Always had a soft spot for Gorilla in Manchester. Set across from former ‘grab a granny haunt’ The Ritz, it is the natural port of call when The Cooktwit indulges in one of his other passions – rock music. Having been a nightclub, The Ritz has now morphed into a fully fledged, live rock venue. If a former rock titan has seen fit to grace The Ritz on their way down from the lofty heights of success, The Cooktwit and his chums have been there ready and waiting, air guitar in hand.
Gorilla is also a hop, skip and a jump from Oxford Road rail station, meaning our merry throng can be on the train home with ‘The Final Countdown’ encore still ringing in our ears.
However, a little ritual has developed, the Gorilla bar provides a thirsty rock troupe with good beer and has even given way to provide a pre gig snack in the shape of a trusty burger, shaped and seasoned by the fair hand of Chorlton butchering legend WH Frost. I have ventured these delights on to the palate of a good few of the ‘hoi poloi’ and have all agreed these are the work of an angel. They are juicy, pink and sized correctly for a fine feed.
In the guise of ‘Billy no mates’ I have on several occasions ventured alone into Gorilla. I’ve always found it to be a friendly and welcoming den. The bar tenders, encapsulated behind their three sided counter, often festooned in either facial hair, tats or piercings, or all three, are never anything other than friendly, efficient, jolly and professional. Indeed it’s quite a treat to watch them conjuring up their extensive cocktails.
But it was a different occasion this time. This time I trooped in with The Flame. We had just been up the road to The Opera House to watch an afternoon performance of ‘Rock Of Ages’. It was basically a spectacular romp through all the 80’s hair metal tunes you can think of, coupled to a series of jokes and raunchy dance routines. Indeed being a gentleman of a certain age and feeling somewhat hot under the collar, it was critical to reach Gorilla (the nearest bar) to cool the shock of seeing over a dozen power ballads and a veritable phalanx of near naked ladies clasped to the gills in suspenders belts! We arrived just after five and bagged a table right by the window facing out to the infamous Ritz. An American ‘Red Hook’ Pale ale was quickly acquired to apply the ‘cooling’!
The Gorilla decor ticks all the trendy bar boxes. In fairness to Gorilla I reckon they wrote the trendy bar book. Unmatched, up cycled furniture, craft beer, industrial lighting, exposed ceilings, retro branding, food served on wooden planks, plenty of organic, veggie, lentily stuff on the menu. The menu itself, along with a vintage drink booklet, is thoughtfully printed on lined paper with an old ‘typewriter’ font. So the trendy bar boxes all ticked, it’s all here and I think its great, and thankfully so did The Flame.
As great as the burgers are I decided to have a change this time. I went for a simple chargrilled half a chicken (£12). It had been marinated in thyme, garlic and lemon and I have to say without any doubt this was the finest piece of chicken I have had in years, if not ever. To say it was succulent, moist and tasty is not really doing it justice but it’s all I can think of. It came with a handful of watercress, on a plank, with two wonderful dips. A garlic mayo one and a chimmichurri (herby, olive oily) one, both very nice. I had some fries on the side (£3).
The Flame had a Chermoula Chicken Kebab (£10) which was toasted in an African spice rub, it came with a puy lentil, tomato, cucumber, and green herb salad, harissa yoghurt and a grilled flat bread. She had a roasted squash side to keep it company. Though I say so myself it looked the business and was absolutely bang on to how The Flame likes her food. She was well chuffed. We swapped a little bit. To be fair even she admitted my chicken was best, but I had half a wrap with all the trimmings and it was heavenly. All in all two great mains.
As is the norm I was forced to have a desert for research purposes, so I had the pecan pie and whipped cream (£4.50) while the flame had a standard black coffee in a mug. The pie was ‘delish’ although the base was a little tough and needed a good hacking with a fork. The bill came to £44.60 for the two of us with the drinks.
I think we all know Manchester has plenty of gourmet burger outfits who all do a grand job, but spare a thought for Gorilla. As I mentioned I’ve had quite a few here and they have been consistently superb. Judging by the number of them being carried aloft from the kitchen they are still hitting the spot. So there you have it, another recommendation, Gorilla it is!
54-56 Whitworth Street
0161 407 0301