Simon Martin’s high-reaching restaurant won Manchester its first Michelin star in 42 years, and with good reason
Before Simon Martin won a Michelin star for his Manchester restaurant Mana the city had gone almost half a century without being recognised by the red book. Many had tried – even vocally stating their intentions – but with Mana Martin achieved it by being notably taciturn.
Like its chef-patron, Mana is an understated and confident restaurant with a muted, calm interior of different shades of creams and browns that instantly puts you at ease. Here is a restaurant happy to stand apart from many of Manchester’s more fancy dining rooms and let the food on the carefully chosen earthenware crockery do the wowing.
The cooking at Mana is described as being highly technical and precise. There’s also a Nordic feel to Mana’s culinary approach with Martin very respectful of his British and often wild and foraged ingredients and use of techniques designed to let the primary ingredients shine. Nowhere is this approach more apparent than his deliberately named ‘beef tartare that tastes of beef tartare’ dish made using 120-day dry-aged beef from 15-year-old ex-dairy cattle.
A 16-course meal might start with a warm tea of saccharified biodynamic vegetables and feature just-shucked scallops, raw oysters, garlic cooked for two months and carefully fermented vegetables that bring an intensity of flavour, before ending with a still-hot doughnut accompanied by an Oban whisky custard. It’s stirring stuff.