When you’re fed up of campus life you don’t need to trek all the way into the city centre for a change of scenery. Instead, catch a bus to the café culture atmosphere and independent shops of East and West Didsbury.
The 60s style tea room And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon, Burton Road, West Didsbury, offers freshly baked cupcakes, brownies and slices with local, organic and fairtrade ingredients where possible. From 1pm every Thursday-Sunday you can also get afternoon tea at a set menu and price, but arrive early as the best cakes always go first! Their menu is also seasonal, offering iced coffees, shakes and ice-cream in the summer and warming treats in the winter. Much better than your average Starbucks.
Everybody loves a good Italian restaurant and the family-run Azzurro, Burton Road, is just that. They offer a traditional Italian menu with a variety of starters, pastas, main courses and desserts. However, it is the specials board that makes Azzurro stand out with fresh seafood being a particular highlight.
If your parents are in town, or if you’re just feeling affluent, head to The Rose Garden which can also be found on Burton Road in West Didsbury. Decorated in a contemporary fashion, the surroundings echo their modern approach to cooking and although it’s pricier than your average restaurant – a main course usually sets you back around £18 – the quality of the food and service definitely makes it worth a visit. Alternatively, The Rose Garden also has a set menu from Sunday-Thursday between 5-7.30pm, which costs £14.95 for two courses and £16.95 for three. Like most eateries in Didsbury, they believe in sourcing their food from local suppliers and keep their menu seasonal.
The best bars and pubs can be found in Didsbury Village around the clock tower or around Burton Road in West Didsbury. A variety of independent and well-established places such as O’Neill’s, The Didsbury and The Dog and Partridge can be found in Didsbury Village. Friday and Saturday nights will inevitably involve groups of people, most probably in fancy dress, stumbling up and down the road attempting to complete what is known locally as “The Didsbury Dozen”.
Otherwise, on Burton Road, there’s The Violet Hour, where you’ll find deep leather sofas and an impressive range of cocktails, wines and spirits. The Metropolitan is also a great pub and, as it was formerly a Victorian railway hotel, it is spacious and has a great outdoor area (complete with an al fresco bar) for those rare sunny days in Manchester.
For shopping, Didsbury has a range of independent and vintage shops, my favourite being Junk Shop on Burton road. Junk Shop is a vintage boutique selling second-hand and remade/re-modelled clothes, predominantly for women, selling pretty dresses, tops, weird and wonderful jumpers and a great range of quirky jewellery as well. They pride themselves on sustainable, affordable fashion and have an in-house design team who have developed the three unique labels of Junk Boutique, Jumble and Label of Love.
So why not try the Didsburys for something alternative. Hop on the 42, 43, 45, 142, 143, or what I quickly picked up from a bus driver when I first arrived in Manchester: “pretty much any bus with its number in the 40s”.
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