53two Review | The Hidden Gem Under the Arches

 53two Review | The Hidden Gem Under the Arches

It’s more than likely that when you visit 53two you’ll be greeted by Albion – the in-house ‘Barktender’. As a miniature whippet, he’s much quicker than the rest of the staff, and he will always reach the door first! Albi loves the attention, and he’ll definitely bring a smile to your face on entry.

The pup is closely followed by the smiling, attentive staff, who welcome each and every person that heads into the bar. Occupying two of the arches under the Manchester Central Complex, 53two is tucked away on Watson Street in the heart of Manchester. It’s super cosy & an extremely relaxing place to be!

The Idea Behind 53two

Bar @ 53two (photo by Matthew Wilkinson)

53two is an arts hub developing a community in the local theatre scene, supporting diversity & equality in the industry. As a bar & theatre, 53two is a versatile venue. With a bar & café in one arch, and the theatre space occupying the other, the venue overall offers plenty to do.

During the day, the bar is a great workspace for those seeking an alternative working environment. Then, as day turns to night, 53two changes into a relaxed bar to sit back, relax & enjoy an alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) beverage. It’s even open ‘til late on the weekend.

Owners Simon & Alex are completely hands-on, and are nearly always in the building – working or not! Both are usually about, but are always on-hand to welcome each and every guest that walks into the arches.

There’s also plenty of regular events hosted by 53two, promoting the sense of community further. There’s a quiz night hosted by Dr Q, and there’s ‘Pian-oke’ – a piano-driven karaoke night. So, if you’re looking to get your pipes going, head down to 53two, where they host their ‘Pian-oke’ once almost every month!

53two was born, essentially, by accident. Our previous venue happened to be accessible. It also happened to be exposed brick. Both these elements led us to create not only a theatre/arts hub but also a ‘brand’ that nurtured the idea that theatre is for everyone. Our patrons, the shows, the unwaged tickets, the BSL – all of this was funnelled into the new venue.

Community is key and there’s no community unless you can involve anyone. Yes, we’re a theatre, but, moreover, we’re a place you can come on your own and leave with more friends… And maybe catch some quality theatre at an affordable price. Inclusivity, accessibility and diversity run through our core like a name in Blackpool rock.

Simon Naylor, Manager @ 53two

The 53two Theatre

Theatre @ 53two

The theatre space at 53two hosts plenty of local shows, in-house readings & much more. Though not well & truly finished, this looks to be completed in the near future, where 53two will put on an increasing number of local productions.

Despite not being fully functional, the theatre space opened at the same time as the bar, with a number of local artists & performers hiring out to put on their own shows, with Simon & Alex looking to do everything they can to help out. Watch this space.

53two’s Top Bar

On my visit to 53two, I explored the range of drinks available at the bar. On first glance, the draught beers are a range from Brightside Brewing Company – a high-quality local business. A partnership with the brewery highlights how 53two focus on the local industry – a nice feature in the times where chains are increasing by the day.

There’s also a range of bottles & cans available, ranging from local Manchester brewers to even more options – leaving customers spoilt for choice. I had the ‘Maverick’ on draught for my first drink, a crisp & flavoursome IPA that didn’t last long! After a couple of them, I turned my attention to the Keller lager, another delicious option on draught.

Special Offers

For a moment, I’d just like to appreciate 53two’s special offers when it comes to their bar. Here’s a list I found of all the available offers:

Monday – 20% off bar tabs between 5pm & 9pm, a great way to ease the Monday gloom!

Wednesday = ‘Winesday’ – buy two large glasses of wine, and the rest of the bottle comes free!

Friday – A bottle of prosecco for just £15, all day! Start your weekend right!

Bar @ 53two (photo by Matthew Wilkinson)

53two’s Quality Food Selection

As well as the quality drinks on offer at 53two, they also give their guests the opportunity to eat some top scran when they visit. In a bar, having crisps behind the bar is a classic. Well, 53two offer Seabrook Crisps – a top-tier crisp in my rankings.

There’s also a selection of pies on offer Thursday-Sunday, made by HMPasties – a business employing ex-offenders to “bring out the good inside” and provide some tasty pasties & pies. This is 53two once again showing that they’re all about the local industry. I managed to get my hands on a jerk chicken pie (served with some mushy peas) & will certainly be back to try more.

Then, just when you think you’re full, it’s more than likely that you’ll clock the sweet treats on the counter, at the end of the bar. Supplied by the wonderful Nibble – located in the Northern Quarter – you’ll probably find it hard to resist. That was me when I visited, and I opted for the After Eight brownie – rich, gooey goodness to make sure I was well & truly full.

Special Offers

Again, 53two is a great place to make the most of some high-quality special offers, and that includes food:

Pie & a Pint – only £7! Thursday-Sunday!

Coffee & Cake – every day of the week for just £4.50!

My Final Thoughts

Brightside Brewery Pint (photo by Matthew Wilkinson)

My advice? Get down to 53two! Say hello to Albion & the the friendly staff, and enjoy a relaxing bar experience!

There’s plenty of great local, independent shows going on quite frequently at 53two. It is also a great bar to go to at any time of the day! If you’re looking for a tasty coffee while you get out your laptop to do some work, or you’re there for some after work down-time, 53two has got you covered! What are you waiting for?

Jordan Noble

With a passion for live music and drinking pints, Jordan joined MancMuse to explore his creative side. Now, he'll be at plenty of live shows to review artists from all over. He's always on the lookout for new bars & restaurants to find the best pints in Manchester - he'll bring reviews of the best he can find!

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