The Walled Gardens

Inventive vegetarian cooking from a South Manchester flat, ranked one of the best restaurants in the UK.

The Walled Gardens
The Walled Gardens is located in Whalley Range, Manchester

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By the time Manchester’s Finest was invited to visit Eddie Shepherd’s suburban half-secret, the concept had already been ranked by the Observer Food Monthly as one of the top 20 places to eat in the UK. And it would have been a similar result had they run a list of the most unique eateries in the country, too. An evening service here is quite unlike almost anything you will have experienced before. Not really a restaurant, and way more complex and technical than even your most sophisticated dinner party, the owner-chef invites diners into the specially converted ground floor of his own home for a meal they won’t forget. 

This means seating is more than ultra-limited – just eight people can be accommodated on any given day — so bookings are required well in advance, and each month’s operating dates are revealed by subscription newsletter weeks ahead. Planning is essential, then, but definitely worth the effort in order to taste Shepherd’s inspired, experimental cooking. And by that we mean a 12 course vegan and vegetarian taster menu defined by dishes which are both natural and fantastical. Think plant-based theatre in an informal and social setting and it should give some idea of what to expect from menus disclosed to guests upon arrival. 

First hand experience involved dishes such as dandelion petal pastels, roast pumpkin soup with pine needles and whipped oat cream, soaked over burning pine, halloumi, caper and chive sauce with rhubarb molasses, and dark chocolate parfait with caramelised honey from beehives in the garden, betraying the creativity at play. Homemade vacuum distilled gin also factored, although The Walled Gardens is bring your own booze, so don’t forget to pack a bottle of something good if you’re heading down. A unique culinary experience offering unprecedented access to one of Britain’s true epicurean visionaries.