As Manchester’s indoor hospitality scene cautiously begins returning to some semblance of normality, new opening announcements seem to be absolutely everywhere.
These would usually be more staggered, but it seems a glut of operators were holding back for the long-promised “freedom day” of June 21st.
Amongst these, we count a smart new aperitivo and spritz bar, the arrival of Brighton-born vegan pizzeria Purezza in the Northern Quarter, a second NQ64 on Peter street and a new independent Piccadilly station stop-off called The Coffee Hive.
We also see the return of some solid favourites this week, including American Pies Chicago-style deep dish pizza and underground NQ vegan restaurant Black Leaf, which is back with an all-new menu.
Elsewhere, outdoor dining is still very much a thing. The Refuge is currently in the midst of hosting a huge street food takeover with some of Manchester’s biggest lockdown success stories – and this weekend sees two of our favourites, Batard and Badabing, take the reigns.
Read more about that (and our other top picks for the week) below.
Wales’ ‘only proper slurp spot’ NWR kitchen takeover at Mackie Mayor
Matsudai ramen have garnered huge praise from the likes of national papers the Guardian and Observer, now it’s been announced they’re taking over the New Wave Ramen kitchen at Mackie Mayor for two days. Technically it’s next week, but tickets have just gone live and are selling fast so we thought we’d give you a heads up. The event is part of a series that’ll bring some of the UK’s best ramen to Manchester for the very first time.
Confirm your bowl for a deposit of just £10 and check out the other upcoming events here.
A “Jewish grandma-style” wine-paired supper club, held in a cabin on stilts
Think “Friday night dinner” roast chicken with blackened lemons, whole-roasted garlic and sweet potato kugel, freshly-baked challah and borscht, followed by chocolate and chilli babka, then try and tell us you’re not hungry. Hosted by KAMPUS newcomer and bagel bakery-come-florist Breadflower, this one-off supper club takes place this Thursday 24th June with wine pairing from Ancoats’ Le Social Wine.
Held in the KAMPUS bungalow, tickets start from £40. Grab yours here.
The indie Manchester bakehouse serving amazing cheesecake-filled brioche pastries
There’s a lot of baking competition in Manchester, but indie startup Batard is rising fast through the ranks. Founder Lewis Loughman previously helped set up indulgent Manchester cookie house Gooey, now he counts the likes of Edinburgh Castle, Takk and General Stores amongst his wholesale clients. Popping up at The Refuge this weekend, his kolace, best described as what happens when “cheesecake meets brioche danish”, are a must-try – as are the cream-filled cannolis and sfogliatelle.
Catch Batard at The Refuge terrace this weekend, 25th-27th from 12-5pm.
Warm Sicilian brioche sandwiches on a Northern Quarter backstreet
What began as a Sicilian pop-up in an English butty shop found itself a new home at the other end of the Northern Quarter last year. The warm ice cream-stuffed brioche rolls here are a summer sensation – and now there’s a new addition on the menu. Think the same fluffy, house-baked brioche, this time slathered in sweet hazelnut chocolate spread and/or pistachio sauce and crunchy nut crumb. Just pull up on the street and order from the kiosk to take away.
Find Silician NQ on 14 Turner Street, between Thomas Street/ High Street.
The smart new Italian-inspired aperitivo bar inside a former Cafe Nero
Opened by two businessmen with no obvious hospitality background, we’re not mad on Haunt MCR’s name but the offering has caught our eye. Inspired by the Italian tradition of aperitivo (think British happy hour, but more refined), there is a big selection of Italian wines and spritzes here plus other classic aperitivo drinks like the negroni and its American counterpart: the boulevardier. Stuzzichini (finger food) is served from morning to night, though it’s not clear if owners plan to send out complementary plates between 5 and 7 – as is customary abroad.
Find Haunt MCR at 58 Peter Street.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”