We visit Bar San Juan on a very wet, very dark Friday afternoon. The rain is pelting down as hurricane Ian makes his presence felt on both sides of the Atlantic, but inside it’s a different story entirely.
This cosy little slice of Spain on Beech Road is as unassuming as it is full of European charm. It’s also something of a local treasure, gradually achieving cult-like status amongst the foodies of South Manchester (and beyond) over the past twelve years.
Since opening in 2010, Bar San Juan had famously never taken reservations. Queues were not uncommon, and the conventional wisdom amongst regulars has always been that you should come for an early lunch or dinner if you don’t like to wait.
It tried to operate a walk-in system where diners join a waiting list and are called 15 minutes ahead of time, but has since succumbed to an online booking system with the added promise that, if you can’t find the time you want, you can always Whatsapp to see if they can squeeze you in.
A testament to its popularity, after the easing of the first lockdown in 2020 owners bought neighbouring pub The Parlour to ‘accommodate social distancing’ – but inside it still feels incredibly snug.
On our visit, every table is full. The tapas bar has just won the Manchester Food and Drink Festival’s Neighbourhood Venue of the Year award, and well deserved it is too. Clearly, it’s well-loved, but until now we’ve never visited – to our shame.
Until the small plates hit our table, we don’t truly appreciate just how much we’ve been missing out.
Out come plump pastry parcels stuffed with pulled lamb on a Tempranillo red wine reduction, truffled quails egg toast liberally spread with sobrassada (chorizo paste), juicy tiger prawns swimming in garlic butter and melt-in-the-mouth beef cheeks topped with crispy leek in a homemade gravy.
We dig in with gusto, oohing and ahhing as even more treats arrive in quick succession: a plate of deep-fried piquillo peppers filled with cod and bechamel and topped with red pepper sauce, followed by discs of chorizo from the northern region of Asturias cooked in white wine until they’re sumptuously soft.
Washed down with a hearty half-pint of sangria and a tall, refreshing Mahou beer, we’ve almost forgotten that the sky is black with rain outside.
For the past hour and a half, perched on a high table next to a heater inside the enclosed terrace, we really felt transported – a feat not easily achieved when you’re soaked through with biting cold Manchester rain.
Officers have been carrying out searches of people arriving on site this week – and have already arrested a 24-year-old man.
A quantity of pills and a knife were both recovered from the man, who has been arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs and possession of a bladed article.
After the arrest, Superintendent Phil Spurgeon issued a statement to criminals, saying ‘don’t bother coming to Parklife’.
He said: “We have a really robust police and partnership community safety operation for the festival, and the arrest and seizure yesterday demonstrates the vigilance of security staff, our thorough search procedures and our commitment to keeping people safe.
“Make no mistake, illegal items such as weapons and drugs can have fatal consequences. Our top priority this weekend is keeping people safe, and anyone caught trying to take such items into the festival will be robustly dealt with.
“I hope the genuine festival-goers are excited for the fantastic weekend ahead and I am confident the majority will enjoy the event responsibly and safely.”
Greater Manchester Police and Parklife security staff will be working closely together to intercept anyone travelling to the festival with criminal intentions.
The arrest on 8 June was thanks to the festival’s drug detection dogs.
In a formal statement addressing the situation, the city‘s flagship further education institution says some of its systems have been accessed by an “unauthorised party” and that data has “likely been copied” as a result of this.
The University’s in-house experts are said to be “working around the clock” to resolve the issue.
External support teams are also said to be working in collaboration with the University to understand what data has been accessed.
Patrick Hackett – Registrar, Secretary, and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Manchester – explained in a statement issued this morning: “Regrettably, I have to share with you the news that the University is the victim of a cyber incident, [as] it has been confirmed that some of our systems have been accessed by an unauthorised party and data have likely been copied.
“Our in-house experts and established expert external support are working around the clock to resolve this incident, and we are working to understand what data has been accessed”.
Mr Hackett said he understands the nature of the issue will “cause concern to members of our community”, and says the University is “very sorry for this”.
The University says it is also working with relevant authorities – including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the National Crime Agency, and other regulatory bodies – to resolve the issue, and will provide information to those affected as soon as they are able to.
Students and staff are also be told to be vigilant to any suspicious phishing emails within the coming days – with the University’s IT Services team having published some relevant advice to refer to.