Sometimes the best way to fully appreciate a restaurant’s food and a chef’s skill is to partake in a taster menu – typically the best of what the venue has to offer, without the annoyance of making any decisions. Here’s our favourites…
Albatross and Arnold
Inspired by all things British, this tasting menu comes with either five or seven courses with the added option of a nice bit of wine pairing on the side. Head Chef Jonathan Green likes to keep things local and seasonal, so it’s not uncommon for the menu to change with refreshing frequency. At the moment you can expect to find 42 Day Dry Aged Beef Tartare, Green’s famous Cauliflower Potato Skin, Monkfish and Roast Duck Breast on the menu, topped off with a sumptuous Chocolate & Espresso Fondant or a selection of brilliant local cheeses.
Albatross & Arnold (inside The Range), Leftbank, Spinningfields, M3 3AN
0161 325 4444
Adam Reid at The French
Four, six or nine, those are your numbers for a truly exquisite tasting menu. Adam Reid offers up a modern British food (ironically at The French) menu packed with flair, flavour and passion. Try these on for size – Fried Oysters, Tater ‘ash with Mushroom Catsup, (perfectly paired with Hildegard, Au Bon Climat from California) and Cumbrian Red Deer with pickled quince, girolles and bilberries. It all sounds delicious – unless anything I just said means snails! Actually, I’m not that uncultured and love a good plate of escargots as much as the next person.
Adam Reid at The French, The Midland Hotel, Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS
0161 235 4780
The brainchild of Masterchef winner Simon Wood, Wood have had a spectacular first year, so much so in fact that they’ve recently revealed plans to open up a second site in Chester. When it comes to the Tasting Menu, you can enjoy 5 courses for lunch or 7 for the evening and added option of a cheese board at the end is always welcome! They also offer a special four course menu on ‘Tasting Thursdays’, which is an excellent way to figuratively dip your toes in the water. The most exciting part is that Wood prefer this experience to be more of a mystery, so all the tasting menus are blind!
Wood, Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester M15 4RA
0161 236 5211
You’d probably not expect to find a fully vegan 10 course taster menu here in Manchester but The Allotment pull it off, and they do it in style. Clearly not the easiest task in the world, Head Chef and Owner Matthew Nutter has creatively crafted a range stunning of dishes which manage to excite and impress every time. They’ve won loads of awards, and look set to continue this winning streak with their new city centre location. Even if you’re not vegan you should definitely give it a try.
The Allotment, Lloyd’s house, 18-22 Lloyd St, Manchester M2 5WA
0161 478 1331
The brainchild of Simon Martin, former NOMA chef, Mana is the new kid on the block down in Ancoats, and surprisingly enough, all they offer is a Taster menu. Using strictly British produce, their menu is constantly changing and evolving with the seasons. It’s not cheap (especially when you want to add on wine), but the amount of experience, experimentation and development that goes into the whole experience is certainly something that shouldn’t be missed.
Mana, 42 Blossom St, Manchester M4 6BF
0161 392 7294
Using only the finest local and Iberian products, La Bandera serve up a real treat of a tasting menu that is not only delicious, it’s also excellent value for money. They like to keep it simple so there are only two choices – with or without wine. As the city’s only Canarian restaurant, the food here provides a unique insight into the culinary influences of the islands, with elements of Spanish, Portuguese, Cuban and South American all mixed up into one. Their Pulpo en dos Cocciones is a Canarian masterpiece and really needs to be tried, preferably with some wine straight from the vineyards of Tenerife.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
0161 833 9019
If fine French cuisine is what you’re looking for, then you can’t go wrong with the brilliant 63 Degrees in the Northern Quarter. It is a family run Parisian style Bistro which brings you a fine-dining experience like no other. Each week they host their own ‘Tasting Tuesday’, where you can sink your teeth into a very competitively priced Taster Menu featuring dishes such as Smoked Duck and Beluga Lentils, homemade Foie Gras, and the best dessert of all time – the classic crème brulee.
63 Degrees, 104 High St, Manchester M4 1HQ
0161 832 5438
Where The Light Gets In
If you’re not on the waiting list for this extraordinary, award-winning restaurant in Stockport, then you really need to get your name down on that list right now. Every night the chef tells a different story using the exquisite food that’s served, as there isn’t a menu as such. Take the plunge, and let your senses be delighted because not only does the food and wine change by the night but they like to keep things close to their chests and keep the number of courses a well-guarded secret.
Where the Light Gets In, 7 Rostron Brow, Stockport SK1 1JY
0161 477 5744
This Rochdale restaurant is another venue where you’re placing your entire experience in the hands of the chef, and in Andrew Nutter you’ve certainly got yourself someone who knows exactly what he’s doing. So sit back, relax and let Chef choose for you at his six course surprise tasting menu for the evening. A quick look at the sample menu may help alleviate any fears, containing big hitters such as Seared Wild Sea Bass and Fillet of Limousin Beef to name a few.
Nutters, Edenfield Rd, Rochdale OL12 7TT
Quite possibly the best way to enjoy the phenomenal sushi on offer at Umezushi, their Taster Menu will take you on a journey through the finest in Japanese cuisine. You can expect to find (and thoroughly enjoy) a range of fresh Sashimi, Meguro and a couple of hot dishes too, like their Mentsuyu Pork with Katsuobushi and Seafood Congee. You can’t go wrong with a huge platter of sushi, especially if there’s plenty of their fantastic Negi–toro with quail egg.
Umezushi, 4 Mirabel St, Manchester M3 1PJ
0161 832 1852
A relative newcomer on the food scene, Tast have enjoyed some great success with their menu of authentic Catalan cuisine, expertly crafted by multi-Michelin star winner Paco Perez. If we’re being honest, the whole menu could be considered a Taster, with small ‘Tastets’ taking up a significant portion of what’s on offer. They also have a ‘L’Exquisit’ Taster Menu however, featuring a range of dishes that aim to take you on a journey through Paco Perez’ cuisine.
Tast Catala, 20-22 King St, Manchester M2 6AG
0161 806 0547