In a Word:
Modern pub grub
The classic Didsbury dweller: essentially the Northern equivalent of a Londoner, except rather more relaxed and able to legitimately live the middle class dream without paying London prices.
That said, The Stoker’s Arms wasn’t just full of young professionals schmoozing with e-cigs and families with children called Oscar and Harry (although they were present too). Like any pub, it also had a healthy mix of regulars, couples and mates unwinding with a mid-week pint and some grub.
On a rainy Thursday night with a mere 24 hours before the weekend, surely THE only thing to do is head to the pub? The Stoker’s Arms welcomes mid-week stragglers with open arms, providing the perfect balance between a ‘local’ and somewhere cool to clink glasses and dig into indulgent food.
A rather more quirky reincarnation of the O’Neill’s that closed only last year, in less than 12 months manager Callum has put heart and soul into The Stoker’s Arms. Bottle caps and beer mats add texture and personality to the walls, whilst diners can choose to lounge in arm chairs and sofas, perch on stools, or cosy into booths to wine and dine a few hours away.
Going on a first date but concerned about whether the conversation will flow? Never fear, The Stoker’s has a sound selection of board games that can come to the rescue if you want to shake up your evening with a round of charades.
Let me start by saying that like all modern pubs and restaurants, The Stoker’s Arms has a fantastic selection of lighter and vegetarian options available. After all, it is in Didsbury. But when faced with epic menu choices such as slow cooked BBQ beef, and Callum’s recommendation to eat it, it was inevitable that the salads weren’t going to get a look-in.
To Start: Salt & Pepper Squid With Spicy Mayonnaise Dip, £5.50
As a self-professed flavour fiend, I was interested to see how well seasoned this classic starter dish could be. And the chef didn’t disappoint. With pepper incorporated into the coating and a nod-worthy kick to the mayo, my partner and I soon chomped through these moreish morsels of calamari.
Slow Cooked BBQ Beef Short Rib with Fries & Coleslaw, £10.50
Short these ribs may have been by a cow’s standards, but these succulent sticky ribs provided a mighty portion complete with crispy skinny fries and coleslaw. If you, like me, face the internal battle of whether to choose ribs or something more filling on a menu, I challenge you to tackle this mountain of mouth-watering food.
The juicy marinade made this on-the-bone meat even more memorable, and the celeriac coleslaw brought back memories of BBQs gone by (dare I say better than my Mum’s?)[Ed: Ooooooooo].
Beef, Crispy Pork Belly and Black Pudding Burger, £12
Stack ‘em high and stack ‘em good – if you’re an indecisive diner, this all-rounder burger ticks all the boxes. Whilst it would be no mean feat to get your chops around this stacker in one go, deconstructed with a knife and fork the combination of meaty burger with juicy pork belly and silky black pudding was hard to beat. Granted, we like our beef a little more live and kicking than well done, but the contrast in textures made for a brilliant burger experience.
The portion of onion rings on the side deserves a very special mention. My partner suggests they rename these light and crispy treats ‘tempura onions,’ as ‘rings’ simply don’t do them justice.
Dessert: Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cheesecake with Clotted Cream, £5.50
Nursing our food babies in a happy meat coma, I was somehow cajoled into a slither of cheesecake by Callum. It wasn’t hard to understand why when a mouthful of this divine dessert prompted a When Harry Met Sally moment. Speckled with sea salt on a base of chocolate biscuit, the caramel cheesecake was the stuff of dreams, especially when combined with a dollop of clotted cream. Need I say more?
I’m always intrigued by pubs that venture beyond the classic wine and beer combo, so we took up the offer to try a few cocktails. Sticking by the Stoker’s ethos of ‘modern classics… served simply’, these were presented without the bravado that many establishments opt for nowadays. The Ginger Nut was our favourite, packing a nice punch without the song and dance of umbrellas and fancy glasses. Refreshing in more than one way!
All in all, The Stoker’s Arms is my kind of pub. Its hearty menu puts a Didsbury twist on pub classics, and serves them up in generous portion sizes with attention to flavour throughout. Washed down with a few pints, glasses of wine or cocktails in a very much relaxed setting, it’s no wonder that this ‘local’ attracts such as diverse range of diners and drinkers.
Coming up to their 1st birthday in April, Callum and the team will no doubt be celebrating their success so far!
The Stokers Arms
655-657 Wilmslow Road
0161 448 7941