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REVIEW: Evuna, Northern Quarter

Lucy Tomlinson on good tapas, empty pockets and Señor Jamón

Written by . Published on October 30th 2014.

REVIEW: Evuna, Northern Quarter

COMPARISON is a reviewer’s bread and butter. And wine and meat and dear little packets of condiments too. Without comparison we’d all just be stuffing our faces and surfacing to grunt occasionally.

Perhaps Spanish food is due another spin on the whirligig of food fashion. Yes it seems like only yesterday (if yesterday was well over a decade ago) that everyone was banging on about ‘sharing plates’ and feeling wonderfully continental about it all.

Unfortunately for Evuna, I’ve not been long back from a trip to Granada, the spiritual home of tapas. Here, tapas are a ‘gift of the house’. Gratis grub. Complimentary cuisine. Free food. Has alliteration ever sounded sweeter? With every drink came a mouth-watering surprise in the form of, well, anything really. Cuttlefish, croquettes, chorizo, clams, cabbage, whatever. If you can think of it, the Spanish can turn it into a tiny morsel of deliciousness. And did I mention it was free? What can compare with free?

The contrast isn’t fair really. I’m sure it’s a fiscal truth proven by George Osborne that if you give anyone anything for free in this country it will instantly collapse the economy and turn us all into a nation of layabouts, constantly demanding cured meats to be shovelled into our gaping maws by sobbing civil servants while Nigel Farage does an ‘I-told-you-so’ dance.

So I could never state that Evuna represents value for money. Value for money is booking an EasyJet flight to Granada and living on bar snacks and your wits for a week. But if you are prepared to shell out a little you do get some mighty fine tapas in this atmospheric Northern Quarter spot.

Evuna NQEvuna NQ

Hermana to the Evuna on Deansgate, Evuna NQ as I suppose we must call it, is more barlike than its predecessor, lots of dark woods and intimate pools of light. The Spanish vibe is conveyed subtly via Moorish tiles and carvings, nothing too ay caramba here.

Evuna is also all about the wine. A noted importer of Spanish wine, it has one of the more impenetrable winelists I’ve seen. Helpfully though, the list is split into ‘ages’ (from young and fruity to more mature and oaky), so gesturing vaguely at what you fancy and allowing your waiter to guide you is as good a method as any. Our waiter steered us towards Solorca Crianza (£28), a fantastically balanced drop from Ribera del Duero.

After a sherry at the bar we moved to a table for our food and wine. We went for the special Pato Asado, also known as roasted duck with classic tortilla and spiced red cabbage (£7). The duck was perfectly cooked, the tortilla decent, but the spiced cabbage slightly too sweet. A really interesting dish though.

Half seabass with garlic and chilli (£7.65, main image) was fresh, the skin crisp and lovely, it formed a light vibrant counterpoint to the rich, hearty Ox cheeks (6.50) served on discs of potato. Although the meat was tender, easily disintegrating into fleshy flakes, the star anise flavouring of the braise was one-note. So as long as you like your note star anisey then this is the dish for you.

HamIberico Ham


For a cold dish, we ordered Jabugo Iberico Black Foot Pig ham (£8.90). While on my aforementioned Spanish trip, I headed to the supermarket and bought a whole leg of ham for only 32 euros. We christened him Señor Jamón and, for a week at least, he became part of the family (if you cannibalise members of your family that is). Poor old Señor was not in the same league as this Iberico ham, translucent strips of meat and fat which melted in the mouth, but then for nearly £9 you would have got a third of Señor and many fond memories.

Gambas with garlic and chilli (£7.20) proved to be prawns that while alive must have been big enough to run errands for you. Cooked and smothered in silky butter they were docile enough to master in a few bites. Patatas Bravas (£4.65), however, reminded me of the other Evuna and the frankly disappointing food I’ve had there in the past. This is chain restaurant stuff and does not deserve a place on this menu. It’s what people thought Spanish food was fifteen years ago.

Crema Catalana (£4) is the Spanish version of crème brûlée, but with added citrusy punch. A likeable enough desert but faded in comparison to the savouries.

Crema CatalanaCrema Catalana

The food is good at Evuna, my only true grumble is the price. Of course everyone would like everything to be cheaper. I’m sure Evuna would like their suppliers to charge them less too. It’s just that it’s hard to feel like you are having a relaxed few bites with a drink or three when you know a bill of around £100 for two (including drinks of course) is wending your way.

Perhaps Spanish food is due another spin on the whirligig of food fashion. Yes it seems like only yesterday (if yesterday was well over a decade ago) that everyone was banging on about ‘sharing plates’ and feeling wonderfully continental about it all. It’s still a term used to make things sound a bit modern and fusion. I suspect someone out there is working on a Korean tapas street food concept right now. In our rush to praise the form though, we’ve forgotten about content. And the Spanish do content so well. The meats, the fish, especially the worship of all things piggy. All part of life’s rich tapas.


Evuna NQ, 79 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1LQ. 0161 833 1130

Rating 15/20

Food: 7/10 (duck 8, seabass 8, prawns 6, patatas bravas 2, ox cheeks 7, iberico ham 9, crema catalana 6)
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, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

Fair review. I think it has got a bit too expensive, I have certainly noticed that the portion sizes at the Deansgate restuarant have got noticably smaller over the years. Still a great restuarant with fantastic wines

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

Went to the NQ branch of Evuna about 3 months ago. My experience of it was that the Paella (Seafood) was on the lower side of average and if i'm honets a massive disapointment however the tapas plates of Gambas, Iberico Ham and Squid were fantastic - as was the bottle of Alberino. No change out of £100 mind.

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

It probably could be cheaper but adding up your food bill its about £45 and its probably not their fault you blew £50 on booze. most diners will show a bit more restraint than that. Also they do a 3 tapas for £10 lunch deal if your feeling hard up.

Stewie BOctober 30th 2014.

If I can get a caña and small (tasty) tapa for €3-4 max in a tourist area in Granada, why not in Manchester?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoOctober 30th 2014.

because overhead costs are about 60% that of the UK

MaggieOctober 30th 2014.

Ditto why the Iberico Ham costs nearly £9.00 a portion. You cannot compare the supermarket price of your whole Jamon with the restaurant plate price. Its like saying you can buy a bottle of Crianza in Tesco for 7 quid

AnonOctober 30th 2014.

Ridiculous review. "Unfortunately for this tapas bar based in the north of England, I've just got back from Granada, the home of Spanish Tapas where the food is local and therefore cheap, or as is tradition with the culture of drinking in the country: free. Here, it is obviously also authentic in taste & quality. However, as I'm not a great writer or food critic, I'll compare this tapas bar in the north of England to that of the quality of the great authentic tapas in the general Granada area". Fantastic piece of impartial writing. Great job.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Andrew JonesOctober 30th 2014.

Indeed. Compare the quality of the food to what you had free in Spain, but not the price!

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

Wouldn't go back again terrible service and for the amount of food we had the bill was huge...there are much better places in the NQ to eat.

Colin SwinneyOctober 30th 2014.

Go to both Evunas alot and always had great food and lovely service. I suppose all chefs could have an off day but Evuna represents fresh quality food for me every time!! Alcohol is more expesive because they are sourcing and importing to offer a difference to the usual rubbish in the super markets, they buy from local small wine growers in Spain so experience something different is worth that little extra. It can be a reasonable priced evening of quality food if you didnt spend so much on the wine, perhaps a glass or two rather than a bottle!!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

Two glasses is the majority of a bottle, and probably works out almost the same price.

Colin SwinneyOctober 30th 2014.

In relation to Evuna on Deansgate, isnt it true that you always give them a bad review because you wanted the food for free and they said "No" !!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
EditorialOctober 30th 2014.

Untrue and 15/20 is not a bad review.

GordoOctober 30th 2014.

Colin, unfortunately you have been listening to people who, for whatever reason, are disgruntled with my publication. If you can prove what you have heard, I will pay a charity of your choice £5000. It's going to be difficult to prove though as it simply isn't true.

Steve SpencerOctober 30th 2014.

Wasn't impressed at all when I went, especially with the serrano ham which looked like it had been sliced the previous day. And what is balsamic vinegar doing in a Spanish Tapas bar? Sorry but I thought it was bobbins. Haven't been back since.

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

Not relevant to this particular article as such but out of interest is there a reason why there isn't a list of all restaurants Man Con has reviewed in order of rating? Unless there is and I've missed it

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoOctober 30th 2014.

Thats a great point Anon, we will be publishing that exact list shortly, currently having all content checked, the programming is essentially finished. Lot of stuff though, we've been at it since 2004

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

No doubt San Carlo will be at the top of it!

pollolocoNovember 4th 2014.


Yvonne BarryOctober 30th 2014.

I was going to go here tomorrow night but was undecided because of the price - this has definitely made my mind up so will be going to Juan Sanchez in Chorlton instead. Disappointed as been meaning to try Evuna for ages now.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Colin SwinneyOctober 30th 2014.

Yvonne, you cant always believe what you read and alot of the negativity is by anonymous contibutors on here which to be honest is somewhat cowardly!!!. Remember this site relies on advertising revenues and not all venues advertsie on here so bear in mind the reviews may not always be totally impartial. I think the best reviews are from your friends if theyve been rather than revenue lead sites and so called food critic/experts!!! Give your friends a ring and see what they say if theyve been.

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

You seem to have a bee in your bonnet about this particular review. I do actually agree that the comparisons with tapas in Granada aren't that helpful, but even putting that aside, I find Evuna pretty expensive for what it is.

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

Tried Evuna on Deansgate once......poor service and mediocre food......never again

Raul MagadanOctober 30th 2014.

What an unfair review in some parts! Being from Spanish / Latin origin myself, I find Evuna a pleasant and fantastic place to have food and spend a good night. Don't think the prices are way too expensive as it is said, we are not in Spain to start with and the reviewer seems to forget that buying the products cost money even more when it is fresh. The service and the staff is very approachable, polite and helpful, one can feel the relax environment of the place through the staff. I think Lucy Tomlinson should review a bit better her review...

Colin SwinneyOctober 30th 2014.

Gordo, My Charity of choice would be Impact Young Heros makeabigdifference.org/…/… I am sure whatever contribution you could make would be greatly apprecaited!!

AnonymousOctober 30th 2014.

It's a hugely overrated tapas restaurant. Yes, they have some nice specials, but nice specials come at the expense of mediocre standard tapas items. The tortilla I had there on my last visit was dreadful.

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