Hard Rock Cafe @ Exchange Square, Manchester

By David Keane

Hard Rock Cafe may be known as the all-American diner, but believe it or not the chain started life down in London in the 70s.

Yes, they boast a music-obsessed theme with MTV classics always on the screen – so rock-lovers will be in their element – but that’s not what we’re concerned with here. It’s the food.

Serving up homemade Southern-style cooking, with a healthy dollop coming from co-founder Isaac Tigrett’s Tennesse roots, the Hard Rock brand have certainly made a success of their bold flavours and big burgers.

And this is exactly what you’ll find in their Manchester café, over at the Printworks.

California burgers, red white and blue burgers, Hickory BBQ bacon cheeseburgers. If burgers are what you want, you’re spoilt for choice (I’m not going to list them all). And if this doesn’t satisfy your meat lust, their 12oz New York steak should.

When it comes to starters, all the usual Southern favourites are on offer. Hickory smoked chicken wings, Tupelo chicken tenders, nachos and more. They even offer you the easiest option for those who can’t make up their minds – the Jumbo Combo, offering a little of everything. And when they say this is big enough to share, trust them, it is. Probably even between three.

(Note to the table across from us, the five men in their early 20s who somehow managed to put away four of these for starters – did you come to regret this? We didn’t stick around to see how far you made it through your mains, though I’m sure they offer doggy bags.)

The Legendary 10oz burger was a tough choice when it’s competing against no fewer than 11 others – but it didn’t disappoint. The menu claims this is famous the world over. Well I’ve been told you can chow down on this burger everywhere from Sharm-el-Sheik to Guam – wherever the hell Guam is – so I have no reason to doubt this.

It delivers the classic burger staples – bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and, of course, pickles – and tosses on a crispy onion ring for good measure. At 10oz, it should satisfy most and the it has the big flavour to match.

PULLED PORK SANDWICH: Not as messy to eat as it looks

Going out on a limb, the hickory-smoked, pulled-pork sandwich would have to be the highlight of the menu. This really is a limb, as we have by no means tried everything on the menu, so whether you choose to trust this is your call.

But this is hand-pulled, tender, juicy pork served up with a hickory BBQ sauce on a big bun – and I’m not sure what tops that. It’s not half as messy to eat as it sounds either (though without a mirror nearby, I can’t be sure my dining partner would agree).

Hard Rock don’t skimp on the portions, so I’m unsure how many of their clients make it through to their dessert section. If this were a macho ‘who can eat the most’ contest, I’m ashamed to say we didn’t even make it through one hot fudge brownie, shared three ways. Embarrassing indeed when the waitress came over to see half of it still sat there.

Just to be clear though – this is no ordinary hot fudge brownie. It comes in a glass cup with more akin to a basin, and enough chocolate sauce to drown small gazelle in. Like everything at Hard Rock, there’s more than enough of it.

If you’re into American dining, then this is where you should be. But if you are into American dining, you probably already know that.

Enjoy it. Just don’t make yourself sick.

One grumpy Englishman point of issue: their website lists their menu language with an American flag. All-American or not, either something’s amiss or I’ve picked up another language without knowing it.

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CHOCOLATE HOT FUDGE BROWNIE: Presented in a handy ‘basin’


Hard Rock Cafe Manchester are also offering a special New Year’s Eve menu. Here’s what’s on offer:


Celebrate this New Year’s Eve, Monday 31st December, at Hard Rock Cafe Manchester. We are offering the following delicious menu which is £30.00 per person and includes a glass of bubbly!


Spring Rolls

Grilled Asparagus rolled in prosciutto ham
Caprese Salad


Local Legendary Burger

Grilled Salmon
Grilled Sirloin
Penne Pasta
Full Rack of Ribs


Mini Black Forest Gateau

Mini Cheesecake
Chocolate Fudge Cake


 There will be a DJ from 10pm and we will be showing the Big Ben count down on our screens throughout the restaurant.


There are 2 sittings to choose from:
7:30pm – 9:30pm
10pm for the rest of the evening


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