There may be better beer to the west, but for the money there’s few better overnighters than Bradford. £21 on Sunday night at the Ibis Budget, and it’s only marginally scarier a location than the Travelodge in Maidenhead. If it wasn’t for the fog there’d be a glorious view of Valley Parade out of my window.
I come to praise Bradford, not to slate it, but the walk from the Ibis down Old Canal Road is a masterclass in neglect;
As in Halifax, fans of trees growing out of majestic buildings will love Bradford, although it’s not generally good news for the buildings themselves.
The pubs north of Forster Square are, shall we say, a small but select band (R.I.P. Cock & Bottle), but include this bona fide classic;
This was one of eight I did (the entire GBG contingent) on an infamous Friday night in November 2003, and one I will one day go back to.
Just past the Corn Dolly, Bradford stands transformed. The new Broadway Shopping Centre is going to disappoint anyone expecting Westfield Stratford, but it exudes light and spaciousness, and sells things that Mrs RM would buy. And it, er, fills a hole.
My sort of shopping is in the much quieter central streets round Westgate, where Number 10 the Bargain Den sold me enough sweets for £2 to bribe two teenagers till Easter. I missed the beer for 25p offer. Could it really have been Becks ?
The real find was underground. Leon had kindly alerted me to the opening of Sunbridge Wells, the most startling thing I’ve seen all year. A series of Victorian themed shops and bars built into restored underground tunnels, it’s the sort of thing you’d expect in Berlin or Bristol rather than Bradford. It looks magnificent, and I hope it succeeds.
Pubwise, I’ll direct you to Simon’s latest post from the Record Café here. I’d walked past that, the Sparrow and a number of other modern bars on Sunday night, when they were a little too quiet for comfort. The traditional beer pubs didn’t look much busier.
It’s that lack of turnover that means the beer here sometimes doesn’t match the greatness of the pubs, and possibly explains why the Spoons near the Alhambra is rightly a GBG ever-present. Incidentally, the eggs benedict and flat white in Forks, over the road from the Record Cafe, is even better than Spoons for breakfast.
Foodwise, there’s more to Bradford than curry, but it made no sense to resist the call of Sheesh Mahal on Sunday night. This is a favourite of the mythical Hector, whose Curry Heute blog is the definitive guide to Indian grub worldwide. Like Hector, I had Lamb Balti (on the bone) with extra methi and 3 chappatis. Served amongst typical Bradford décor, it was a truly wondrous meal.
I was nearly seduced by the call of the adjacent Beehive, but I somehow resisted. Even without Mango Lassi, beer should never follow a curry. That would spoil a wonderful evening.