A diner has opened in Sheffield where the staff are rude to you, and you’re encouraged to be rude back – and it won’t be long before Manchester gets its own taste of the Karen’s Diner experience.
The immersive pop-up dining experience has been exported from sunny Australia to the temperamental climes of the northwest.
It’s just landed in Sheffield ahead of a June opening in Prestwich – so, obviously, we had to take a trip over to see what it’s all about.
Full disclosure, if you’re mild-mannered and thinking of paying them a visit, brace yourself. Even writing this down is starting to give me the shakes again. I already knew it was going to be a bit full-on, but this was an ORDEAL – like the hospitality equivalent of being hazed.
It was also completely hilarious. You have to laugh, really, or you’d probably cry.
‘Welcomed’ with hard, glaring stares, then shouted at for being late (which, to be fair, we were), we were led on a merry dance around the diner – circling tables four or five times – before the staff eventually showed us to our seats.
The diner itself looks like it’s been lifted straight from 1950s America, complete with checkered black and white tiles, red and white leather booths, and vinyl records pinned to the walls.
There’s a predictably diner-esque menu of burgers and fries topped with American cheese that never quite seems to melt.
Throughout the hour we spent at Karen’s Diner – one of the longest hours of our lives – we were routinely humiliated: forced to spin a ‘wheel of shame’, do a fashion catwalk through the diner, drink ‘toilet shots’ or swirling Kahlua and Baileys, and wear customised paper hats that read ‘Vegan in Denial!’ and ‘Messy B*tch’ (they got that last one spot on for me, it has to be said).
We’re handed a colouring-in sheet and a handful of broken crayons, before our artwork is snatched away and torn to shreds before our eyes. The more talented creations – including one featuring a doodled penis – are pinned proudly to the walls.
I ask for a napkin. It’s brought to the table, a corner torn off, and presented with a perfect ‘f*ck you’ smile.
A minute later, I ask for sauce. This is intentional – I want to be annoying, I want to see what they’ll do. My efforts are rewarded. The sauce arrives, along with napkins. I can’t believe my luck. Sauce and napkins for this messy b*tch? Perfect.
Not so much. The sauce is unceremoniously dumped, upside down, on the aforementioned napkin, then he promptly leaves. From there, it’s up to me to do what I want with it. Like any self-respecting sauce lover, I eat it off the napkin.
As an ex-hospitality worker of some ten years or so, I myself have spent many years sullenly mouthing ‘f*ck off’ or some other insult under my breath at an annoying customer who’s taken things too far. It’s just a part of the job.
What I would’ve done in those days to work somewhere where I was not only able to shout it at their face, but be paid for the pleasure. In that regard, Karen’s Diner is a dream.
Retail workers get it, hospitality workers get it. Sometimes the customer just isn’t right – and those customers, the really annoying ones, known in the industry as ‘Karens’, could do with a big telling-off.
Whether the people manning the tables at Karen’s Diner are actors, or incredibly disgruntled hospitality staff, we’re never too sure – either way, they never break character.
Every polite request of ours is greeted with a middle finger or an exaggerated eye roll, red baskets of burgers are dumped on the table with such force that all the fillings tumble out, and we’re so afraid to leave our seats that we have to wait for their backs to be turned to make a dash to the loo.
This is the place to go and get it – and when you’ve had enough, you’ll be bid farewell with a hearty ‘f*ck off’.
This Manchester bar is selling PINTS of Bloody Mary and a slice for six quid
Whether it’s downing pints of water before bed, spending all day on the sofa asleep, or a big fat fry-up the morning after, everyone has a favourite hangover cure.
One of ours has to be the Bloody Mary, aka the best ever hair of the dog – a mixture of spicy tomato juice, vodka, lemon, hot sauce and, in a perfect world, something smoky with pickles.
So when we heard that Manchester rock bar Jimmy’s is selling PINTS of the stuff for just six pounds with a big fat slice of focaccia-like Detroit pizza included, we felt compelled to share the good news.
After all, party season is basically upon us – and that means struggling through more hangovers than we can typically endure.
The Ancoats boozer is currently home to Manchester’s original Detroit pizza heroes Corner Slice, a long time favourite in The Manc office from day one.
The team also has a pizza shop in Failsworth, but for the next month (well, until 23 December), they’re slinging their signature slices out of the kitchen at Jimmy’s to help you soak up the booze.
The deal, which is available every day, includes a pint of Bloody Mary and a square slice of their thick deep-pan Red Top pizza: a mixture of red sauce, Corner Slice’s signature cheese blend and basil pesto.
Available every day of the week, from open until the kitchen closes, you can opt to enjoy your pint of Bloody Mary and pizza in the bar or get it to take away if you’d rather curl up on the sofa with some grease and your favourite TV show.
The brainchild of owners Frank Brashaw and Danny Broadbent, Corner Slice has made a well-deserved name for itself in Manchester thanks to serving up deep pan pizza with traditional Italian toppings and a curly cheese crust.
The popular Failsworth-originated pizzeria was the first to bring its Motor city-inspired rectangular pizza pies to Manchester after what it said was a “light bulb” moment during lockdown.
As well as the simple ‘Red Top’, some of Corner Slice’s best-loved dishes include square pies loaded with the likes of Korean Cauli, Portocini (a mix of portobello and porcini), and a number of regularly-changing specials and vegan specials.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Manchester bar Banyan is serving martini trees, pigs in blankets and cocktail baubles this Christmas
Cocktails in a bauble – have we got your attention now? Because Banyan is pulling out all the stops for us in Manchester this Christmas.
The gorgeous bar brand, which has sites in both Spinningfields and at the Corn Exchange, is delivery festive cheer like never before, with an amazing selection of offers.
First, let’s talk cocktails.
Banyan is already known and loved for its wide selection of boozy concoctions, with 2-for-1 deals aplenty with seemingly endless sweet, sour and fresh to choose from. But now, there’s a whole host of new festive specials to take full advantage of to add to the list.
We’re talking Orange Espresso Martini served by the tree and Bauble Trays full of exciting gin combinations served inside its namesake- both are ideal for sharing this winter.
If you’re looking for a bottomless option, there’s also plenty of scope to taste test the best of Banyan with free-flowing fizz this Christmas. The festive bottomless brunch menu serves up a combination of unlimited Prosecco, Bloody Mary cocktails, Aperol Spritz, Orange Blush Spritz, pints of Coors- and the limited edition Berry Crumble Spritz.
All this booze certainly needs some delicious foodie options to soak it all up, and there’s a mouthwatering festive feast that’ll trump your mum’s turkey dinner any day.
Served to a minimum of eight people at a time, take on a selection of Banyan classics like the Bang Bang chicken skewers and mini versions of the gourmet burgers, or stay true to the seasons with generous helpings of pigs in blankets, all served as a buffet-style dinner. This one’s perfect for Christmas office lunches, festive gatherings with friends or even just a wintry weekend get together with the family.
Naturally, those looking for a feast with their nearest and dearest might want an added level of privacy for a game or to disclose Secret Santa gifts, so Banyan is offering a range of private dining experiences in addition to all of these fantastic food and drink options.
If you love to celebrate the changing of the seasons with a carefully curated menu of festive flavours like brie, bacon or a good old fashioned Christmas pud, there’s also a host of treats awaiting at any of the Banyan restaurants.
Tis the season to make the most of porcini mushroom arancini oozing with cheese and roasted cod with creamy lobster sauce, and there’s plenty to go around. Banyan burgers have also had a festive makeover with a limited edition Christmas burger with all the trimmings, and you can grab one no matter whether you’re a meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan- there’s even a meat-free Festive Beyond Burger with a plant-based ‘pig’ in blanket on the menu.
To book your next visit to Manchester’s worst kept Christmas secret, visit the Banyan Bar website.