By Janet Reeder
The Manchester drinking and dining scene includes everything from burger joints to vegan cafes – you really can uncover a smorgasbord of delights. Add alfresco pop-up bars and restaurants in the summer months and there are so many delicious reasons to dine out.
Vibrant and diverse
From cool-themed venues such as bowling alley Dog Bowl to the elegant roof terrace of King Street Townhouse, stylish all-day dining at Harvey Nichols’ Second Floor Brasserie and Bar and louche cocktail lounges, Manchester shows a determination to flaunt its foodie credentials.
Oké Poké on Church Street in the Northern Quarter, which has been inspired by the cooking of Hawaii and bases a menu around rice, fresh raw fish and vegetables, continues to bring in the crowds, while WOOD Manchester on First Street, from the MasterChef 2015 champion Simon Wood, who hails from Chadderton, also offers unintimidating high-end dining.
Enjoy the friendly vibe at The Anthologist overlooking St Peter’s Square, which is where you’ll also find long-established restaurants like the Rajdoot, Indian and the Armenian Taverna, flaunting their own brand of retro cool. See-through kitchens, “badass bar food” and “serious cider” are the signifiers of food cool, as is the MELD phenomenon – Music Eating Late-Night Drinking Spaces, such as Manchester’s Gorilla.
MasterChef 2015 champion Simon Wood, from Chadderton, offers unintimidating high-end dining at WOOD Manchester on First Street
Spinningfields is all about lifestyle so it is to The Alchemist, The Oast House, and Tattu, that the glamorous head to for a night of eating sand drinking in Manchester. Then there’s the relaxed family-friendly dining vibe of venues such as Wagamama. In the warmer weather, an outdoor bar and al fresco tables transform the area into a European-style piazza. Here you can meet for breakfast at Bagel Nash and return in the evening to dine at BLVD or Comptoir.
Hawksmoor on Deansgate has been a huge success. Owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott have sympathetically restored the Victorian Courthouse building on 184-186 Deansgate. Diners can enjoy a drink in the cocktail bar before stepping into one of the dining rooms furnished in dark wood and fronted by elegant arched windows.
Across from Hawksmoor, there’s Gusto, a restaurant famed for steaks and cocktails which has made its home in the building which was once Heathcote’s and King Street is the location for Living Ventures’ glamorous venue, Grand Pacific, which bases its look on the likes of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Honey Restaurant, part of the quirky Hotel Gotham, has an adventurous dining menu and offers a grandstand view of King Street. It’s a good place for afternoon tea, too. As well as cool spaces there are the stars of the culinary scene such as James Martin at Casino 235 where recent Masterchef Professional finalist Exose Lopo-Ndinga trained.