That's two entries now for Manchester's most popular small plates chef
Michelin is not just about stars, you know. Fans of the French-born multinational tyre brand and its restaurant guides will already know that Michelin also dishes out Bib Gourmands ("not a consolation prize" according to Michelin) and Plates. It also publishes a long list of restaurants it considers to be worth your attention, that is updated yearly.
It's the latter that we've got our beady eye on at the moment as Michelin has been drip-feeding us additions over the past few months. Today, it has been announced that Manchester restaurant Habas will feature in the 2022 guide. Quite astonishing for a restaurant that only opened shy of six months ago.
For a business that’s been such a long time in the making and yet still very much in its infancy, it's remarkable
Simon Shaw's "Middle Eastern" offering was a long time coming and opened with perhaps a little less fanfare than the team would have liked, amid the weird dining scene of the pandemic. Located in the former wine cellar of the historic Manchester Club building, Habas opened in June 2020. Inspired by Shaw's time eating and drinking his way around the kebab and hummus spots of London where he worked as a young chef, as well as his travels, Habas has largely been welcomed warmly by the diners of Manchester.
Led by Head Chef, Craig Rutherford, and General Manager, Kelly Wimbleton, the subterranean dining spot is crammed with a bazaar's worth of bric-a-brac like suitcases, bottles and books that Shaw joked to us had been cluttering up his garage for years. Its menu is an equally wide-ranging tribute to the vast expanse of cuisines that come under the (businessman sized) umbrella of The Middle East. It features everything from hummus and Persian rice to filo cigars and schnitzel.
The restaurant has recently added a souked up Sunday roast - with Ottolenghi-esque flavours like harissa, sumac and black garlic - to its culinary catalogue too.
That's now all three of Shaw's restaurants in some way honoured by Michelin. Impressive stuff. El Gato Negro was awarded a Bib Gourmand for the fifth consecutive year earlier in January (the only one in Manchester) and Portuguese influenced Ancoats restaurant and bar, Canto, was awarded a Plate last year too. It is a success Shaw is quick to credit to Head Chefs Milan Sojka (EGN) and Carlos Gomes (Canto) and the wider team.
Shaw said: “First and foremost I’m absolutely delighted. For a business that’s been such a long time in the making and yet still very much in its infancy, it's remarkable. It’s all credit to Craig, Kelly and their respective teams who are doing an incredible job.”
Earlier this year, inventive Prestwich restaurant OSMA was also added to the guide.
Greater Manchester currently has twenty entries in the Michelin Guide. These are:
El Gato Negro (the only one with a Bib Gourmand)
mana (the only one with a star)
More additions to the guide along with this year's new Stars, Bib Gourmands and Plates are expected to follow soon. Watch this space for the latest on that.
Congratulations to the team at Habas. We'll be in for a roast dinner soon.
Habas 43A Brown St, Manchester M2 2JJ
Main image of Simon Shaw courtesy of The Strong Agency
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