For the first in Manchester’s Finest’s new series, Hidden Gems, we sent our own Matt White to Whalley Range in search of an eatery the Observer Food Monthly ranks among the top 20 in the UK. A bold claim by any measure, The Walled Gardens is run by Eddie Shepherd and redefines intimacy by inviting diners into the life and lodgings of the man in charge of the kitchen. Which, as you probably guessed, isn’t that much bigger than the one you make meals in most nights.
Sold on the promise of “inspired, experimental cooking”, guests lucky enough to secure a table indulge in a 12 course vegan and vegetarian taster menu, dominated by wildly creative, statement dishes, all paired with an informal and inviting atmosphere. Seating just eight people per evening, the space is up there with the smallest and most unique dining rooms we’ve ever come across. In contrast, the experience — and flavours — are guaranteed to leave a massive impression.
The same can certainly be said of Shepherd himself, too. A big part of The Walled Gardens’ lure is offering unparalleled access to a genuine culinary expert. All bites are served from the open kitchen, and guests have a rare opportunity to discuss everything from ingredients to concepts for living room decor with the epicurean in question. Suffice to say, his passion for pushing flavour boundaries on the plate (or inside a test tube) is only matched by a friendly openness and approachability. Meanwhile, his enthusiasm for this project shines at every step of this epic culinary adventure.
Not quite sold yet? Hit play on the video below to be taken inside this truly individual restaurant where you can learn more about the innovative processes and ideas at play. Many ingredients are grown on site, in the back garden, adding to the overall feeling that this really isn’t the kind of meal money can buy. Thankfully, though, it is, you just need to book in for a sitting, which only take place three weekends each month, with events held on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Oh, and its bring-your-own-wine, which is aways great. Not that you expect anything else when heading to a friend’s place for dinner and drinks.