I think it’s fair to say that The Bay Horse on Thomas Street is currently my favourite Manchester boozer.
Taking the mantle from the brilliant Bunny Jackson’s only because it’s closer to the Finest office, you’ll find me there a fair few times a week, either scoffing my face on the food or sinking pints outside.
Last week I sniffed out that they were due to have a bit of a menu change-up for Spring and Summer and so I felt it my civic duty to head on down and check out the new dishes (as well as have a couple of my old favourites too).
In case you’ve never been in The Bay Horse, let me set the scene for you to give you an idea of what to expect. From the outside it looks like your bog standard old boozer, but once you’re inside it’s so much more.
It’s comfy and cosy, as all pubs should be, but there’s also an edge to it – meaning you’re not going to be sat around with a bunch of old blokes sipping pints of mild and whinging about millennials.
With a couple of dart boards, an unrivalled selection of crisps, a weekly Quiz Night and Open Mic Night, £5 double G&T’s on the weekend (after 10pm) and a list of bevvies longer than Mr Tickle’s arms – there’s something for everyone.
And then there’s the food.
Offering up a brilliant Breakfast menu until 4pm, as well as another all-day menu of Pub Classics – whatever mood you’re in you’ll find something you fancy. Oh, and there’s even a full rotisserie downstairs so if you’re getting meat – you know it’s going to be bloody good.
So what’s on this new menu of theirs then?
I started out by trying the new Manchester Egg (£5.50) which is a welcome regional upgrade to your traditional Scotch Egg. In case you’re confused, the official way to create a Manchester Egg is to get a pickled egg, wrap it in a mixture of sausage meat and black pudding, add breadcrumbs and fry.
Now, luckily for us, The Bay Horse have forgone the pickled egg, which certainly aren’t to everyone’s taste, and have stuck with the sexier perfectly boiled egg complete with gooey runny yolk when you cut into it.
Even the most talented of chefs can struggle when it comes to perfecting the Scotch Egg, but this Manchester Egg was cooked to perfection and the strong black pudding flavours really shine through against the egg and the freshness of the chicory. It was gone in seconds.
Also in the starters are the frankly quite brilliant Chorizo Arancini. For £6 you get three massive balls of fried rice, stuffed with a creamy-creamy cheese and an impressive amount of Spanish chorizo.
I sometimes find that people are often a bit too liberal with the smoked paprika in things like this, which can easily overpower all other flavours but this certainly isn’t the case here as a little pinch goes a long way. The subtle smoky paprika really allows the chorizo to shine through.
Replacing the Monkfish Scampi (which was a clear favourite of mine on the previous menu) is Tempura Prawns (£6) and as someone who refuses to eat prawns even if the life of my entire family depended on it, I’ll leave it to Kate Tighe to tell you how they are…
“There is nothing quite like the satisfying crunch that comes from a good tempura prawn. These were not a let-down either as The Bay Horse Tavern manage to produce a light and crispy batter and prawns that were perfectly cooked inside. The portion size is very generous and they come served with The Bay Horse’s legendary tartare sauce too, which is a reason to order them in itself.”
There you go. Even though they sound great I still won’t eat them. Sorry.
On to the main dishes, and they’ve added a few new salads to the offering – because it’s summer and all that. Hearty pub grub full of thick gravy and meat is all good and fine, but if it’s sweltering outside nothing beats a bloody good salad.
One such addition is the superbly fresh Thai Zucchini Noodles (£9) that come piled up alongside red cabbage and carrot and then topped with peanut and a soy sauce dressing. I’d say that adding a bit of an Asian twist to the menu is certainly a good idea, us Brits struggle when it comes to salads – so why not go to the experts?
Alongside the Zucchini salad we also tried a slight variation on their chicken pie – the Chicken & Spring Cabbage (£9.5), which replaces the Chicken & Chestnut offering from the winter. Now, I’ve always had a soft spot for ANY pie in ANY form, pretty much being hand-reared on them as a child by me mam – so I know a good pie when I eat one.
I’ll tell you now – the ones at The Bay Horse are good. Like very good. This new chicken offering is fantastic, it comes bursting at the seams with a creamy, meaty filling that oozes out all over your plate as soon as you stick your knife in.
The addition of the cabbage adds a welcome crunch and texture to the filling, and when paired with a good dose of gravy and The Bay Horse’s fabulous thrice cooked chips – you’re in food heaven.
That brings me conveniently onto one of my favourite subjects – the aforementioned Thrice Cooked Chips (£3).
These thick slabs of potato are by far and away the best chips that money can buy in this city and I challenge ANYONE to come down and prove me wrong. They’re crispy, fluffy, perfectly seasoned chunks of pleasure and best of all – they’re consistent.
I’ve NEVER had a bad one. Ever. And I’d say that these chips have currently contributed to around 25% of my current body mass – so that’s a lot of chips.
Finally, I finished off with the classic Rotisserie Gammon & Egg (£9.50) which although is not a new offering – it’s pretty much become a staple for any visit to The Bay Horse.
You get a couple of thick slabs of juicy, salty ham, cooked slowly on the rotisserie until you get that much sought after crispy (almost crackling) skin running along the side. Topped with a fried egg this simple dish is an absolute pleasure and perfect alongside a pint of ice cold cider.
Writing this has made me hungry again. I’m going to go to The Bay Horse for lunch. Definitely.
New Spring/Summer Menu at The Bay Horse
The Bay Horse Tavern, 35 – 37 Thomas St, Manchester, M4 1NA,
0161 669 5799