A former clothing wholesales showroom, this venue was re-purposed into a bar/restaurant a few years ago & has since gone through a number of incarnations; remember “R House” anyone? Shack has a certain curb appeal, and if it were located over on Deansgate, or down in Fallowfield I could imagine it packed to the rafters weekend in & weekend out, however it is not & therefore it isn’t, and herein are the beginnings of a problem for this place. We have walked past this place countless times on our way to the Tariff Street strip of bars, and there are rarely more than a handful of punters inside, and like on our recent visit those there tend to be on the sausage side of the gender equation which can put off the fairer sex.
Whilst some elements of the décor do look out of place, (the padded leatherette door to the gents for example looks like it was rejected from a sleazy gentlemen’s club in 1976), it largely holds its own and is tasteful enough. The booths are roomy and there is a good selection of tables of differing sizes making it suited for both friendly group gatherings and those on more intimate date nights. In addition, Shack is furnished with a number of other pub accoutrements not often found around these parts and with pool tables, fruities & even beer pong, there’s entertainment available in addition to obligatory TVs and this does lend to its appeal for some.
The beer on offer tends toward the premium end of the generic lager staples, think Moretti & Staropramen rather than Foster’s & Stella with a Symonds cider offering replacing the common Strongbow choice. They also have the same Franciscan Well IPA that is found at Dive (although with fewer of the pouring issues) and this is a good choice for those who like their craftier tasting options. For the non-pint drinkers you’ll find the usual selection of wine & spirits, along with a well-priced cocktail list (although it wasn’t clear if this was at the expense of quality). Unusually the drinks list includes some milkshakes too, expanding on the regular options of post mix sparkling drinks or cordial based offerings for the non-drinkers.
Food wise, again the fayre on offer is OK without being spectacular. Burgers & grill items dominate the menu, and it should prove a better option than the local Weatherspoon’s type establishments but I can’t help but think it’s all done just that little bit better elsewhere and that may well prove to be problematic. Whilst Shack is largely inoffensive, there is also nothing that makes it stand out against a busy marketplace. Personally I think the main problem with Shack is that it’s a suburban pub masquerading as a city centre bar, and has tried to lay roots in the wrong part of town, which is a shame for the team behind it as they would be more successful at a better suited pitch, and it’s also a shame for this space as there remains a lot of potential to do something different.
Food: Grill & Burgers
Drinks: Cocktails, lagers & spirits
Related City Centre establishments: None
Bongo rating: 4/10