“There’s no finer way to prepare for a footie match, great beer and great food….sorted”
For my sins I am a lifelong Man Utd fan. So you can imagine the laughter and short thrift I gave an equally fervent Man City fan who with a spare ticket in hand invited me to a home match against Swansea. “No thanks matey” I japed. “If you change your mind I’ll be in The Marble Arch at 1pm for a few pints and some lunch” he retorted.
Whoa there, you never mentioned that! Twelve thirty next day I’m shuffling out of town from Victoria station towards the pillar of Victorian elegance that is The Marble Arch. It’s set by a swanky new set of flats in an area that, like lots of Manchester is destined for a bit of TLC. It’s not that inviting at the moment but once inside, it instantly feels like home.
It’s a long narrow room; the original wooden bar is set out at the bottom, deep in the valley of this great institution. You can practically slide to the bar, such is the steady angle that slopes away from the door. The place is loaded with its original fittings. Most pubs would kill for the features that have been retained here. Majestic mosaic floor tiles, beautiful golden ceiling and wall tiles. It all fits remarkably well.
The place was filling up. I managed to purloin a small table for two. I noticed many of the savvy punters had already reserved most of the tables. Cutlery wrapped in linen and leather bound menus marking their territory.
The Marble Arch doubles up as the home for The Marble Brewery. So as an added bonus you get loads of great beers too. I am quite partial to their bizarrely titled ‘Pint’ which is their 3.9% session ale. Sadly it was having a day off when I was there. A rather rotund and friendly local suggested the ‘Lagonda IPA’ as a worthy replacement. Boy he was right.
And then the food. The Marble peddles a wonderful menu of British favourites along with an extensive cheese menu. It reminds me of the chop houses in town. My City chum Chris plumbed for the corned beef hash with homemade brown sauce (£12.95). It actually came with a poached egg and a crisp slice of smoky bacon too. He wolfed it in minutes and pronounced it an unctuous delight.
I went for the Lancashire lamb hotpot with pickled cabbage and parsnip mash (£13.95). A cracking portion of creamy, peppery goodness. Once through the crispy top I mopped up the liquor with the parsnip mash. Oh my lord what a splendid lunch, and all washed down with the creamy, hoppy Lagonda.
Sadly we then had to go to the match in the pouring rain. City scraped a deflected win, Utd lost to Bournemouth!
The Marble Arch has long been a secret, enjoyed mainly by beer drinkers in the know, but with food like this, it’s a worthy addition to your list to try. If you are visiting Manchester put this on your tour….along with Old Trafford.
The Marble Arch Inn
73 Rochdale Road
T 0161 8325914