Clockwise from top: Australasia, Aubaine, 63 Degrees
The economy might be in meltdown, but that’s proved no barrier to new restaurant openings in and around Manchester city centre.
Here’s our round-up of the best of the newcomers.
Aubaine opened not one but two new restaurants inside Selfridges on Exchange Square, and is fast earning a reputation for tempting even the most dedicated shoppers away from the designer labels. Fine French food without the formality, from breakfast croissants through to early evening cocktails, all served in chic yet relaxed surroundings.
A glass pyramid appeared in Spinningfields, and Australasia was born. Part cocktail bar and part restaurant, Australasia is attracting the crowds with its desert-inspired decor, funky range of cocktails and ultimate east-meets-west fusion food. For a more understated approach to style, there’s 63 Degrees, in the heart of the Northern Quarter. Launched by father and son team Eric and Alex Moreau, the restaurant offers modern French cooking and a genuinely friendly welcome from the Moreau family and their team.
Brought brick by brick from Ireland, the incongruous Oasthouse pub is now squatting proudly amongst the high rise offices and designer shops of Spinningfields, providing rustic charm, pub meals, and a wide range of bottled and cask ales. Plus an outside kitchen, because there wasn’t room to put one inside.
Another Spinningfields opening was Southern Eleven, on a mission to deliver good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. Lip-smackin’ BBQ food, an Oklahoman hickory wood-burning smoker, and, of course, a secret mix of herbs and spices. Plus possibly the only drinks menu in Manchester to feature both milkshakes and cocktails.
The Twisted Med brought the taste of the Mediterranean (with a twist) to Castlefields, and even offers waterfront views (the Bridgewater Canal may not be quite the Med, but it’s the closest we’ve got). Informal eating in a relaxed and cosy setting. Over in Barton Arcade, Sirocco is also providing Mediterranean fusion flavours. Set beneath the arcade’s stunning Victorian atrium, Sirocco oozes style – and isn’t short on substance, either. Head Chef Maros – described as Slovakia’s answer to Heston Blumenthal – has been busy blending French, Italian, Spanish and North African influences to create an innovative and memorable menu.
Princess Street saw the opening of new Korean restaurant Ban di Bul, hotly awaited by aficionados of Korean food. A varied menu with a good range of BBQ banquets and traditional Korean stews – plus friendly staff who are happy to explain what’s on offer if you’re not already a fan. And St Anne’s Square saw the second incarnation of bar and restaurant Sandinista, following success with its first venture in Leeds. Atmosphere and food inspired by a love for Latin culture, fair trade – and the Clash.
Offering a rather more decadent experience, Vertigo opened its spectacular gastrodome on John Dalton Street. Five storeys of fine dining and a bar, each floor lavishly decorated and perfectly presented. Menus offer both classic and innovative dishes from a chef keen to attract food lovers from across the region.
FYG Delis proved a great addition to the Northern Quarter’s already extensive collection of places to enjoy a tasty lunch. Sandwiches come with a fig salad, and there’s an exceptional range of deli items, each one prepared fresh every day. Just up the road in the Printworks, a Harvester replaced Old Orleans. Good value and a reliable choice when you want to keep the kids happy – and conveniently located right next to the Odeon.
Another welcome choice for family dining arrived with a bang in the form of the Red Hot World Buffet, on the corner of Deansgate and Blackfriars. 10 cuisines, 35 top chefs, 700 covers. Live ‘attraction stations’ showcase the chefs at work. Never has the accolade ‘something for all the family’ been more deserved.
And last – but definitely not least – comes Malmaison. The exclusive Piccadilly hotel set out to make an impact with the new Smoak Bar and Grill – and succeeded. Dine at the counter for a spectacular open kitchen experience, settle into a plush red leather booth for more cosy conversations, or live the Downton Abbey lifestyle sipping cocktails in the opulent Ember Bar.
It’s been great to see such a range of new restaurants and new experiences on offer. It’s clear there are plenty of business owners confident the people of Manchester will always want a good meal out. Here’s to a 2012 that proves them right.