It’s been a tumultuous year for Manchester’s dining scene, with high profile openings – The Ivy, ManaDishoom, restaurant MCR, 20 StoriesMamucium, Peter Street Kitchen – as well as surprising closures including The Rabbit and Manchester House.

At the more casual end, we’ve seen gourmet kebabs, fried chicken, and two new ramen joints enter the scene. It’s also been hard to miss the growth in vegan and plant-based eating.

What can Manchester diners expect in 2019? We asked top chefs from restaurants including The French, The Ivy, Dishoom, Mughli and Mamucium to share their predictions.

Vegan breakfast and dry tipples – Naved Nasir from Dishoom

I have no doubt that veganism will continue to rise in popularity. We’re currently developing some really exciting new vegan dishes to add to our existing vegan menu. Last year we introduced vegan black pudding to the breakfast menu. We actually discovered this Manchester, and it’s going down a storm in London and Edinburgh!

We are also seeing more people shift towards low or no-alcohol drinks. We’re launching a ’sober menu for sober persons’ in January which features our unique ‘dry tipples’ (cocktails that look and taste like they contain alcohol, but are completely alcohol free) along with some non-alcoholic wines and beers, and we’ll continue to review our cocktail list to make sure we have something for everyone.

Fewer small plates and tasting menus – Andrew Green, Mamucium

I do not think that the smaller plates and tasting menus will be as popular as they once were. People are becoming increasing interested in all aspects of food and food trends.

The artisan markets are hugely successful with the street food pop-up events we get around the region. I always look forward to the first Saturday of the month when I can go to my local artisan market and try authentic handmade dumplings.

I believe our restaurant Mamucium will do well as we are offering a unique concept tying into Manchester and using the best of the best produce for the region.

African, Lebanese and Scandinavian – Adam Reid, The French

I think Manchester will follow in the trend that is happening across the North West – high quality dining. However, in Manchester it will find its form as produce-driven but informal restaurants. I believe there is a demand for quality, it’s just getting the right chef in the right place.

I hope to see more culturally diverse food styles breaking into the city centre in bigger venues – African, Lebanese, even Swedish/Scandinavian casual food offering.

Intolerance-friendly food – Steve Smith, Freemasons at Wiswell

I think for the year ahead we’ll see a lot more vegan, dairy-free and general intolerance-friendly food across the board.

We launched a vegetarian menu about 18 months ago now, menus aren’t so protein driven anymore and are generally a lot more natural. Things are moving forward.

Bespoke menus, and nose to tail – Richard and James, Beastro

Richard: I think we will see an increase in tasting menus with the growth in experiential eating, whether based around a product such as gin, a cuisine such as Indian or an ingredient such as bacon. Guests are increasingly up for allowing chefs to use creativity to create a bespoke menu for them.

I also think we will continue to see guests wanting to reduce their consumption of meat. It’s going to be our job to create and design menus with this in mind – #meatfree is not just for Mondays anymore!

James: The return of nose to tail eating. It’s a way of cutting down on food waste as well as enjoying the most delicious parts of the beast.

BBQ-style vegan food – Stuart Fox, Store Street

I imagine we will see more chefs looking for sustainable ingredients to use, and an increase in using humble ingredients like lentils, barley and Asian influences – including different styles of fruits and vegetables – into menu design.

We’ve seen rising demand for more vegan and vegetarian based dishes, so hearty grilled BBQ-style vegan food in my opinion will be found around the city.

Chefs will look at simplifying menus, which we have already seen this year. Shortening tasting menus and reflecting that in the price is allowing more diners to experience restaurants they previously wouldn’t have dined in.

Vegan, keto and paleo – Steve Scoullar, The Ivy

Photo: Matthew Pover

Vegan food is as trendy as it’s ever been. I can see a peak in healthy eating, in particular vegan food, and a rise in keto and paleo diets.

In Manchester, our Ivy Brasserie and roof top restaurant have a dedicated vegan and vegetarian menu, including dishes such as avocado and tomato cocktail with red pepper and pomegranate with a spicy harissa sauce, and dukka spiced sweet potato with aubergine baba ganoush, toasted almonds and Moroccan tomato sauce.

Gourmet kebabs and CBD oil – Haz Arshad, Mughli

The Asian influence will be here to stay and grow in 2019 (although not sure how many more ramen joints we can sustain in Manchester), as will vegan-friendly, meat-free and more interesting veg options. We’ll start to see experimentation with CBD oil, although it would take some time for this to become the new ‘matcha’. And both ‘small plates’ and smaller menus will become more widely adopted.

Progressive / inventive menus (known in the 2000’s as ‘fusion’) will compete against more traditional menus, not least in the fine dining sector, and there’ll be noticeable growth in gourmet adaptations of former cheap eats in the fast casual market – tacos, kebabs and the like. The concepts to survive will be those that offer variety, value and speed of service to consumers.

Sadly, Brexit will dominate headlines in hospitality for all the wrong reasons and restaurants, especially independents, will suffer. There’ll be more casualties – especially with small, independent Indian restaurants – and more lean, trendy and sustainable concepts taking their place. But lean and smaller menus means niche and requires a level of turnover and footfall which I’m not sure we can sustain in Manchester just yet – so expect more of the churn throughout 2019.

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