Thursday, 22 June 2017

Top of the Moor

This isn’t normally a pub reviews blog, but as the Moor Top, one of only two pubs within comfortable walking distance of my house, has recently received what is reputed to have been a £1 million refurbishment, I thought I should pop along and take a look.

It’s a large estate-type pub that was built by Wilsons’ predecessors Walker & Homfrays in 1955. Being the only pub for half a mile in any direction in a fairly well-off residential area, you might expect it to have been a goldmine, but for whatever reason it never seems to have fulfilled its potential. At one point it even received the dreaded Pennine Hosts “yoof” makeover with predictably dismal results.

WhatPub? shows it as being owned by Spirit Group, who have now been taken over by Greene King, so I’m not sure what the current ownership situation is. However, it has been leased to an independent operator, who also ran the award-winning Damson restaurant opposite, although this seems to have now been converted into two separate establishments called Roost and La Cantina. It is they, and not the pubco owners, who I would say are responsible for the style of the makeover and the pub’s current offer.

It’s clearly a very expensive and thorough job which erases all vestiges of its previous “estate pub” ambiance, and even includes a couple of distinct areas separated from the rest of the pub by full-height coloured glass screens. There are plenty of bare boards, high stools and pastel colours, although there is still a bit of comfortable bench seating along the front. The entire front yard is now a well-furnished beer garden. The photo montage below gives a good impression of the general look.

As you walk in through the front door, you are met with six handpumps on the apex of the bar. On my visit there were five cask beers on: Moor Top Best Bitter (brewed by Stockport Brewing), Stockport Deluded IPA, Taylor's Landlord, Wantsum 1381 (from Canterbury) and Muirhouse Pirate's Gold (from Ilkeston, Derbyshire). The Best Bitter was in decent nick and refreshingly cool on a hot, humid day. It was a surprisingly reasonable £3.20, although I would expect the other beers to be rather dearer. All of the guest beers (although not, I suspect, the Landlord) are supplied through Stockport Brewing.

There is also a "keg wall", with seven beers, although it suffers from the boards not showing either the breweries or prices. A chalkboard for the cask beers showing prices wouldn’t go amiss either.

Not surprisingly there are no beermats, not even in holders on the bar, and my visit was rather marred by earsplitting shrieking emanating from an infant.

There’s a fairly typical menu of modern upmarket pub food, with the common contemporary problem that the zero key on the typesetter’s keyboard seems to have ceased to function. Suffice to say you’re not going to find a bacon barmcake.

The car park is now pay and display, with a £2 charge for up to 3 hours 24/7, and no refunds unless you spend at least £5, so no popping in for a swift pint. It’s understandable given the busyness of the location, but the minimum spend comes across as rather churlish.

It’s not, to be honest, really my kind of pub, and I can’t see myself making it a regular haunt any more than I did before. However, it all seems to have been thoughtfully done, including taking the beer offer seriously, and I’d say it has the ingredients to do well in that location.

10 comments:

  1. I've never liked the big, empty and cold Moor Top. I can see it being a success now though, as it has fallen in with that new Heaton Moor cafe society phenomenom. I passed it the other night and the outside area was heaving with numbers rivalling the Elizabethan. I wonder where the crowds all suddenly come from every time a new bar opens. Is the Stockport Brewing beer that brewed by the Crown? I might pop in later and report back with my findings!
    I noticed another swanky new bar down there, in the old Gordon Emery building - this place was empty when I passed, at the same time as the Moor Top was full.

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    Replies
    1. One thought about the Moor Top is that the pubs in Heaton Moor benefit from being on a circuit, whereas the Moor Top is a bit out on a limb, but only time will tell.

      Stockport Brewing is associated with the Crown, but the brewery is across the road under one of the arches and AIUI it's an entirely separate business. While the Best Bitter was in good nick, I didn't think it was a particularly characterful beer.

      I think the other new bar, Rock Salt, suffers from not being quite clear what it's setting out to be, and certainly doesn't have much of interest on the beer front.

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    2. I'm back and, er, I enjoyed it! Be clear, the Moor Top is not a pub any more. If you were to assess it as a pub it would fail - but then it always was a failed pub. I had a pint of Moor Top and was very impressed with it. Tasty, creamy and full - bodied, it could be the best pint I've had in the Heatons in years (outside of the Magnet that is). The place was busy inside and out. I liked sitting outside watching the life of Heaton Moor Road go by and at first didn't like the interior, until it dawned on me that this is not a pub and I should no longer think of it as such. It's a restaurant where eating is not compulsory, and as a restaurant it must be the largest in the north of - if not the whole of - Stockport. Long tables full of parties of wine-drinking women. The atmosphere was great. The building was too big to be a pub of horse brasses and wooden tables, it was horrible in those days, but now I think the space is being put to its correct use. A sign outside states "Greene King Bury St. Edmunds", and I notice that the George and Dragon down the road is closed for refurbishment and the same Greene King sign has appeared on that pub too. I hope they don't change the George too much; it is a good place, not a big favourite of mine but successful and reliable. No need to change it!

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    3. The G&D was always a good lively pub even if it didn't offer much on the beer front. Let's hope they don't wreck it by trying to take it upmarket. They're never going to attract the Heaton Hops clientele.

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  2. The Blocked Dwarf22 June 2017 at 18:30

    " earsplitting shrieking emanating from an infant. "

    and how pray is an infant supposed to react when confronted with quinoa not sourced locally?

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  3. Must say though not a pedant in general the missing off of the zeros on a menu is irritating!I view it every time as a warning sign the incumbents may be straining too hard to impress,like the Dad dancing of the food & drink menues. Always puts me on my guard. Fortunately only spread to a handful of venues on IOM at present! Refit here looks expensive and well done,but none of these type of places ever seem to pass what I call the 'rainy Monday night in February test'. By this I mean unless half to three quarters full,they appear soleless and wouldn't tempt me out on quieter nights in the same way as a cosy pub /restaurant with more comfortable furnishings would. But there again,are they all just looking for that and to make the money more/exclusively out of peak food times.Quinoa strangely doesn't seem to appear in my type of dining places. Is there perhaps a correlation between its appearance and the non appearance of the zeros,I think we should be told!

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    1. £6.00 is correct
      £6 (as here) is passable
      £6.0 is the spawn of the devil

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    2. How about "£6.5", as appears on this pub's menu?

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  4. Correction. I am a pedant. Nothing more irritating that spelling soulless wrongly in the previous comment and publishing the damn thing twice!

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    Replies
    1. We have the technology. We can delete duplicate posts :-)

      Delete

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