I clocked him before he reached our table gliding serenely, lighter than air, across the polished exposed floorboards.
‘Strumming my pain with his finger…,’ Lauryn Hill purred from the PA system. I stared at his tray, my eyes popping out my skull at the sight of the oreo cookie garnishing the glass. Pathetically grateful and desperate for sugar.
The sweet creamy milk laced with woody chocolate cookies, diffused with flecks of ice: the sugar instantly absorbed, the ice soothing my throbbing head.
‘…and so I came to see and listen for a while.’ sang Lauryn. It was a perfect moment. Serene. After a slurp I pressed the glass to my temples, one at a time, and prayed the staff wouldn’t judge me.
Despite questioning in a previous post if Manchester’s bar and club scene was becoming a little samey, I have to admit I like Trof’s latest offering, Gorilla, on Whitworth Street.
Not sure how I’ll feel about another Black Dog Ballroom, mind. The night before we’d been past it as we stumbled through the Northern Quater on our way to Stevenson Square, a long line of Printworks refugees tailed around the corner.
But Gorilla I like. It’s got a dinner feel to it with these angular aluminium tiles above the bar, and there’s a gin parlour upstairs that, thankfully, is not open at 11am on a Saturday morning, which is when I tend to stumble in, pick something off the breakfast menu and slump on the table waiting for someone to bring me liquids.
Last time, I chose the waffles, bacon and maple syrup, which was possibly a mistake. Kristian went nuts for it, figuring there’s nothing not to like about a dish that contains salty, sweet and bready elements. But I’m someone who likes savoury and pudding to be clearly signposted and the bacon just seemed out of place to me. Good coffee though.
This time round there was no messing about. I was dying and there was no room for error. I plumped for the vegetarian breakfast, knowing that my stomach couldn’t handle a plateful of pork.
I asked for extra veggie black pudding, our server told me that I was making a wise choice. I felt comforted by his assurances.
The Mediterranean vegetables that it came with were glossy with olive oil and herbs de provence. The homemade hash brown, that came separately, was like tasting a hash brown for the first time, as it should be. Pure and good. The egg, perfect and fresh.
And our server had been no false prophet; while the veggie black pudding lacked the depth of its blood-filled counterpart, it was crumbly and unctuous.
I work close by and I’ve popped in once or twice on my way home. They have a deal going on cocktails and wines between five and eight, but if I’m drinking on a school night it’s because I want something specific and Augustiner Helles comes in at around £4.50, which while not far off the going rate for a decent beverage can still come as a bit of a shock.
I was pretty enthusiastic when the waiter politely asked if we’d enjoyed our meal. I said it was amazing and maybe that was a bit much, but it seemed, with the sugary milkshake working on my hangover, that anything was possible now.
I could go into town, watch a film, get out of the city, catch a train to the coast, I could do it all again if I wanted to. It was all there for the taking now that I’d steeled myself with grease and milk.
(I ended up in Bury.)