Neil Sowerby takes Captain Smidge out on a bender in Manchester city centre
LIPSTICK on the collar after a festive season bar crawl – the old story. It’s bound to happen when you’ve been wrapped in admirers’ arms at every place you’ve stopped off, even on the streets in between. We only spotted it in Elnecot when you lay on your back and begged to be tickled.
A chihuahua about town takes all the ‘so cute’ come-ons in his tiny stride. It’s good there are so many dog-friendly places around the city centre now, where he can strut his stuff. Product of a girl’s “can you take my picture with him” request, Captain Smidge’s lippy smudge had been inflicted in Crazy Pedro’s Pizza Parlour NQ, first port of call on our dog-friendly bar crawl.
Market Street in December is not the kindest place to bring a small breed. To escape the trampling hordes we cut across to Tib Street and Pedro’s basement, where our companion was greeted enthusiastically by the bartenders. He slurped his water while we sipped our frozen margaritas – or was it the other way around?
We’d heard rumours of a special ‘Mary, Joseph and Baby Cheeses’ pizza topped with pigs in blankets and other festive trimmings, but we had pledges of pet-friendly snacks ahead so decided not to let Smidge peak too soon.
Next stop-off Elnecot labels itself an Ancoats bar/kitchen, but chef Michael Clay is putting out some of the best restaurant food in Manchester. Smidge was all for hopping into Seven Bro7hers en route but we hauled him onward to our early supper date.
And, yes we did order small plates suitable for a small dog. Not everything. Not the spiced pollock and he was only ever going to get a sniff of the rich chocolate fondant I gave a ten out of ten in my October review of Elnecot.
Still he showed immaculate taste in wolfing down the pale-ale-braised ox cheek (£8) and the crispy lamb’s testicles (£5.50) minus the green goddess sauce, for fear of its effects. The bar brought out a new Elnecot-branded water bowl (we stuck to Tasmanian Pinot Noir) to show their pet-friendly credentials. Like most of the places visited, that was it – no treats. But with food so desirable for a gourmet chihuahua what need of gravy bones?
Our third bar, though, Cottonopolis, back over in the Northern Quarter is actively encouraging its customers to bring in their dogs. Not along the absurdist lines of the Cat Cafe, though some might find last week’s canine photoshoot to promote their new ‘Dog Menu’ – a mite oddball.
I dropped in to check it out, minus pooch (he had a previous engagement), so this was catch-up time. Bar manager Gethin gave us the option of lamb or salmon and tuna – offcuts from the kitchen provided free as long as owners were spending. Smidge cleared the lamb bowl and we cleared a couple of large glasses of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. Deal.
If any dog is photogenic it’s Smidge. He’s had practice. Check out local pet-friendly food fairs and you’ll see his face slapped across VIP dog photo board, along with Tommy Tinribs III, a metropolitan schnauzer we bumped into in Albert’s Schloss (bowls and treats) with its owner Sarah.
Peter Street neighbour BrewDog is, as you’d expect, ultra happy to welcome dogs along with fellow crafty beer magnet and Smidge favourite, Bundobust, across from Piccadilly Gardens. Word of warning: Bundo’s Gujarati veggie menu not recommended for your pet. Dogs are also welcome at two of Manchester’s beautifully revamped bars, The Refuge by Volta at The Principal Hotel and The Bay Horse on Thomas Street.
Our final dog-loving destinations on the night were in the Northern Quarter or ‘The Canine Kingdom’ – sherry bar Flok in Stevenson Square (big hugs behind the bar but we couldn’t cajole the chihuahua into a tot of Manzanilla) and the Mackie Mayor food and drink hall on Swan Street. Like its fore-runner Altrincham Market Hall, this goes out of its way to cater for canines and is often rammed with them.
Before we settled on a bench for a Soave nightcap from Reserve Wines, it was a toss up between the Tender Cow stall and the Nationale 7 rotisserie to provide a late supper for the still game Captain. Chicken was chosen, but he was too replete by now to tackle it, so it was bagged up for home. A dog had had its day.
Real ale tails
Further afield Disley’s White Lion at 135 Buxton Road, SK12 2HA is definitely dog-friendly with a designated lounge for them, menu and, alongside a CAMRA rated ale range bottles of dog beer – non-alcoholic, non-carbonated, gravy-based.
Just as our pet is not one for standard dog food, he also is averse to dog beer, preferring good old water, but it’s certainly a growth area.
Woof Dog Beer, from the UK’s first dog brewery, is available from Betty & Butch’s pet boutiques in Chorlton and Hale. It’s made from natural human grade ingredients including wort and bone stock.
Woof and Brew supply Bottom Sniffer, a non-fermented beer wort from barley malt concentrate, bladderwrack extract. natural chicken flavouring, burdock, dandelion, flax, nettle and rooibos. They also offer Pawsecco, ‘rose and white wines’ created for dogs, using herbal infusions of elderflower, linden blossom and ginseng.
What are the chances of a Manc mixologist creating the first dog-friendly cocktail list? We’re on the scent.