Café Blah is perched inconspicuously on the corner of Wilmslow Road. Its façade of red shutters gives it the look of a French café pasted onto a Manchester high street. You may have walked past, looked with curiosity, and ended up heading to FUEL instead. In need of a change of scene? Craving a film, a beer, a board game, a piece of new art, or a new shirt? Café Blah has you covered.
Enter, and you’ll stumble into a cosy bar area surrounded by walls of funky artwork. Blah has a vintage appeal, sending you back to an age of groove. A small sign as you enter chirpily warns “Do not roll cigarettes at the bar”, suggesting the clientele feel free to treat the café as their home.
No wonder. It’s warm and soulful inside, making you wish your Fallowfield living room had half the pizazz (or wall space). Blah’s owners clearly have a distinct sense of style and taste. The walls are smattered with vintage film posters, red paint, and artwork. You can even buy the posters on the café’s Depop (@shopfloor) and vintage pieces at the back.
Events at Café Blah
Adding to its unique style, a DJ plays chilled jazz on vinyl whilst you sip tea and catch up with friends. If you ever need a sharp injection of culture, here’s your place.
It’s all about film here. The café hosts free screenings on its projector every Thursday for Café Blah Film Club, previous showings including Manhattan, After Hours, and The Silence of the Lambs.
The café also hosts poetry nights (called Blah, Blah, Blah) and afternoon Jazz/Hard Bop/Avant Garde/Fusion. It’s more than a night out here, it’s a community feel.
You would be forgiven for thinking Café Blah’s food and drink is more of a supplement to the experience. Don’t worry, the menu is set at student-friendly prices and an experience within itself. We’ve only eaten the chips & dips here, but if the salsa tastes that good, I can’t wait to explore the rest of the menu, which includes toasties, ‘proper’ meals, and a range of intriguing-looking IPAs.
The Alphaville Emporium
The newly opened – and fantastic – Alphaville Emporium is in residence upstairs. Here you can buy indie art, books, vinyl’s, cassettes (no CDs here please) and Café Blah tote bags. It calls itself a “Cultural Hub”, and whilst that may seem grandiose, it deserves the accolade.
Alphaville presents a number of “DIY” gigs, selling tickets right in their shop to events like their recent ‘REPEATER Fest’ at Withington Public Hall.
Community seems at the heart of Café Blah and Alphaville’s operation. Recently, they put out a table of pay-as-you-feel books, with a sign reading, “It’s crap being skint.” Truer words have never spoken, and it’s ace to see a place that practices what it preaches so effectively and honestly.
In summary, Café Blah sells a pinch of grooviness alongside its reasonably priced beers and lattes. It’s a must-visit for Withington wanderers of all sorts and vibes.
Café Blah is open Wednesday-Sunday at 418 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester, M20 3BW.