A Michelin recommended fine dining experience or 10p chicken wings? A relaxing aromatic steam room or crazy golf? A steakhouse or a plant based eatery? A movie or the theatre?
There’s one street in Manchester where you can do all that, and stay in a top hotel to boot. Welcome to First Street.
We checked into INNSiDE hotel to spend 24 hours discovering Manchester’s ever-expanding new neighbourhood.
Where to stay
With 10 floors and bigger-than-average rooms, INNSiDE is a great base for exploring First Street and beyond.
But it’s also a nice place to relax in. And, given its sustainable credentials (they’re retrofitting all rooms with ego Argon toiletries by Feb 2020, and have almost achieved going single use plastic free), it’s feel-good in more ways than one.
All rooms come with a mini fridge of complimentary cold drinks, free high-speed Wi-Fi and Chromecast, a big TV and a rainfall shower as standard.
Higher floors offer great views across the city, while an Innside Lifestyle Suite offers a taste of luxury with an espresso maker, free local beers in the fridge, and a walk-through bathroom with bath tub, shower, fluffy bathrobe and slippers.
A Wellness Suite offers a Finnish sauna, an aromatic steam room, and a 24-hour gym and relaxation area. And there’s local art on the walls, too; the first floor and above reception features work by Claire Riley.
There’s a bar and a daily buffet offering a choice of hot and cold dishes throughout the day, while at breakfast you can help yourself to sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs and toast – or yoghurts, fruit and cereals if you want something healthier.
But while there’s plenty to keep you occupied Innside (see what we did there?), there’s also lots to get stuck into outside on bustling First Street.
Where to eat
This relaxed fine dining restaurant from former MasterChef winner Simon Wood is the jewel in First Street’s crown, with a menu that’s clever, creative, and – above all – fun.
It’s recommended in the Michelin Guide 2020, and has picked up favourable reviews in national newspapers including the Guardian and the Telegraph. And it’s Manchester’s favourite restaurant according to our readers, too.
Menus range from lunch and pre-theatre to a la carte, or go for a tasting menu with paired wines for the full experience.
Highlights of our visit included inventive veal sweetbread kievs, and slow-braised Cheshire short rib with Seven Brothers stout and truffle – a new take on cottage pie that’s swiftly become a city favourite.
An autumnal deer dish comes as rich fillet and braised haunch with earthy crapudine beetroot, or the Josper-grilled tomahawk steak to share is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Don’t miss Simon’s signature tutti-frutti dessert which wowed the judges on MasterChef.
Cross Street’s hit vegan eatery Vertigo has proven so popular, they’ve recently opened up a second unit on First Street after being forced to turn customers away from the original site on weekends.
Eat in or grab-and-go with a selection of plant-based favourites including a cheezeburger, a Reuben bagel or a beetroot bourguignon.
We were impressed by a comforting bowl of nourishing daal, while the sweet bakes and coffees – using oat milk as standard – are a highlight. The First street branch also offers a weekend brunch menu.
A huge, airy space with room for 140 diners, new steakhouse Ribeye has been designed by Raju Haider, the man behind Gary Usher’s crowdfunded restaurant Kala on King Street. The ground floor dining room is elegant, with lots of cool pale marble and a mezzanine level.
Starters range from soup, salad and lobster fish cakes to meaty ribs and wings, while steaks include American Creekstone Farms beef – our personal favourite – alongside cuts of Aberdeen Angus and Wagyu.
There’s no glass of red with your steak, but this halal restaurant features Manchester’s first dry bar with a range of mocktails ranging in taste from sweet to sour.
Indian Tiffin Room
Authentic Indian street food peppers the menu of this huge, colourful, airy restaurant: chaats, thalis and Indo-Chinese dishes.
An appetising selection of small plates includes a beetroot shami kebab, and paani puri, whose shells hold an intoxicating filling of potatoes with chilli-spiked, mint-infused water, as well as masala dosas and richly spiced mains.
Where to drink
This buzzy late night dive bar is the place for beer and bourbon, with regular live music of an evening.
It’s also renowned for its 10p chicken wing offering – and guests who buy a drink from the bar can enjoy as many 10p original crispy-coated wings as they like, all night long. Or upgrade for a few pence more to wings coated in boozy or fiery sauces. We love the buffalo wings for 20p.
It’s open late for long, boozy evenings – and if you’re still after some food when the kitchen is closed, you can grab a hot dog from the bar for just 50p.
Built on the site of the old Gaythorn Gas Works,The Gas Works Brew Bar has its own in-house brewery for beer from tank to tap.
There’s a rotation of guest keg, cask and home brewed beers, plus classic pub grub in a modern industrial setting.
What to see and do
Since opening in May 2015, arts venue HOME has welcomed millions of visitors to its two theatres, five cinemas, art gallery, book shop and restaurants.
HOME works with international and UK artists to produce extraordinary theatrical experiences, producing thought-provoking drama, dance and festivals with a strong focus on international work, new commissions and talent development.
Films range from the popular to the more obscure, including previews, special events, and some screenings you just won’t find showing anywhere else in town.
This Christmas, HOME have their most ambitious programme yet, including festive frivolity at The Manchester Project at Christmas, truly grim fairytales in Roots and a charming adaptation of David Walliams’ The Slightly Annoying Elephant.
You’ll find three junked up 9-hole crazy golf courses at the original Junkyard Golf on First Street, with themes from tropical jungles to dark fairgrounds.
There’s fairground food, too, along with cocktails in red party cups decorated with childhood favourite sweets. Because grown-ups needs playtime, too.