2019 has been a big year for Manchester’s food scene.
The city got its first Michelin star in over 40 years for Simon Martin’s Mana in Ancoats. High profile new openings have included Tom Kerridge‘s Bull and Bear at Stock Exchange, Dakota hotel and Bistrotheque at Cultureplex.
Ancoats and the NQ continued to grow with new restaurants Erst, Street Urchin and Wolf At The Door (formerly Wilderness NQ). And Manchester brands such as Salvi’s and Northern Soul expanded with new city centre locations.
So what can we expect to see in 2020? We asked Manchester chefs and restaurateurs for their predictions.
Celebration of veg: Tom Kerridge, The Bull and Bear
A general growth in the celebration of vegetables – which in turn will lead to higher care and consideration for the meat that we buy.
Also, sadly, due to Brexit, I fear one trend may be rising food costs.
Youthquake: Blaine Duffy, Cultureplex
Young people will continue the drive towards less meat, less alcohol and less carbs.
‘Lesser cuts’: Richard Sharples, Elite Bistros
We use a lot of offal along with ‘lesser cuts’ across Elite Bistros [which include Hispi and Kala]. Hearts, heads, livers and tongues have become a big part of what we do and eating it is a privilege. It’s a tradition that has been lost by the majority of the UK and to me it doesn’t make any sense.
All offal has a distinctive flavour profile and texture that makes it absolutely delicious and unrecognisable from more commercial cuts of meat. I really hope to see a resurgence in its use as there is so much variety and endless possibilities.
Many of the UK’s meat producers send their ‘lesser cuts’ to other corners of the world where there is a guaranteed market for it. If we ate more, an increased demand in the UK would surely make it more readily available; when was the last time you saw a heart or a tongue on a supermarket shelf? With uncertain times ahead in Europe, using every last bit of what we produce in the UK is surely a sustainable way forward.
Granted, a beautifully marbled, 45 day dry-aged wedge of sirloin steak is always going to be an absolute joy to eat, but I personally get just as much pleasure from a cold pressing of ox tongue with some crunchy pickles or a chargrilled piece of liver with a lovely green sauce.
Middle Eastern: Simon Shaw, El Gato Negro
The decline of big operators shows no sign of slowing with small independents continuing to emerge and grow.
Without a shadow of a doubt you can expect to see an increase in Middle Eastern restaurants; we’re already seeing it. If you went into Waterstones a couple of years ago you’d find only a couple of cookbooks on Middle Eastern cuisine, now there are so many more.
When you see an increase in books on shelves and ingredients in supermarkets you know a movement is happening and can expect to see it reflected in restaurants, too.
Quality indies: Adam Reid, The French
My main prediction for 2020 is rather generic in that I think you’ll see a continuation of quality driven independent operations opening, especially in Manchester.
There’s always been a lot of talk about Manchester’s dining scene but I feel that until now its really been driven by medium to large established groups and chains.
The growth in new buildings housing restaurant sites is starting to challenge the high rental demands of landlords, and as such opening more possibilities for independents. Which is a good thing, as I’m sick to death of concept after concept being rolled out… bring on the ‘we just buy good ingredient’ places!
Vegan-ish: Marcello Distefano, San Carlo Restaurants
I have no doubt the demand for plant-based foods will continue to rise alongside veganism and vegan-ish, as more people move to a semi plant-based diet. We are working on some great new vegan dishes anyone would enjoy.
We’re also seeing more diners return to the classics, simpler dishes where ingredients and flavour are key. I think this will be a trend that continues through 2020.
Finally I think food styles will be even more culturally diverse, with more niche restaurants that focus on a particular region of a country.
Sustainability: Doug Crampton, James Martin Manchester
I think there’ll be a bigger focus on sustainability using quality ingredients that are locally sourced and seasonal.
More veggie options: Carlos Gomes, Canto
As more and more people adopt a plant based diet we can expect to see restaurants continue to widen the number of vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer.
A more creative experience: Sam Karle, Dakota Grill
People expect an experience rather than a ‘meal’ and restaurants will need to become more creative with their offering.
People are also more aware of living a healthier lifestyle and restaurants will need to adapt menus to support expectations.
Exciting vegan food: Nico Simeone, Six By Nico
In 2020 I would like to see, and think we will see even more vegan restaurants open. I think people have a bit of a perception that vegan food is quite boring and only eaten as a lifestyle choice, but actually it really can be quite exciting and tasty. I recently went to a restaurant in Notting Hill called Farmacy and I was blown away by their food.
We always offer a vegetarian option in the restaurant but at some point I’d definitely be keen to see if we can explore a vegan option at Six by Nico. We hosted a plant based supper club at one of my restaurants in Glasgow earlier this year, with a seven course vegan tasting menu, and the response was amazing.
Many of our diners across our restaurant group are asking for more options to reduce their meat consumption and I only think this will continue in 2020.
Online casual dining and less booze: Haz Arshad, Mughli
Sustainability: both when dining-in and taking-away (packaging).
Flexitarianism is here to stay: no longer just a frustration of true allergy sufferers everywhere, but a genuine way for people to dabble in more sustainable, environmentally friendly and healthier eating whilst still enjoying our guilty pleasures the rest of the week – part-time vegans rejoice.
Low or No Alcohol: we’ve seen an increasing demand for non-alcoholic or low alcoholic drinks across our sites and luckily for us, local suppliers like First Chop Brewery are coming up with the goods – pretty sure this is something we’ll see much more of this in 2020
Deliver-Deliver-Deliver: this market just keeps getting bigger – when the costs of goods keeps going up for restaurants and with Brexit uncertainty still looming, it’s not just what you serve in your restaurant which will make or break you – reconsider your take-away offering: your packaging and maybe even limiting your menu to those dishes that travel well to take advantage of this ever increasing trend of online causal dining.
Plant-based diets: Benjamin Chaplin, 20 Stories
I have no doubt that plant based diets will continue to rise in popularity. I think this is a specific diet that is in motion already, but one that will become more mainstream and desirable rather than a part time health fix.
I think a plant based diet is a great way to reduce our reliance on animal based products, as well as an incentive for people to start thinking properly about what they are eating, instead of being unsure as to what ingredients are in their foods and in turn, what it is doing to their health.
Authenticity: Jason Annette, The Ivy Spinningfields
As for food trends in the new year, healthy eating is always at the forefront after Christmas and new year indulgences, but most Mancunians will always look for provenance when it comes to eating out, so authenticity is also a big one, as well as value for money.