Craft beer and real ales in keg and cask are just what the doctor ordered, and are now available on self-prescription at the fabulous Medicine Tap venue in the heart of resurgent Rochdale…
The Lancashire mill town is mid-way through some serious redevelopment and reinvention, with the night-time economy at the heart of plans to make Rochdale a regular stop-off point for locals and visitors arriving via excellent bus and MetroLink connections.
Over the last year, a number of bars, restaurants and cafés have opened up, all offering something a little different. With the river now showcased through the central public open space, a top-end retail and leisure complex under construction, there is much cause for optimism.
The latest entrant helping to drive the town’s renaissance is The Medicine Tap, situated on the ground floor of the fabulous Grade II listed former Post Office building. It faces the stunning Victorian-era Town Hall with Gracie Fields keeping an eye on proceedings from across The Esplanade; the café bar is perfectly situated.
Rochdale is a cracking mix of traditional buildings, many constructed with substantial local stone, plus many cutting edge new-builds that offer gleaming steel structures and acres of glass. All shops, pubs and eateries within the core town centre are easily reached on foot, so there’s no excuse to stay away.
Family friendly bar in Rochdale
With friends and a gaggle of kids in tow, we gave The Medicine Tap a test drive across several hours of a Saturday afternoon and early evening. There was a steady flow of customers, slowly filling as the sun dipped and the night-time neon flickered into life.
Officially opened by Rockerdale Mayor Ian Duckworth in late March, the bar offers something for everyone. We enjoyed coffees, hot chocolates and cakes, then a few beers from the phenomenal range of taps on offer. Over thirty lines carry real ales from across the region and beyond, with a tidy array of craft beers, ciders and lagers to suit most tastes.
At one end of the long room there are tables put aside for light snacks, including paninis and pizzas, with bar stools and other seating arranged along floor space with an ample area for standing by the main bar. The bar staff, well, every one was friendly, helpful and attentive.
The toilets, well, what a joy – a strange but accurate description. The gents had crafted barrels in place of porcelain. Fabulous. A fun but functional twist that had most guests chatting and smiling as they emerged having ‘refreshed’ themselves in the beautifully clean washroom facilities.
In fact, the fit-out (reported to be around £300,000) is top notch. There are some lovely details, with many of the old post office features retained throughout the building.
Rochdale is now a destination
Ahead of the Spring and Summer months, with another Rochdale Feel Good Festival (music, food & drink) scheduled for 18 August, the town’s social offering should really take off this year. It’s a good-looking centre, easy to reach, with a growing range of businesses embracing the opportunity the give the public better drinking and eating experiences.
On the Saturday we ventured out, a number of guests sported Peaky Blinders type clobber. There was a themed event taking place later that night across the road at the luscious Wellington Hotel (bottom of Drake Street) that also enjoyed a considerable refit last year. Give it a go; stunning lounge area!
When we arrived in town Henry Yau (owner of CockaDoodleMoo on Yorkshire Street) said hello. He’s always friendly, hugely enthusiastic about Rochdale’s potential, and talked passionately about a recent initiative to link up with other bars and restaurants to publicise what is available for those keen to enjoy early evening hospitality. Collaboration is exactly what’s needed to help all businesses succeed.
Give The Medicine Tap a try. Really. A few more like this and Rochdale will have sufficient drinkeries and eateries to rival anything in the region.
A night out in Manchester is great, but with so much now on the Rochdale doorstep it’s time to change mindsets and really help to boost the local economy. And remember, much of the income earned in the town stays in the town!
Now, time to book that next appointment…