Stockport's loss is Manchester's gain as award-winning restaurant up sticks
Chef patron Matthew Nutter has announced that his award winning vegan fine dining restaurant, The Allotment in Stockport, is to close this month. It will leave its current site on the cobbled Vernon Street at the end of September.
But fans of Allotment’s famous cauliflower ‘hot wings’, plant based Sunday roast and vegan ‘cheese’ board needn’t worry too much, as they have found a brand new home on Lloyd Street in Manchester city centre – the unit recently vacated by Buca di Pizza.
I suffered burn out; awful tiredness and my body shut down
After a month-long break over October, to allow time for a refurbishment of the new site, The Allotment Manchester is scheduled to open on November 3rd. Apart from the location, not much else will change. Nutter (aka the 'plant food power chef') and his team will still be serving multi-course course plant-based and gluten-free tasting menus using seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients.
So what prompted the move? “When I won Manchester Food and Drink Festival's ‘Chef of the Year’ award in 2017, I didn’t feel as overjoyed as I thought I would having just won such a big accolade. It felt like more pressure” admits Matt. “A few months later I suffered burn out; awful tiredness and my body shut down – which I’ve since discovered is really common in the catering industry."
Nutter says he closed the restaurant for a few weeks and sought help. "I discovered it was the sum of the pressure Siobhan and I had been under opening a restaurant and having a baby within the same two weeks. Eventually it took its toll. So we decided not to open in the evenings and just have a daytime restaurant."
Then one day, out of nowhere, he received an email from Anthony Sheridan, who owns Manchester's Mitre Hotel and Barça bar in Castlefield. "His son is suffering from Crohn’s disease," says Nutter, "so after researching some alternative methods, his whole family have adopted a plant-based diet. He was keen to get in touch with the idea of incorporating this into a business and for us it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“He proposed the idea of opening a new restaurant in Manchester with a good wage and a percentage of the business. It answered our prayers. Over a couple of weeks I started to feel better, keep fit, then I got back to him. He couldn’t believe it when I suggested we actually move the restaurant into Manchester.”
Will he be sad to leave Stockport? “Us leaving Stockport isn’t about bad trade in the town,” stresses Matt. “We don’t want to paint any sort of negativity towards Stockport which is on the edge of becoming a really booming hub for great food. The only reason we’re leaving, like I said, is that we needed help, and part of that deal was to open in the city centre.”
The new Lloyd Street site is much bigger than the Stockport restaurant, so there will be room for an additional 45-cover bar area serving small vegan sharing platters along with a selection of vegan craft beer and wine. There’s no clue as to what the new restaurant will look like after the refurbishment as Matt admits, “we’re only just deciding what chairs and tables we’re having. All I know is that we’re going for a lighter feel and the bar area will be completely be influenced by the range of craft beers we’re going to be offering.”
For the first six to twelve months they will open five days a week (Wed-Sun) from 12pm until 7pm with taster menus, a three course set menu and a light bites menu - including the spicy cauliflower wings and their vegan take on a ploughman’s lunch.
“I also want to create the chance for my chefs to have a balanced life out of work,” says Matt,“but then have the energy to give everything back to their job within reasonable working hours. I’ve only realised the extent of the problems working long chefs hours can cause because of what I’ve been through.”
The Stockport restaurant, which was recently named ‘Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the UK’ by The Times, will still be open over September, but will close throughout October. Bookings are now being taken for November and December in the new city centre venue, which will open on November 3rd.