Jonathan Schofield enjoys ‘transportative desert-bar environs’

Mule is a little delight in Ancoats. 

It has a sharp as a pin interior in light tan, an elegant bar and an open kitchen. The main dining area is tiny but there’s a covered terrace that sits on Blossom Street between Cutting Room Square and Great Ancoats Street and that adds to the 20 or so covers inside.

The service is amiable, knowledgeable and efficient. Ask questions and you’ll get intelligent answers.

When the fleshpots of Cutting Room Square are verging on manic then Mule offers a calm antidote

I was thirsty after a long night and needed perking up. A Bloody Mary was required. I was asked what strength I wanted it on a scale of 1-10 and went for seven. Seven had a real kick. Suddenly I was orbiting the planet with Jeff and Dickie. This cocktail is a meal in itself with individuality added by rosemary syrup. It was very good but I needed the cooling effect of the free jug of cucumber water to help me cope. 

Mule Ancoats With Cucumber Water And Bloody Mary
Mule, Ancoats, cucumber and the rocket-fuel Bloody Mary

Food comes as brunch and bar choices. I’ve had two of the former now. They are both presented with care, are big-hearted and filling and both cost £10.

On the review visit, I grabbed a chorizo hash (£10) which came with "home-fried" potatoes, spinach, chorizo, balsamic and other cute leaves. It was clever and full of flavour, a filler. A previous visit saw me snaffling huevos rancheros (£10, main picture). I favoured that over the two dishes. It was rangy and more complete, with the avocado adding variety. (Ed - Jonathan had visited for pleasure when he ate the huevos so he has lost his receipt for that dish)

Mule And The Chorizo Hash
Mule, Ancoats, and the chorizo hash

Both my main courses featured eggs. I’ve made an obsession of eggs. I probably eat unhealthy amounts of them including at least two or three for breakfast. At least. There are many poems written about eggs (there truly are) although the surrealism of Humpty Dumpty has never been bettered.

My late grandmother clearly knew something about surrealism growing up in the early twentieth century. She had a phrase, apparently popular before WWII, which went "An egg without salt is like a kiss without a moustache". I don’t like a kiss or an egg with a moustache but I do like a runny egg and the chef who can’t time an egg properly is no use to anyone. Both the eggs capping my dishes broke perfectly.

With the mains, I had some salty fries with herbs which were as dry as the desert, a bit evil. £5 is £5 too much. Fries are the psychopathic offspring of chips and should only be used as very small offensive weapons in extreme situations when no other weapon is to hand. Good for eye-jabbing. I keep trying them but I dislike their meagre scale and inner emptiness every time.

A chocolate cake pudding (£4) was rich, rich, rich and so chocolatey it may win the "most chocolatey award of the year". It’s not made in Mule but by a local baker, Half Baked, and those with a sweet tooth will love it. 

Sweetness Be Thy Name Chocolate Cake At Mule Ancoats
Sweetness be thy name at Mule in Ancoats

I really like Mule. When the fleshpots of Cutting Room Square are verging on manic then Mule offers a calmer antidote. 

Hilariously, the website describes the business as having "transportative desert-bar environs". Ha, ha, marketing. Gwen, the former landlady of the Briton’s Protection pub on Great Bridgewater Street, once gave me a copy of the 1975 guide to Manchester pubs despite me pointing out my time machine was broken. The guide features a pub on Great Ancoats Street, round the corner from present-day Mule, called "The Desert". The review reads: "It is so convincingly empty, sad and devoid of interest all it misses is a lorry load of sand". 

That was 1975, in 2021 Mule is different, this "transportative desert-bar" is working well and worth a visit. Meanwhile, word on the street is there’s going to be a much bigger sister-Mule opening at Deansgate Square in the not too distant future. I'm looking forward to a "skyscraper-based transportative experience." And some good food and service. 

Mule 13 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5AF64 ft

Follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield

Mule Ancoats Manchester Bill

​ The scores:

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.

  • Food 6/10

    Chorizo hash 6 huevos rancheros 7.5 fries 5 chocolate cake 6

  • Service 4/5

    Attentive and on the button

  • Atmosphere 3/5

    Calm and easy in a small venue