Will Sutton and Patrick Withington’s low-key Ancoats restaurant is worth raising a glass to


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Erst might just be the perfect neighbourhood spot. Set within a redeveloped warehouse building in Manchester’s buzzy Ancoats, the restaurant and wine bar offers a tiny but regularly-changing menu of Mediterranean dishes designed to share alongside an exclusively natural wine list. 

While that might not sound ground-breaking, co-founders Patrick Withington and Will Sutton possess an eye for detail that’s rare for a low-key ‘local’ place. Overseeing the kitchen and front of house respectively, the pair deliver a laid back yet grown-up experience that’s an antidote to the glitzier ‘going out out’ restaurant scene for which Manchester is traditionally known.

Erst’s down-to-earth, egalitarian approach is down in no small parts to its owners’ backgrounds. Neither have ever worked anywhere approaching fancy and freely admit they don’t feel particularly comfortable in tasting menu places. “We want it to be accessible. The food cultures that inspire our menu tend to be more democratic. In Spain, they have cafés that serve great local seafood that are frequented by painter and decorators. You don’t get that here,” says Withington, whose colourful dishes pop against Erst’s brutalist, polished-concrete interior.

Sutton’s well-judged wine choices, meanwhile, also bring a welcome splash of sunshine to the proceedings.

Manchester’s dining scene has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years with restaurants that more than hold their own against those in the capital. Now you can add natural wine bars to that list.

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