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MCR's Best New Restaurants 2015: The Expert Picks

We asked food critics, restaurateurs and bon vivants what to look out for this year

Written by . Published on January 28th 2015.

MCR's Best New Restaurants 2015: The Expert Picks

NEW Manchester restaurants are sprouting up with the merciless vigour of Japanese Knotweed.

Dear Mr. Chef, why do you spend all your time on Twitter spewing your thoughts and telling us how fab you are; yet you can’t cook a fucking pie?

But with so many new venues it's difficult to know which have the minerals to carry it through, which will make it big in MCR and which will explode and disappear like a guff in a gale.

So we've collected together a handful of Manchester's finest, most informed and most self-important know-it-all food experts to highlight which new restaurants and trends (or in Gordo's case, whatever's pissing him off right now) they're most looking forward to in 2015.

JONATHAN SCHOFIELD - Confidential Editor-In-Chief, MCR tour guide and lover of the Devil's own phlegm... tripe

It’d be good to see Mary-Ellen McTague fully commit to a city centre opening and I’m looking forward to the return of David Gale with his own chef proprietor place. Will he play it cautiously or let his food fly free now he’s liberated himself from the constraints of hotel cheffing? 

There's also strong rumours of a shift across the city for a major Manchester indie that provides precise and imaginative cooking but I'll leave it at that. Suffice to say this will be tres bien news. 

Peter Booth at the Whitworth Art Gallery should provide good seasonal grub along with plenty of food entertainment with his trademark big flavours. It’ll be interesting to see whether gallery dining, albeit in a splendid rooftop space amongst the trees of Whitworth Park, can appeal to a regular audience.

Otherwise it’s good news about El Gato Negro, Hawksmoor and Iberica arriving. Let’s hope more of Salut’s style of restful wine bars open - Spirited Wines new upstairs drinking area on Deansgate should be good. If the sun shines the Festival Hub at Manchester International Festival will give cultural sorts who like to get sloshed a place to go when the poor, dear, beloved Cornerhouse bar closes in spring.

Personally I crave a special pass that simply states in capitals, ‘BEER’. I can wave this when stuck behind an order for five cocktails. Let’s have more oysters and seafood on menus, let’s have another Umezushi or Yuzu and far fewer bloggers, let's have an operator that does justice to the lovely domed bar at Victoria Station. We probably need at least 73 new Italian restaurants. Finally, let’s trample the phrase ‘street food’ into the dust...

Booth's at the WhitworthBooth's at the Whitworth Gallery

GORDO - Confidential's one and only 'Fat One' and least likely to follow an editor's brief

Consistency. Seasonal. Escoffier. Humility. Not necessarily in that order.

That’s what Gordo is hoping for this year. Whether he gets them or not is in the hands of the Gods of cuisine.

Firstly, Gordo is fed up with inconsistency. How can a place deliver a sublime, tinged-with-vinegar poached egg with runny yolk one day, then a little white bland rubber ball the next? Whilst he’s at it, you miserable bastard accountants, let the chef buy big, fat free-range organic eggs for a poaching instead of those mean, tiny, horrid catering eggs that you force upon us. 

Seasonality. Strawberries taste bland, hard and lacklustre out of season. So why use them? Chefs of caliber will only use what is at the top if its game when it comes to seasonality. And while we are at it, STOP STICKING THEM ON TOP OF CHAMPAGNE FLUTES. They’re acidic and kill the bloom off the wine. Try a drop of vinegar in a coupe, you’ll get the idea.

Escoffier took the highly ornate recipes of Carême, the great grand-daddy of French cuisine and started by laying out the five basic sauces; Béchamel, Espagnole, Velouté, Hollandaise and Tomate. Please Mr Chef, ensure each member of the brigade know how to make these with their eyes shut. Hawksmoor are coming. They currently have two outstanding sauces to go with their superb steaks; anchovy and the novel, inspirational Stilton hollandaise. Both born from the mother sauces and what separates these guys from the also-rans.

Humility. Dear Mr Chef, why do you spend all your time on Twitter spewing your thoughts and telling us how fab you are; yet you can’t cook a fucking pie? What’s that all about? Please let this be the year when average chefs, tweeters, most bloggers and various fuckwits learn that a little knowledge is dangerous.

By the way, accept, like Gordo has, that you can’t bleeding write. Gordo only has one ‘O’ level. What’s your excuse? If you’re serious, like the Fat Illiterate One, get yourself an editor, or concentrate on being a sodding househusband in Levvie.

Sorry Ed... what was the brief again?


LUCY TOMLINSON - Food writer and philosophiser

We’ve heard about sustainable farming and food miles for ages now, but I predict 2015 will be the year the importance of the people in the food industry will come to the fore.

The potential of food to change lives is being showcased by The Clink, a charity which opens restaurants run by prisoners. This opens up the opportunity to gain experience and qualifications in cooking and food service, which will benefit them significantly when reintegrating back into society. The latest restaurant will open at HMP Styal (the first in a prison for women) in spring 2015. The Aspire Restaurant at Trafford College - which offers students on-the-job-training – also re-opened late last year, and is planning guest chef events with local food heroes for 2015.

On the food supply front, Booths is leading the way in paying top dollar for cow juice – the supermarket superstars guarantee to pay their farmers the highest market price for every pint of milk. Local livelihoods in Lancashire, Cheshire and beyond depend on being fairly recompensed for the white stuff so it’s worth paying the extra pennies for a healthy food industry and happy farmers. Power to the people.

The ClinkThe Clink

NEIL SOWERBY - Restaurant critic, wine expert and 'probably the best travelled man in the Western Hemisphere', he tells us.

I’m looking forward to seeing independent restaurants returning to the city centre – from chefs Mary-Ellen McTague, David Gale, and most of all Yorkshireman Simon Shaw, bringing his sublime technique to bear on classic Spanish cuisine when El Gato Negro moves into the old Brasserie Blanc site midsummer.

Of the trillion new breweries, hoovering up the world’s hops, highest hopes are for the more leftfield Cloudwater and Chorlton Brewing Company giving us Seasonals, Saisons and Sours, while barrel ageing will be de rigueur for gins and cocktails, too. Sudden cult tipple? 2015’s Aperol Spritz will be the far superior Negroni. The wine bar revival will continue with Spirited Wines’ upstairs expansion promising to create a relaxed Deansgate bolthole, but Bacchus forbid the fad for (often vile) Natural Wines will journey up from London.

One Smoke export, Hawskmoor, is truly welcome, though. I just hope the Manc public will pay the premium for such a quality meat package. Finally, sorry Solita and the rest, please can Big Mancs, The Manc Wheel and all the grease-laden pulled porkers go down the pan.

El Gato NegroEl Gato Negro

FRANCO SOTGIU - Solita Owner, wind-up merchant and now Neil Sowerby's nemesis

For me the rise of the Spanish restaurant in Manchester is probably the most exciting trend of 2015, with the likes of El Gato Negro and Iberica on the tails of La Bandera giving Manchester some of the finest Spanish food outside Spain. 

I'm obviously excited by the arrival of Hawksmoor on Deansgate and London's other steak powerhouse Goodman's bringing their Burger Lobster concept to King Street.

Whilst some observers see the Corn Exchange development as 'chainy' the inclusion of Wahaca and Vapiano take the site to a level above the Mexican and Italian branded restaurants already in Manchester. 

Rumours as to Mary Ellen McTague's new venue are still flying around, it would be great to see her food in a grand city centre space... perhaps the old Room site? 

Who I'd most like to see in Manchester in 2015 is Stosie Madi of The Parker's Arms near Clitheroe, there's been rumours for some time that she's coming to town. Personally, I think it would be the most exciting thing to happen here for a long time.

Corn Exchange plansCorn Exchange plans

LUCY NOONE - Hawksmoor lady and greengrocer's daughter

Whilst I realise that there is more to a national cuisine than La Chinata smoked paprika in cute red tins and food on sticks, a couple of recent encounters with both pintxos bars and the fiery red stuff has left me looking forward to El Gato Negro’s arrival from the hills. I hope they have a bar, and I hope they don’t mind my loitering around in it.

Speaking of bars, I know Mr Cooper's has been open a while but I’d like to go back and sit in that lovely room many more times this year. Their clever staff do very clever things with gin, tonic and ice which I just can’t seem to copy at home.

I'm really looking forward to Burnt Truffle, but then who isn’t. I really hope it’s going to be near enough to waddle in and out of on a regular basis. And Hawksmoorand I’m not just saying that because they gave me a job. Promise.

Mr Cooper'sMr Cooper's

THOM HETHERINGTON - MD Northern Restaurant Bar Show and restaurant door darkener

London is coming, again. Following the Krays, and later ill-fated Chez Gerard and Fish et al, this third wave from the capital is finally bringing up the top notch operators we’ve desired. I happily travel across London for Hawksmoor, Iberica and Wahaca, thus I’ll be delighted to have them on my doorstep. 

Though we won’t be short of local hero Chef Patrons for the city centre. Having been a fan of David Gale’s gutsy intelligent cooking for over a decade I can’t wait to see him freed of the hotel shackles, and a revitalised city centre Aumbry could mean three serious fine dining city centre restaurants, a magic number which unlocks a whole new level of gastro-tourism.

On a related note two of my favourite restaurants are currently caught in Manchester’s gravitational pull. Firstly Simon Shaw’s brilliant El Gato Negro is relocating and upsizing from Rippoden. Secondly, though it is merely rumour and conjecture, I hear Sticky Walnut’s 'difficult second site', Burnt Truffle, may take root within the city limits. Fingers crossed.

Sticky WalnutSticky Walnut

RUTH ALLAN - Food writer, boozehound...

Booze first, as always. I’m looking forward to more botanical in cocktails. It’s been a trend for a while, but not one that’s massively taken off in Manchester. In the last few months though, Jamie Jones’ cocktail menu at Fumo and the new cocktail selections at Gaucho have a herbal edge. Less sweet and meringue-y, more adult and exotic.

You can currently have G&T five or more ways at the likes of new Michelin star winner, Gymkhana in Mayfair - and I am extremely happy to see similar vibes at Gorilla and Mr Cooper’s House too.

Food wise, I’m feeling a bit jaded. I know Thomasina Mier’s Wahaca is opening in the Corn Exchange this summer, but I’m over Mexican and street food right now. The thing I most like the sound of is 'Seasons Eatings Supper Club' at Trove in Levenshulme and trying the Drunken Butcher’s notorious nights. What could be better than a fabulous set menu cooked by an inspired home chef?

I’m looking forward to trying The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds too - he seems to be cooking his pants off. A Michelin star is mooted so it’s worth getting in before the announcements in September.

The setting for supper is likely to take on more importance in 2015 too, be it someone’s home, a stark museum hall, or somewhere that’s a cafe by day, and a fine dining restaurant by night. Aumbry did this brilliantly in 2014 at Teacup; let's hope Mary-Ellen can deliver on her next project too...


DAVID BLAKE - Assistant Editor and know-it-all-shit

Firstly, I better say Hawksmoor or I'll lose my danglies. Now that's out the way, I'm mostly looking forward to seeing the look of horror on the faces of the Burger and Lobster lot when they realise how much Mancs like bang for their buck with everybody ordering a £20 lobster and nobody a £20 burger (thus bankrupting them) if only to stick seventeen pictures of the poor bugger (which for £20 will taste like burger anyway) on Instagram.

I look forward to the Michelin Guide again giving Manchester a huge 'fuck you' and farting on the steps of The Midland before carrying on to that little place in the Lake District.

I look forward to people finally realising that shoving bacon, bacon and bacon on everything doesn't make you rock'n'roll, it makes you unimaginative, contrived and most probably a cock.

But what I'm most looking forward to is Piccadilly Tap opening by the station so that I always have an excuse for missing that last train home to Grimsby.

Burger & LobsterBurger & Lobster

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

GordoJanuary 28th 2015.

whats a buger?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 28th 2015.


AnonymousJanuary 28th 2015.

Can we please see more burger restaurants in the city centre, a couple more Italians would be good too. Also, more bloggers. Everyone should have an opinion, whether there is an advertising team behind them or not. I agree with Gordo that there should be more humility in the Manchester food scene. Everyone seems to think too highly of themselves.

Simon TurnerJanuary 28th 2015.

Gordo suggesting people need more humility. Excellent.

AnonymousJanuary 28th 2015.

Does anyone know if Busaba are planning to open in the triangle?

AnonymousJanuary 28th 2015.

Living Ventures have taken the Room site, if only it was San Carlo.

Poster BoyJanuary 29th 2015.

All the obvious then...

3 Responses: Reply To This...
P.E. DantJanuary 29th 2015.

Never even heard of The Clink, The Aspire or Peter Booth, or The Parker's Arms. So no.

Poster BoyJanuary 29th 2015.

That is a reflection on you.

P.E. DantJanuary 30th 2015.

And 90% of readers I imagine, smart bollocks

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2015.

Manchester continues to be obsessed with slapping on the heavy make-up when it comes to restaurants and bars, but how many of Manchester's population does that really appeal to? Essentially the trend for this year looks to be slabs of meat and tapas that you pay more than you should. When all is said and done, Dmitris, that Korean place next to St Peter's Square and Akbar's will still remain favourites. They hit the mark just right. Lot of substance with understated style.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 30th 2015.

Lily's (Ashton Under Lyne), Greens (Didsbury) and Pacifica (Eccles) are all worth a mention too.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2015.

Armenian, Princess St.

Italian passionFebruary 15th 2015.

what about Vesuvio in Worlsey??? is a little and family run Italian restaurant from 2 young and entusiast chef....i think Gordo should come out of city..

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