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TV21 Restaurant/Ba Reviewed – That’s Some Big Kahunas

We went, uninvited, to the retro (tacky) bar TV21 on Thomas Street...

We went, uninvited, to the retro (tacky) bar TV21 on Thomas Street for lunch. Some establishments prefer to be warned before you review, out of courtesy. Adrienne (who was present) said she wished she’d of known we were coming in. Although, they’re always prepared and want it right every-time, whether it be the influential media folk or your layman foodie getting some grub.

“…the one with the Predator figure in the window…”

TV21, the cult film themed bar (the one with the Predator figure in the window) has been around a while. In fact, it’s THE original Americana joint in the Northern Quarter. The type of place that’s so infectious these days, but TV21 were the first to do it. Who cares? It just means they’ve not done it well enough.

It hosts a central circular bar that is very much the focal point and assures efficient service. They say it takes no longer than 5 minutes to get served at any given time. Unbeknown to us, they’d had a refurb…



It all looks a bit Fab Café. The refurb is influenced by the TV21 staff, all having their input. The outcome is a retro American diner with influences from Back To The Future II. You know, the scene where Marty punches Biff in the diner.

We say Back To The Future – that comment may be influenced by the picture above the booth (car seat) we sat at. It’s an amalgamation of films from the 80/90’s. Robocop, Batman, Predator, Pulp Fiction… we all love them.

TV21 serves filthy food. I mean scoff away with no guilt kinda food. The Americana/Mexicana type of munch that is so very popular, especially in the Northern Quarter right now. However, they’re not so square. Their new-ish German chef René has been about a bit. All over the world, actually. Taking influence and accommodating a wide range of taste buds. Not to give you the impression this is fine dining, it couldn’t be any further away, but it’s tasty.

René brings ‘his version’ of cosmopolitan to the Northern Quarter. Even goes as far as to ship in crocodile. Yep, croc and I’m certain it’s not presented exactly how you have in mind. It tastes like it’s just crawled out of a swamp and choked. Very slippery, distinctive but bland taste. If that doesn’t make any sense, go and try it for yourself.

The croc-tail is as fresh as it can be and only because of paperwork and legalities. Everything else is locally sourced and fresh as a daisy. Home-made to order, so be patient…



The Big Kahuna Burger (£12.50) is a movie classic. It’s TV21’s take on the juicy burger from Pulp Fiction. This big almighty 10oz burger is topped with chorizo, cheese, bacon, chargrilled pineapple & chipotle mayo. It’s colourful, playful and quite a handful. It’s not the dearest of burgers but I don’t typically spend more than a tenner on my lunch.

For half the price I had the El Diablo. Not because I’m a skint flint, just because I’ve not got John Travolta’s wallet. I fancied something with a little kick. Infused with Mexican spices & jalapenos, the 7oz hamburger is topped with cheese & TV21’s own ‘chilli jam’. A very good burger with just enough release of spice. They say enough spice gets your endorphins moving and lifts your mood. I was happy, anyway.

The burger buns just flake and fall apart and you just end up using your knife and fork. Could really do with a brioche bun.

Ellen had the duck tacos. Sweet aromatic duck shredded duck topped with salad, sweet chilli jam (again their own) & sour cream. Decent, crispy tacos with succulent duck, presented on an Aztec patterned plate – well worth £6.50.


Nachos. They’re decent I suppose. Crunchy corn tortilla chips with salsa mexicano, midly spiced cheese sauce, topped with fiery jalapenos. The Mexican favourite bar food comes with all the sides, enough to get messy with. And lick your fingers.

If you think you have big enough kahunas, they do a Tex-Mex challenge. If you finish the lot – you get a refund and a trophy tshirt. But then you’ll want to kill yourself, so the use of a t-shirt or a refund is useless.

On our I love-o-meter

TV21 is perfect for careless students who don’t wash and aren’t fussed with quality.


10 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1DH


0161 819 2221

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