins and before that the Crown, it’s been given a multi-roomed makeover, heavy on wood and warm paintwork with real fires chucked in for good measure. There’s a smart function room on the first floor too. The maverick element is provided by a handsome first floor terrace facing Beetham Tower. This is a sun trap complete with olive tree and cheery seating arrangements. It’s an unexpected addition, like finding your Gran sporting a Mohican and looking good in it.

The building has real pedigree and we’re not just talking the ale of the same name. The license goes back to the eighteenth century when the pub was a coaching inn on the main road to the south west. Rebuilt in the early twentieth century, recent times have not been so kind. As Galvins it was the sort of place where people with joined up eyebrows physically objected if you happened to look at them twice. Reclaiming its status as a proper boozer is very welcome.

Not that everything’s perfect. The bad news comes in the form of a vast disabled ramp, the size of a half-pipe in a skate park. Discrimination should always be off-limits but that shouldn’t exclude common sense. This huge feature occupies half the bar space at the front of the building and makes a mockery of the legislation governing such things. It should have gone elsewhere, simple as that.

Food is simple and predictable. In 2007 this means cod and chips getting neighbourly on the menu with cannelloni stuffed with Provençale veg. Real pubs should get back to pies, stews, beef, lamb and fresh fish unless they’re a gastro pub of course and then they can get away with culinary murder. Food is served until 5pm and priced around the £7-£8 for a main mark.

The Sunday lunch is the best bet, at £10.95 for two courses and £12.95 for three courses – children get half courses at half prices. The homemade tomato soup was a winner on our visit, chunky, thick with herbs and with just the right pepper bite. My roast pork loin coated with grain mustard and fondant potato and glazed apple was satisfactory too with a healthy side of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower cheese – tip for the pub though, please drain the veg thoroughly before serving.

The desiccated roast beef on the other side of the table wasn’t so good, particularly the dusty corpses of a pair of new potatoes. Don’t serve the bloody things if they look that dead. The quality corrected itself with a pair of lovely puddings, the crème brulee and the apple and winterberry crumble. A pint of Pedigree beer washed it all down very nicely.

Pubs are the rock on which British food and drink is built, re-inventions such as the Deansgate, and its crazy terrace, will ensure this remains the case. Of course it’s not a destination venue but it fills the gap when out wandering. If you’re passing by – or just bored with the queues to Cloud 23 - give it a stab.

The Deansgate, 321 Deansgate, City. 0161 839 5215

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Alison WhitakerApril 3rd 2007.

I agree with Chris - the Crescent is my favourite pub in the area and I will gutted if it closes! Save the Crescent!!

Jonathan SchofieldApril 3rd 2007.

Chris, we're concerned about the Crescent too, and we're on to it. Expect a story in the next couple of weeks about what's going.

Real Ale FanApril 3rd 2007.

The Crescent is one of the finest ale pubs we have left near the city centre. I am sure most real ale fans would be devastated by its closure. Save the Crescent!!!

Chris CordingleyApril 3rd 2007.

I am a little surprised that nothing has been mentioned on Man Con about the possibility of my local disapearing. The Crescent in Salford is up for sale and many of the regulars are very worried that it will be knocked down and turned into a car park. I know it's in Salford but come on, this is surely the best 'pub' for miles around?!?!?1

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