Manchester may be a mecca for hip restaurant openings, grab-and-go street food and an unhealthy dose of dirty burgers, but it’s also home to a growing number of fine dining restaurants that are ideal for special occasions. This northern city may not have secured any Michelin stars yet, but with eateries such as those detailed below, the most prestigious of all foodie awards can’t be far away.
Restaurant, Cocktail Bar, British, $$$
The Refuge Manchester | Courtesy of The Refuge
A recent opening on Manchester’s restaurant scene, The Refuge has already secured a spot as one of the city’s most popular dining spots. The team behind Didsbury’s award-winning Volta have transformed the restaurant in the former Palace Hotel, paying just as much detail to decadent surroundings as to the impeccable menu. The evening menu consists of tapas-like small plates (Voltini) – perfect for sharing – and delicious larger plates that offer tasty alternatives to standard restaurant fare such as belly-stuffed seabass, the lamb shwarma naan burger or hake with black daal. After dining, retreat to the Winter Garden to enjoy a house cocktail beneath the fairy-lit trees.
Manchester’s most prestigious restaurant specialises in what it terms ‘unconventionally traditional’ dishes, updating classic flavour combinations with unusual twists and breath-taking presentation. The 10 or 14 course tasting menus (vegetarian options available) offer delectable flavours that are designed to give diners a taster of the full à la carte menu with dishes such as steamed pigeon with cherry broth and mustard, carpet clam with morels and asparagus and Manchester tart ice cream. If you’re planning a really special evening, book the chef’s table to watch the kitchen in action or the private dining room to enjoy the views over Manchester while you eat.
Located in the Midland hotel, The French is one of the most elegant and romantic restaurants in the city, making it ideal for a special occasion such as treating your loved one on Valentine’ Day. After all, it was the location of David and Victoria Beckham’s first date! New head chef Adam Reid is keen to make fine dining accessible to everyone with his new lunchtime menu – although the evening tasting menu stays true to the refined dining the restaurant is renowned for, albeit with a contemporary twist. The French previously held one of Britain’s very first Michelin stars and its new, more relaxed atmosphere and elegant cuisine may hold the key to returning that accolade. The restaurant is currently closed for refurbishment and will reopen on Tuesday 14th February 2017.
Vegetarians look away, Hawksmoor is the place to dine if you have a penchant for steak. Alongside their iconic steak menu (larger cuts such as Chateaubriand or Porterhouse are ideal for sharing while their smaller sirloins, fillets and rumps are frequently touted as the best in the city), fish is the dish of the day with whole lobster, roast scallops and house-cured salmon appearing as highlights on the menu for those who aren’t so keen on beef. Located on the edge of Spinningfields inside a Victorian courthouse, the interior of the restaurant is suitably grand, with upcycled reclaimed materials used throughout.
Fine dining doesn’t always mean your standard gourmet Western cuisine. An intimate dining den, Umezushi brings the very best Japanese food to Manchester utilising the freshest ingredients and an imaginative twist of classic dishes. The inventive menu offers their own take on sushi and sashimi (seafood) with a wide variety of mains, side orders and platters to choose from. On your first visit, we recommend opting for the six course tasting menu to sample the tastes of the entire menu, offering a mixture of flavours including sushi, fish and grilled dishes.