The popular chain has staked its name on second-rate service, but we don’t think this was the goal
Karen’s Diner, the restaurant where staff are deliberately rude to customers, has been hit with a zero food hygiene rating from inspectors.
The popular Australian chain – which has opened UK sites in Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield, amongst others – might have built its reputation on shoddy hospitality but we’re not sure this is what they were aiming for.
Its latest diner was recently opened in Newport, South Wales, with staff welcoming a local hygiene inspector on 22 February as queues built up outside.
Following the visit, last week inspectors issued the diner with a zero rating alongside a list of ways it must improve.
Food standards fall into three categories: the hygienic handling of food, the cleanliness and condition of the facilities and building, and the system or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat.
Food venues are then given an overall star rating of zero to five, with zero meaning urgent improvement is needed and five meaning hygiene standards fully comply with the law.
Since receiving its zero hygiene rating in Newport the diner has changed head chefs and, according to Paul Levin, who oversees Karen’s Diner’s operations in Europe, the kitchen is “now how a kitchen should be.”
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However, according to the Food Standards Agency website, Newport is not the only Karen’s Diner with a poor hygiene rating. The Sheffield branch currently has a two, meaning improvement is required, and the Birmingham diner has a score of one, meaning major improvement is needed.
A Newport council spokesperson said: “A food hygiene inspection was carried out at Karen’s Diner in Friars Walk within a week of opening to the public.
“Appropriate action was taken and the food hygiene rating will be published at the end of the month.”
A spokesman for Karen’s Diner in Newport said: “The visit took place five days after the official opening, whereby the restaurant had experienced delays with the gas installation.
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“Karen’s Diner remains committed in ensuring the utmost care and attention is provided when it comes to food and hygiene standards, and following advice on necessary improvements by Newport City Council, has requested a revisit for the diner to be rescored to its deserved hygiene level.
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“Although an initial score rating of zero has been provided, Karen’s Diner would like to reassure its customers that the rectifications by Newport City Council were acted upon immediately, and the diner continues to celebrate positive comments and reviews by their guests.”
Featured image – The Sheff
When it comes to finding good pints of Guinness, it’s fair to say that not all Manchester boozers are created equal.
Some pints are thin and watery, some have a very bitter taste, and some are missing that all-important signature creamy head. All things you want to avoid. In fact, if you go into a pub and see any of this our advice is to run.
Any bartender worth their salt will tell you that there’s a certifiable art to pouring out a proper pint of the black stuff, starting with a two-part pour – a practice considered sacrosanct for literally hundreds of years.
Your pint should be properly poured with 3/4 of it filled with old stout, rested, then topped up with new, and when the glass is emptied a white, creamy residue should remain.
These, as we know them, are the basics but serious Guinness drinkers can likely reel off a whole list of other criteria that we haven’t even touched on. For now, though, that’ll do.
Keep reading to find the best places to drink Guinness in Manchester.
Mulligans of Deansgate
Widely renowned for having the best pint of Guinness in Manchester hands down, if it’s authenticity you’re looking for then Mulligan’s is a must.
An authentic Irish bar with live music and plenty of cosy snugs to tuck yourself away in, it’s typically packed to the rafters and bartenders pride themselves on never, ever leaving a bubble in your pint.
The Bay Horse Tavern
This Northern Quarter boozer on Thomas Street is another favourite for those looking for a great pint of Guinness.
This St Patrick’s Day, lovers of the black stuff can get a pint for just £4 between 4-7pm. as well as £5 double Jameson and gnger and £2.50 Jameson all day long.
The Peveril of the Peak
A historic city centre boozer, The Peveril of the Peak is not just one of Manchester’s most beautiful but also one of its most unique public houses.
Run by one of Britain’s oldest and longest-serving landlords, come for its bold green tile-clad exterior and stained glass windows and stay for a creamy pint of Guinness.
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The Castle Hotel
Another great Northern Quarter boozer, this time on Oldham Street, The Castle Hotel is another spot you can completely rely on for quality Guinness. Its pours have even been accredited.
The real ale pub boasts several cosy snugs, a small beer garden out back and a gig room where you can watch local bands whilst sipping on proper pints.
The Crown & Kettle
This gorgeous Grade II-listed freehouse sits the border of Ancoats and Northern Quarter and dates all the way back to 1774.
Reopened in 2005 in cooperation with English Heritage, it has an incredibly fine and unusual ceiling and one of the best pints of Guinness in the neighbourhood.
Whilst we’re talking about Ancoats, Edinburgh Castle also deserves an honourable mention for its Guinness pour.
This lovingly refurbished Victorian boozer not only boasts Manchester’s most elite chip butty and a stunning upstairs restaurant, but is also widely considered one of the best places for a pint of Guinness in town.
O’Shea’s Irish Bar
Obviously, we have to talk about O’Shea’s. This Irish bar is widely considered a go-to fo a good pint of Guinness, with some even reporting they prefer their pints to Mulligans.
During Covid, the bar made a splash in Manchester by opening a giant outdoor Guinness garden. This year on St Patrick’s Day, it is opening from 10am for breakfast pints.
Another historic boozer reborn after two years of sitting boarded up on the busy Manchester stretch from which it takes its name.
The Deansgate is now under the ownership of Greene King and serves a cracking pint of Guinness from its ground-floor and first-floor bars alongside a menu of hearty pub grub.
Feature image – The Manc Group
One of Manchester’s favourite food halls has just been named the best in the whole of the UK, beating competition from the likes of London, Bristol and Sheffield.
Praised for its ‘exceptional’ food, Mackie Mayor – housed in an 1858 Grade II-listed building that was once a part of the bustling Smithfield Market area – was name-checked by global travel site, Big 7 Travel, and hospitality specialists Enjoy Travel.
Originally used as a meat market, the building ran into disrepair during the 1970s before reopening as a food hall in 2017.
Today, it is home to some heavenly food traders including Mexican foodies Pico’s, New Wave Ramen, Honest Crust sourdough pizza, Tender Cow, Chilli B Thai and Mumma’s Fried Chicken.
On top of that, it also houses the Reserve wine shop, BlackJack Brewtap’s award-winning beer and cider shop Jack in the Box, and Eagle Street Coffee – the latter a relatively new addition after Mackie’s longstanding coffee trader Atkinsons Coffee closed its cafe in January.
Also appearing on the list in top 10 positions are Manchester food halls Altrincham Market House (no surprise really considering it is run by the same team as Mackie Mayor) and Society in fourth and eighth place. Eataly in London, meanwhile, scooped second place.
Liverpool’s Baltic Market ranked at number 5, with Sheffield’s Cutlery Works coming in at third place.
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In order to create the ranking, venues were rated on a number of factors including their range of cuisines, selection of vendors, unique and special events, and overall atmosphere.
Mackie Mayor is described as “one of Mancheester’s most popular spots”, “crammed full of top-notch food and drink vendors […] with space for at least 500 people”.
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However, the list also name-checks former food traders Fin fish bar and Baohouse. neither of which feature at Mackie Mayor any longer.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
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