Launched in 2007, the Estrella Damm Natiolnal Restaurant Awards celebrate the brilliance of the UK’s hospitality scene, and reward the very best chefs, front of house staff and restaurants across the country.
The awards are the largest annual gathering of top chefs and restaurateurs in the UK and are voted for by a panel of more than 200 experts from across the industry, including chefs, restaurateurs and food writers.
Now, they have revealed what they consider the best 100 restaurants in the UK – and two in Manchester made the list.
Ancoats-based Erst is the highest Manchester restaurant in the list, at number 54.
“Manchester’s dining scene has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years with restaurants that more than hold their own against those in the capital, and now you can add natural wine bars to that list,” said the panel.
“Erst takes its food as seriously as it does its wine, with many items cooked over a grill.
“Plates are designed to be shared and range from small wine-friendly bites such as various grilled flatbreads; cured fish; and roasted meats with a sunny European disposition.
“The venue has a smart industrial feel to it with a counter area that seats a handful of diners with many of the other seating allowing views of the small open kitchen.
“In a city known for its nightlife and trendy bars, Erst somehow feels a little bit more grown up – but certainly not in a boring way.”
“Like its chef-patron, Mana is an understated and confident restaurant with a muted, calm interior of different shades of creams and browns that instantly puts you at ease,” said the panel.
“Here is a restaurant happy to stand apart from many of Manchester’s more fancy dining rooms and let the food on the carefully chosen earthenware crockery do the wowing.
“The cooking at Mana is described as being highly technical and precise.
“There’s a Nordic feel to Mana’s culinary approach with Martin very respectful of his British and often wild and foraged ingredients and use of techniques designed to let the primary ingredients shine.”
While those two were the only Manchester restaurants to make the top 100, Stockport’s Where The Light Gets In also picked up The Sustainability Award on the night.
“Sam Buckley’s trailblazing Stockport restaurant has been a standard bearer for sustainable practices since it launched in 2016 but following the lifting of the first lockdown in 2020 it has strived to have even greener credentials,” they said.
“The restaurant not only works directly with farmers and fishermen, but sources produce from its own farm to ensure it has a true understanding of what it means to work with the land. Its produce, weather patterns and sea conditions dictate the menu, meaning there is no choice offered to diners, with the aim to offer guests a balanced menu ‘that both nourishes the body and sustains our eco-system’.”
Across the North West, several other restaurants made the top 100.
Two Michelin starred Moor Hall in Lancashire came in at number two – and was named the best restaurant in England, with Cartmel’s L’Enclume, which recently won its third Michelin star, at number 10.
Simon Rogan from L’Enclume also won Chef of the Year.
The Cottage in the Wood in Keswick made 81 on the list, with The Old Stamp House in Ambleside at 87 and Lancashire’s Northcote at 96.
Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Executive Chef at Northcote, was also shortlisted for Chef of the Year, alongside Stosie Madi from The Parkers Arms in Newton-In-Bowland, near Clitheroe, plus five others.
“To be recognised as one of the leading eight Chefs of the Year in the UK has been very humbling,” said Lisa.
“Being nominated is a huge honour and I’m looking forward to bringing more of Lancashire’s brilliant flavours and local produce that I’m so passionate about to my dining guests.”