The restaurants that have made it into this year’s Harden’s restaurant guide and its Top 100 restaurants in the UK list have been announced and Manchester has done well.
Unlike other restaurant guides, Harden’s asks regular diners (as opposed to a panel of ‘experts’) to tell them where they think is the best. The Top 100 restaurants is put together based on 30,000 reports with ratings submitted by 3,000 diners who contributed to the Harden’s annual survey in 2022. Restaurants at all price levels are listed, from street food vendors to the country’s most ambitious dining rooms, with 2,800 restaurants listed in total.
The big news this year for Manchester is that Adam Reid at The French has shot up the top 100 rankings to sit at #7 in the top 10 from its position at #40 last year. It now sits above the jewel in Cumbria’s dining scene crown, the three-Michelin star L’Enclume at #8. The French has famously been overlooked for Michelin stars year after year so it’s great to see it get the recognition it deserves from Harden’s.
The guide says Adam Reid’s tasting menu food, “fully delivers on the hit to the tastebuds”. Diners also commented: “It’s not all serious plates, with some playful dishes offering something a little different and intriguing”. Diners hailed it as “the best culinary experience in Manchester”.
Conversely, Manchester’s only Michelin star restaurant, Mana has fallen in rankings to the lower end of the list from its position last year in the top 10 to just #73 on this year’s list.
While Mana is celebrated in the guide as “undeniably one of the UK’s top tables” for Simon Martin’s “fabulous airy space within the foodie hotspot that is Ancoats”. On practically all accounts, “exemplary cooking” with an emphasis on fire, fermentation and British ingredients “comes out of that entirely open kitchen, and the team work methodically alongside each other to produce it”. “Flavours are knock-out and every dish is evocative of place and origin, with evident care and attention to detail.”
So why has Mana fallen so far down the list? Price increases are to blame. The guide says: “With stardom has come higher prices, and doubts are creeping in about the ultimate level of value it delivers. One in six [of polled diners] now consider it notably overpriced. The remainder agreeing that ‘it’s not cheap, but you pay for what you get'”.
Nine North West restaurants have made it into the Harden’s restaurant guide Top 100 for 2023. The other seven are: L’Enclume #8 and Aulis at L’Enclume #45 in Cartmel; The Forest Side #27 in Grasmere; Moor Hall #77 in Aughton; The Old Stamp House #79 in Ambleside; The Art School in Liverpool #33 and Fraiche, Oxton which just nipped in at #100.
Peter Harden, co-founder of Harden’s, commented:
“The North West is home to some of the country’s most renowned restaurants and consistently performs well in the Harden’s Top 100 due to the high quality, diverse nature and depth of what’s on offer.
“Interestingly, it’s also an area where, like London, restaurant price increases have caused some guests to question whether they still see the same value in the overall proposition when dining out. What is an enjoyable experience at £100 per head can soon lose its lustre when prices as good as double.
“Restaurants are currently facing increasing costs from every angle so it’s no surprise these are being reflected on menus, but some of our polled results and diner comments this year show that customer expectations are struggling to keep pace and it’s easy for restaurants to begin to fall out of favour as a result.”
Manchester as a city is third after London and Edinburgh when it comes to the volume of restaurants that made it into the full guide. New entries this year come from The Alan, Dakota Grill, Maray, MUSU and, quite strangely, Sexy Fish, which hasn’t even opened yet. Yang Sing also remains in the guide although it has never properly reopened since the pandemic began. We hope its relaunch following the current extensive period of renovations is imminent.
There are 47 Greater Manchester restaurants in this year’s guide and they are:
- Adam Reid at The French
- The Alan
- Almost Famous
- The Black Friar
- Dakota Grill
- The Edinburgh Castle
- Escape To Freight Island
- El Gato Negro
- Hispi Bistro
- The Ivy Asia
- Jajoo Indian Street Food Didsbury
- The Lime Tree
- Little Yang Sing
- Mackie Mayor
- Noi Quattro
- The Oystercatcher
- Sam’s Chop House
- San Carlo
- Sexy Fish
- Street Urchin
- This & That
- TNQ Restaurant & Bar
- 20 Stories
- Wood Restaurant
- Yang Sing
The 32nd edition of the Harden’s guide has just been published and costs £14.89 for a paperback copy.