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The Dockyard Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield likes it simple and rugged

Written by . Published on February 11th 2014.

The Dockyard Reviewed

THE DOCKYARD delivered me of the best Scotch Egg I've ever had and I'm partial to a Scotch Egg. 

The Dockyard captures something of the feel of a pub rather than a bar, despite the scale. It delivers an excellent experience

The egg was fresh and sweet as a nut. The yolk ran like dawn breaking on a beautiful day. The sausage coating was staunch, vital, rugged, herby, seasoned by a sausage meat artist to deliver just the correct bite.

It came with HP sauce from the bottle. This was a good call. Why craft your own potentially bland thing when the familiarity of HP makes it more desirable? As welcome as favourite gloves on a cold day.

A tough, cleverly designed space

A tough, cleverly designed space

The Scotch Egg at The Dockyard summed up the virtues of this welcome new space in MediaCityUK.

The menu echoes the design aesthetic of big girders and massive timbers as though the building were a warehouse built for strength rather than, as it is on the exterior, a childlike 21st century office block. The internal design with its big mirrors and pictures of hefty chains and longshoreman paraphernalia works totally, although I'm never in favour of screens as big as the one here.

Dockyard's at the bottom of the overhanging building

Dockyard's at the bottom of the overhanging building

Still, during one of my visits it was amusing to see Mad Men playing with the sound turned down. That tale of excess in the sixties ad industry provided background to an unwitting and unwatching audience of mainly BBC folk coming off shift.

The media and the ad industries are related of course, selling fantasy or at best, an interpretation of reality. Both professions are famous for their alcoholic consumption, a tradition we vigorously support at Confidential. From the activity at The Dockyard it's good to see the BBC with all its compliance regulations does too. 

The Dockyard


The Dockyard

Mediafolk make for good people watching. And good eavesdropping.

As I walked past a couple of middle-aged women, one said to the other, "He's past it now you know, been on too long, everyone thinks we need to let him go."

I racked my brains about who they could be talking about then realised Match of the Day was filmed in MediaCity. Was the woman talking about Gary Lineker? Or maybe Brucie was for the chop from Strictly? About time for both of them.

Pies are the thing


Pies are the thing

Back to the food.

The pies are a big feature in The Dockyard and come in at the excellent price of £6.95 including potatoes, peas and gravy. I've had the lobby pie of corned beef, onion and potato and the three bean diablo chilli pie. The lobby slaughtered the diablo with a filling that was magnificent in its own right but better when doused in gravy. The diablo had no devil at all and needs more heat, it was dull.

The smooth and creamy mash that came with both was as perfect as the Scotch egg. The gravy was rich and meatily aromatic. The pastry, despite the diablo filling, was skilfully assembled, with just the right forgiving texture when hit by the gravy

A rhubarb crumble (£2.95) was a splendid thing when combined with the little pot of double cream. It had that welcome honesty of homemade food. Loved it.

Excellent rhubarb crumble but not good-looking

Excellent rhubarb crumble but not good-looking

None of the food looks good. Like lamb curry, pies are as easy to photograph as cowpats.

The management probably don't care.

The theme is the tough dockyard and this carries over into the appearance of the food. The concept's been taken too far with the enamelled tin plates. The knives and folks slide into the food too easily.

I'm of the opinion that plates like taps, should be restricted to one design on Planet Earth. I'm certain that if uniformity of tap and plate design could be achieved we would pass into a Golden Age free of war and conflict where the peoples of the world would know exactly how to negotiate sink hardware and be liberated from the anxiety of watching fork handles smooch lovingly into gravy. 

The bar


The bar

But plates aside The Dockyard is a superb addition to The Quays area generally and MediaCityUK specifically.

It's what the place has been waiting for. Before The Dockyard the post-work and lunchtime drinking areas were the dreary bars of the Holiday Inn, the Lowry and the lacklustre Lime Bar. 

They felt forced, this feels right. 

The Dockyard captures the atmosphere of a pub rather than a bar, despite the scale. It delivers an excellent experience with the cracking ales (I had a lovely Maverick ale from Brightside in Radcliffe), the strong bin-end range of wines and the properly sincere pub menu. 

Oh and a single female friend said after her visit she reckoned it also delivered a better quality of potential date material with all those BBC bods. Thought you might want to know. I like to spread the love. Who knows, you might even snag Brucie or Gary on their leaving bash?

Remarkably good value but very simple menuRemarkably good value but very simple menu

And finally: 

Why is a Scotch Egg called a Scotch Egg?

Best Place To Keep Your EggsBest place to keep your eggsI've asked lots of Scots about this while also asking every Scot I know whether they're in favour of independence. The answers have gone "I don't know" and "no" in that order every time. So I looked up the origin of the name in the textbooks.

According to Alan Davidson's fine Penguin Companion to Food the origin is unclear but could possibly be 'a descendant of a form of Indian kofta'. Apparently the oldest reference comes in a book by Meg Dods (1826) 'where it is being eaten hot with gravy'.

One odd suggestion is that Scots used to keep the tasty morsels in their sporrans. An old slang term for testicles is 'eggs' and thus due to proximity with that part of the man's body and the sporran the Scotch egg got its title.

Of course that might be a load of bollocks.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+


The Dockyard, MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2EQ. 0161 359 3848

Rating: 14/20 (remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type - see yellow box below)

Food: 7/10 (lobby pie 7.5, chilli pie 5, Scotch egg 8.5, rhubarb crumble 7.5)
Service: 3/5  
Ambience: 4/5 (best just after work when all the media are in)

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

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2014.

the scotch egg is very good, can get a pint for just under £3 too.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2014.

They missed a trick with the artwork - there are tonnes of great old pictures of the actual Manchester Docks, rather than the stock photography they went with. But other than that (and getting a seat - the place always seems busy!) it's a cracking spot. Salford Quays has been desperate for this for years.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 11th 2014.

Couldn't agree more. Given the bar trades off the area's maritime heritage it is strange and disappointing that it could incorporate some local images into its design. Given it sits within a development that has been criticised for its bland any-town architecture - this was one opportunity to use some well chosen art to really anchor it to the local area. An opportunity missed.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2014.

"A sausage meat artist" did you really mean to say that Jonjo

Mark WelsbyFebruary 11th 2014.

Agree with most of this - food is rustic but decent enough and the scotch egg's a winner. Though price of a bacon sandwich was a bit media inflated for my pocket. My only real problem is the choice of beers. Bright side aside, Reckon they could do a lot better on both cask and keg, much of it was the usual dross form the big breweries - with such a brilliant craft scene emerging in Mcr, surely they've the perfect mkt for some decent local beers down here?

Charles CohenFebruary 13th 2014.

Scotch eggs were invented by Fortnum & Mason in 1738 as a portable snack for coach travellers.

William ScholesFebruary 13th 2014.

Me and my chums have been waiting for a bar like this to open on The Quays for a few years and we are now regulars in the Dockie. The place has a good feel to it and the local scallies have so far been conspicuous by their absence and long may that continue. A couple of misgivings we have though are that when it first opened they had a Brightside Manchester Skyline ale on that is very nice. So good in fact that we appeared to have drank it dry within the first couple of weeks. The price was acceptable at £3.15 per pint and we were very encouraged by this. For some strange reason Skyline was not put back on until a few weeks later and the price was massively hiked by 30% to £4.30 per pint and when we asked the staff they told us that it was the same price as previous. What’s going on here we thought? In our opinion, the Dockie should have a decent, similar strength ale on for just over £3 as the only other one available is the Dockyard Ale which is nice but 3.8% gravity is a little too low for us regular social drinkers. In short, we feel as if we were lured in a little under false pretences. Harsh but fair we feel because there are a few hundred staff that work in our office block at Anchorage and many more of us could be further tempted if this was addressed. The food is very good for pub food because it all looks freshly made but the service is a little like the Keystone Cops at times as the staff never know where the orders should be served to. This will hopefully be remedied with experience. There will also be huge issues when the weather gets a little better because the sun is blinding and very uncomfortable shining through the full length windows and customers will not tolerate sitting in those conditions unless they get some sort of retractable blinds fitted. A final mention to the staff who appear to be gelling into a pleasant, efficient team who keep all the tables clear at a functional, rapid pace all the time. Get it right Dockie owners and you will be onto a veritable goldmine………we promise:o)

M5 NomadMarch 2nd 2014.

I too have been eagerly awaiting a place like this in the neighborhood for a good long time and really like the ales, atmosphere and the fact that it is close to my house.. sadly the food is a huge letdown, I had the worst burger I have ever had in my life, no lie, there yesterday and I really do think just a little bit of love toward the menu would raise the game considerably. It was tiny, dry, tasted bad, does not reflect the menu description at all and was delivered with a grimace, it lets the side down badly in this day of Manchester having better food on offer than ever before. Such a disapointment from an otherwise cracking place. A good burger is a simple thing to do right. Let's just hope it is a temporary glitch eh!

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