Our weekly roundup of Manchester restaurant and bar scene stories is back for 2022
New year, new Confidentials, well, sort of. Along with January's much-missed restaurant deals and our usual mix of news, reviews, food and booze, we're bringing back our popular weekly food and drink news column for 2022. It's a handy way to keep up to date with what's hot and what's not on Manchester's food scene. This week's news includes restaurant closures (yikes), fires (eek) and some positive stuff too, honest.
Here are this week's snackable, bitesize Manchester food and drink stories.
One Eight Six owners speak out on New Year’s Eve fire
Deansgate bar and barbers One Eight Six posted a heartfelt message to its Instagram this week following the devastating fire that broke out after midnight on New Year’s Eve. The bar's owners thanked staff and emergency services for saving lives and have offered those who were in attendance on the night free professional mental and emotional support. The team have vowed to come back stronger from the fire, which completely destroyed the main room of the club, and have assured patrons they aim to be open as soon as possible.
Croma-tose - an OG pizza restaurant closes
The MEN reported this week that the much loved Croma pizza restaurant is closing its flagship city centre branch. The mini Manchester chain, hugely popular with families and the after-work crowd due to its (in those days) creative pizza toppings like hoisin duck and spring onion, opened way back in 2000 when the dining scene was a very different beast. Now, you can't move for pizza in Manchester.
Co-founder Andrew Bullock has cited COVID as a reason for the closure, which is surely a factor, but has the rise of more hip and modern pizzerias also been a contributor? Are there so many new pizza places now that older ones have to drop off the conveyor belt to make way for the new? Either way, the good news is the branches of Croma in other parts of Manchester like Didsbury are safe from the chop for now.
A Wiswell in the kitchen at the gastropub awards
Steven Smith of The Freemasons at Wiswell has been confirmed to create the menu at this year’s Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub awards. The much-anticipated awards ceremony takes place at Escape to Freight Island this year, on 24 January.
Steven’s menu celebrates northern produce and will feature line-caught cod from Morecambe Bay, smoked salmon from Wellgate Fishmongers in the Clitheroe, ox cheek from Aubrey Allen and longhorn and shorthorn grass-fed beef from Yorkshire’s Waterford Farm. Fans of the Wiswell wiz will be pleased to see Steven's signature dishes, truffle cheese hot dog, and lamb fat and rosemary brioche on the menu.
Steven’s an appropriate choice of chef to cook for the event, having held a top 10 position in the Top 50 Gastropubs for over a decade. We’re massive fans of The Freemasons at Confidentials and our team are hoping we get an invite.
Tiny tapas bar puts move on the menu
Manchester’s smallest tapas bar has announced that it is time to say adios to its shipping container home at Oxford Road hangout, Hatch.
Abeja is well known throughout the city for its authentic Spanish offering with recipes hailing from owner and chef, Ana’s home town of Granada. It seems that the borrower-sized bar (and Confidentials’ staff favourite) has outgrown its original residence tucked underneath the Mancunian Way, stating in an Instagram post that “operating conditions” are the reason for the move.
Not to worry though, because we’re hearing rumblings that a certain south Manchester suburb is being considered for the big move.
A short tram ride will never keep us away from top-notch tapas.
COVID gives breweries a good Hyde-ing
Greater Manchester is unique in the UK in having four surviving 19th-century family brewers. The last year has shown it’s not been plain sailing. Manchester brewery Hydes has announced it has suffered from a £20m slump due to COVID. The Business Desk reported that the brewery’s profits were £8.5m for the 12 months leading up to 28 March 2021, this is a massive drop from its £29.4m profit the previous year.
With over 50 pubs in the North West and North Wales, Hydes business was boosted by almost £241,000 of sales through the Government's Eat Out To Help Out scheme and it secured over £4.5m in furlough payments. In a statement published by The Business Desk, Hydes has said its directors went to lengths such as taking a 20% pay reduction during lockdown to keep the company afloat. We’re sure the £4k a business “lifeline” that the government threw to businesses like these in December will also have helped. Or not.
Out for the discount - stay for cheap at The Lowry hotel
You’ve got your January restaurant deals sorted but how about making a bigger treat of it? The Lowry is celebrating local in a special way this January with a discounted rate - for locals only. The five-star hotel is offering a 30% discount on a stay in one of its newly refurbed Executive King Rooms (fancy!) As well as 20% off food and drink at the River Restaurant as well as a voucher for a cocktail and a late checkout so you can pretend that bed’s yours for a couple of hours longer. The deal is on throughout January, Sunda-Friday only and you must prove you’re local with evidence that your postcode is a Greater Manchester one.
Bargain bevs and helpful happy hours
Dry Jan ain’t for everyone, and although we’ve already covered a whole load of Manchester’s Jan dining deals this week, there are some discounted tipples that’ll help to wash down all that 50% off nosh, so here's a li'l list.
If wetting your whistle on a budget is one of your New Years resolutions, then Three Little Words is offering 50% off selected cocktails and house spirits every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before 7pm. The happy hour at Nam in Ancoats includes two cocktails for £12, £3 pints of NAM Pilsner, and £13 bottles of prosecco from 4 til 7pm Monday-Friday. Cloud 23 is catering to the Dry Jan brigade with six mocktails for £50, whilst Fress and Joshua Brooks have 2 for 1 cocktails and Evuna is giving us 45% off house wines Monday-Thursday when you quote “NODRYJANUARY” on your booking. Time to get sloshed.
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