Ancoats restaurant Mana was awarded Manchester’s first Michelin star in over 40 years in 2019, as well as being the only restaurant in the city to make The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards list of the top 100 restaurants in the UK. It’s easy to see why.
The young team is headed by chef Simon Martin, who previously worked at ‘best restaurant in the world’ Noma in Copenhagen, with the open plan kitchen providing a focal point for diners in the light, airy space.
The regularly changing menus, with optional wine pairings - seven courses with a couple of snacks for lunch, or around 12 courses for dinner - are all about the best seasonal produce from across the British Isles, with clever use of techniques such as fermenting and curing.
Freshly shucked oysters from the cool, pure waters of Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the northeast coast of England, showcase the best fresh seafood, dressed with vivid green English wasabi and lovage with a kick of sinus-clearing heat to ready the palate for the full tasting menu.
A caramelised scallop chawanmushi is like a savoury steamed egg custard, typically eaten for breakfast in Japan, and Mana’s refined version includes the freshest of scallops, with airy Doddington cheese crackers on the side. Bread and butter is as good as it gets, the crisp and chewy rye sourdough made in-house and served warm with handmade cultured butter from Shropshire.
Salt aged duck, artichokes and bread sauce sounds simple, but there’s much more to it. The Goosnargh duck has been salt aged for three months so it’s full of intense flavour, then it’s cooked by being hung over the barbecue for two hours so there’s no direct heat from the grill. The tender pink meat is served with two artichoke preparations: a puree made from the root, and the leaf.
It's clever, creative cooking. If you're a fan of fine dining, you'll be delighted. If you don't think fine dining is for you, this is the place to change your mind.