Since closing its doors at Hatch last year, Manchester’s tiniest tapas bar has been almost constantly on the move.
Chef-owner Ana has busied herself hosting kitchen pop-ups in Stretford and Sale Food Halls and at The Chorlton Green, but now she’s found a new home in the Northern Quarter whilst she keeps working on her own bar in Chorlton.
As of Thursday, 11 August, the scientist-turned-chef will officially take over the kitchen at Alvarium from Lazy Tony’s Lasagneria with her Abeja concept.
Ana is known for serving inventive and unusual southern Spanish dishes like “berenjenas fritas” (aubergine fries with molasses), which we can confirm will be making a return to the menu alongside other recipes passed down to her through generations.
You’ll also find painstakingly-sourced plates of charcuterie and cheese and tapas staples like Spanish tortilla and patatas bravas, the latter of which is available three ways as part of a £9 lunch deal between the hours of 12 and 4pm.
Elsewhere on the menu are a range of sourdough tostas made using Holy Grain bread, Iberico pork tenderloin pinchos, fat shell-on prawns and homemade croquetas, with sweets like chocolate churros and a Spanish almond torta to finish.
When the team announced plans to close their Hatch site in January this year, they wrote on social media that it had been ‘an incredible journey […] despite opening a few months before Covid’.
Having begun the business with zero experience in the hospitality industry (Villegas left a twenty-year career as a research scientist to open Abeja), it was with heavy hearts that they decided it was time to move on from Hatch.
On Monday night, the Manchester Food and Drink FestivaL (MFDF) celebrated 25 years in the city at its annual awards gala dinner.
17 award winners were announced across the Greater Manchester region, recognised in a range of different categories including Restaurant of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Bar of the Year and Neighbourhood Venue of the Year.
Designed to showcase the amazing talent within the region’s dining community, this year’s categories were jam packed with individuals and stand-out food and drink businesses who have given their all to industry over the past year.
Keep reading to discover who took home what at last night’s event.
Awards categories and nominations:
Restaurant of the Year
Winner: Where The Light Gets In
Shortlised: 10 Tib Lane, Erst, The Sparrows, Another Hand, Mana, The Firehouse, Where The Light Gets
Bar of the Year
Winner: Speak In Code
Shortlisted: Blinker Bar, Flawd, Henry C, Ramona, Schofield’s Bar, 10 Tib Lane, Speak In Code
Chef of the Year
Winner: Eddie Shepherd (The Walled Gardens)
Shortlisted: Caroline Martins (Sao Paulo Project), Joseph Otway (Flawd), Sam Buckley (Where The Light Gets In), Patrick Withington (Erst), Adam Reid (The French), Julian Pizer (Another Hand), Eddie Shepherd (The Walled Gardens)
Pub or Beer bar of the Year
Winner: The Kings Arms, Salford
Shortlisted: Bridge Beers, Heaton Hops, House of Hops, The Kings Arms, Nordie, Track Taproom, Station Hop
Food and Drink Retailer of The Year
Winner: Chorlton Cheesemongers
Shortlisted: Ad Hoc, Chorlton Cheesemongers, Hello Oriental, Coopers Lets Fress Deli, Le Social, Out of the Blue, Wandering Palate
Independent Food Producer of the Year
Winner: Dormouse Chocolates
Shortlisted: Great North Pie Co, La Chouquette, Holy Grain, Long Bois Bakehouse, Polyspore, Yellowhammer, Dormouse Chocolates
Coffee Shop of the Year
Winner: Pollen (Cottonfield Wharf)
Shortlisted: Cafe Sanjuan, Factory Coffee, Grind and Tamp, Grapefruit, Just Between Friends, Station South, Pollen
Food Trader of the Year
Shortlisted: House of Habesha, The Little Sri Lankan, Loveingly Artisan, Mira, New Wave Ramen, Pico’s Tacos, Burgerism
Plant Based Offering of the Year
Winner: Wholseome Junkies
Shortlisted: Four Side Pizza, Herbivorous, Otto Vegan Empire, Ruyi Vegetarian House, Sanskruti, The Walled Gardens, Wholseome Junkies
Affordable Eats Venue of the Year
Winner: Salt & Pepper
Shortlisted: Aunty Ji’s, Bahn Mi Co Ba, Cafe Sanjuan, Levenshulme Bakery, Go Falafel, Mama Flo’s, Sat & Pepper
Foodie Neighbourhood of the Year
Shortlisted: Monton, Prestwich, Sale, Stockport, Ramsbottom, Ancoats, Chapel Street, Salford
Pop Up or Project of the Year
Winner: Platt Fields Market Garden
Shortlisted: The Sao Paulo Project, Suppher, Eat Well Spring Festival, Bungalow at Kampus, Heart and Parcel, Stockport Foodie Friday
Independent Drinks Producer of the Year
Winner: Hip Pop
Shortlisted: Bundobust Brewery, Cloudwater, Hip Pop, Intro The Gathering Dusk, Stockport Gin, Steep Soda, Track Brewing
Neighbourhood Venue of the Year
Winner: Bar San Juan
Shortlisted: Baratxuri, The Easy Fish Co, Nila’s Burmese Kitchen, Ornella’s Kitchen, Osma, The Perfect Match, Bar San Juan
Newcomer of the Year
Winner: Another Hand
Shortlisted: Flawd, The Alan, The Black Friar, Bundobust (Oxford Street), Yellowhammer, 10 Tib Lane
Great Service Award
Shortlisted: Bull & Bear, Dishoom, Hawksmoor, Flawd, Schofield’s Bar, Speak In Code, 10 Tib Lane
The Howard and Ruth Award for Outstanding Achievement
Winner: John and Rosemary Barratt, Stockport Foodie Friday
The Howard and Ruth Award for Outstanding Achievement
Recognising people who have contributed something outstanding to the hospitality industry in Greater Manchester.
How the votes were cast
The shortlists were compiled by the MFDF judging panel, with all categories carefully considered and created to reflect an innovative, diverse, and inspiring food and drink industry.
The shortlisted venues were put to the public vote via the MFDF website where food and drink fans voted for their hospitality heroes.
For some of the awards, the public votes were combined with a mystery shopping visit from members of the judging panel. Others were decided entirely by public vote.
The Independent Drinks Producer of the Year and the Independent Food Producer of the Year Awards were judged by a panel taste test during the MFDF opening weekend.
The awards were presented in partnership with MFDF Awards headline sponsors Bruntwood, and commemorated a year of ongoing innovation and success to further establish Greater Manchester’s importance on the national food and drink scene.
The Manchester Food and Drink Festival continues this weekend, having been postponed for a week following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Read more: Manchester Food and Drink Festival unveils full 25th anniversary programme
Speaking on the 2022 awards,s Alexa Stratton-Powell, Director of Manchester Food and Drink Festival said: “The strength of this year’s awards are testament to the hard work and dedication of all the nominees. As ever, the awards put the spotlight on the incredible talent and resilience of our brilliant hospitality industry.
“Despite hugely challenging times for the industry, we’ve celebrated 112 fantastic Greater Manchester businesses this evening as the reputation of the sector continues to go from strength to strength. We’d like to thank the judges, everyone who voted and the nominated businesses who took part in this year’s awards, as well as our hosts at Escape to Freight Island for a wonderful night of celebrations.”
James Tootle, Head of Retail and Leisure, added: “We’re thrilled to have supported the MFDF Awards this year and proud to have been part of celebrating such a fantastic year for hospitality.
“Great restaurants, bars, cafes as well as talented chefs and entrepreneurs are at the heart of thriving towns and cities, and recognising the best in class is a fantastic way of celebrating the importance of this industry to the region as a whole. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated tonight!”
Feature image – MFDF / King’s Arms Salford
Lewis Capaldi pops into Manchester pizza joint after hilarious X-rated TV blunder
Lewis Capaldi paid a visit to a Manchester pizza joint for a giant slice, fresh from his hilarious TV appearance on BBC Breakfast.
The singer shared a series of photos of himself with tomato sauce all over his face, dangling the legendary pizza slices into his mouth like a Greek goddess with a bunch of grapes.
He visited Nell’s New York Pizza Bar – which opened at Kampus last winter – for one of its huge 22″ pizzas.
He’s seemingly a big fan of a Common & Co establishment, also visiting Common in the Northern Quarter back in 2020 while on tour in Manchester.
Earlier on Saturday, Lewis had left BBC presenter Naga Munchetty red-faced after an X-rated mix-up live on air.
The Someone You Loved singer misheard Naga when she asked if he and co-host Charlie Stayt would ‘like a room’ after the pair chatted amicably.
Lewis said: “I thought you said rim,” much to the delight of viewers, who labelled it ‘the greatest interview of all time’.
He later shared the clip on his social media pages, saying it was a ‘classic breakdown of communication’.
Later on, still wearing the same red Nike sweatshirt, he was down smothering his face in Nell’s sensational pizza sauce.
He was celebrating his latest single, Forget Me, hitting 20 million streams on Spotify in less than a fortnight.
Lewis wrote: “Forget me hit 20 million streams in less than two weeks on Spotify and also lost my virginity so tonight we celebrate x”
Nell’s commented on the post: “Cheers for popping down.”
One person commented: “i don’t know what looks yummier… you or the pizza.”