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A chain pub with many of the mediocrities that entails but the beer selection is strong and the garden is stunning.
Let’s get things straight: The Wharf is a chain pub. But it’s a chain pub run by the Good Pub Guide’s pub group of the year, Brunning & Price. Which isn’t exactly a watertight seal of approval but it’s at least some indicator of what you’ll get.
And only a chain could have afforded to renovate the huge property that until 2005 housed former pub Jackson’s Wharf. Briefly, a nice story: the building was destined to become apartment blocks of the Peel Holdings empire (Trafford Centre, etc.) but local opposition scuppered the plans. B&P swooped in and now we have a 350-cover establishment that sits better with the area’s Urban Heritage Park status.
Most of those covers are outside in the frankly superlative beer garden; worth seeking out when the odds of getting a table elsewhere are slim. Inside, it’s a standard upmarket pub. Light and airy, with lots and lots of wood.
As befits a chain, the drinks menu’s prerogative is to cater for all tastes. Besides the J2Os and Magners, you might find an offbeat ale on the six casks pumps but it’s more likely to be the ubiquitous Jaipur from Thornbridge or offerings from Hawkshead or Roosters. No criticism; they’re more than respectable outfits. One exception is Shindigger’s West Coast Pale Ale, with its zesty blend of citra, amarillo and cascade hops.
You can put more stock in the the 100-strong malt whiskey list and a decent wine menu that includes a good rueda and a passable pinot noir around the 20 quid mark. Food options are almost as expansive and obliging: from that pub staples to mint and chilli pork belly with a feta salad.