Opening: Dog & Partridge Pub, Didsbury
There’s something about a traditional pub.
Maybe it’s memories of spending time in the pub with my Grandpa as a kid. Maybe it’s years of walking past pubs, smelling that particular blend of fag smoke and sweet, stale beer – that the next generation will never know thanks to the smoking ban (NB I’m not anti smoking ban, just nostalgic!).
Or maybe it’s just because they offer so much. Yes, they’re a place where you can buy a pint, but they’re also little community hubs. Each pub has it’s regulars, people you nod to, even if you don’t chat to them. Faces you recognise. They’re often the host to events, or clubs, whether it’s stitch and bitch or the local WI, or darts team.
And the Dog & Partridge was one – stools you’d probably only it on in jeans as they were worn and grubby. Dark paintwork, but a good selection of beers, a good range of regulars from those popping in for a drink before dinner, to those who you suspect had been there since opening time and would probably be there til closing.
So hearing it had been taken over and revamped had me torn. On the one hand, it really really was in need of a facelift – we had gone past the stage of it just needing a good scrub. But would it go too far the other way? Would it become a ‘Spoons facsimile (there’s a time and a place for Wetherspoons), or would be be too modern.
Only one way to find out.
The pub has been taken over by Terroir Pubs – and the difference is marked. It’s lighter, cleaner, brighter. The snug at the back is still there, but a lot of the partitioning is long gone.
A lot of the dark wood is gone too, and the dark red paint (not upset to see the back of the latter). It still feels welcoming, but almost as if someone has opened the curtains after a long dark winter wrapped in heavy drapes.
The food and drink is definitely different too.
Some of the more traditional ales have gone, but there are some craft beers available. The monkey nuts are still available (I don’t think anyone would have dared do away with that tradition) and if you like watching your sports with a pint in the pub, don’t worry, the screens are still there.
Along with the monkey nuts, there are more nibbles for you to enjoy – as we discovered. Olives, pickles and perhaps our favourite, chicken skin crisps. Move over pork scratchings, there’s a new snack in town.
There’s also a little more variety in the kitchen. As it’s small, the selection is still limited, but I can honestly say the Thai chicken soup was quite simply one of the best I’ve sampled, the cheese toasted sandwich was a sight to behold, and the cheese board is pretty damn tasty too.
Another element that might surprise the regulars, is the cocktail menu. It’s quite large for a fairly traditional pub, with everything from daytime sharpeners, to night caps. It’s creative – as proven by the quirkiest drink on the menu, the Absinthe Colada. With notes of aniseed, white chocolate and coconut, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it – we found it pretty moreish. Though if it’s not your thing, the Chilcano , and the Morning Glory Fizz, might be more your thing.
OK, so it’s not the old Dog & Partridge anymore Didsbury. And I know that you don’t really like change, the die-hards certainly won’t. I suspect some elements will have to adjust – the lack of panelling means the music can be overly loud, and I’d love to see some of the ales back on.
But give it a chance, I think you might grow to like it.