Its a sunny day in Manchester and spirits are high, there are lots of hipsters wandering round taking instagrams, so we join in.
Lets do this, finally, Tusk is here. “It looks a bit closed”. “Is it closed?” We push the door, it stays closed. It was worth a shot, maybe its very exclusive.
So our second choice of the day is Common. We were concerned about the price of fries here, on the BOGOF burger day, but we give it a shot.
I approach the bar and ask about the membership card, the barman happily hands me the card after a quick flash of an email on my phone. He can either sense the confusion about the fries, or he’s the guy running the Twitter account. He mentions its £2.50 for ‘extra’ fries. We still aren’t clear, but head to find a table to figure it out.
Common has recently, and by recently it could well be over a year ago, had a refit. Its got a bit of an Ikea kitchen vibe to it now, rather than the more ‘grungy’ feel of before. This means a lot of wooden stools and high benches, or a sofa. We can’t decide which to go for. The sofas look too relaxed to be useful for eating, whilst the benches look a bit too school dinners for my liking.
We sit down somewhere, because you have to eventually. Its in the window, they have really big windows here, they could well be doors to be fair. When is a window not a door? Anyway, you can’t avoid the sun here, its a refreshing change from the more dark and dinghy places of the Northern Quarter.
Its a short decision to the Maple Bacon Burger (bacon, smoked cheddar, chipotle) at £9.50. How many lots of fries though? They don’t come with them, which I think is bullshit, but we are going to want some ballast. “We’ll ask the barman, he said something about extra fries”
“Whats the deal with the fries then?”
Right, heres the full low down on the fries. Its buy one get one free burgers. You can add fries to a burger you pay for, for £1. With me so far? So you’ve got 2 burgers, you are paying for one. You can have one fries for one pound. You want two fries, your thinking, two pounds? No my friend, its £2.50 for your second fries. Its a bit like a drug dealer putting up the price after getting the first one free. In fact its exactly like that, as fries are like crack.
So thats the fries out of the way. Its on to the beers, its Tuesday, theres been a lot of bullshit to deal with, its time for a beer. This is where my second issue with Common is. You can’t see any beer pumps, they are hidden round the side. There is a fuck off coffee machine slap bang centre stage though, you know our previous views on coffee in these sorts of places. How am I meant to pick a beer without a pretty picture or a funny name to help? We ask about beer, and fairs fair, the barman points us to the massive sign with a list as long as a giant fry. We are now stuck for choice. “We don’t want a 6% one, not this early in the week” The barman is very helpful and points in the direction of the Common Pale Ale, 2 halves it is.
Back to the Ikea benches and now slightly uncomfortable sunshine. Its better than the rain right? Time is passed noting the other patrons of Common. A couple of people looking busy with Mac Books, and an old guy sat in the area which I’m fairly sure used to be the mens urinals in the old Common.
Theres some odd decor in Common, slightly out there signs like the one below, which I will not pretend to understand.
El Food two spots the open kitchen. “At least you know no one is pissing in your soup” Its reassuring, even if we haven’t ordered soup.
The burgers arrive after a short wait, plated, with a pickle on the side. The pickle is a dividing element of the meal. El Food two is firmly in the hate camp, whilst I can tolerate mine dipped in ketchup, but decline the offer of doubling up my pickled fun.
These burgers look good though, they look like a burger should look, tall, but not too tall to pick up. The bacon peaking out making its presence clear, and the cheese oozing out to meet you.
Being professionals we cut one open down the middle, this dissection process helps us get a clear view of the juicy beef within, slightly pink in the middle, you know you’re in for a treat.
Theres fries as well, but who cares? They’ve got skin on, pre-salted, which all good fries should be (How else do you taste them?) The fries are merely something to eat to in-between bites of the burger, to make the experience of this meaty treat that little bit longer.
In fact, El Food two reveals today that he thinks the future of potatoes is mash. Watch this space.
This is one of the best burgers I have had in recent times, and certainly great value for money with the BOGOF offer. The whole thing costs us less than £7 a piece, which you can barely do in Burger King these days. As much as I love a bacon double cheese burger, its got nothing on Common.
Overall: 9 out of 10 confusingly priced fries