Image is all about context. If you’ve ever stared in bemusement at someone wearing shades in a dark nightclub, you’ll know what I mean.
Almost Famous was a good fit for the Northern Quarter, with its Bohemian atmosphere and trendy bars. In its new surroundings, on the square at Great Northern, it feels like a fish out of water. Stranded in the ultra-modern glass-fronted row of eateries that live just outside Manchester’s banking district, its contrived anti-mainstream image is now more obvious and, therefore, grating.
Gone is the trademark designer queue, which was there even when the dining-room was empty and the weather was inclement. Also gone is the excitement of the climb up the stairs of its characterful Northern Quarter premises; you can now see the dining area through the large glass front at its entrance.
The new venue is larger than their old premises, which were destroyed in a fire, and has the feel of a chain restaurant. The walls are decorated with the usual Almost Famous angry-teen murals, but in their new home, they feel like part of a hipster kit.
“That’s great,” I hear you say, “but what about the food?” Well, the food is just as good as before, which is to say great. I had the Famous Burger; Crack Wings, with suicide sauce; and my old favourites, Bacon Bacon Fries.
Almost Famous and its sibling, Luck Lust Liquor and Burn, are all about bold flavours. Nothing bland or insipid is allowed to leave their kitchen, and the food makes Almost Famous a worthy destination for burger fans. Unlike its old premises, however, you’re likely to see lots of business lunches being held there. Who knows, one day we might even see a play area and a children’s menu… (I can only imagine what they’d call the burger.)