You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Spanish cuisine in Manchester, but my favourite place in the city is easily La Bandera. It ticks all the boxes for Manchester’s Finest – it’s independent, family-run, and most importantly, the food is authentically brilliant.
This week we popped by to check out their seriously upgraded menu, where they’ve completely done away with their large main plates and are now concentrating solely on sharing dishes, alongside some rather impressive paella.
You’ll find all of the classics you’d expect to find on the new menu such as Patatas Bravas (£6), Jamón Ibérico (£12) and Croquetas (£6.50) alongside some more unique offerings.
Their Papas Arrugadas (£6) for example are a Canary Island speciality of ‘wrinkled’ potatoes served with mojo rojo and mojo verde sauces that were traditionally cooked in sea water on the Canary Islands when fresh water was hard to come by.
Another speciality, and a new addition to the menu, are their Albondigas de la Abuela (£8) – meatballs that have been cooked to the owner’s grandmother’s original (and still secret) recipe. We enjoyed them alongside the wonderful Bistec Asadores (£9.50) – a dish of flat iron steak topped with mojo rojo sauce and crispy fried onions.
Staying on the Canary Islands, we got stuck into their Gambas Volcán (£9); king prawns that are cooked in La Bandera’s own signature blend of spices, white wine and fresh chillies. These are a must try for sure.
A very popular dish from up in the North West of Spain, we sampled the brilliant Pulpo en Dos Cocciones (£9.90) a dish of twice cooked octopus on a bed of Spanish paprika mash and finished with the Canary Island flourish of mojo rojo.
Similarly popular everywhere in Spain was the perfectly cooked Vieiras con Chorizo (£9.50) – the classic combination of pan-fried scallops and chorizo Ibérico.
As a nice little treat we ordered a couple of paella dishes too – the Mary Montaña (£29) and the striking black Negro de Calamares con Gambas (£28). Made popular in the Valencia and Catalonian districts of Spain, these dishes are absolutely huge and are perfect for feeding 4-5 hungry people.
The Negro de Calamares con Gambas was a particular highlight – a dish that’s not only impressive to look at but also perfectly balanced in its flavours. The rice is cooked with squid ink which produces the characteristic black colouring, and La Bandera then add fresh squid and King Prawns into the mix. Lovely stuff.
So there’s a much more varied and diverse menu offering down at La Bandera, and considering they’re all smaller plates every visit gives you the chance to experience more dishes. It’s a bold move but one that I think will work – people want more variety now and when the choices are THIS good – you can’t go wrong.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester, M2 6EQ
0161 833 9019