I went to Greater Manchester’s ‘best Wetherspoons’ but one thing disappointed me – Hana Kelly

Wetherspoons are synonymous with the British high street. They exist for every occasion and welcome you in with their headache inducing carpets, cheap drinks and reliable food.

In Greater Manchester alone, there are more than 25 Wetherspoons’ pubs, and the Paramount on Oxford Road is in the top 10 percent of ‘light bites’ eateries in Manchester, according to TripAdvisor. It is also rated as one of the four best Wetherspoons in the region, scoring four stars overall on the travel site.

There are four top scoring Wetherspoons in Greater Manchester, each receiving four stars. However, the sheer volume of reviews for the Paramount is what swayed me to this establishment.

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541 people have taken time out of their lives to review this intriguing pub. 368 of these reviews are either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ – 68% of the reviews. Despite one user, David N, titling his review ‘service can be a bit hit and miss’, the reviewer still gave the pub four stars, suggesting that the app and value for money are reasons for a positive review:

They said: “The app does make things a lot easier. Good range of beers as usual at very good prices.” Value seems to be a recurring point of positive feedback for the Paramount. The ratings breakdown has ‘value’ reaching as high as four and a half stars. The most recent review on the site, which applauded the breakfast, also highlighted value.

The Paramount

Titled, ‘Great cooked breakfasts’, reviewer Scenic38380583476, wrote: “We came here for a cooked breakfast. It was a tasty generous amount and hot drinks were refillable. “We had 2 small breakfasts (which weren’t small!), extra hash browns and hot drinks for £12 for the two of us. Very good value.”

However, not everyone agrees that this ‘Spoons is a winner. One review from December 2021 reviews the pub as having ‘terrible service’. Having already visited one of the worst rated Wetherspoons in Manchester and finding it lacking in atmosphere but tasty in dinner. I found myself inspired to try again – this time going for the best.

What’s cooking?

I visited this top branch of the iconic chain with my partner on a Wednesday night and ordered the new lemon and herb half chicken and chips, an empire state burger – both with a side of chips and a glass of wine, a side of chicken wings , and a side of halloumi fries.

Empire state burger, chips and onion rings
Empire state burger, chips and onion rings

The food arrived within 10 minutes of ordering and was hot to eat, not a soggy chip in sight. Speaking of chips – the burger came with 21 chips and seven onion rings, while the chicken came with a staggering 34.

After some polite dinner time conversation, I asked my partner what he thought of his burger, and with a true tone of surprise he said: “This burger’s actually really nice”, and added: “the thing is with Wetherspoons, you just know what you’re getting. It’s priced perfectly.”

As somewhat of a burger connoisseur, my date has come to the conclusion that a burger is a burger is a burger and that this one measures up to be perfectly adequate – no more, no less. I was less impressed. Having been taken in with the Nando’s style font on the menu and the promise of a lemon and herb chicken with a garlic and herb dip, I was stoked and then swiftly disappointed.

The lemon and herb marinade on the chicken was delicious, I can’t complain at that. But the other 75 per cent of the meat was as dry as a desert in sunshine. So dry, in fact, that the little strips of chicken which were cut away more resembled paper than food.

It brought back memories of sawdust-dry turkey I had eaten in Chadderton’s Toby Carvery, a memory I had wished to erase. There was also no garlic and herb dip, but sweet chilli, which was great with the chips but an odd combination with the chicken.

Despite this disappointing half a bird, the sides were good as expected. The chicken wings were politely spicy and juicy enough that their texture didn’t cross my mind. Meanwhile, the halloumi fries – spot on. If there is something you cannot fault, it’s a Wetherspoons’ halloumi fry.

Are you being served?

Halloumi fries as good as they can be at the Paramount
Halloumi fries as good as they can be at the Paramount

While I would traditionally opt for the app in a ‘Spoons establishment, today I visited the bar and, after watching a waiter count out 66p in five pence pieces before another waiter pointed out the existence of the 50 pence piece, I was served.

My waiter was quick and efficient, grabbing the drinks with a smile, a slight kerfuffle with the receipt printer as the entire pub was apparently out of till roll, but he rectified the problem quickly and sent me back to my table with drinks and a cheerful ‘enjoy your meal’.

What’s the damage?

The total for two drinks, two sides and two mains came to £32.85, working out to roughly £16.43 each. For what we received, the value for money at a Wetherspoons cannot be faulted. However, if I had paid in cash, I could have been confused into thinking I was eating old paper money when served the chicken.

The verdict?

Our previous review dinner date took us to Frankie and Benny’s, where my date had ordered a similar meal. Admitting that he preferred this food, he has summarized his experience of it by saying: “This food is better than Frankie and Benny’s, not great, not good. They’re the Amazon of food, they just deliver an adequate service.”

He added: ‘I’m not happy but I’m not happy. It’s the value aspect, they’ve nailed the value aspect.’ The idea of ​​value as a key reason for visiting and appreciating a Wetherspoons dinner is key.

A cheeky side of chicken wings
A cheeky side of chicken wings

Compared to my previous dinner at the worst Wetherspoons in Greater Manchester, the Paramount had an atmosphere. It might not have been the loud and rambunctious atmosphere of a Friday night, but people were laughing, glasses were clinking and for a Wednesday night, it’s pretty packed with only one or two empty tables.

The Paramount has all of the staples of a classic Wetherspoons that instantly create a nostalgic feel of pubs past. From the historical wall art, floral blue plates and wavy carpets, I’m not sure Kevin McCloud would frequent this establishment for its decor, but without it – are you truly in a Wetherspoons?

Rating it out of five, my partner gave it a solid four overall, admitting to a five for value. Meanwhile, I would give it a three. The chicken was truly that dry.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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