As the year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my only resolution for 2017: to eat out often and to only visit restaurants once – in an effort to try more of what Manchester has to offer (over 650 restaurants). A controversial decision that sparked a little criticism but did I stick to what I’d resolved?
In short, yes… and no.
We definitely ate out often and, for the most part, we only dined at restaurants once, opting to try somewhere on our (very long) list instead of making several return visits to the same places as we usually would. Still, there were definitely some return visits meaning we did break our resolution – they were mostly of the new restaurants and cafés that we couldn’t resist going back to (The Refuge, Hispi and Mackie Mayor) to eat with friends and family, too. Overall, it felt like a success!
This time last year, when we decided on our resolution, we made a list of all the places in Manchester where we wanted to dine. It was a list that we added to as the year progressed and as new places sprung up. It was a pretty long list, one we’re still making our way through.
I think it can be said, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be stuck for somewhere decent to eat in Manchester; we’re truly spoilt.
Our absolute favourite restaurant of the year was, Where the Light Gets In (in Stockport) that we visited on a balmy July evening and had the most perfect Anniversary meal – you can read the full review here: Where the Light Gets In, Stockport | Review
Our least favourite was Grafene. There was a lot of hype surrounding Grafene when it opened in late 2016 but, while it looked good (even from the pokey corner we were shoved in), the service was embarrassingly abysmal and the food wasn’t much better either.
Top 5 places to eat
- Where the Light Gets in
- Hispi Bistro
- West Corner
- Mackie Mayor
There’s still a few places, old and new, that we didn’t make it to this year (Fress, NQR, Leaf, Umezushi, Iberica, El Gato Negro, Sugo Pasta, 1761, Beastro, Rudy’s…) and so, the 2018 list has begun. Yes, we’re going to do it all over again. Until then, here’s the low-down on this year’s best and worst (and everything in-between).
Where we dined (and casually scoffed) month-by-month with mini reviews
Grindsmith – a favourite for coffee, but the breakfasts here are brilliant too.
The Refuge – having arrived late in 2016, we made our first visit really early this year and it didn’t disappoint. We ended up back here with friends and family because it’s such an impressive space.
Grafene – the most disappointing of all the places we visited this year. The poor service was the real sticking point here.
West Corner – new kid on the block, doing something fresh, serving American South coast favourites. Their French Dip almost made me weep. Great shakes, too.
Hispi – if you haven’t been, go go go! 3 courses of heavenly food for £19 made it impossible not to go back (we did).
Mr Cooper’s House and Garden– really lovely Sunday roast – has since been re-branded and the menu overhauled.
Evuna – tapas and some of the most delicious wine in the NQ; I ended up here twice both times with good friends.
Evelyn’s – the perfect brunch hangout.
The Refuge (again)
West Corner (again)
Altrincham Food Market – worth a visit to Altrincham for this alone. It’s won loads of awards. Beautiful setting and lots of independent food stalls to choose from. Always a great, lively, atmosphere.
Trof – when a no frills Sunday dinner calls, Trof answers.
Grub – the arrival of Grub at Mayfield was very exciting! They’ve since moved indoors to the Fairfield Social Club.
Porter and Cole – another new spot in Manchester’s NQ. Coffee Lounge and Lifestyle store with a selection delicious pastries and a good alcohol offering, too.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese – as good as it sounds. Always busy. Always banging.
Almost Famous, NQ – we went jut before it closed for a refurb. Unlike its soulless brethren in the GN, I still feel a pang of excitement when I come for a burger here.
Where the Light Gets In – best restaurant of the year, for us.
Flok – platters and sherry in what was the old curio and framing shop, Incognito. Another (of many this year) welcome addition to Stevenson Square in the NQ.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese (again)
Altrincham Food Market (again)
Solita – I think I’ve finally had enough of Solita, you know. Until I think about their burger spring rolls and then I think, oh ok, just once more.
The Marble Arch Inn – original home of the Marble brewery, it’s always busy in here and has the atmosphere of a proper, old school pub. The menu has undergone a few changes of the years, but the food is always good.
Hawksmoor, Manchester – we went for the Sunday roast and were bitterly disappointed (especially after having been to Hawksmoor Spitalfields). The dinner was cold and the service was so slow, I think they were ageing the beef while we waited. A shame because so many others have had great meals here.
Yard and Coop – can you ever really go wrong with fried chicken? Nah.
Ban di Bul – called in to see why this Korean BBQ place is always busy. Left knowing why.
Shoryu Ramen – lip-smackingly good ramen on Piccadilly Gardens.
Siop Shop – at last! Blawd bakery have their own space for coffee and doughnuts and I have eaten way too many doughnuts since they opened.
Wreckfish – we backed it and booked in for their second week (which turned out to be their first). The food was pretty good but the service was still getting there. One to return to to see what they can really do, I think.
Rosso – attended a lovely bloggers’ dinner at this Italian restaurant, hosted by Georgie Glass, of Ginseng and Thyme.
Squid Ink – we’ve supported Squid Ink since its arrival mid 2016 and have seen owner Anthony experiment and take the restaurant in new directions. Always a lovely night here and interested to see where his love of wine takes Squid Ink next.
Mackie Mayor food market– Altrincham’s younger, bigger sister. What a place! Already been back twice. Oops.
Evuna – (again)
Gusto (Didsbury) – work’s Christmas meal. Always great service in here and the Christmas menu was a little bit different and tasty.
The plan for 2018 is to draw up a whole new list and we’d love any recommendations for restaurants and cafés not mentioned above! Let me know (in the comments below) of any you think we should include.