Tentative predictions, new stuff, slight gloom
Happy new year everyone and good riddance to 2022. What an absolute bin fire of a year. A big ciao to that. A new year means a new slate (sort of) and thus new food trends to observe, new openings to talk about and new vibes to check.
This year is already shaping up to be a big'un for Manchester’s food and drink scene. Major new openings, big exports crossing the north south divide, trends, vibe changes and the spectre of a hospitality crisis. We've mentioned the latter but we've tried to not bum you out with it.
Manchester is at the peak of its culinary powers on all fronts. The food and drink has never been so good, whether you’re after a bowl of ramen or a Michelin-starred meal. Lonely Planet, National Geographic and the like have all heralded the city as a must-visit in 2023.
Here’s what to expect this year when it comes to food and drink.
Manchester’s love of the Japanese-inspired continues
We didn’t have time to cover it but the final new opening announcement of 2022 was Public, a ‘modern’ izakaya (see: Japanese pub), set to open on Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter in Spring 2023. A press release adds a further teasing grain of info. ‘Spread over two floors, this latest opening will offer a new take on brunch at weekends, with evenings focusing on live-fire cooking, an extensive cocktail list and late-night DJs.’
Manchester loves a Japanese-inspired restaurant. Kitten, Lucky Ramen, MUSU and Sakku Samba all opened last year. Combine all four and you’ve got serious money spent on interiors, hundreds of covers and an inbox full of press releases.
Add to that mix CBRB, Yuzu, Tokyo Ramen, Peter Street Kitchen, Shoryu, Samsi, Unagi, Sushi Mami, Sushi Marvel, Saporro, Zumuku, Kampai and Kyotoya and you’ve got quite the Japanese food selection. Meanwhile, Gordon Ramsey’s Asian-inspired Lucky Cat is on its way, as is House of Fu, and rumours of Sexy Fish continue to swirl, the cantilevered space above Australasia unlikely to stay vacant for long. Gary Neville’s rooftop Japanese-Peruvian concept Chotto Matte meanwhile is penciled in for 2024.
Taprooms are going foodie
The taproom street food double threat shows no sign of slowing. Track were last year’s winners in this department with Rise Pizza the mainstay and cameos from the likes of Maray, DGHNT, Hoi Polloi and Mama Z. Drinkers caught one whiff of those intoxicating smells and thought, I’m having a bit of that with my pint of Sonoma on cask. ABC Taproom continues to attract vendors from across the country whilst North Brew Co’s new Circle Square taproom will see a permanent spot for Little Bao Boy.
Runaway stayed true to its name with a move to a new Stockport space late last year and the launch came with a food pitch for Honest Crust. Whilst not a brewery tap, Reddish Ale in Reddish has tapped into a wholesome formula of local craft beer pub with choice beer food selection too.
What’s notable is the overall quality of beer-side streetfood continues to improve. What used to be an onslaught of bearded BBQ has opened up and said pitches in the corner of taprooms have become hallowed incubators for food pop-ups. Keep an eye on Sureshot’s new outpost on Sheffield Street too. Tantalisingly close to Piccadilly and great beer.
Gimmicks, gimmicks everywhere
2022 saw dick waffles, Bingo Balls and Karen’s Diner. This year expect more of the same, with gimmicks driven by an insatiable thirst for TikTok content and so-called food and drink experiences. The Faulty Towers dining experience is set to take over Hotel Brooklyn and a garlic bread restaurant is tipped to take over the dick waffle spot. Short-term game novelty is an attractive proposition in a time of crisis. Just don’t pretend these places are closing down your local pub or independent magazine store.
Movers and shakers on the Michelin Guide
Whilst last year’s came in February, the exact date of the annual Michelin Guide and star announcement for 2023 is yet to be confirmed. Whenever the announcement is, expect there to be some movers and shakers. Another Hand was a late addition to the guide last year and in the same vein you’d expect Climat to be a shoo-in. MUSU meanwhile hasn’t spent all of that money for nothing and Chef Patron Michael Shaw has form when it comes to stars. Higher Ground and The Stock Market Grill will also be gunning for a spot on the list.
New openings ahoy
Despite a turbulent hospitality climate, the new openings show no sign of slowing down. Headliners this year include Higher Ground, The Stock Market Grill and The Treehouse Hotel with its associated rooftop bar and restaurants. Higher Ground will see the Flawd crew move over to Chinatown for a proper bricks-and-mortar go at the pop-up of the same name, The Stock Market Grill sees GNev substituting in the Schofield’s Bar boys to fill the boots of Tom Kerridge’s Bull & Bear and The Treehouse will glitter and polish the brutalist turd of a building at the far end of Deansgate. An A-team of Manchester hospitality including Mary-Ellen McTague in the ground floor restaurant and The Unabombers and Sam Grainger on the roof.
2023 will also be the year of Diecast. News on the all-in-one 'creative neighbourhood' has gone quiet since the original announcement in February last year but a little bird tells us the project is on track. The Ramona and Firehouse team's most daring venture yet will pack a beer hall, brewery, night market, open kitchen, stage and creative spaces into a former foundry complex on Store Street. Arguably one of the biggest new openings in Europe by sheer size and ambition, let alone Manchester.
Crunch time for the London will they, won’t they set
On paper, 2023 should be the year of London on tour. We’ve had tastes already. MNKY HSE has taken the plunge but what of Sexy Fish? 2023 could be the year it finally moves into the aforementioned cantilever space above direct rival Australasia, bringing with it Ivy vibes with a premium price tag. And what about the great pleb sorter in the sky, Soho House? Has the international brand got wet, cold feet or is the delay down to an extended pursuit of the perfect curtains? Gordon Ramsey’s Asian-themed Lucky Cat is also meant to drop this year.
Dinner, disco and DJs
We’ve alluded to it in a previous article about restaurants being too loud but dinner in 2023 is going to come with a side of disco. Building on a formula pioneered by Albert’s Schloss and furthered by the likes of Firehouse and Ducie St Warehouse, places want to wine and dine you and then gradually build the night into an entertainment package. You finish your dinner, a DJ appears, the lights dim, the music builds, the mirror ball begins to glitter and before you know it you’re ten ‘margs deep watching a drag queen do the splits (experiences may vary).
You know how everyone has a side hustle these days? Whether it’s Onlyfans or making little doorstops with popstar’s faces on, this is what restaurants are having to do. Keep people in the room, make some money on the drinks, streamline people’s nights, create a vibe and try for profitability. You can’t blame them and if you don’t like it, make sure you nip out before the drop. MUSU and Exhibition are two recent openings nailing the trend, with incoming Birmingham export Mama Roux's bringing its own raucous take on dinner and party.
The hospitality crisis continues
Let’s get this one out of the way. We’re not avoiding the truth of the matter, you are. It’s hardcore out there and it’s going to be a rough year. The perfect storm of inflation, travel disruption, a cost of living crisis, energy price rises and reduced customer spend is battering a sector recovering from an unprecedented earthquake in pandemic form. This will result in smaller menus, reduced and targeted opening hours, damage to the industry and ultimately, closures.
Up on the roof
You’ll be hearing a lot about Climat this year. The food is great, the wine selection is impressive and there’s a fantastic team running it. Another major advantage it has is it sits atop Blackfriars House and has a handsome outdoor rooftop terrace. The views from the dining room day and night are already a sight to behold but when the sun properly comes out and those temperatures rise, that terrace will be one of the city’s sought-after spots come summer.
Treehouse Hotel and Soho House (if it materialises) will also add to Manchester’s food and booze with views sector, bringing healthy competition to a corner of the industry previously overseen by 20 Stories and Cloud 23. Two places that could do with being reinvigorated. No doubt developers in the city will be scouting out other rooftop spaces that have terrace potential.
Not just the city centre
Whilst an acceleration of cool stuff happening in the suburbs might be happening a bit faster if it wasn’t for that meddling hospitality crisis, the seeds are being sewn. Places like Ornella’s in Denton, Yes Lah in Didsbury, Cody’s Kitchen in Prestwich, Gladstone in Stalybridge and My Back Home Chai in Hyde are all welcome additions to their respective areas and showing others it can be done. All you need is one or two places to pop up and you’ve got a bit of a scene. Despite challenging times ahead, don’t be surprised to see cheaper units in the suburbs, perhaps even lesser-visited ones, snapped up and Crowdfunders set up to secure the cash.
Foodie in and out predictions in 2023
Leeks, cabbage, potatoes, carrots - cheap British veg, dependent on if there’s anyone left to pick it
Martinis - most enjoyable sip-to-pissed ratio, helpful for forgetting world’s ongoing ills
Flatbreads - unlevened, easier to make, sharable, can zhuzh (jujj?) them up and charge more, filling
Kelp - grows in the sea, free, vegan
East Asian spirits - go hand in hand with city’s love of sushi and Japanese food
Mushrooms - fungi revolution to accelerate, magic ones en vogue, predictable revival of the foraging to save money narrative
Spam - cost-cutting dressed as novelty, monetising of Asian links, cheap meat
Quick pickling (quickling) - accessible fermentation, wholesome, make do and mend vibes
Wholesome fare - soft bread butties, pies, mince, filling nan food
Sourdough - bit of a cult at this point, also hurts your mouth when you eat it
Truffle oil - people can see through it, used by ponces to mask shit cooking
Burrata - food equivalent of putting a donk on it, tedious
Fake meat - Beyond Meat share price bombing, questions over ingredients and production
Grotesque burgers - smashed or pass, chonky beef patty stacked burger days over
Microherbs - first to go in cost of living crisis, bit insulting, herbs for ants?
Read again: Hipping Hall: Stepping stone to Dales delights
Don't miss out
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email.