From sparkly whales to hidden gems, here's what we've spotted in the Manchester Food and Drink scene this month...


Stray, Mackie Mayor

Swanky new cocktail bar Stray has taken up residency on the corner of Mackie Mayor where the old Atkinsons Coffee site was. Focusing on uncomplicated, well-executed cocktails, the bar's signature menu has a fun play on words for a title; Led Astray. This collection features classic cocktails we all know and love twisted to include seasonal flavours and those less commonly explored. There's also low and non-alcoholic cocktails in abundance too, meaning nobody is left out.  

2023 11 21 Stray
Signature cocktails from Stray Image: Stray

Rola WalaDeansgate

Independent Indian street food brand Rola Wala has arrived on Deansgate, bringing along its famous build-your-own naan rolls with it. Diners can enjoy freshly-made, healthy and authentic Indian fillings in their rolls, along with rice bowls and naan tacos. Rola Wala are so confident that their naan rolls will be a hit here in Manchester that, on opening day, they gave away over 1,000 of them to the public. 

Prana, Altrincham

An independent live music venue and cocktail bar has opened in Altrincham. From the same brains as Stockport's Amp which opened earlier this year, Prana will bring laughter and entertainment to South Manchester in the form of comedy nights and live music as well as art exhibitions and community workshops like wreath-making.

The Pearl, Prestwich

Following a successful crowd-funder, The Pearl has fast become a precious gem in Prestwich. Described as a 'British dining room', The Pearl's kitchen is headed up by local chef Iain Mark Thomas who creates both delicious and visually beautiful dishes like roast Shetland cod and confit chicken with clam sauce and Exmoor caviar. 

Hip Hop Chip Shop, New Century

Known fish, chips and big beats, Hip Hop Chip Shop have set up their third site over at New Century. A National Fish & Chip Award winner, HHCS has a plethora of meat, veggie and vegan dishes to suit everyone's palate. Same great dishes, just a new location to add to their growing belt of sites. 

Piccolino GrandeWilmslow

The latest (and greatest) in the Piccolino collection, Wilmslow's Piccolino Grande has opened to the public. It's open-plan design means guests can watch the chefs work their magic, whether they're in the main dining space or on the 'winterised' Tuscan terrace. Piccolino Grande Wilmslow plans to provide "signature luxury with every visit".


Croyaki, Corn Exchange

Bubble tea pros Croyaki are leaving the Corn Exchange. They announced their departure from Manchester on an Instagram post last week, thanking their loyal customers for all their support over the years. 

2023 11 21 Croyaki Tea
Bye bye boba...we'll miss you Image: @Croyaki_tea/Instagram

Pi Bar closes to reopen as The Beacon

Altrincham hotspot Pi has closed its doors, but will be reopening as 'The Beacon' thanks to the team behind Batch Bottlestore who stepped in to take over. The closure of Pi was announced on Monday 6th November with the statement that “change is coming, the future is bright”. An opening date for The Beacon is yet to be announced.

The Forge awarded two AA Rosettes 

The Forge in Chester has been awarded two AA Rosettes for 'Culinary Excellence'. Scott Rankin, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Chester, where The Forge resides, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded our first 2 AA Rosettes for culinary excellence at The Forge. Being credited with this prestigious award is testament to our brilliant team who work incredibly hard in producing a first-class customer experience”. 

Hotel Indigo Chester and The Forge have also recently won two other awards - Gold Accommodation in the Taste Chester Awards and a Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for 2023.

SUD Pasta ceases to exist (or does it?)

SUD Pasta announced that, from New Year's Eve, the popular indie pasta brand will cease to exist. To mark the announcement, they launched their 'Nothing Lasts Forever Menu' which features fan favourite dishes, bigger pasta portions, and more. Get it while you can. There's big plans for January onwards from the brand.

The Refuge winter takeover 

Kimpton Clocktower Hotel’s bar and restaurant, Refuge, has launched its winter takeover of its terrace. It's called Fondue and features - you guessed it - plenty of the stuff, including Champagne fondue to share, decadent hot chocolates, hot toddies and lots of fizz. 

The Lawn Club launches its Disco Ski Yurt

Spinningfields is transforming into a winter wonderland, and The Lawn Club has announced the return of its festive set-up just in time for party season. Complete with a Disco Ski Yurt, expect après ski vibes, twinkling lights and cosy sheepskin blankets for cosying up with your pals under. Check out the Christmas menu here.

2023 11 22 Lawn Club
If you weren't feeling festive before, you will be now Image: The Lawn Club

Sexy Fish installs giant jewel-encrusted whale

From this week, Sexy Fish diners can enjoy a seasonal spectacle in the form of a jewel-encrusted whale suspended in mid-air. Because nothing says 'Happy Holidays' like a sparkly whale now, does it? The installation marks the launch of the 'A Whale of a Christmas' menu, featuring festive cocktails like the Christmas Sbagliato and Port Cobbler. 

Celebrations will continue until the end of the year with the ‘Sirens of the Midnight Sea’ New Year's Eve party, featuring live entertainment, surreal performances and a spectacular countdown at midnight. From 8pm, seated guests will experience a premium tasting menu and a glass of Champagne (£195.00pp), whilst from 9pm, partygoers will be invited to join the celebrations from the destination bar (£50pp).

Miracle on Cross Street reopens for Christmas

Manchester's only dedicated Christmas bar has reopened for the festive season. The hidden underground bar is complete with fireplaces, festive bangers and cocktails designed for cosying up with. It's the ideal spot for date night, annual holiday catch-ups, or for when you can't feel your fingers after traipsing round the Christmas markets for hours and are in need of warming up. Bookings highly recommended to avoid disappointment.

2023 11 22 Sexy Fish Whale Thumbnail
Whale I'll be damned... Image: Confidentials

Tom Barnes to open Skof in Manchester City Centre

Chef, Roux Scholar and Simon Rogan alumnus Tom Barnes has confirmed he will open his first restaurant in Manchester in spring 2024. The restaurant, which will be named Skof, will reside in the Hanover building and have 36 covers and aims to bring an 'unpretentious yet ambitious dining experience' to the NOMA neighbourhood of Manchester city centre.

Considered to be one of the most skilful young chefs in the country, Tom has been developing deceptively simple menus that are brimming with technique and flavour. After spending 12 years with Simon Rogan at UMBEL Restaurants, Tom will be moving away from The Lakes but remain closely linked to the group. Skof will be owned and operated by Tom but will form part of the next iteration of UMBEL Restaurants, where the group will support talented individuals in opening their own restaurants and businesses. 

Tom said; “I am so excited to be opening my first restaurant in Manchester. It feels like the right place for me. The food scene is changing so frequently, and everyone I’ve met has been incredibly welcoming. Growing up in Barrow-in-Furness, I knew I wouldn’t want to be too far from my childhood home and my family, so it’s the perfect place. 

I am so grateful for Simon’s support, and I plan on utilising all the skills that he has taught me over the many years that we have worked together. I’m so happy with what we have achieved and look forward to this new chapter.”

Simon Rogan, chef/owner of UMBEL Restaurants, commented: “It’s moments like these that make me so happy, and it’s so special to be able to help a chef who has worked with me for so long go on to realise his dreams. I’m so proud of Tom and everything he has accomplished. We’ve been working towards this moment for a while now, and I can’t wait for him to be able to show the world what he can do. He is a seriously talented chef, so I know Skof is going to be amazing.”


Six by Nico, Deansgate - 30 November

Popular fine dining restaurant Six by Nico has announced the opening of its second Manchester site. The new restaurant will sit on Deansgate, opening to the public on 30 November and kicking off its series of menus with 'Cooking Tokyo' which will feature from the grand opening until 14 January 2024. 

Fenix, St John's - 23 November

High-end Greek-Mediterranean restaurant Fenix is set to open its doors this week, bringing food and culture from Mykonos to Manchester. Executive Head Chef, Ippokratis Anagnostelis, has built his reputation across a wealth of fine dining establishments in Athens and Mykonos, from Jackie ‘O, Scorpios and Kensho Mykonos to Kiku and Michelin Star destination, Hytrain.

2023 11 22 Fenix Table
Dishes from Fenix Image: @fenixrestaurants/Instagram

Leopard Pie, Swinton - TBC

After fast becoming Worlsey's hotspot for all things pizza and garlic bread, then setting up a successful spot at Kargo MKT, Leopard Pie have decided to open a new spot in Swinton. Expected to open next year, Leopard Pie Swinton will be the brand's third 'small but perfectly formed pizza Napoletana palace'. Deliveries are also going to be available from this site.

Stanley's, Stockport - 1 December

The revitalisation of Stockport's iconic Underbanks is well underway, with another new spot joining the mix. On 1 December, Stanley's will open beneath the St Petersgate bridge. The spot will provide visitors with cocktails, beers and spirits as well as pizzas, fries, fried chicken and bar snacks.

Linden Stores, Knutsford - 23 November

Owners of acclaimed Cheshire restaurant, wine bar & shop, Chris Boustead and Laura Christie, have announced the launch of Linden Stores 3.0 which will be open to the public from 23 November. Sharing plates are made using foraged ingredients and produce from the British Isles while the wine list caters to all budgets, focusing largely on sustainable, up-and-coming producers. Linden stores will be offering 25% off food and wine to take away as part of their official soft launch from Thursday 23rd until Sunday 26th November. 

2023 11 22 Linden Stores
Some of the dishes you can expect from Linden Stores Image: Linden Stores

Got news to share? Let me know on X @Harley__Young

2023 11 21 Kimpton Clocktower Hotel Fondue01
Fondue at The Refuge Image: The Refuge/Kimpton Clocktower

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