Be it the food and drink, leisure and shopping facilities old and new, bands like Blossom putting the town back on the map, or its growing nightlife scene, the regeneration of Stockport over the last few years has been wonderful to watch — and amongst it all, one place is shining bright: Bask.
Having only just celebrated its first anniversary after opening back in June of 2022, located right outside the train station, Bask is a bar, cafe, music venue and many more things all rolled into one and in the 12 months it’s been open, it’s arguably become the one of it not the best night out in Stockport.
At least for our money, anyway.
So, what makes this spot where people step out of the station to enjoy a coffee, a pint or something to eat so special? Well, it’s partly because of the fact that it never stays simply that place to grab a quick little something for very long — be there long enough and something is always happening.
If you do happen to find yourself stepping out of the station and making the two-yard trip from the doors onto the ever-developing Stockport Exchange, you’ll see Bask’s instantly recognisable orange sign outside a modern glass-panelled unit which used to be a coffee shop with about three people in it.
Cut to today and you’ll find a large and lovely room lined with bar stool window seats, big speakers, two screens showing sport; plenty of tables as well as comfy booths and wooden benches sturdy enough to support your weight when you clamber on top of them hours later (we’ll get to that).
But before you get to that, you have plenty to choose from when it comes to food and drink in the daytime. Whether it’s a big breakfast to start the day, a steaming hot pie from local favourites Ate Days A Week, fresh butties or a luxurious meat and cheese platter to feel all cultured or just a pint of their house lager, you really spoilt for choice.
As you peruse the healthy bar selection — stocking lots of booze including their house lager and two custom brands of Stockport Gin — you’ll see a glorious selection of cakes from Manc music legend Clint Boon’s wife, Charlie, who drops off fresh batches of baked goods every week and even hosts regular bottomless brunches and her already legendary
Bask’s live gigs and mega music nights
Speaking of the Boons, the Tea Party isn’t just about scranning cakes and posh coffees: it’s a jumping-off point for what is an absolutely stellar monthly schedule that is regularly packed out with live performances, themed music nights and all-round partying.
They also do their best to promote up-and-coming artists with their weekly Acoustica event every Monday, where aspiring musicians can rock up every week and it’s free entry for the punters. Even when there isn’t live music or, say an 80s-themed night on the cards, they still regularly belt out the best bangers from throughout the ages every weekend and, believe us when we tell you, it’s a vibe in there.
Bask Bingo, comedy nights, matchdays and more
And it doesn’t stop there — not even close. From the ‘Baskmaster’ pub quiz to their sellout Bask Bingo and ‘Bask in Laughter’ comedy nights which have seen the likes of Justin Moorhouse, Haley Ellis, Smug Roberts and countless others cracking up locals, they will literally have a stab at anything these lot.
The most impressive part, at least from our experience anyway, is that they always seem to pull it off. This place was originally supposed to open up as just a restaurant but after extraction issues set those plans back, they had to readjust and boy are we lucky they did.
Whether it’s inviting along spoken word artists every month, hosting FIFA tournaments or the Stockport Social Creative Culture and Music Mixer (a bit of a mouthful, we’ll admit), Bask isn’t happy to just be one thing or another and that’s why it’s so good.
It’s even become a regular haunt for the Stockport County faithful week in and week out (having a few mad Hatters in-house doesn’t hurt), serving pies and pints pre-game, right up until late after it’s finished. While many pubs and bars keep footy fans at a distance, this place welcomes them in with open arms — they were even flying the flag for both teams at Wembley earlier this year.
It’s been a while since Stopfordians had a place like this. The town centre’s Underbank has gradually been rejuvenating under the Old Town revival and Foodie Friday now seems bigger than ever, but there’s something about having a spot that does all of this right on your doorstep that feels special.
We’re happy to go on record by saying that Bask is not only well worth swinging by at any time during the day but beyond just being the best night out in Stockport, it’s also currently one of the best times you’ll have anywhere in Greater Manchester.
If you’ve never been before, it’s worth heading over and giving it a try — you’ll most likely end up doing what we did the first time around: nipping in for ‘one drink’ and end up staying till 2am. Go on, why not?
Louder for those at the back: ‘Stockport isn’t sh*t’.
Featured Image — The Manc Group/Bask (via Instagram)
We tried Greater Manchester’s first eight-course pie-tasting menu and it was absolutely unreal
Every now and again the opportunity to eat something genuinely new and different and which pushes the envelope when it comes to the kind of food you ever even thought you’d enjoy — sitting down for the inaugural ‘PieSessions’ was one of those such occasions.
This month, we had the privilege of being invited along to one of the most exclusive and highly-anticipated dining events in Greater Manchester: an eight-course pie-tasting event created by pie-pros Ate Days A Week, Scotty’s Pies and a number of other collaborators.
Hosting a true first for the region, Notion Bar over in Stockport was packed out with over 50 guests who were all eagerly awaiting to taste pies from the local favourite, MasterChef contestant turned meat and pastry specialist Scott Eckersley-Bell, as well as Wigan staples Baldy’s Pies and Harwoods Patisserie.
At first glance, the popular SK Deep South-inspired dive bar might not look like the place to offer up a gourmet tasting menu, but what it did have was an accessible charm and a bunch of hungry people not only willing to keep their minds open but who simply love all things pie. Who doesn’t?
At the top of the bill was probably one of the most interesting things we’ve eaten all year: a Japanese-inspired ‘Pie-Scream’ which delivered the exact savoury spin as it promised on the tin. A malt-crust cone stuffed with smoothly pipped mash, katsu curry sauce and crispy Teriyaki bacon in place of a flake.
We believe we call that ‘making a good first impression’. From that moment on, we knew we weren’t just going to be eating any old meal and that it wasn’t just going to be plate after plate of what you normally consider a pie; everything was different and we can honestly say everything was good, if not amazing.
Next up we had probably one of our standouts from the entire night which was a garlic, ginger and soy pork mince tartlet with a perfect piece of honey-glazed pork belly next to it, as well as a light edamame and spring onion purée to balance out the strong flavours.
Following on from the opener, the pair delivered all of the tried and tested Asian flavours in a method most will have never experienced them in before and, in truth, we could have even taken some extra spice with that virtually perfect tartlet but they were careful not to thrash our palettes early doors.
Two down, six to go and when we tell you it was plate after plate of precise pie-based ingenuity, we’re not exaggerating. From the short rib slider, which was almost like an elevated Wigan kebab, to the gentler poached cod pithivier which kind of reminded us of a seafood twist on a Cornish pasty, there was a single thing we didn’t like.
The way the menu was also carefully constructed not to beat you over the head with non-stop meat, pastry and gravy but to fluctuate between smaller bites and more substantial courses was already pretty impressive, as we managed to make it to the end of the meal at the perfect level of full.
We were even pleasantly surprised to see how the team tackled the issue of pudding, with a sweet and just sharp enough take on parfait with fresh orange, stem ginger and brown sugar, as well as a much richer chocolate, salted caramel and hazelnut brownie for a big finish.
To be honest, we loved the tiny little lemon madeleines they surprised us with as an after-dinner treat even more than the desserts (the two of us in attendance are lemon fiends, to be fair) but the best course of the night has to go to the ‘Big Jim Volume 2.0’.
Speaking to Ate Days A Week Founder Andy James on our way out, you could clearly see how his passion for the concept had translated amongst his colleagues, into the excitement of the guests and then back onto him after he saw how well the whole thing went down.
There was a real buzz about the place that was nothing like we’d ever experienced before with other tasting menus and we think it’s because those in attendance had never sat down for a meal that was as experimental as this one whilst also being that accessible.
Yes, it might be a touch posher than pie, mash and gravy but it never stayed too far away from that simple British pleasure and while there were certainly a few thrills to give you that tasting menu feel, nothing felt out of place and neither did the diners.
Pulling off one of the best teas we’ve had in a long time from a tiny kitchen inside a rough-around-the-edges late-night drinking spot, we already know there will be a sequel to PieSessions not only because Andy told us so but because it was such a massive success. Count us in for the next one.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 — dates, locations, prices and everything you need to know
Rejoice, Manchester it’s that time again — famously the most wonderful time of year, and you know what that means: we’ll soon be filling our faces with bratwurst, cheersing steins of Bavarian beer and filling our houses with far too many festive trinkets because the Christmas Markets are back.
We’re not even tooting our own horn when we say this, it’s just a fact that the Manchester Christmas Markets are some of the best and most popular on the planet and this year we celebrate 25 years since the seasonal stalls first opened up in 0161 and started a legendary annual tradition.
It doesn’t matter how many years roll by, we still await their arrival like little kids waiting for Christmas morning and set our schedules for what time we’re going to head out on which day to cross off the must-haves on our markets checklist.
With that in mind, we thought we’d help you put together your own plan of attack this holiday season and give you all the info you need to know to make the most of the 2023 Manchester Christmas Markets. You can thank us later.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 mug design and price
Every year the Manchester Christmas Markets has a limited-edition mug design, and this year the collectable souvenir has taken inspiration from the Nutcracker.
There are two different sizes and 2023 designs to collect when the markets officially open next week.
When you order a hot drink at the markets you’ll be charged a £3.50 deposit for a mug (that’s up from £3 last year).
You can then return your cup when you’re finished to get your money back, or take it home as a memento.
Last year, the Manchester Christmas Markets mugs were so popular they ran out before the markets had even finished – but they’ve ordered extras this year to be on the safe side.
Travel advice and how to get to the Manchester Christmas Markets 2023
Transport for Greater Manchester has urged people to use public transport wherever possible to travel in and out of the city centre for the Manchester Christmas Markets.
That’s because of all the events running alongside the festivities, from huge football matches to gigs at the AO Arena to Black Friday sales.
The Bee Network app will help you to plan your journey and you can read all the latest travel advice here.
The best hotels to stay in for the Manchester Christmas Markets
Now, for those of you travelling into town to sample our world-famous markets — as literally thousands do every single year — you might be in need of somewhere to lay your head after a few too many steaming mugs of Glühwein.
Fortunately, since this city continues to be such a popular tourist attraction all year round, there are plenty of hotels to suit whatever your budget is.
In fact, you’re so lucky that we already put together a list of the best hotels in Manchester a little while back, so you’re welcome in advance.
And that should do you for now and your guide to the 2023 Manchester Christmas Markets — we’re sure most of you know the score by now: it’ll be a big, cold, a bit busy but utterly wonderful as it always is.
We’ve found the trick is to try out a few days during the week if you want to beat the rush and then come back at the weekend for the full-bellied crowds brimming with festive cheer.
There really is nothing like it in our opinion and we’ll be sure to keep bringing you plenty of updates on all things Christmas Markets-related going on in Manchester over the next couple of months.