Pollard Yard isn’t the easiest to find for those unfamiliar with it, tucked away on the outskirts of New Islington.
But a short walk from Holt Town tram stop, you’ll find a collection of colourful shipping containers housing an up-and-coming and ever-growing art, culture and craft community, giving aspiring entrepreneurs, creatives and small businesses the space they need to grow.
It’s also the home of Le Social’s new wine bar – which might just be the cutest new drinking and dining concept in town, with just three tables.
Le Social was born during lockdown when founder Jérôme Boullier delivered wine straight to his friends’ house for a small fee, with all profits going to charity.
In the newly opened Pollard Yard venue, guests can experience an ever-changing menu of natural wines, deli boards and continental plates every Saturday between 2pm and 10pm.
We went along to see what it’s like.
The shipping container has been transformed into a cosy, minimalist hideaway, featuring a wall of shelves stacked with Le Social’s diverse range of unique and quirky wines.
The food menu offers an array of authentic French, Spanish and Italian produce, which like the wines are created with responsibly sourced ingredients and support a community of independent farmers and producers.
Le Social also work closely with a number of places around Manchester including General Store, Feel Good Club, Common/Nell’s Pizza, Butcher’s Quarter, Soup Kitchen, Kiosk on Lapwing, Escape to Freight Island and more, so you’ll also find local produce on the menu.
We start with Le Social sparkling from Catalonia, fresh, floral and dry, which goes perfectly with small plates of seasoned Spanish green olives and salted almonds, and Catalonian crisps – “made with a LOT of olive oil,” says Jérôme.
“When it came to the food and drink offering, I was thinking about how we do it in France or Spain or Italy,” says Jérôme.
“After work you might meet friends, you’re not that hungry yet just a bit peckish, so you have some crisps and olives and a glass of something, then another glass, then you’re getting hungry so you order some more plates and drinks.
“Then it’s suddenly 10pm and you’ve had six glasses of wine and basically a full meal and a really fun evening.”
Dishes of roasted artichoke halves and Italian aubergine fillets in olive oil match well with a Muscadet from the Loire Valley, while some delicious tender tuna fillets in olive oil are paired with an accessible orange Pinot Gris from Australia with a beautiful pink peach colour and notes of spiced pears.
French duck rillettes is served with crunchy cornichons and bread from the local Companio Bakery in Ancoats, washed down with a red Guillaume Noire wine from Rablay-sur-Layon in the Anjou district of the Loire Valley.
Guillaume farms without the use of any synthetic herbicides or pesticides, and the wines are made from “du raisin et juste du raisin” – grapes and nothing more.
And finally, a cheese selection from Butcher’s Quarter is matched by a natural red Alepa Rosso wine from the Campania hillsides where Paola Riccio has been producing wine since 1993.
All the dishes on the menu are designed for sharing – and Le Social is an apt name.
“It’s more than likely that you’ll end up chatting to the people behind you,” laughs Jérôme.
“The intimate nature of the bar means customers will gain knowledge as well as try out something new and exciting and meet new people in doing so.”
Another new addition to encourage socialising over wine is Le Social’s Tasting Room, based in a nearby container, designed to host wine tastings, workshops and private functions.
The full calendar of events will include educational tasting nights, art exhibitions, craft workshops with other Pollard Yard residents and more to be announced.
In the meantime, a sociable night out in the cutest little bar in town, discovering new wines and sharing food, feels like being on holiday for a few precious hours.
Le Social Wine Bar is open every Saturday at Container 147 Pollard Yard, 15 Pollard Street East, M40 7SL. Bookings for the bar and Tasting Room can be made via their website, and private function enquiries can be sent to email@example.com or call 0161 818 9906.