Picture the scene if you can. My friends and I are falling out of a bar, at closing time, in Leicester Square on Saturday night. We need to be on the last Tube but we haven't seen each other for a while and it would be really nice to have just one more drink. Covent Garden one way, Soho the other and we are stood arguing about where to go (and wasting that precious last drink time) on the street corner! Suddenly someone has a cunning plan and begins walking. The arguing rabble slowly follows almost without realising and shortly we are stood Manto on Old Compton St outside Manto. The tall glass doors are letting Roger Sanchez's 'Another Chance' slip out onto the street and the heaving crowd looks generally inviting. 'This looks good', someone comments and before the only London girl amongst us can point out to everyone that it is a gay bar, we have been herded in the side entrance, and up the stairs into the 'lounge' area of the bar. The lounge itself is airy and relatively quiet, with a small restaurant area, balcony and a busy bar and then it happens. the boys notice that there are rather a lot of men looking 'together' dotted around the place and throw a wobbler. Reverting to the caveman technique of grabbing hold of as many of us girls as possible and avoiding all eye contact at all costs! Why is it that straight men believe that gay men will instantly pounce on them if they let their guard down for a second? Indeed, as girls, should we fear straight men all the time? After managing to prise ourselves away from their tight 'this-is-my-girlfriend-and-I-am-not-gay' grips the girls finally begin to enjoy themselves, even if the boys are looking a little uncomfortable. The clientele are predominantly male and probably the most fashion conscious that I have seen all evening! Why I could have spent all night in there just admiring peoples clothes, but as we only had time for 'a qui
ck one' we decided to go to the bar. What happened next was a little confusing. Three our four people went to the bar to buy small rounds, yet the bar staff refused to serve some of them, sending them instead to the bar downstairs. After the lucky few had obtained their drinks we traipsed down the Perspex staircase to the ground floor. It was a lot busier and noisier at ground level and we had a fight and a half to get to the bar! Finally, they got there and again one person was refused drinks and told to go back to the bar upstairs! Now I am not sure of what was going on here, we are all 25ish so it can't have been an age problem, but by this time I had a vodka and pineapple juice in my hand and was slightly unconcerned...;) Since having a look a reviews of the bar I have found a few odd comments about the bar stuff, in particular 'The bar staff are so up their own arses you could slap them' so beware of this! The drinks are no more expensive than you would expect to pay in that area (just over £3 for a pint, or a spirit and mixer) plus the bar doesn't charge an entrance fee after 11pm as some do. We moved along to be stood near the large glass doors that had enticed us in, mainly because it was the only space large enough for the lot of us! There is also a basement floor which apparently palys deep grooves and is a more mixed crowd but, much to the delight of the boys, it was time to head back to the Tube station. I really enjoyed our flying visit to Manto and would love to go back and spend an entire evening there. It has a lot of attitude and atmosphere and would be a perfect place to go people watching and pick up a few fashion tips! Plus it is open until midnight most evenings. With the exception of the bizarre bar policy it really is a nice place, and I would thoroughly recommend that you pop in if you are passing by. I know I'll be in there next time I am in the capital. And to all you st
raight men out there, don't be put off! None of my friends were approached (or whatever it was that they were scared of!) and us girls had a brilliant time! For more information check out the website at http://www.mantos.co.uk/site/Manto-front-page.html
Hyped as THE place to go this summer on Old Compton Street, it does not disappoint. Sure the beer may be slightly warm on occasions, and a tad pricey (nearly £3 a pint), but hey wait till you get a load of the scenery! The bar is built on three floors. I have not been upstairs but there is, allegedly, a balcony. The main bar stretches far far back into the depths of SoHo and is quite light and airy, whereas the basement bar (sleazepit, as I call it) is dark brown. There are lots of seats and brown leatherette cubes to sit on downstairs. They do cocktails down there too. It is a bit like a sensory deprivation unit and it is very easy to lose track of time. On Monday when we were there, they were giving out free canapes, which were simply delicious darling. The actual bars are quite small, but the Barmen (one in particular) are the main attraction. The only comment I can make about the staff, is that I think they were chosen for their looks NOT customer service (particularly relevant for all the girls out there, as it took me ages to get served. HINT-send man, a good looking one at that, and you will get served double quick) Lastly, the all important toilets. LOVELY!! The women's loos always have loo roll and are always empty. Nice Flattering mirrors and all the cubicles lock. Can't comment on the men's as I have never been. All I can say is, go. It is cool.