From a fishmonger's restaurant to a tiny Japanese suburban sushi den - it's time to hit the suburbs
The thing about restaurants is you really don't need a huge marketing budget to make great food. In fact, it's often quite the opposite. Yes it helps if you have the dough to let people know you're there, but if the food is good, really good, then it won't take long for word to spread.
Below you'll find ten of our favourite word-of-mouth restaurants we've got wind of through friends, associates and, yes, social media over the past few years. From Ashton to Altrincham, Withington to Whitefield, they're the type of place the locals want to keep all to themselves... unfortunately for them, we're here to tell you all about them.
Oh, and here's the one we did last year, featuring Seoul Kimchi, A Tavola and The Fat Loaf.
Aamchi Mumbai, Cheadle
It’s no surprise that this eclectic restaurant has caught the eye of local Good Food Guide reporters who have included it as a local gem in their tome to decent eating for two years running. It serves a range of typical street food usually found in Mumbai including chilli and onion Kulcha bread, steamed idli dumplings, dangling skewers of chicken malai tikka and Manchurian dishes illustrating the 'melting pot' character of Mumbai cuisine. You’ll also find a Mumbai pizza with a tikka spiced tomato sauce, vegetables and paneer cheese. After their initial success, the owners now have plans to expand. Reardon House, 2A Gatley Rd, Cheadle SK8 1PY - Tel: 0161 428 2212
The Easy Fish Co, Heaton Moor
This independent, family-run business has been providing fresh fish and seafood for over ten years. The roots of this fourth generation fishmongers are based in the original Smithfield Market in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, but since 2011, they can be found in a state-of-the-art shop in Heaton Moor, which fronts a fully licensed fish restaurant with 30 covers. This is the place to come for spankingly fresh oysters or scallops washed down with a chilled bottle of Albarino, or a gorgeous piece of fresh cod in an oniony red wine sauce and a smoked Applewood and bacon potato hash. (Read our review here.) 117 Heaton Moor Rd, Stockport SK4 4HY - Tel: 0161 442 0823
The White Hart, Lydgate
There has been an inn on the top o’ hill site since 1788 (parts of the original stone-built inn still exist), but this pub with magnificent views really does manage to cater for everyone. Regulars are welcome to sit by the fire and enjoy a pint, the brasserie offers a quick good quality lunch, or diners can indulge in a full tasting menu with linen in the dining room. The head chef is the hugely experienced Mike Shaw, a local who began his career as a pastry apprentice at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, before moving on to Michelin-starred Hambleton Hall, Gordon Ramsay's Aubergine, then as sous chef with Pied a Terre's Richard Neat in Cannes. Before taking up his role at The White Hart, he was head chef at Gilpin Lodge, where he helped them secure a Michelin star. 51 Stockport Rd, Lydgate, Oldham OL4 4JJ - Tel: 01457 872566
The Original Third Eye, Didsbury
For many, this well established Nepalese and Indian restaurant is no secret. It’s been consistently cranking out excellent curries and signature specials for twelve years. Confidential’s Gordo recently sang its praises in this review. Here you’ll find good examples of classic curry house favourites such as jalfrezi, vindaloo and madras, all made from scratch using fresh ingredients rather than generic sauces. You’ll also find some specialities such as Makhan Chara where marinated chicken pieces, charred in a tandoor, are coated with a rich spiced sauce made with butter, chopped tomatoes and cream. Prices are reasonable too with main course curries averaging around £8 a pop. 661 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 6RA - Tel: 0161 446 2300
If anyone from Confidential makes it up to Ramsbottom to dine at this Catalonian restaurant (or at sister venue Levanter) it's inevitable a write-up will appear in that month’s ‘Best Dishes’. It began as a pintxos place, Ramsbottom’s answer to the typical bars found in the fiercely independent north east corner of Spain. Their shtick is cold Spanish snacks on sticks (fish, seafood or meat on bread, stuffed peppers, croquettas, tortilla) to accompany social drinking. But last year, owners Joe and Fiona Botham extended into the next door property and added a Comedor (or dining room) with table service. The kitchen runs across both sites and is now equipped with a custom-made ‘Pereruela’ clay oven. This rustic new piece of kit means they can now roast/bake whole animals, larger joints or fish which all come out imparted with a wonderful smoky flavour. 1 Smithy St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9AT - Tel: 01706 559090
It’s almost one year since Wythenshawe-born chef David Gale - who forged his reputation with stints at the Abode and Hilton hotels, as well as in London, New York and Las Vegas - took over a renovated unit opposite Slattery’s, and turned it into a top quality suburban neighbourhood bistro. Our Neil Sowerby gave it a few months to bed in before his visit and ended up awarding a rare 10/10 to a lamb rump dish (full review here). Sourcing well has always been a big deal for chef/patron David Gale who is not afraid of bold flavours. The menu changes with the seasons and availability of ingredients, but typical dishes include slow cooked beef with butter roast potato, celeriac, kale and horseradish cream, or organic roast chicken breast with pearl barley, pea, mint and roast root veg casserole. 188 Bury New Rd, Whitefield, Manchester M45 6QF - Tel: 0161 280 0524
It’s no wonder brothers Ben and Joe Wright, owners of Chester’s acclaimed tapas restaurant, Porta, snapped up a prime position directly opposite the entrance of Alty's hugely popular Market House. Porta itself is as moody and handsome as your teenage foreign exchange crush, decked out with dark walls and dark wood, Spanish memorabilia littered casually everywhere, but not so much so that it screams 'theme'. It doesn’t take bookings so you need to take your chances for a seat during busy times, but quite a few of our lot would happily stand out in the rain to be rewarded by a hunk of powerful Picos de Europa blue cheese with caramelised walnuts, sultanas and honey, or slow roast ox cheek with pickled walnuts. (Read our review here.) 50 Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1RZ - Tel: 0161 465 6225
Yes, this is a vegetarian and vegan Indian caff, but the food is so good and the menu so extensive, the fact that is entirely meat free is almost incidental. This place couldn’t be more conveniently placed; right by the Metrolink stop, only a stone’s throw away from the huge IKEA and adjoining the family supermarket ASM, where most of the fresh ingredients come from. The range of dishes is huge and everything has been handmade from scratch including snacks, curries, daals, sizzling Indo-Chinese platters and giant paper thin dosa pancakes stuffed with various masala spiced fillings. Homemade paneer is a speciality – they even do a dairy free version – and you can have it served one of about fifty ways from pakoras to puri, dry with spices, marinated tikka style in a curry with spinach or chick peas and even in fried rice. Lily’s also have a splendid display of handmade Gujerati sweets to brighten your day including a variety of barfi made with nuts and dried fruit, beetroot halva and brightly coloured ladoos dipped in sugar syrup. 75-83 Oldham Rd, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 7DF - Tel: 0161 339 4774
Fuzion Noodle Bar, Fallowfield
This fifteen year old Pan Asian place, owned by couple Arthur and Carol Wong and modelled on the buzzing street vendors of the Far East, has been a favourite of Gordo’s for years. Impeccably fresh ingredients are the cornerstone of their dishes which include specialities such as pad Thai noodles, nasi goreng, Thai curries, Japanese yakisoba, katsu and ramen noodles and Singapore vermicelli – all to be eaten on communal wooden bench seating, or taken away. As well as noodles, the menu includes handmade spring rolls and dim sum, shredded salads, soups and more unusual fusion dishes such as Singapore halloumi fried rice with endamame beans, or Chairman Mao’s Kung Pao sweet and spicy chicken or chickpeas. (Read our review here.) 264 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M14 6JR - Tel: 0161 248 6688
For years people have raved about this tiny Japanese-run restaurant and takeaway which serves great value sushi artfully in a wooden boat along with noodle soup, Japanese curry, handmade dumplings and Donburi rice bowls. It’s been described as ‘cosy and homely’ and ‘a little gem’, with cute lanterns and hanging fairy lights. It is licenced too, although the selection is small with a few Japanese beer brands, one type of sake and only ‘white’, ‘red’ and ‘rose’ wine listed at £9 a bottle. The food is a treat though and those prices are a steal. 28 Copson St, Manchester M20 3HB - Tel: 0161 445 2555