When my boyfriend first told me he went to university and lived in Liverpool I had in mind visiting him in a tiny room in the middle of a sprawling city with no peace or quiet or calm, never have I been more pleased to be proven wrong. On a little street just off Lark Lane, around ten minutes drive outside of the centre is where I now spend half of my time and what a pleasurable time it is.
“The lane”, as people more familiar with the street call it, is a little step back in time if you ask me. It’s hard at first to pinpoint what makes it so special, it is after all just a strip of quirky little shops and a lot of bars and restaurants. I think after spending some time here you begin to understand that it’s the sense of community that you feel when you wander up and down that makes it so unique. You genuinely do feel like you’re in an enclosed space separate from the big city which is in reality just minutes away. Maybe it comes from having the St. Michael’s and Lark Lane Community Association (SMLLCA) as such a cornerstone of the streets activity but there comes a point where you see more than a good place to wine and dine when you look up and down the strip.
A sense of community is something I’ve always admired and I think it’s so upsetting that it’s mostly missing from contemporary society. Most people don’t know their own neighbours, and if they do don’t like them, and a whole street getting together for a party is the exception and not the rule. Here you feel a street party could happen every week and the residents would all be up making bunting and ensuring there was enough cake. That said you by no means feel shut out of an already existing group, every business on the lane is so welcoming and friendly as is every person I’ve ever come across in the SMLLCA. If you’re a Desperate Housewives fan then I guess I’m saying it’s my personal Wisteria Lane.
This doesn’t hold Lark Lane back from being an edgy and bohemian destination for anyone; lovers of Manchester’s Northern Quarter will definitely feel at home here. With over 25 pubs, bars and restaurants on a length of tarmac you can walk from end to end in less than ten minutes it’s a food and drink heaven. Esteban gets my highest recommendation for an evening meal if you want an amazing selection of Tapas with the best Sangria I have ever tasted outside of Spain. Maranto’s is also up there for an amazing all round experience and service and a perfectly cooked steak (an accolade I give out rarely as I can never normally get a perfect blue steak in the UK). When it comes to bars I’m partial to either The Lodge or Bier, both create a really nice home from home atmosphere and have a regular new intake of guest beers. They also both have weekly quizzes and Pieminister pies if that wasn’t enough. I’m overly partial to a coffee and cake and my favourite by a mile is Bistro Noir, the cake portions are huge and homemade, the service is outstanding and they don’t mind if you take your own chess set in to play which myself and my boyfriend always appreciate! Once you’re full up there’s still more to be had from the lane. My favourite little corner is Larks, probably because its where my boyfriend sourced half of my birthday presents from, everything inside it is just so cute and you really have to stop yourself walking out with half of the shop every time you go in.
The sense of community continues with regular events held on the lane. Once a month The Farmer’s Market is a treat not to be missed, especially if you like Venison steaks at exceptionally reasonable prices which I definitely do. The Flea Market also comes once a month and this might be my favourite out of everything to do here. There’s some serious bargains to be had and you can go back to some old school haggling and no one looks at you funny! Every week there’s yoga and meditation classes in the Old Police Station and regular health and wellbeing days are always being advertised. They also host an Arts and Crafts fair which has some really nice local talent and a chance for you to participate if you have wares to sell. It’s events like these which give you a sense of belonging and contributing to a community.
If you ever speak to people who are familiar with Lark Lane everyone agrees that when you step on to the pavement there you could be anywhere in the world. With cuisine from almost every continent giving life to a cultural diversity of the highest order, which is then firmly anchored by the traditions of the local area you will struggle to find many places with an atmosphere like this.