Last week I was talking to a good friend of mine about Mash & Air, a rather short lived swanky bar and restaurant in the Gay Village, and it got me thinking about all of the restaurants that have come and gone over the years.
You’d probably think that the main reason for them not being here any more is because they were rubbish – but that’s certainly not the case with this lot – the best restaurants in Manchester, which aren’t here anymore…
Dutch Pancake House
No list of former Manchester restaurants would be complete without the Dutch Pancake House that stood proudly at the top of Oxford Street for many, many years. It’s remembered very fondly by most – mainly because their pancakes were about the size of Jodrell Bank and only cost a couple of quid. It was a strange looking place from the outside, but once you descended the stairs into the basement – it was like another world altogether. It had it’s charms and certainly now has it’s many, many advocates – and fair play to them – they would probably still be here if the building that they were in didn’t get knocked down and replaced with a huge set of modern offices.
Gaylord Indian Restaurant
Located in one of those backstreets down the side of Market Street, Gaylord was actually one of the most popular Indian restaurants in the city – a big favourite for many years. It was many people’s first introduction to the pleasures of Indian cuisine, and was wholeheartedly endorsed by most in the Indian community – becoming a rather fashionable and desirable restaurant over the years. After the renovation of the Spring Gardens area, the owners opened up Seven Spice in Cheadle Hulme village, which unfortunately has also closed in recent years.
The Mark Addy
There’s absolutely no chance that this place will EVER open again – which is a shame really because for one brief period back in the late 00’s it was one of the city’s most creative and exciting restaurant destinations. Renowned chef Robert Owen Brown took over the place and won numerous awards and rave reviews from top critics with his take on honest, traditional British food that focused on game, off-cuts and offal. He championed “tail-to-nose” and it was a big winner. Unfortunately, The Mark Addy has become Manchester’s first-ever Climate Change casualty – flooding twice in the space of 5 years and pretty much becoming uninhabitable forever.
Highly acclaimed Japanese restaurant Umezushi announced back in 2019 that they would be closing their doors, and the city collectively asked the question: “Why would they do that!?” Opening in 2012, the restaurant was tiny, seating only 18 people at a time, and so it was notoriously difficult to get a seat here, but once you did – you were in for a treat. Owner Terry Huang transformed it into a chippy called Chish & Fips before COVID hit and since the restrictions have ended, well, he’s only gone and created Manchester’s Most Exclusive Restaurant – a ‘members only’ sushi kitchen serving just four guests per sitting.
Long before El Gato and La Bandera, Sancho’s in the Northern Quarter ruled the tapas roost in Manchester – it was the “go-to place” for little dishes of Spanish delights for many years. They had a set lunch for £5, which judging by the time period, must have been HUGE to justify such a high price tag. The tapas was traditionally rather rudimentary by today’s standards – but Mancunians loved it all the same. It also had a rather impressive looking windmill above the entrance and a bit of a snazzy paint job. It’s now Luck, Lust in the Northern Quarter.
Named after the year in which the Vegetarian Society was formed right here in Manchester, the original Bistro 1847 opened up on Mosley Street in the city centre in 2010, offering up “boundary-pushing British vegetarian and vegan dishes” using seasonal, foraged ingredients from the local area. In May 2017 owner Damien Davenport closed the site to look for somewhere bigger, relocating to a larger unit on King Street. However, as Damian put it at the time – “with everyone jumping on the veggie/vegan bandwagon” the time was right for him to close up, deciding to move overseas with his partner. I can’t help but think that this place would still be busy and doing even better if it was still around today, ah well.
Winning huge acclaim over its five years in Prestwich, Aumbry had just 28 covers, a cottage-turned-restaurant that was decked out to look like your nan’s house – had she been decorating whilst on ecstasy. It was all a very personal affair, essentially a restaurant in a front room – and the food, by legendary chef Mary-Ellen McTague was always exquisite. Co-owned by Kate Mountain, who also owned the iconic Roadhouse on Newton Street, plans were for Aumbry to re-open in the city centre after leaving Prestwich, but it never happened. Mary-Ellen now has the fantastic The Creameries in Chorlton which is a must-visit for any self-respecting foodie.
Most people celebrated with joy when Mana won Manchester’s first Michelin Star in 44 years in 2019, but Juniper down in Altrincham actually had one for 11 consecutive years from 1997 until 2008 when they controversially lost it due to the departure of chef Paul Kitching. Altrincham is technically Cheshire though, so most people don’t include it in any mention of Manchester, although it could be classified as Greater Manchester – I mean, it’s even on the Metrolink. I don’t suppose it matters any more, Juniper was a massive success at the time, with Jay Rayner even saying Kitching was “on more than nodding terms with genius” after his visit in 2003.
Credited as Britain’s first coffee house chain, Kardomah started out in Liverpool in 1844 before branching out across the North West with various locations in Manchester – most famous of which opening in 1939 on Market Street. It featured a stunning Art Deco influenced design, with a curved staircase, chrome finishing and massive neon sign above the door. It was a popular meeting spot for writers and creatives, with LS Lowry popping in for coffees and Antony Burgess referencing it in his 1989 novel ‘Any Old Iron’. Eventually the company was sold in the 70s and the Kardomah was no more – replaced by a couple of shops.
Lily Kwok, also known as ‘The Boss’ in Middleton, was behind one of the UK’s first ever Chinese restaurants – Lung Fung which opened up in the 50s and even brought Cliff Richard and The Beatles to the sleepy town. Lily had a truly remarkable life, moving over from Hong Kong and embarking on a food journey that still exists today – her granddaughters run Sweet Mandarin in the Northern Quarter! Her most famous dish was her curry – a deliciously mild, addictively creamy curry concoction that brought people to Lung Fung from all around, and introduced a whole generation of people to the wonders of Chinese cuisine.
At the time one of the city’s most luxurious and opulent eateries, Lounge Ten was actually a popular date spot for me back in the day – a way to impress the ladies with some high-end dishes, bespoke cocktails and best of all – it was very dimly lit so they couldn’t see my craggy face. This place was decked out in serious velvet, had tonnes of chandeliers dangling all over, a grand piano and even had a Tarot Card reader in the ladies toilets. It was massively popular at the time, but sadly closed in 2013.
Owned by Evandro Barbieri – credited by many as the man who brought pizza, and wider Italian cuisine to Manchester, Isola Bella opened up on Booth Street in 1970 and took the city by storm. People queued down the street for a table at the Isola Bella, spurred on to visit by a reputation for genuine Italian cuisine that most people had never seen before – including pizzas. Many Mancunians had their first ever taste of pizza in one of Evandro’s restaurants – and his impact on the city is unquestionable.
Mash & Air
There are a lot of fond memories of Mash & Air flying around the city, and it caused a bit of a stir when it appeared in the city back in 1996. It was certainly ahead of its time, a swanky bar with a ’boutique’ brewery right down the centre, which could fling out 18,000 pints a week and featured portholes where you could look and see the beers bubbling away. It was opened by restaurateur Oliver Peyton, and also featured a fine dining restaurant on the top floor – the kitchen helmed by Jason Atherton, one of the UK’s most successful chefs with multiple Michelin stars to his name. Mash & Air was short-lived – closing in 2000.
The Market Restaurant
Located on the corner of High Street in the Northern Quarter, The Market Restaurant stood for 34 glorious years, before closing down in 2015. Through thick and thin, this restaurant served up one of the finest eating experiences in the city, winning awards left, right and centre. The place was certainly kitsch and the ever-changing menu was decidedly British but with “an international nod”.
Brasserie St Pierre
Located in that odd little bit next to the posh Wetherspoons on Princess Street, where Greek restaurant Rozafa is today, was Brasserie St Pierre – a little French number that was considered probably the best restaurant in the city in the 90s. It featured a classic French brasserie menu and had an outstanding wine list, and according to the MEN was an “extravagantly art nouveau pace-setter”. I couldn’t find ANY pictures of this place anywhere on the Internet, so here’s a couple of the space before it became Rozafa.