Manchester’s most progressive restaurant is a high-end experience but with no starchy pomp
One of Manchester’s most hotly anticipated restaurant openings in recent memory, Mana is headed by Noma alumnus Simon Martin. Its food style is comparable to the famed Copenhagen restaurant in that it only uses strictly seasonal ‘wild’ British ingredients and then presents them in beautiful yet naturalistic manner.
Martin offers a high-end experience minus the starchy pomp. Guests are served the 16-or-so courses on the restaurant’s £105 tasting menu in less than two hours (after this time their experience can continue in the Ancoats restaurant’s well-stocked bar.
Where money has been spent in this quietly glamorous space, it has been ploughed into maximising food quality and staff comfort (the kitchen is built right into the dining room). Despite the team’s use of sometimes fleetingly seasonal ingredients (the sourcing is meticulous; Mana retains two foragers, for instance), Martin can spend six months developing his heavily veg-centric dishes.
Some have a theatrical edge: ‘autumn bark’, is a cracker of juniper and barbecued thyme paste served in a pile of russet leaves, while ‘first apple of the season’ is a fresh apple on ice, hollowed and filled with apple spheres, fermented apple, apple juice and rose oil. Other dishes include langoustine tail, cured egg yolk and spruce; and charred onions, truffle dulse and koji.
This is cooking as alchemy: creating gold from almost nothing. As such this restaurant has resonated far beyond Manchester.