Habas menu spoiler alert: there will be hummus
Get your Middle Eastern cuisine bingo cards at the ready. Manchester restaurant favourite Simon Shaw has revealed the long-anticipated launch date for his third restaurant, Habas - and given us a tease of the menu.
Middle Eastern cuisine has many influences and Habas is a fusion of all [of them]
Opening its doors on 3 June 2021, Habas will occupy the former Panama Hatty’s / Featherblade site on Brown Street, with an ambitious refit of the renovated Grade-II listed building.
Following in the footsteps of Shaw's award-winning El Gato Negro and Canto restaurants, Habas will comprise four main areas anchored around the main dining area with his trademark large open kitchen and a bar where guests can enjoy "signature Middle Eastern cocktails" as well as wines, spirits and beer.
A relaxed lounge with live music until late and a separate private banqueting room accommodating parties of up to 16 diners completes the offering.
Inspiration for the venture comes from Shaw’s experiences of London’s Middle Eastern food culture and a love of the region’s ingredients that share a natural overlap with the Mediterranean and Portuguese flavours he’s best known for. “Middle Eastern cuisine has many influences and Habas is a fusion of all,” says Shaw.
“It’s about ingredients. There are lots of connections to Spanish food, the Syrian lentils, lamb meatballs and spiced aubergine dishes enjoyed at El Gato Negro all lean towards the style of cuisine. I suppose part of my mind was already on it.”
Ever since it was first announced that Shaw would be adding a Middle East-inspired kitchen to his portfolio, we've been dying to know what kinds of dishes would be plucked from this vast region.
The focus has shifted from its original suggestion of an Eastern Mediterranean flavour and is now more firmly "Middle Eastern" but Shaw's still not giving much away. Before scrolling down, see if you can guess any of the six dishes that have been revealed.
Yes, you guessed it. Habas will be serving hummus. Along with garlic and herb flatbreads and zhug. Other dishes include fried potato skins stuffed with spiced lamb, raw slaw with pomegranate molasses, bata harra - spicy fried potatoes with dill and sour cream, and feta cheese, wilted spinach and sun-blush tomato filo cigars.
If you think you can handle it, there will be even more hummus - beetroot hummus to be precise - served with Greek yoghurt and dill. Not quite the Middle Eastern bingo full house but the lack of references to belly dancing and shisha are to be commended.
While Middle Eastern cuisine is widely represented in many of Manchester's suburbs, the city centre boasts only a handful of destination restaurants you could name with this kind of cuisine. Shaw believes this is changing for the better.
“It’s phenomenal just how much people’s appetites have evolved over recent years. Back in the late 90’s you’d have struggled to have found Middle Eastern restaurants outside of London. Even there, they existed largely to feed the local community, people from Middle Eastern countries and living in London, it was almost regional to them.
“Times have changed and there’s a whole new wave of Middle Eastern & Mediterranean cuisine coming through.
“It’s an amazing style of food, simplistic but with a real depth of flavour that blows you away. It’s what excited me about it as a chef and I think it will have really broad appeal.”
We look forward to hearing more about the new menu and finally getting to try it in June. As always, we'll be visiting ASAP and will let you know what we thought.
Habas, 43A Brown St, Manchester M2 2JJ