Award-winning Spanish restaurant are the latest lining up a move to the city’s former industrial heartland
Once was that the name Ancoats conjured up thoughts of towering steam-powered mills, smoke-belching chimneystacks and the clunk-clunk-clatter of heavy machinery. This was the city’s industrial heartland, the centre of the global cotton trade, and a pretty grim place to be.
Hop forward 200 years or so and the only steam you’re likely to find is that spewing from the machines in Ancoats Coffee Co., the only smoke from the wood-fired oven at Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, the only clunk and clatter from property developers rushing to knock up premium apartment blocks.
The area – on the edge of the more saturated (and expensive) Northern Quarter - has in recent years become the unlikely focus of the city’s buoyant food and drink scene, with the opening of the aforementioned Rudy’s in 2016 quickly followed by the likes of Squid Ink bistro, Seven Bro7hers craft beer bar and Japanese tea room Cha-ology.
Last year, it was announced that Ancoats would also welcome Altrincham's highly-rated Italian restaurant, Sugo, and local street food heroes Hip Hop Chip Shop. While in the last week alone, Piccadilly's hip sourdough bakery, Pollen, and Castlefield ale haven Cask have also revealed plans to move in.
Fecund doesn't really do it justice.
Now, Confidential has learnt that another of the city's most acclaimed dining establishments is eyeing up property in the area.
El Gato Negro - the Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning tapas bar and restaurant which made the move to King Street from the hills of Ripponden in February 2016 - have confirmed rumours that they're close to signing for a spot on Ancoats' Cutting Room Square.
Chef patron Simon Shaw said: "It's no secret we've been actively looking for a strong second Manchester site and I can confirm we're in conversation with a couple of locations, one of which is in Ancoats.
"It's an incredibly young and vibrant space and an area in which I'd love to open. As conversations are still very much active it is however too early to say more."
Shaw has discussed plans in the last year to expand the business with a new sister brand for El Gato Negro. The chef - a former executive head chef for the Harvey Nichols group - talked about his love for North African and Middle Eastern cuisine and a desire to blend this with Spanish influences.
So El Gato meets El Hanout meets, er, Falaf-El? Perhaps.
More to follow...