Harley Young enjoys a tuneful meal at The Wishing Well in Didsbury.

I got off the tram at Didsbury village and immediately went the wrong way, despite only being a two-minute walk from my destination. Unintentionally, of course. Apple Maps was playing up, adamant that the restaurant was definitely that way, so I did what any other Gen Z would and followed it. After all, technology is always right. Right?

I saw two ladies having a catch-up by the crossing.

“Excuse me, do you know where The Wishing Well is?” I asked. As suspected, the ladies pointed me in the direction from where I’d come from before one added “I’m on the way there myself.” 

“Must be good then.” I thought as I thanked them and continued on my way.

Even though I knew what the cheesecake was going to look like before it came, it was no less exciting to see it in the flesh.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Exterior
Outside The Wishing Well Image: Confidentials

On entering The Wishing Well it was clear the weekend was in full swing. The sound of cocktails being shaken along with acoustic guitar strings plucking during soundcheck were muffled by the hum of conversation.  

I headed up to the second floor of the building before being greeted by a warm and welcoming rustic-looking dining space with two open kitchens on the far side and a mezzanine in the middle looking down to the lively bar below. It was a little quieter and calmer up here, but no less vibrant.

Photo 22 04 2023 18 34 42 1
Inside The Wishing Well Image: Confidentials

The decor has retained a similar style to The Botanist which formerly occupied the site, but with more of a upmarket feel. Menus and napkins are of premium quality, nipping any concerns that The Wishing Well might have the same chain straight in the bud. My friend Holly joins moments later and we get right to it, kicking off with a bottle of Canyon Road white zinfandel to share.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Canyon Road White Zinfandel
Sweet and smooth white zinfandel by Canyon Road Image: Confidentials

To start, the ham hock terrine with pineapple salsa; a dish that had caught my attention for its fruity dressing. After all, ham and pineapple are a killer combo (and I’ll happily fight anyone that says otherwise.) The dish was beautifully presented and colourful, packing zesty punches of flavour and came with three slices of lightly toasted crusty bread which accompanied the dish well. My only qualm would be that the ham hock was slightly too cold for my liking, but this soon rectified as the dish slowly rose towards room temperature whilst Holly and I chatted.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Ham Hock Terrine
A colourful ham hock terrine Image: Confidentials

Holly, being a pescatarian, ordered the Caesar salad with slithers of anchovies on top. She described the dish as light and refreshing, adding that the anchovies were “slightly sweet” and tasted “like they weren’t from a can” which proved that The Wishing Well made each of their dishes with thought and care. 

The Wishing Well describes itself as a ‘classically modern pub’ and most of its menu centres around British dishes that have been elevated, so anyone with a tendency to fall for hearty pub grub (like me) might have a difficult time choosing between dishes, which is no bad thing. We chatted and hummed along to acoustic covers before  cleansing our palates with another generous pour of wine and pondered over what to have for our mains.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Caesar Salad
A pescatarian Caesar salad Image: Confidentials

I was drawn to the rather luxurious-sounding whole chicken breast with gnocchi and spinach in a champagne sauce, and I’m so glad I chose it. This was a rich and creamy dish that was full of salty-sweet flavour from first to last bite. The chicken breast was succulent and mouthwateringly moreish, practically falling off the bone with each carve. Each piece of gnocchi more or less melted in the mouth, perfectly cooked and freshly made. 

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Chicken Breast With Gnocchi And Spinach In Champagne Sauce
A moist and succulent chicken breast on the bone Image: Confidentials

Holly chose the vegetarian beetroot wellington, served with warm vinaigrette and lentils with a side of mashed potatoes. Another hearty and beautifully presented dish with a quality pastry and blend of fragrant stuffing and chickpeas inside. The vinaigrette was thick and more gravy-like - as you might expect up here in the north - along with a pot of a chutney-style dressing on the side that had a nice, spicy kick to it.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Beatroot Wellington
A hearty beetroot wellington Image: Confidentials

By now, we were both feeling pretty full and satisfied. That kind of sleepy, full feeling when you’ve had a belter of a Sunday lunch at your nans and you’re gearing up for a kip on the sofa as Songs of Praise lulls you to sleep. But for the sake of you, our readers, I made sure we powered on and tackled a dessert each. Don’t worry, there’s no need to thank me.

I’d seen on The Wishing Well’s socials that their lemon cheesecake isn’t your typical lemon cheesecake. In fact, it's served in the shape and design of a Babybel cheese to throw off your senses. Of course, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to confuse my brain with a cheese-shaped cheesecake, so I ordered one of those.

Holly chose a dessert that was a bit more conservative; a warm chocolate brownie laced with Biscoff and served with a ball of vanilla ice cream - a chocoholics dream in the form of moist, rich and gooey stodge.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Warm Chocolate Brownie
A rich and decadent chocolate brownie Image: Confidentials

Even though I knew what the cheesecake was going to look like before it came, it was no less exciting to see it in the flesh. It’s definitely one for Instagram-lovers to share on their feed. Looks aside, the cheesecake was light, fluffy and refreshing, served with a generous ball of tart berry sorbet and a crunchy honeycomb wedge. My only criticism would be to use less garnishes to decorate the plate as it can distract from the main event, but overall, the lemon cheesecake is a light and welcome way to end a pleasant meal.

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury Lemon Cheesecake
A lemon cheesecake...or is it? Image: Confidentials

The Wishing Well is certainly a vibrant addition to Didsbury village, filling that much-needed homely British food hole. Their Saturday night entertainment is enjoyable and doesn’t impede on the dining experience. Instead, it rather compliments it and is the perfect way to let your dinner settle over a cocktail or two. I imagine The Wishing Well will quickly become a staple part of the Didsbury Village food and drink scene.

1D School Ln, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6SA

Follow Harley Young on Twitter @Harley__Young

2023 04 22 The Wishing Well Didsbury The Bill
The bill. Image: Confidentials

The scores

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.

  • Food 8/10

    Ham hock terrine 7, Caesar salad 7, breast of chicken 9, beetroot wellington 8, lemon cheesecake 8, warm chocolate brownie 8.

  • Service 4/5

    Attentive, smiley staff.

  • Atmosphere 4/5

    Great live music and candles on tables for added ambience.