British, Modern Restaurants in Manchester
1. WOOD Restaurant British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Jack Rosenthal Street - M15
“The food is quite stunning and the wines… wow!” – Simon Wood’s “impressive” three-year-old is a “special” venue for all who comment on it, some of whom had their best meal of the year here. “The tasting menu is exceptional” and “most times you go it changes, which is fantastic”. “You can also go upstairs afterwards to Homage where they do matching cheese and wine, which again has an extensive menu”.
2. Chez Nous Bistro British, Modern restaurant in Sale 179 Marsland Road - M33
Needing to eat in Manchester’s plush southern ’burbs? – this ‘suburban bistro with urban attitude’ (their words) doesn’t generate huge feedback in our survey, but such as there is rates it as excellent value.
3. TNQ Restaurant & Bar British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 108 High St - M4
“What neighbourhood bistros should all be about!” say fans of this long-established venue, named for its location in The Northern Quarter, which on nearly all accounts “always delivers great food at reasonable prices”.
4. Adam Reid at The French British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Peter St - M60
“Located in a grande dame of a Manchester hotel” – don’t let the fact that this bastion of the city (where Mr Rolls first met Mr Royce) is situated in the heart of a classic traditional hotel gull you into thinking that its glory days (it held the city’s first Michelin star until losing it in 1975) are behind it. “Once you walk through the doors of the restaurant, you do feel removed from the hotel” – a “delightful” setting – and ‘The French’ is “worthy of a visit for Adam Reid’s tasting menu food that fully delivers on the hit to the tastebuds”. “It’s not all serious plates, with some playful dishes offering something a little different and intriguing” and – though not as commented-on as Mana nowadays – some diners still hail it as “the best culinary experience in Manchester”.
5. Kala British, Modern restaurant in Manchester King Street - M2
“Outstanding food” at sensible prices hits the sweet spot at this “really enjoyable” three-year-old, the sixth venue in Gary Usher’s crowd-funded Elite Bistros group. “The service was excellent and the standards really high” – “I loved being able to watch what was going on in the kitchen”.
6. Hawksmoor Steaks & grills restaurant in Manchester 184-186 Deansgate - M3
Quickly established as a “Manchester institution” since its 2015 opening, this Deansgate branch of the hit London chain offers “quite simply the best steak and accompaniments around” – it’s “difficult to find fault as everything is top notch: the quality and cookery of the beef; the exemplary seafood, be it Salcombe crab on toast or lobster; even down to their sides of mac’n’cheese, bone marrow or Caesar salad”. That said, as with its cousins down south, it’s “best if someone else pays!”.
7. Sam’s Chop House British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Back Pool Fold off Cross Street - M2
“Now reopened and feels like it has never been away” – this local landmark (LS Lowry’s favourite, dating from 1872) has emerged unchanged in its essentials from a recent refurb which included the addition of some outside tables. “Pubby in the bar, and comfortable in the restaurant, with pleasant service, the traditional northern English food (such as Corned Beef Hash) is well cooked and very enjoyable, though not something to eat every day if you’re planning to live long and prosper!”
8. James Martin British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 2 Watson St - M3
2021 Review: The TV host’s “quirky” flagship restaurant wins high ratings despite its “interesting” (some would say iffy) location, upstairs at the Manchester235 casino. Head chef, Doug Crampton’s cooking here is “a real pleasure” – “all dishes are prepared with great care and are a delight to eat”. “Try the afternoon tea they recently introduced, very yummy!”.
9. The Ivy Spinningfields British, Modern restaurant in Manchester The Pavilion, Byrom Street - M3
“You wouldn’t go for ‘haute cuisine’, but as a jolly place to eat comfort food in a spectacular setting, it is hard to beat” – that’s the upbeat view, anyway, on this now-“ubiquitous” brasserie chain. Eight years and 40 openings later, the spin-offs increasingly eclipse the Theatreland original (see also), whose Edwardian features provide the style-guide for its nationwide ‘roll out’. “Even if the unchallenging food reaches no heights, there’s a consistent buzz”, which makes them a “posh”, “fun” choice for a get-together, if not a particularly foodie one. This is particularly the case at the landmark London off-shoots: at ‘Chelsea Garden’ (“gorgeous greenery”); Kensington (“slick”, with a “pretty glitzy crowd”); and on the Thames (“great views over Tower Bridge”). But while it’s always been acknowledged that the mass offering is “a shadow of the mothership’s” – with “average grub at not-so-average prices” – the feeling that the brand has become just “a chain that does not excite” is gaining ever-stronger currency. Service seems more “stretched” nowadays, and a sliding ambience rating is making the whole offering seem ever-more “overrated, for all its modern art and perky décor”.
10. Three Little Words British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Watson Street - M3
2022 Review: “An amazing bar and signature cocktails” are hailed in early reports on this two-year-old haunt in the characterful arches beneath Manchester Central station, from the people behind the successful Manchester Gin brand. Though its selection of small plates is not the main point, nor is it an afterthought.
11. 20 Stories British, Modern restaurant in Manchester No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square - M3
It has the 360° vistas, it has the rooftop terrace planted with trees scaling two storeys, but whether it has top cuisine is more debatable at this D&D London operation, named for its position at the top of the Spinningfields Tower. Feedback remains limited and muted, but in early 2022, Daniel Scott (whose recent CV includes Mana) took over the stoves, so perhaps change is afoot. To dip a toe in the water, sample the view from the cocktail bar.
12. Albatross & Arnold British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Leftbank - M3
2019 Review: “A bit weird and not easy to find from ground-level” – this bar and lounge on the first floor of an indoor golf driving-range in Spinningfields (complete with ‘a suspended light installation featuring over 1000 beautifully lit golf balls’) “doesn’t immediately scream fine-dining”. The focus is on a trendy, meat-focussed small-plates menu and early reports suggest that, unlikely as it sounds, there’s “some proper high-end cooking going on here”.
13. Albert’s Shed British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 20 Castle St - M3
2019 Review: The eponymous Albert’s old tool shed (he’s the uncle of the owner) is now a stylish, contemporary haunt with a popular canalside terrace – hence why it’s “best in summer” – plus reasonably priced, mostly English grub. (Part of a three-strong local empire, which recently announced plans to add a Standish branch.)
14. Street Urchin British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 72 Great Ancoats Street - M4
“A hidden gem on the fringe of the Northern Quarter and Ancoats”, Kevin & Rachel Choudhary’s ‘English market diner’ is “driven by seasonal produce”, with “a constantly changing menu of adventurous and innovative dishes”. There’s “serious culinary ambition here and the reach mostly falls within their grasp – rabbit and pistachio cigars, smoked aubergine, tempura crab in green curry, venison, mackerel, ‘Manchester moneybags’ to finish – this is contemporary, international cuisine with a confident touch”.
15. The Black Friar British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 13 King Street - M3
Closed for 15 year following fire damage, this handsome late-Victorian tavern in Salford was transformed for its 2021 reopening, and now “feels like a country pub when you walk in but then morphs into a very smart restaurant at the back”. Chef Ben Chaplin (ex-20 Stories in Spinningfields) has put together a menu that addresses both sides of the equation – winning plaudits for some ‘serious cookery’ from the Observer’s Jay Rayner, among others.
16. The Edinburgh Castle British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Blossom Street - M4
“Awesome gastropub” on a prominent corner in Ancoats dating from 1811, but which was abandoned as the industrial suburb around it declined. It was restored from dereliction and reopened three years ago with a restaurant upstairs, as the locality has redeveloped around it. It serves “a good choice of reasonably priced dishes”, including “decent roasts on a Sunday”.
17. Erst British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 9 Murray Street - M4
The “incredible tastes” created by chef Patrick Withington make this “unpretentious place with a modern interior”, “a wonderful find in a rejuvenated and restored Victorian street in Ancoats” – “I could eat here every day”. The “light dishes designed for sharing” are “served by enthusiastic staff who clearly love the food”, while the “interesting” list of natural wines is “curated by people who really have a passion for their work and know what they are doing”.
18. Mana British, Modern restaurant in Manchester Sawmill Court - M4
“Undeniably one of the UK’s top tables” – Simon Martin’s “fabulous airy space within the foodie hotspot that is Ancoats” shot to national fame in 2019 when it secured Manchester’s first Michelin star since 1977. On practically all accounts, “exemplary cooking” with an emphasis on fire and fermentation and British ingredients “comes out of that entirely open kitchen, and the team work methodically alongside each other to produce it”. “Flavours are knock-out and every dish is evocative of place and origin, with evident care and attention to detail. This level of refinement usually knocks all the oomph out of the produce (ahem, France, ahem) but here it only adds to it. Who on earth would carefully fillet and re-stuff a mussel? The result, in its bath of smoky butter, is amazing”. And “wine pairings are interesting and varied” too. “Being seated adjacent to the open kitchen and able to view the focused choreography of the chefs adds to the delight” – “there’s such a great theatre and occasion”. With stardom has come higher prices, however, and doubts are creeping in about the ultimate level of value it delivers. One in six now consider it notably overpriced. The remainder that “it’s not cheap, but you pay for what you get”.
19. The Whitworth Cafe British, Modern restaurant in Manchester The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, Oxford Rd - M15
2021 Review: “You would not realise you are in Moss Side” at the Whitworth’s “beautiful” and “family-friendly” glass-walled conservatory, overlooking Whitworth Park. Its location (above all) and victuals make it an “excellent place for lunch”, with the “three daily changing salads particularly recommended”.
20. The Lime Tree British, Modern restaurant in Manchester 8 Lapwing Ln - M20
Patrick Hannity’s “charming old restaurant” in posh West Didsbury has hosted a steady stream of satisfied diners for 35 years, achieving “the highest standards” across the board. “Consistency with enthusiasm is still the hallmark of this much loved venue”; “the food is always good but unfussy – hence the loyal following over so many years”. Ahead of the curve on provenance, Patrick established his own 20-acre smallholding in Macclesfield Forest 15 years ago to provide vegetables, eggs and meat for the kitchen.
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