During the late ’80s and early ’90s ‘Madchester’ cultural phenomenon, Manchester became known globally as an international city of post-punk and rave culture and in addition, the music of The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Oasis became the soundtrack to Generation Y’s UK urban experience. Skip to 2016, however, and the city is enriched with a diverse and rich musical, artistic and gastronomic community that is no longer spinning its wheels in nostalgia but burgeoning forward with a relentless appetite for the new and the innovative.
Manchester has not only moved on from its perceived heyday but surpassed and outgrown it. There is a reason why many idealistic foodies, world-renowned chefs, independent brewers and craft ale enthusiasts have flocked to the city over the past 10-20 years. Manchester is a truly international city but is yet to attain the global credit it deserves for its plethora of rewarding drinking and dining experiences. But that’s not going to stop BUCKiTDREAMERs from exploring this hidden gem of Europe now, is it?
Here at BUCKiTDREAM, we give you the insider knowledge on the places to eat and the cream of the crop of the drinking establishments. Stick them in your BUCKiTDREAM planner and ensure you have a full itinerary when you visit one of the most exciting and burgeoning international cities.
High-end Britain’s best chefs have opened new fine dining establishments in Manchester over the last decade. From Aiden Byrne, Simon Rogan and Michael Caine to respected locals such as Mary-Ellen McTague, Manchester is now regarded as a gastronomic haven. The only thing lacking from the current resurgence of Manchester’s food scene is the elusive Michelin star.
Manchester House also arrives in 2013 alongside The French but with the same fanfare. One of only three restaurants in the North of England to boast 4 AA Rosettes, Michelin-starred Aiden Byrne is the head chef working diligently to produce high-end modern British chow. Set in the multi-million pound refurbished Tower Twelve in Spinningfields, with views across Manchester’s city centre, Manchester House is at the very forefront of imaginative and unique British cooking. Squab pigeon with cherries, pistachio and violet mustard is one of the top dishes to eat in Manchester and its thoroughly-researched wine list is one of the best in the city. Aiden Byrne’s 14-course taster menu including Ribblesdale goats cheese and onion soup with Jabugo ham is an experience to savor.
Manchester offers hidden delights in the field of high-end dining. Situated under an obscure industrial bridge, Umezushi produces the freshest, most sumptuous sushi in the city. If it’s exciting South Asian fusion cooking set in blissful oceanic surroundings you’re after, then Australasia is another classy dining option.
The best of London has recently opened Manchester branches of their world-renowned restaurants; these include one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the North, the award-winning tapas of El Gato Negro, and the best steakhouse chain in the country in Hawksmoor. The food revolution doesn’t stop there, with the heavy-hitting The Refuge opening in September 2016 as part of a multi-million pound restoration of the historic Palace Hotel.
Top Tip for the future is to keep an ear out for Mary-Ellen McTague’s latest venture; ever since Manchester’s finest restaurant The Aumbry closed down, the pride and joy of Northern cooking has stayed busy with dazzling one-off dining events but remains on the hunt for a permanent home!
Mid-range A notch below on the price bracket without sacrificing quality of ingredients and overall dining experience are a range of delightful Manchester eateries.
Open since 1888, the listed-building Marble Arch pub boasts an ever-changing choice of fantastic home-brewed beers, high-quality seasonal pub food and a comforting atmosphere.
Salvi’s Cucina is a family-run Italian eatery showcasing only the best food from Campania. Serving only the finest traditional Italian produce in an intimate setting, Salvi’s has been wowing Manchester crowds for the last five years.
New on the scene and a self-described ‘neighborhood dining’ eatery, Evelyn’s Café Bar, focuses on serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, seven days a week to a cosmopolitan young crowd. Serving mouth-watering small and large plates, Sunday roasts and scintillating brunch dishes, this is the place to visit with friends and watch the world go by.
Rudy’s is an independent Neapolitan pizzeria applying traditional Naples knowledge and wood-fired ovens to their imported Italian produce and handcrafted dough to bring you some of the best pizza in the country.
Winner of the Best Sunday Roast in The Observer newspaper, The Parlour offers the very best in Britain’s main contribution to the culinary world, the Sunday roast.
Manchester’s Curry Mile is probably the most famous location for Indian dining outside that vast country. The pride and joy of authentic Indian street food, Mowgli and the Indian Tiffin Room have both opened new city-centre locations to draw new crowds to their home-style specialty dishes.
Budget With the price of the average pint almost half what you’ll find in England’s capital London, a cheap (and incredibly fun) night out is waiting for you in Manchester.
Trove Cafe is worth the bus journey that you’ll have to take in order to taste this hip café’s home-baked breads, pizzas and cakes. The original husband and wife team have expanded into a tight-knit group of talented bakers that stay true to a belief in quality hand-made products. Trove has won plaudits from across the city.
Teatime Collective is a specialist vegan café and ice-cream parlor (because great things go together!). Cozy, intimate and focusing on a proper range of vegan dining options (no stuffed mushrooms here!).
A hidden gem for curry enthusiasts since 1984, This and That Café has been serving up a daily range of fabulous homemade curries to its loyal followers, all for mind-bogglingly cheap prices.
The best vegetarian food in Manchester is to be found at Sanskruti restaurant which specializes in lip-smacking Gujarat veggie treats from puris to chaat to dhokla.
Tibetan Kitchen is also a cult hit amongst food aficionados in Manchester. You can choose three hot dishes for just £6.50 including beef/veggie momos, luksha khatsa and ngo khatsa. A firm favorite.
Koffee Pot is a local church for foodies. The hangover brunch has been spot-of-choice for local musicians and partygoers for years. Unwind, rehydrate and tuck into fan-favorites such as heuvos-ranchos-inspired Mexican breakfasts hearty Full Englishes, all served with a mountain of toast and fountains of English tea.
Drinks and Nightlife
The brewing and craft ale culture in Manchester shows no sign of letting up. In recent years, independent breweries such as Blackjack, Runaway, Quantum BC, First Chop, Ninety 90 Brewing Co have joined the established ranks of Marble, Red Willow and Hyde in producing a vast range of bitters, porters, stouts, IPAs and brown, amber and weiss beers, all for your delectation.
Soup Kitchen is a Northern Quarter hangout spot boasting some seriously tasty rustic soups and a range of delightful local craft ales. Come for the food and stay for the atmosphere that builds during the night. It also hosts the best club nights in the city and is without a doubt a must-visit for any keen revelers.
Recently celebrating its tenth year, Common Bar is a top choice for those in the know. Relaxed vibes, dozens of local ales, carefully constructed unique cocktails and friendly staff combine to make this a definite place to quench your thirst and begin your night out.
Blackjack Brewery is a microbrewery in the city that hosts bi-monthly events that opens its doors to the craft ale crowd, often in conjunction with live music and DJ sets. One to keep an eye out for.
Regularly winning Manchester’s Best Pub, Port Street Beer House is THE beer-enthusiasts’ drinking hole. They offer a dizzying range of cask, keg and bottled options. Choices come in the hundreds and they often host special events showcasing local breweries.
Building an a highly successful bottle shop, newly-opened Café Beermoth offers 17 beers on draft and a wine and beer menu that is akin to a dense Victorian novel.
A subterranean drinking den and speakeasy, The Gaslamp remains the hidden gem of the late-night drinking world. Craft beers in a Victorian cellar bar, Gaslamp always managed to stay busy but not heaving. It’s helpful and enthusiastic staff differentiate it from those chasing its coattails.
The Smithfield was recently purchased by the Blackjack Brewery folk and defines itself by not grasping to the world of mixologists and bearded hipsters, but by seeking to be a traditional English boozer complete with games, books, music evenings a hum of chatter.
The Castle has a history of serving drink the hard-working Mancunian community for 200 years. This is a traditional English pub to please the most bewildered tourist. Always a hub of frenzied but friendly nighttime activity, The Castle is also one of the city center’s best venues, consistently showcasing the best local talent that this great musical city has to offer.
High-end Hotel Gotham is a stylish new five-star hotel, all dark wood and leather in a beautiful iconic former bank building.
Mid-range Crowne Plaza Manchester offers a perfect location on the edge of the Northern Quarter. Comfortable, consistently well-reviewed, very helpful staff, great value for money.
Budget Hatters Hostel Manchester gives guests a choice of two superb locations, activity nights, fantastic untapped basement bar called Hold Fast. Complimentary breakfast included.
Tips & Culture
You’ll have no issue being welcomed to Manchester, its inhabitants are notoriously friendly and helpful to visitors. You may even hear the friendly colloquialism “alright, our kid!” Our advice to great around is to make use of the newly expanded tram service – Metrolink. You can travel from the airport into the city centre and across the whole of Greater Manchester. Saying that, one of the delights of Manchester is that the city centre is completely navigable on foot so don’t fear a bit of urban exploration!
Arguably Britain’s best chef, multi-Michelin star winner, Simon Rogan has opened his sublime restaurant The French in the refurbished, grandiose Midland Hotel. The French’s lack of a Michelin star has confounded even the most-respected of critics, as the restaurant has been producing contemporary British food with aplomb, utilizing the best seasonal produce grown in local farms.
Voted best restaurant in the Waitrose Good Food guide, winner of **** 4 AA Rosettes (touching noses with Le Gavroche, Helen Darroze, The Ledbury and Alain Ducasse), it is only a matter of time before it receives the Michelin star it so richly deserves. Current head chef Adam Reid (star of the Great British Menu) is using Rogan’s experimental kitchen hopes to add to signature dishes that have won many locals over, including ox in coal oil served with pumpkin seeds, kohlrabi and sunflower shoots. An absolute must.
By now you should be keen to get on your BUCKiTDREAM planner and start jotting down some of these taste bud-tantalizing venues. Explore the app, have a look at other people’s trips and experiences and, after you’ve engorged yourself in Manchester, make sure to share your own with other BUCKiTDREAM dreamers!