It’s not over yet, but 2016 has the feel of a milestone year in the history of Altrincham.
There’s a distinct air of regeneration about the town, evidenced by the amount of scaffolding and roadworks around, and one of the undeniable boom sectors has been the night-time economy.
Here we present the 10 new bar and restaurant openings this year…
Porta (Greenwood Street)
The third restaurant for award-winning brothers Ben and Joe Wright, Porta brings a dimly-lit and evocative Spanish tapas experience to Greenwood Street. Opening earlier this month, the emphasis is on authenticity: “Call it tapas, call it bar snacks, call it dinner – no rules, just tasty food, good beer, wine and conversation – Porta is a tapas bar, not a fancy restaurant!” says Ben.
The Con Club (Greenwood Street)
The most recently opened on the list – today is the official launch – the Con Club completely reimagines the 139-year-old Italianate-style building next door to Porta, the site of the former Altrincham Conservative Working Men’s Club. It’s all the brainchild of David Vanderhook, who already owns The George Charles pub in Didsbury and Lime bar at Salford Quays, and operates as a bar, restaurant and micro-brewery.
Côte Brasserie (Ashley Road)
Not strictly open until January, but there’s a huge amount of anticipation over the replacement for the popular Hale Grill, which abruptly closed down in September after being acquired by the private equity-financed Côte. Expect classics “from the heart of rural Brittany”, including steak frites, moules marinières, tuna nicoise and crème caramel.
Fox (Hale Road)
Another high-profile arrival this year was the £1million Fox on the site of the former Co-op in Hale Barns Square. It certainly has experience behind it: Danny Fox was a co-founder of the Living Ventures restaurant group and a former director of Individual Restaurant Company, which owns the likes of Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill. Based on a wood-fired concept, Fox serves charcoal grilled steak, sourdough pizza and fish, and in Fox’s words, is “very classy, very slick, very New York, very London”.
Sugar Junction (Stamford New Road)
Stamford New Road’s ongoing roadworks have hardly helped, but Sugar Junction has still managed to build a similarly loyal following to its original Northern Quarter tearoom. The former Johnsons Cleaners unit is now stunningly transformed into exposed brickwork and a gorgeous array of vintage accessories, from a Victorian road lamp to a gramophone and even an old bike hanging on the wall. It all makes for a lovely setting for a quintessentially English menu comprising brunch, lunch and, of course, its spectacular afternoon teas.
Après Wine Bar (Shaw’s Road)
Occupying the unit formerly filled by long-standing second-hand bookshop Bookline, Après has brought a touch of class to Altrincham’s night-time scene. Within its cosy interior and oak-panelled walls, there’s a cracking wine list and a carefully chosen selection of accompanying appetisers – the tempura prawn is outstanding – and desserts. As Portuguese chef Paulo Louro says, its “good wine and beautiful food – Après is a place to relax and not rush”.
Tavern on the Green (Stamford New Road)
Owner Bermondsey Pub Company ploughed £200,000 into the former Faulkners Arms and Lounge Ceol earlier this year, relaunching it as a craft ale pub and restaurant, and it’s also one of the few branded Pieminster pubs outside of London. Backing on to the rejuvenated Goose Green area, the Tavern has developed a reputation as a home for live music.
Hale Wine Bar (Ashley Road)
The replacement for the Hale Kitchen & Bar is the first bar venture for Ashley Brown, once the operations director at now-closed Alderley Edge venue Brasingamens. Aiming squarely at the more mature crowd – “somewhere where people from 25 to 60/70 can go and be around similar people”, he told us – Hale Wine Bar has a two-hour happy hour every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm.
Farina (Moss Lane)
Hans Farina returned to Altrincham in September to open a new Farina (he’d previously run a Farina on The Downs before its closure in 2014) in a unit formerly occupied by the Metro cafe close to Moss Lane bridge. It serves authentic and good value Italian cuisine, with its pizza and pasta dishes all coming in at under a tenner.
Pierre Bistrot (George Street)
It’s not even open yet – the independent chain will officially open its 17th UK restaurant on Friday December 2nd – but the buzz about Altrincham’s newest restaurant is already sky-high thanks to the splendid way in which it has resurrected a dowdy retail corner of town. The two-floor restaurant will have space for 170 diners and boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, French-styled interiors, a bar area and outside seating. It describes its “raison d’être” as “great value French cooking and seasonal menus; combining French bistrot classics with regional favourites”.