October 1 is the last chance to dine at the Oldham Street spot
It appears that District, Ben Humphrey’s ambitious, Michelin Guide listed Thai-influenced restaurant on Oldham Street is closing.
The restaurant has broken the sad news to its mailing list subscribers this evening.
It looks like it hasn’t worked out for the team long-term
An email sent on 22 September 2022 included this all-caps message:
“RECENT EVENTS HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL AND WE ARE FACING EXTREME ECONOMICAL PAIN. A FINAL COMING TOGETHER OF THE OFF-WORLD VIGILANTES TO OVERTHROW THE TYRANNICAL RULE IS THE ONLY ROUTE TO SURVIVAL.
01/10/22 MARKS THE END”
The restaurant’s booking systems are still open but they are not accepting any bookings after 1 October 2022 as of today.
District opened in 2020 and was soon after praised by critics including The Times’s Marina O’ Loughlin who said she had "a remarkable meal" there. It was on the cutting edge of Manchester's current obsession with BBQ, almost certainly carving a path for restaurants like Neon Tiger to follow.
Futuristic interiors coupled with myriad Bladerunner references set out the restaurant's stall as a thrilling, hyper-modern, creative dining spot. It certainly got us and many others all excited to dine out again after coming back out of lockdown.
It was an ambitious concept in a run-down part of Manchester though, and while it showed promise, Confidentials commented in an early review that its set tasting menu might price out too many of the punters it should have been attracting.
While many dishes wowed us, (that raw bass nam jim was sensational every time and we enjoyed it more than once) we felt that return visits would be more practical if you could order a plate or two instead. In 2022, the restaurant eventually pivoted to offering an a la carte style and continued to impress with well-executed, modern dishes.
Its subterranean cocktail bar opened shortly after the restaurant, alongside a swathe of other new bars on Oldham Street including Lost Cat, Junior Jackson's and Blockbusters.
But it looks like it hasn’t worked out for the team long-term and this is terrible news for our city's supposedly booming restaurant scene.
Unfortunately, experts predict more and more restaurant closures as fallout from the pandemic, staffing issues, and the cost of living crisis wreak havoc across the UK. We’re hearing more and more anecdotal evidence of restaurants, bars and music venues failing to bounce back from the annus horribilis of 2020. With many punters saying they’ve had to cut back on luxuries like dinners and nights out, these closures look set to keep on coming.
If you are one of those people that had been meaning to try District but hadn’t got around to it yet. You can book one of the final tables via Tock. We wish the staff all the best in whatever they do next.
Next week marks the Manchester Food and Drink Awards where we will be celebrating some of the best of Manchester’s current hospitality scene. We’ll pour one out for District and all the other ones that haven’t made it this year.
If you have the spare cash to go out and support your local indie restaurants, please do. They need you right now.
UPDATE 23 SEPTEMBER: District has today posted a hint on social media that it is not completely the end. A new concept looks set to launch in November. We'll keep a close ey on this as it unfolds.
Read next: 'I confess I liked its vulgar opulence' - Kitten, Deansgate Square, reviewed
Read again: 'It sure fits the post-apocalypse pandemic mood' - District, Oldham Street, reviewed
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