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The Crescent review

Dave Bishop, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Doctor Anna share beers in a classic Salford pub

Published on May 28th 2009.

The Crescent review

The next time you go in a pub and see a couple of blokes huddled over pints of beer and engaged in intense conversation about how they’d put the world to rights, perhaps you shouldn’t dismiss them as mere bar-room philosophers who’ve had one too many.

OK, do, because chances are they are a couple of drunks whose boring banter would get you screaming for the exit before they could say, “you’re my best new mate, pal. I’ll tell you what I’d do about immigration and that Jonathan Ross.”

But while most pub talk is borderline claptrap (I’m good at it), occasionally two blokes bonding through the medium of beer can amount to something. Such as changing the course of history, for instance.

It happened at the Crescent pub in Salford, when it was known as the Red Dragon. It was where Marx and Engels formulated their ideas on the inevitable rise of the proletariat and the destruction of capitalism (little knowing that bankers would do it all by themselves eventually).

Perhaps the venue of their semi-drunken ruminations influenced the choice of red as the colour of global revolution and the Soviet Union’s flag. It must be said that the editor, a doubting Thomas know-all, thinks that Salford might be stretching the truth by claiming the Crescent as a rendezvous for the two would-be revolutionaries.

On my visit recently there was no highfalutin' talk about the demise of the bourgeoisie or the distribution of wealth, even though I wondered where my change went after the third round.

No, it was mostly claptrap, despite the fact that I was there for the PHD qualification party of my Portuguese friend Anna, now Dr Anna, who has been slaving away (as if), in the biochemistry department of Salford University for four years.

For example. Me: “You don’t often seen a pub painted green and white on the outside like this one, do you?” Random professor: “Eh? What yer drinking?”

Questions, questions, and at the Crescent, that particular one can be quite challenging, as the choice is immense in one of Salford’s best free houses.

See, wouldn’t you just know it, in the famous crescent terrace on The Crescent road, aka the A6, opposite the university, the pub serves up a range of real ale to boggle the beer goggles. There was Williams Bros Rooster, Pictish Black Diamond, Blakemere Fruit Mild, Northumberland, Greenmill Chocolate Mild, Goose Eye Bar Bill, Hornbeam Ale & Grace, Six Bells Mayflower and Phoenix Monkeytown Mild, to name just nine available.

The awesome Alchemist and Bazens Pacific had just been drunk dry. On top of that lot there are some classy foreign numbers, such as La Choufe.

Needless to say I had quite a few ales, which made the strangely curved walls seem even curvier. Barely a single right angle could be seen, which only serves to add to the quirky charm of this historic boozer.

There are very few frills. We sat in a black and white wattle and daub style-room with a stone floor and spartan photographs on the wall. One, black and white, of course, showed cars trundling along the duel-carriageway outside. A flyer advertises the forthcoming appearance of the Salford Sheiks.

The room on the right as you enter, painted pink and white, is slightly posher, but only slightly, with wooden floors and framed pub posters and a Lowry reproduction.

In a corridor lurks an old red and green clothes mangle and other bric-a-brac is scattered about hither and thither. It’s all totally random but sort of comfortably spot-on and as a result the clientele and atmosphere are second to none.

The food at the Crescent includes a decent curry night on a Wednesday and meals range from salads to fish and chips for under a fiver. Our visit was all about the booze though.

And maybe we’d mistimed the occasion.

Go on a Monday between 5pm-6pm and you get free chip barms. “Chips, the opium of the people,” as Marx was heard to say here in 1844, before staggering out past St Philip's Church and thinking, “Have I got that wrong?”

Just one quibble when we went – the speakers in our room weren’t working, so we could just vaguely hear the musical throb through the bar. But for some of the time Rory Gallagher was being played, so perhaps we weren’t missing too much.

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

rosieMay 28th 2009.

is the foreign beer they serve similar to La chouffe?

BobsybooMay 28th 2009.

A must venue if you are a proper drinking person who appreciates real ale, it's not been in the CAMRA guide for over 20 years for nothing! Indeed a no frills pub but are you going in there for good beer or to admire the wallpaper?!! Vast selection of cheap ale, good pies, live music at the weekend for free, what more can you ask for?

Eric JacksonMay 28th 2009.

Engels and Marx...? Never herd of 'em!

eric jacksonMay 28th 2009.

Let me know what you think - just email me at eavesgreen@mac.com .... the raspberries were great

AnonymousMay 28th 2009.

I wrote this and I now realise this is a load of rubbish!

jonnie heenanMay 28th 2009.

This is a truly outstanding pub with one of the best selection of cask ales in manchester !Situated opposite Salford University and next to the crescent station ,walking distance to the city centre make this a must go venue

mark mMay 28th 2009.

Who wrote this? Most strange. Typos aside, this pub may have a good range of beer but it is a ****hole. The 'decent great curry night' is a shocker.

eric jacksonMay 28th 2009.

Actually I thought the lemonade was quite passable

eric jacskonMay 28th 2009.

I'm getting sick of riting this rubiish '' plese trel em wen to stop

chasmcrMay 28th 2009.

this place is an undiscovered gem - top marks for covering it. The guest beer list is extraordinary and the food makes me imagine a young Mark E. Smith panicking as he's accidentally invited a cohort of veggies round to join the brickies for tea. I had a veggie lasagne there once that actually had baked beans in it. But it came with chips, a charming smile and cost under a fiver. This is a proper no frills boozer that goes up to 11.

Stephen NewtonMay 28th 2009.

Food score on reputation? What's the point of that. Wouldn't it have been better to have left it blank. Some pubs are for drinking not eating and that's a good thing.

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