Top of the tables
Manchester is well known for its famous football teams but now players are helping put the city in the premier league for food and drink. Gone are the days when a footballer would open a pub or a chip shop, these days their investments are much more up-market, catering for a clientele who knows their onglet from their wagyu.
Gary Neville’s Stock Exchange hotel is seeking Michelin credentials for its new restaurant which opens early in 2019, meanwhile Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager and colleagues Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano have teamed up with Michelin-starred Catalan chef Paco Perez and the Fazenda restaurant group to open Tast.
Rosso at the top of King Street is part owned by Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs co-owns George’s in Worsley, a short trip outside the city. And it’s not just the footballers with a taste for hospitality, in the city you can dine at Annie’s owned by Coronation Street’s Jennie McAlpine, Gino D’Acampo’s new Prosecco Bar in the Next store and at former Corrie star Rupert Hill’s latest addition to his drinking and dining portfolio, The Rivals at the Royal Exchange Theatre.
Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, better known as the Unabombers DJs run the uber popular Refuge bar and restaurant at the Principal hotel and Real Housewives of Cheshire Seema Malhotra and Stacey Forsey are investors in the Menagerie bar and night spot.
The Manchester drinking and dining scene is an ever-changing smorgasbord of delights and includes everything from burger joints to vegan cafes. Add alfresco pop-up bars and restaurants in the summer months and there are so many delicious reasons to dine out.
Gone are the days when a footballer would open a pub or a chip shop, these days their investments are much more up-market
Casual dining as epitomised by the burger boom is still popular in the city with Beastro in Spinningfields demonstrating that the appetite for a quarter pounder with fries shows no signs of abating. The upshot is, if you want a burger there’s plenty of places to eat one, the Handmade Burger Company in Spinningfields, Byron on Deansgate and Manchester’s Piccadilly, Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Spinningfields, Burger and Lobster on King Street, Almost Famous on High Street, Solita NQ on Turner Street…the list goes on.
But street food and shared plates are only part of the story. Manchester House in Spinningfields now has a young new chef Natanial Tofan at the helm and Adam Reid has taken over from Simon Rogan at the French at the Midland Hotel offering fine dining without starched shirt formality, meanwhile Aiden Byrne formerly of Manchester House has decamped to 20 Stories, a classy 19th-floor bistro and restaurant where the 360 degree views of the city are the star. It’s the perfect place for drinks on the terrace as long as you have a head for heights!
Eating is the new clubbing and Manchester’s dining and drinking culture has made it one of the most exciting cities in the UK. Everyone from all the major chains to premium brands otherwise only found in the capital and chic independents want to grab a slice of the action and in the process are helping to regenerate parts of the city.
El Gato Negro thrives on King Street, while the Corn Exchange has also been gastrofied. The shops have gone and in their place is a restaurant utopia that includes The Cosy Club tea room, pizza joint Vapiano, the Banyan, delicious southern Indian delights at Mowgli, Vietnamese street food at Pho, authentic Italian at Salvi’s, Mexican from celebrity chef Thomasina Myers’ Wahaca and the eponymous restaurant from celeb chef Gino D’Acampo. And restaurants like Rudy’s Pizza, Squid Ink and Kettlebell Kitchen, are part of a food revolution in the Ancoats area of the city.
Eating is the new clubbing and Manchester’s dining and drinking culture has made it one of the most exciting cities in the UK
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, the city shows a determination to flaunt its foodie credentials.
Grafene, named after the hard stuff discovered at Manchester University, now has a new chef and enhanced reputation, Oké Poké on Church Street in the Northern Quarter, which is has been inspired by the cooking of Hawaii and bases a menu around rice, fresh raw fish and vegetables, is bringing in the crowds. And Wood on First Street, from the MasterChef 2015 champion Simon Wood, who hails from Chadderton, also offers unintimidating high-end dining.
Flok on Stevenson Square is another newcomer brought to the city by Martin Hennin and Justin Parkinson – the man behind West Didsbury favourites, Folk bar and Wine & Wallop. Expect a curious combination of small plates and sherry. 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 Deaf Institute and Gorilla.
Food festivals are all part of the culinary explosion in the city and include Festa Italiana, a celebration with a Neapolitan flavour, to the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. There are festivals of craft beer, gin and cider. Craft beer can be drunk at venues such as Bundobust on Piccadilly and Brew Dog on Peter Street.
Grafene, named after the hard stuff discovered at Manchester University, now has a new chef and enhanced reputation
Spinningfields is all about lifestyle and experience so it is to The Alchemist, Neighbourhood, the Oast House pub, Ibérica, and Tattu, that the glamorous head to for a night of eating and drinking. Then there’s the relaxed family-friendly dining vibe of venues such as Giraffe and Carluccio’s.
In the warmer weather, an outdoor bar and alfresco 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 Neighbourhood or Comptoir Libanais.
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 clubby 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 – the Living Ventures restaurant famed for steaks and cocktails which has made its home in the building which was once Heathcote’s, while footballer Gary Neville and former team mate Ryan Giggs are expanding their portfolio to include a controversial new St Michael’s development that will replace the old police station and Abercrombie pub with a massive architecturally-challenging mixed-use complex featuring two skyscrapers, restaurants and a hotel.
King Street is the location for another Living Ventures’ transformation at the former Room/Reform venue, into Grand Pacific, a flash eating space dominated by a bar that 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 and Simon Rimmer’s Greens in Didsbury.
In the warmer weather, an outdoor bar and alfresco tables transforms Spinningfields into a European-style piazza
Manchester also has a multicultural eating scene that’s pretty exceptional. From the curry mile in Rusholme to the culinary gems to be found in the city’s buzzing Chinatown, visitors can indulge in a wide range of global treats from the Spanish flavours of La Bandera to the much-praised Japanese joint Umezushi.
Try a Teppanyaki experience at Sapporo Liverpool Road or the Teppanyaki on George Street, or Chinese at footballers’ favourite Wings on Lincoln Square. Turtle Bay in the Northern Quarter and on Oxford Street serves up Jamaican food and a laid-back vibe and Cheadle’s acclaimed Southern Indian-style street food at the Indian Tiffin Room is now open for business on First Street.
There’s no denying the glamour of restaurants such as San Carlo and sister restaurant San Carlo Cicchetti. Ever since Carlo Distefano opened his famed restaurant on King Street West it has been a magnet for a glamorous set and, with Fumo opening on Oxford Street, the brand is going from strength to strength. The family business now employs more than 900 staff at its San Carlo Cicchetti, Bottega at Selfridges, Fumo and San Carlo Fiorentina restaurants.
The culinary boom continues in the Northern Quarter. Here you can indulge in fresh, healthy brunches, lunches and dinner at Evelyn’s or dine on everything from wild boar to a vegan treat at Bakerie, or on a French menu at 63 Degrees or the Blue Pig, or dine on gourmet pies at Pieminster on Church Street.
From the curry mile in Rusholme to the culinary gems to be found in the city’s buzzing Chinatown, visitors can indulge in a wide range of global treat
Take time for tea
Afternoon tea is a major trend in the city and Tea 42, the Sugar Junction and Nibble, all in the Northern Quarter, are all gorgeously atmospheric. You can try straight-from-the-oven madeleines dipped in melted chocolate at Teacup on Thomas Street or head to Rosylee for a cream tea and scrummy cakes.
Opposite Manchester Cathedral is Proper Tea and the Victorian Town Hall on Albert Square is where you’ll find a rather elegant cafe situated amongst the ornate pillars and sculptures of serious-looking dignitaries.
For the sort of traditional dining beloved of gentlemen in their clubs, there’s the Albert Square Chop House, atmospheric Mr Thomas’s Chop House on Cross Street and the sister operation, Sam’s Chop House on Chapel Walks. Mr Tom’s, as it is affectionately known, is a Victorian gem which originated in 1867 and retains its beautiful original tile work. The menu includes corned beef hash cake, potted game and other robust delights. It is not a place for toying with lightly-dressed salad leaves.
Another impressive Victorian interior upon which to feast the eyes is Browns at Spring Gardens, once a gentleman’s club called the Athenaeum and now elegantly restored and transformed into a vibrant bar and restaurant.
For great French cooking make a beeline for 63 Degrees. Run by the Moreau family, the name is derived from the unique way in which they cook their chicken to mouth-watering perfection. The menu is skilful and typically French.
Mr Tom’s, as it is affectionately known, is a Victorian gem which originated in 1867 and retains its beautiful original tile work
Certain venues in the city are now an institution, such as the atmospheric Spanish Tapas bar, El Rincon, and the brilliantly retro Armenian Taverna, which has been at the same location on Albert Square since the 1970s. At the Market Street end of Deansgate are old established favourites like The Living Room and The Botanist.
At the other end, there’s Deansgate Locks, a canalside area of bars and restaurants that attracts a younger clubbing crowd at weekends, and Cloud 23 at the Hilton, a chic cocktail lounge on the 23rd floor of the Beetham Tower with a bird’s-eye view of the city and a perfect place for afternoon tea or an aperitif before dinner in the ground floor restaurant.
Castlefield is a laid-back waterside district of the city, where you can dine at restaurants like Albert’s Shed, The Wharf and Dimitri’s. Manchester’s gay quarter on Canal Street is a buzzing bar and restaurant area, too, and special mention should be made of Velvet, which has a friendly basement restaurant and an opulently-designed hotel bar.
At the Market Street end of Deansgate are old established favourites like The Living Room and The Botanist
Out of the city
Away from the city, foodies are heading to Stockport and Where the Light Gets In, a restaurant named as the coolest in the UK by the critics, meanwhile, The Allotment is way ahead of the culinary trend with its vegan fine dining menu.
Not to be missed are Stockport’s Foodie Fridays on the last Friday of each month, when the crowds gather for a night of music and street food. Altrincham is leading the pack in the ’burbs with its reinvented market and restaurants such as Sugo pasta kitchen, Blanchflower and the acclaimed Con Club.
Make time to check out the excellent Beech Road in Chorlton. Didsbury Village, Burton Road, West Didsbury and the student quarter are also great foodie destinations.
The excellent Volta, Azzuro and Albert’s in West Didsbury are worth trying, as are quirky Nectar Bistro and The Laundrette in Chorlton. In Alderley Edge soak up the glamour at eastern hot spot Yu, the local’s favourite Piccolino’s where you can soothe an aching head with fresh juices in the morning after a night at the Bubble Room.
At the Trafford Centre, which is a half hour bus ride out of the city, you can do everything from sip fizz at 360 Champagne and Cocktails to enjoy fast Mexican street food at Barburritos while hitting all those amazing shops.
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