Society sits hunched in the basement beneath 101 Barbirolli Square, a building whose rounded glass-clad front and revolving door seem either a fancy-dress of 80s finance, or a relic of it.
Downstairs, look past the potted plants and communist food-hall benches and the same ethos applies; free market capitalism reigns in its most modern and altered form. Five independent kitchens jostle to fill that moment when, on a Saturday afternoon after five pints and no breakfast, you decide that you would finally like something to eat.
When that moment does arrive you’ll have plenty of choice: burgers by food market stalwarts – or even stallwarts – Slap and Pickle; pan-asian street food from Manzoku; Dokes Pizzeria courtesy of the Elnecot restaurant in Ancoats; Korean cuisine from Yoki Social Table, and Indian street food from 2017 Vendor of the Year Chaat Cart.
Outside of sitting down at a place setting and being treated like an emperor, I find this is a good way to eat – unfussy but satisfying, not the central reason for a day in town but a pleasant addition – and the food is chosen well in that respect. For stomach rumbles of varying magnitudes there’s a dish that will resolve it. Add to this a Hebden Bridge brewery manning the taps and you’ve got yourself a slice of understated – if mildly overpriced – quality.
What’s particularly comforting about Society is its sense of proximity. Bridgewater Hall looms overhead, and Beetham Tower shows off in the middle distance, but because you go down a set of steps and hunker into a closed-off crater, the two landmarks feel like cosy set dressing for whatever conversation it is that you’re having. But that’s none of my business.
Another relic of money’s favourite decade, Margaret Thatcher, famously said that there’s no such thing as society, but then I imagine she never had many friends in the first place. Well sod her, go to Society and make it a thing.
Pic: Twitter @societymanc