More proof that lockdown won't stop Manchester's hospitality scene winning

January is nearly over but lockdown plods on. We're bored of baking, yawning about yoga and nonchalant about Netflix. Nevertheless, our food family is keeping us going with optimism about new openings, new delivery and collection options to add to the list and awards worth opening a bottle of fizz for - yes we will take any excuse thank you very much.  

Read on for this week's food and booze news.

Simon Shaw El Gato Negro

Top Cat

The 2021 Michelin stars were awarded this week with a shower of regular and new green stars sprinkling oop north. But congratulations too to Simon Shaw and the gang at the tapas-tastic El Gato Negro for holding onto their Bib Gourmand (which might evoke your dad tucking a napkin into his collar but is definitely much fancier than that) for another year. El Gato is the only restaurant in Manchester with a Michelin Bib and this is the fifth year it has retained the accolade. This year, sister restaurant Canto in Ancoats has made it into the guide too, being awarded a shiny new Plate for 2021. We can’t wait to return to both and also, hopefully, that new Middle Eastern gaff Shaw’s been tantalising us with forever (bloody COVID etc.).

2021 01 29 Bitesie Chippie

Fry n' Dining

Everyone in hospitality has been faced with the challenge of evolving their usual convivial offering into something that might temporarily halt the constant sob-fest of our lonesome (or ever more irritated by our cohabiters) lockdown. Nobody has reinvented the wheel more times than Six By Nico’s Nico Simeone. There’s a new press release every few days and frankly, we’re struggling to fit writing about them all in between the eating and crying. The latest is a masterclass on how to make Nico’s now famous ‘Chippie Tea’ menu - a fine dining reimagining of the humble carb-fest that we experienced in real life back when that was a thing. Nico will guide you through a six-course recipe box with everything from chips n cheese to a sausage supper - all zhuzhed up with foams and drizzles and that - culminating in a posh take on a deep-fried Mars Bar. Veggie options are available and you can pre-order here. Not for you? There’s always Wright’s on Deliveroo.

2021 01 29 Bitesize Oli The Choc

Top Of The Pops

Stockport-based chocolatier Oliver Dunn (aka Oli the Choc) has been awarded an Official Guinness World Record for ‘Most users in a lollipop-making video hangout’. A total of 511 people took part in the online ‘lollipop workshop’ to help Oliver set the record in association with his chosen charity Seashell. In addition to achieving the Guinness World Record, Oliver raised over £13k for the charity from the sale of his kits and donations from participants. Seashell supports children and young adults with complex disabilities and additional communication needs from across the UK. They provide education and care for people aged from 2-25 years at their outstanding school and college and through short breaks and inclusive sports activities. 

2021 01 29 Bitesize Ditto

Double Espresso

Caffeine/mp3 hybrid Ditto Music has added a second Manchester coffee shop on the back of the platinum success of its Oxford Street venue which opened in 2019. The new gaff will launch at Bruntwood Works’ Union building on Albert Square in Spring 2021 (restrictions permitting) with an aim to nurture independent music, community and connection, man. This new Manchester cafe will have 38 covers and an area for DJs or acoustic artists to belt out their future hits through a top of the range sound system - that’s if there are any musicians or sound engineers left after the pandemic and they haven’t all retrained as Ocado drivers. As in all of Ditto’s stores, there will be an 'Artist Dropbox' which encourages local musicians to share their music. Each month an artist is picked for free distribution services from Ditto Music, one of the world’s biggest music distributors.

2021 01 29 Bitesize Meatless

Meatless Murder

Veganuary might be almost over but cutting down on meat products is still widely considered to be worth doing, for the planet’s sake. Meat substitutes divide opinion though with a recent brouhaha about whether plant-based food producers should even be allowed to call anything a sausage or a burger if it doesn't contain meat - the vegans won the row btw. Anyway, if you’re a Mancunian that likes a bit of seitan in sausage form, Meatless Farm has you in its crosshairs. It has recently launched a campaign to sell its products to Mancunians via the old chestnut of recycling Oasis lyrics. The posters popping up around town say things like 'What's the story, Meatless glory?' and shoehorn local hot spots like the Mancunian Way and Rusholme into their punny proclamations. That joke isn’t funny any more, Meatless. The products are quite good though, apparently. 

2021 01 29 Bitesize Shoryu 2


A few local places have launched new delivery or collection options. As a very serious and academic wine connoisseur (aka professional pisshead) I’m particularly thrilled to see that Blossom Street Social now has a delivery service for its excellent range of fermented grape juice. Email to order. 

Over at the other end of the city, village favourite Velvet has teamed up with Asha’s to deliver the latter's fantastic Indian food. What’s more, there’s a 30% discount for those order for collection using the code VELVET30 or ASHAS30 

Volta’s Sunday roasts are legendary and now it's introduced an option to add organic and natural wine to your dinner order in association with the hip young things at Le Social. 

And finally, Shoryu Ramen Manchester has extended its delivery and collection offering to include over 75 lines of Japanese groceries. The exclusive grocery range includes snacks, cookies, sweets, seasonings, sauces, stock soup, drinks and 10 different types of noodles. The new products launch on 3 Feb, order here

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Read again: New bar, restaurant and cafe openings January 2021 (part one)