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Saturday, 25 April 2009

Things to do in West Didsbury

West Didsbury has a very different feel to it these days. Anyone who remembers back 15 years or so will know that the area had a pretty seedy reputation, with the pub where The Metropolitan now resides operating as local drug store to a range of dubious characters. Nowadays, the area around Burton Road is positively cosmopolitan, with a number of independent shops, bars and restaurants that put the rather more commercialised Wilmslow Road area of Didsbury Village to shame. Here are some of the highlights.

The Metropolitan: credited by many as the impetus that drove West Didsbury to clean up its act, this pub is large and welcoming, with squashy leather sofas and a real fire in Winter. Food is good and the selection of drinks available is impressive, but on the pricy side - a night here will cost roughly the equivalent of your monthly mortgage payment. The outside seating area is nice, and boasts a useful outdoor bar. You will always see someone you know in here, guaranteed.

Thai E-Sarn: not for the faint-hearted, this exuberant restaurant dishes up reasonable thai food - but the real draw is the self-titled "Mad Wendy", who dresses up in feather boas and sings Shirley Bassey songs appallingly badly and then passes the microphone over to the customers (I'm the girl who stands on the table and performs Hey Big Spender). If you just want a quiet meal, go mid-week when things are far more normal.

The Railway: cosy pub opposite the Metropolitan which gets packed at weekends. A Johnny Depp lookalike once caused media chaos here by turning up and pretending to be the man himself having a quiet drink.

Folk: a welcome addition to Burton Road, Folk is far more than just a cafe bar (although the coffee and cakes are exceedingly good). You can have breakfast, brunch, lunch (good range of soup and sandwiches) or call in for a beer in the evening, when a small range of what my husband would call "proper dinner" is available - he likes the homemade pie and mash. Very friendly.

Curry Options..... West Didsbury is the place to go for a great Nepalese curry. The Great Kathmandu always did the best food, but gets packed and the service is very hit and miss. For less atmosphere but better service try the Nemaste Nepal a few doors down - same people, same food, just bigger and less frantic. Another local favourite, Gurkha Grill, has had a recent face-lift and now extends over two buildings; don't be fooled by the smart new look, the food is as good as ever.

A final word of warning: don't take the car if you can avoid it. There is limited on-street parking available, but don't rely on getting into the Metropolitan car-park - it is manned by fierce men in efficient yellow jackets, so only try this if you are actually spending the evening there.

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