Review: Black Dog Ballroom NWS @ New Wakefield Street, Manchester

By Merry Arnold

Ever wondered where the Blackdog name originated from?

Well, we have the answer and it’s written all over the newest addition to the Blackdog brand – Blackdog NWS, situated in the buzzing Oxford Road Corner.

Bruce is a dog, a black dog, and he belongs to an owner of the chain of Blackdog restaurants/bars/nightclubs/bowling alleys/karaoke hideouts.

You’ll see plenty of doggy memorabilia at Bruce’s Bar, the stunning rooftop of Blackdog NWS. There are multi-coloured dog figures, pictures for the girls’, boys’ and dogs’ toilets and even a kennel for the canine, complete with a ‘beware of the dog’ sign.

But fear not – there’s nothing to be wary of here – you’ll be greeted with a friendly face, food that’ll fill you up for a week and a cracking cocktail menu. 

Upon arrival at Blackdog NWS, we recommend heading straight to the top of the wooden staircase to said rooftop. Unlike the underground slice of NYC we’re used to over at Blackdog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter, this is a light and airy space full of colourful furniture, bird cages and exposed brickwork.

It’s all housed in glass, allowing you to feel like you’re wining and dining al fresco, even on those very rare rainy days in Manchester… And when the sun actually is shining there’s an outside bar in the small open-air terrace, with a covered area for smokers too so everyone’s sorted, come rain or shine.

There’s something for everyone on the new menu too, with a breakfast menu (served until 4pm for all you students out there), lighter dishes including sandwiches and salads and the big dogs – 12” pizzas, gourmet burgers and meat and veggie platters.

As starters go, the chicken wings with a blue cheese dip are a decent portion. For just £5 you’ll be treated to six tender chicken wings smothered in a hot or BBQ glaze. The BBQ option is a real winner, winner, chicken dinner.

It tastes like a real BBQ’d bird should – no overpowering synthetic BBQ sauce nonsense. That’ll be down to the permanent in-house BBQ residing at Blackdog NWS, then. 

The potato skins are another cheap and cheerful option for a starter, dressed in crispy bacon, melted cheddar cheese and sour cream. Just what the doctor ordered after a night of drinking and dancing downstairs in the Underdog club.

If your wallet took a beating the night before, then don’t worry these fluffy spuds are only £4.50.

For mains, the £8.95 meat or veggie platters are guaranteed winners. Although ordering one may come with a warning from the charming waiter with the best hair ever.

“Yeah, it’s absolutely huge,” he politely told us, putting portion sizes in no doubt.

And huge it was. But that’s the kind of honest service MM like.

Our waiter and bartender was not only honest, but polite, friendly and had just the right amount of awareness of what was going on at the table, recommending another cocktail when glasses became dry.  

He also knew the food and drink menus inside-out. Against better judgement, I decided on the veggie platter as a main.

The spicy chickpea chilli nachos, complete with jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole and salsa, are full of Moroccan-inspired spices and are really special. Four rich deep-fried mozzarella sticks, real homemade onion rings and two inviting pots of coleslaw and black and green olives also grace the platter.

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘veggie’ though, there ain’t much healthy about this one!

But that’s not what you’re after with this menu, so a must is the £12 Half Pound Hound.

This beast of a burger was stacked high with a half-pound beef burger, Philly steak, bacon, cheese, enough onion rings for a sharing platter and fries and coleslaw. If you like an edible challenge then grab yourself a Half Pound Hound while it’s hot and see whether you’re also defeated by this beefy beast.

If Man v Food isn’t your thing, then Blackdog NWS is still a great place to chill after work, with full-strength cocktails only £3 between 7pm and 10pm. The Peach Punch Cooler helps to take you to that happy place while the Manchester rain beats down on the terrace. If you’ve a sweet tooth then opt for the Poker Face, a glass full of amaretto and strawberry pleasure that tastes like Battenberg cake.

First opening its doors in May 2012, it’s safe to say that Blackdog NWS has already outshone its NQ sister Blackdog Ballroom.

This venue, with its quirky décor, chilled music, proper grub and cheap drinks, is the perfect example that perhaps the NQ isn’t always where it’s at.

Visit their website here for more information.

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