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Evuna Reviewed

Ruth Allan loves the wine but thinks the food needs more depth

Published on November 22nd 2012.


Evuna Reviewed

AS UK SPANISH restaurants go, there are two types; tapas bars and proper dining. Very occasionally, some combine the two and that’s what we’ve got at Evuna. A Spanish tapas restaurant which also serves main dishes and specialises in small bins of popular and unusual Spanish wines. 

The ingredients for something special are there in Evuna's wine-lined walls, low, dark lighting, cute Spanish-y tables, perfect for huddling and romancing over. It’s just a shame I couldn’t always relax in the chef’s hands as I could in the sommelier's.

If you like a tipple, the wine selection is great.

Chilled Albarino is one of my favourites. It’s made on the wild coastline of Galicia and I like to think you can taste the minerals seeping into the grapes from the soil. Known for a ‘bath salty’ nose, Evuna’s house edition is like a particularly alluring fabric conditioner, all clean, swift lime notes grounded with the tang of chalk. Worth the price tag at £5.80 a glass. 

If white is not your thing there are classy reds from Ribera del Duero, everyone’s favourite Rioja and a lone Monastrell. Also known as Mourvèdre in France, this chunky red appeals to fans of Malbec and Shiraz, and a great example (not quite as great at the Juan Gil they used to stock, but still good) is Aldea De Daras (£20 in, £11 takeout).   

In comparison, the food lacks the cellar’s finesse. 

Crostini with Spanish black pudding (morcilla) and spiced chorizo (£4.75) is a smoky, gooey stack, with a layer of pate-like stuff that’s discoloured around the edges as if left to dry or placed under the grill. It little needs a salad garnish covered in Italian balsamic drizzle. The slow braised pork cheek, with potato and carrots (£7.50, also from the tapas specials menu) is better. The soup base is made for that slightly dry, flavoursome white bread you find around the Med.

EvunaEvuna

But with the kitchen reaching for supermarket ingredients once again, we make do with dipping baguette into the sweet, aniseedy sauce. It detracts little from the fall-apart cheek, and unctuous clams with white beans (£7.90). This is peasant food as it has the potential to be, all big flavours and satisfying umami

Light, crisp calamari overpower the table on a moon-sized plate, with a solid, home made tomato dip on the side and plenty of it. As is the case in many ocean-facing parts of Spain, seafood is the thing at Evuna. 

EvunaEvuna

So it’s a shame that the Galician hake (£15.50) main with celery, potato and parsley stew is such a let down. The fish is ever so lightly crumbed and fried, retaining a good, soft bite and character.

But the accompanying soup looks like it’s been eaten once already and tastes similar. I gesture in an attempt to stop my friend Joe eating it but he likes it. Perhaps it’s just me…. but the oily, scummy layer on top and the liquid soaking through the increasingly soggy fish adds up to grim. Over-stewed parsley doesn’t lift the mood and presentation is an issue throughout. 

As you’d find in a smart, upmarket restaurant in Madrid, there are a number of dry sherries to try plus a highlight of Pedro Ximinez liquid raisin dessert sherry. We take small sips and mull over the mixed bag.

Joe loves it. He cleans up everything left on the table while I turn my nose up. Is it me or does Joe need a palate education. 

EvunaEvuna

At least elements like the pork cheek, the beans, the smoky morcilla are head and shoulders above the snooze-fest tapas of La Tasca and El Rincon.

The ingredients for something special are there in Evuna's wine-lined walls, low, dark lighting, cute Spanish-y tables, perfect for huddling and romancing over. It’s just a shame I couldn’t always relax in the chef’s hands as I could in the sommelier's.

The robust, peasant aspects of Evuna work better than any stabs at sophistication. And we lack the latter in the city. Since the closure of Grado (Paul Heathcote’s Spanish operation, where Grill on New York Street now lies), there’s nowhere for anything that borders on even vaguely fine Spanish dining unless you’re prepared to head out to El Gato Negro in Ripponden. 

You can follow Ruth Allan on Twitter here @RuthAllan.

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Evuna, 277 Deansgate, City. M3 4EW, Tel: 0161 819 2752. Web.   

Rating: 14/20 

Food: 6/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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

FloNovember 22nd 2012.

Have been once and felt the same. Spanish food is my favourite but there isn't anywhere in Manchester I would go, unfortunately.

pollolocoNovember 22nd 2012.

Go to agree, sadly it's not a place I go to now, although the wine offering is good...maybe the owners need to bite the bullet and take a fresh look at what comes out of the kitchen....it's just not really good enough. Luna in Liverpool sets the benchmark for me.

1 Response: Reply To This...
pollolocoNovember 22nd 2012.

Lunya!!

Heather ButlerNovember 22nd 2012.

Love Evuna, love the tapas, love the atmopsphere and of course love the wine. I've only got good things to say about a restaurant where I've spent many happy evenings. (And in comparision it blasted the terrible Grado right out of the water!)

1 Response: Reply To This...
BuggyNovember 24th 2012.

Grado was head and shoulders above Evuna for food. The guy on Beech Road is head and shoulders above Evuna as well. What the owners at Evuna need to do is get over to Madrid and San Sebastion and see what real Spanish food is all about.

Big WilNovember 22nd 2012.

tapas, OK, atmosphere great, wine fantastic.

blackleeNovember 22nd 2012.

even a little bar like the vague but fond memory I have of the old Pintxos bar (where Lounge 10 is now) would be great: one bar pump, small selection of wine and some simple grilled tapas is all that is needed

Lorraine ByrneNovember 22nd 2012.

Ate there quite a few times a few years ago and never ever had decent food. Looks like they've not improved so I'll not be running back. Shame because its a nice little restaurant.

Daniel CoultasNovember 22nd 2012.

beech road is the place for spanish food!

1 Response: Reply To This...
DorothysmithNovember 26th 2012.

so ok wheres beech road i love spanish food please. n thankyou

StephNovember 24th 2012.

Heard that Evuna are opening on Thomas Street and i'm hoping that I'll be more of a bar with wine and small dishes rather than a carbon copy of the Deansgate branch.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 26th 2012.

It will be exactly the same as Evuna Deansgate

NicolaDecember 8th 2012.

I have to say we're always found the tapas here pretty good - and we're both mega fussy foodies....

John HallSeptember 10th 2013.

Jo was right ! The food is great- and consistent , Ive been twice now and enjoyed it emencely - try the ' 3 tapa's fpr 10 pound ' deal at lunch

Lynne EdwardsJune 11th 2014.

Agree with Blacklee - Pintxos was fab and we could do with more of the same. Evuna is alright for wine, but the food is boring - white, flabby, sliced bread served last time I went (I was told it came for somewhere in Chorlton as though that made it okay). El Rincon is always up and down and Vina and La Tasca are to be avoided at all costs.

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