The resilience of the local food scene is proving triumphant as four out of five of the UK’s best restaurants in 2021 are in the north of England.
The winners from this year’s National Restaurant Awards have been announced last night, and for the first time ever, there are more restaurants and eateries in northern England on the prestigious list than there are in London.
The region has 16 restaurants in the top 40, which is double the number in 2019 – the last time the poll was held.
Thom Hetherington, the chief executive of Northern Restaurant and Bar and a judge for the awards, said the north’s achievement in this year’s standings was “frankly astounding” in a scene that is traditionally so dominated by the capital, and even more so during a brutal year for the hospitality sector thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And if it wasn’t brilliant enough that the northern food scene is reigning supreme, the North West, and in particular Greater Manchester, has a lot to shout about too.
Two restaurants in Ancoats made it into the top 50 of the UK’s 100 best restaurants.
Mana – the city’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, which is tipped to earn its second later this year – has made a huge climb from its previous position at 73 to take the 11th spot on the list, and fellow Ancoats neighbourhood restaurant Erst also celebrated a big win by taking 47th place – which it said on social media was “more than we could’ve ever imagined”.
But which restaurant claimed the coveted top spot this year?
Again, it goes to a North West gem just over the border into Lancashire and about 45-minute drive from Manchester.
Double Michelin-starred restaurant Moor Hall Restaurant was named the best in the UK for the second year running.
The revered restaurant in Aughton near Ormskirk is headed up by former L’Enclume executive chef Mark Birchall, who said of the eatery’s win on Twitter last night: “What an incredible achievement. Number 1 again in the National Restaurant Awards.
“Testament to every member of the team [and] I’m truly proud once again – the journey continues.”
Elsewhere in the top five list, second place went to country pub The Angel at Hetton – a little over an hour from Manchester near Skipton – which also scooped up ‘Gastropub of the Year’, and Cumbria’s L’Enclume made it to fifth place.
Other well-known northern restaurants on the top 100 list include The Cottage in the Woods in Windemere, The Parker’s Arms in Northcote, The White Swan at Fence, Freemasons at Wiswelland, and Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside.
Sticky Walnut in Chester – which is the first restaurant in Gary Usher’s celebrated Elite Bistros group – placed 62nd.
A special Outstanding Achievement Award was also presented to chef Tom Kerridge – who opened his first Manchester restaurant the Bull & Bear in 2019 – at the awards for his work during the pandemic, after he provided more than 100,000 meals to key workers and vulnerable people in the community.
You can check out the National Restaurant Awards top 100 list in full here.
Featured Image – Moor Hall
Food & Drink
The new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this month | April 2023
Spring has arrived, and with it, Manchester has ushered in a whole host of new restaurant and bar openings in April.
From a new pasta concept over on Peter Street from the brains behind Gooey to whole loaves of sourdough filled with Full English fry ups in Ancoats, plus a stunning new contemporary Chinese restaurant on the edge of the Gay Village, there are so many new places popping up in the city centre to try this month.
Further afield, Hatch on Oxford Road welcomes three new traders whilst in Chorlton the family behind Barlow Moor Road’s Progress Convenience expand to open their first cafe, and over in Didsbury Village the former Botanist site reopens as new gastro pub The Wishing Well.
Keep reading to discover the best new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this April.
Bread and Bowl at Ancoats General Store
This week Ancoats General Store has welcomed a new kitchen takeover from Bread and Bowl – home of one of Manchester’s naughtiest fry-ups.
Filled with fry-up favourites like high-grade local sausages, crispy streaky bacon, beans, cheese, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and hash browns, they are seriously impressive.
Alongside Charlotte’s famous Full English bread bowls, you’ll also find a brand new sandwich menu featuring breakfast burritos and all-day butties like the brilliantly-named ‘Meat Sweats’.
Onda at Exhibition
From the team behind Gooey and Michelin-trained chef Sam Astley-Dean (formerly of Rise pizza), new pasta concept Onda arrives inside Exhibition – taking over the space left empty by Great British Menu chef Caroline Martin’s recent departure.
Serving up a core menu of pasta small plates from £6 alongside starters of arancini, mixed vegetable fritti, and proper crunchy garlic bread with parsley butter, you’ll also find some giant family-style sharers on the menu here – not least, a huge plate of lumache alla vodka.
Onda’s arrival heralds an overturn to the dining concept at Exhibition, with new ‘approachable’ revised menus also on offer from neighbouring kitchens Baratxuri and Osma. Food is served until 9pm.
Read more:The team behind Gooey has launched a new pasta concept on Peter Street
Rio Mex at Hatch
Having previously wowed Mancs with her fine-dining Sao Paulo Project menus at Blossom Street Social, not to mention starring in the north west heat of the BBC show Great British Menu, Martins is now also dabbling – eloquently, might we add – in the world of street food.
Inspired by her passion for the food of her home country of Brazil, combined with the time she spent living in Texas, Rio Mex sees one of Manchester’s most exciting chefs reflecting two of her favourite cuisines.
Must-try taco fillings include baja fish with biquinho pepper mayo and lime sour cream, ground pork al pastor with pineapple salsa, a five-hour chilli con carne with beef and black beans, and a melt-in-the-mouth barbacoa with cheddar sauce and house pickles.
Home Contemporary Chinese
Newly opened on the edge of Manchester’s Gay Village, Home Contemporary Chinese takes over the old Jasmine Lebanses restaurant space and is serving up exactly what its name suggests.
The menu is large, with a strong focus on Cantonese dishes. Think roasted meats, plenty of dim sum (all freshly-made on site), plus heaps of congee, soups and hot pot, and some interesting twists such as a ‘volcano omlette’.
On the bar, meanwhile, you’ll find a strong wine list featuring several Chinese bottles alongside crowd pleasing favourites, plus a mix of softs and other beverages.
Not exactly a new opening but certainly a new look, Archie’s has just reopened after revamping its Oxford Road restaurant to include an all-pink subway carriage.
The beloved burger and shake bar has just unveiled a ‘subway station’ in the basement as part of the Oxford Road site’s £1m transformation.
Diners can now tuck into their smashed burgers, wings and tater tots from their own train booth.
Progress Caribbean, Chorlton
Chorlton’s Afro Caribbean and European convenience store Progress has just opened its own takeaway shop and cafe, building on the success of its popular in-house hot food offering.
Locals are already raving about the dishes, which include plates of oxtail, fried chicken and curried chicken from £5.50 and patties from £2.
Crumbled at Hatch
Crumbled has opened at Hatch underneath the Mancunian Way selling pots of apple and rhubarb crumble with unlimited custard.
Opened by Manchester-born fashion model Chloe Peers, the stall offers two different types of crumbles with some eye-popping toppings including edible glitter, rose petals, Biscoff crumb and huge scoops of ice cream.
Customers can also opt to pay an additional £1 to enjoy unlimited custard refills, something that is well worth it when you find yourself halfway down the pot.
Suki Sukiat Great Northern Warehouse
A new pan-Asian eatery and bar has opened inside the Great Northern Warehouse from the same family behind Manchester restaurant Namaste Nepal serving up bao, dumplings and steaming bowls of ramen noodles alongside fun cocktails and a selection of craft beer.
Called Suki Suki, it is split over three floors: housed within an exposed brick archway and delicately decked with Herringbone booth seating, high bar stools, ambient lighting and rattan finishings.
The Wishing Well
Taking over the former Botanist site in Didsbury village, brand new gastro pub The Wishing Well is bringing traditional British classics to the neighbourhood.
Think big plates of fish and chips, ham, egg and chips, and a steak pie with proper mash, plus traditional roasts every Sunday in cosy settings with big wooden tables and industrial fittings.
Manchester brewery Squawk has opened a new bar in the Northern Quarter this week, taking over the former Beatnikz taproom site.
Called Pelican, it is the first bricks-and-mortar site for the indie brewery favourite which first launched in Manchester ten years ago.
Now, fans of Squawk’s locally-brewed beers will be able to head down to Dale Street for a taste of its famous fruity IPAs, light lagers and punchy sours.
Phukt at Hatch
Phukt completes the lineup of new food traders at Hatch this March, promising a ‘feast from the East’ with its tandoori gyros and biryani burritos, chaats, salads, dirty burgers and more.
Must-tries at Pakistani and Indian fusion spot Phukt include the butter chicken burger (served with its own pot of incredible ‘secret’ sauce) and loaded masala fries.
Featured image – The Manc Eats
Food & Drink
The Makers Market is coming back to Cutting Room Square every month as of this Sunday
The North West’s hugely popular Makers Market is returning to Ancoat’s Cutting Room Square as of this weekend, marking the start of a monthly community staple.
While Makers Markets have been popping up around the region for years now — Stockport, Cheadle, Salford and Media City; Knutsford, Northern Quarter, Didsbury, Congleton and countless other locations — it’s only ever been at Cutting Room Square just the once as part of a trial run back in November 2022.
However, after going down an absolute treat and just as popular as all the others around Greater Manchester and beyond, the organisers have decided to bring it back on a permanent basis from this weekend onwards. Ancoats just got even better.
Now, as of Sunday, 2 April, city centre residents and those travelling into town will be able to enjoy a regular community market packed with local traders from all over every month. Wonderful stuff.
If for some reason you’ve never come across a Makers Market before, the concept is pretty simple: local businesses and indie traders of all different kinds gather in public spaces like Cutting Room Square, setting up pop-up stalls to sell their wares, whatever they may be.
Whether it’d be homemade food and bakery items, handcrafted prints and textiles, or homeware, second-hand records, flowers and everything in between, there is literally always something for everyone.
More importantly, though, these monthly markets aren’t just another place to shop locally and responsibly, but they genuinely provide a wonderful sense of community, quickly cementing themselves as a regular staple for everyone to look forward to and socialise at.
Typically taking place on the second Sunday of every month and with Cutting Room Square and Ancoats already a popular district for locals and tourists alike, we’re sure the atmosphere is going to be great.
You’ve also got the successful Ancoats Pop Up events scattered throughout the rest of the 2023 calendar too — happy days.
We look forward to a year filled with plenty more markets all around Greater Manchester!
You can check out the full list of traders that will be appearing at this weekend’s Makers Market at Cutting Room Square HERE.