I’ve got a confession to make. There are so many new restaurants in this city that I’ve stopped even trying to keep up. No joke, these are trying times for the foodies of Manchester. You could dine out at a new place every night for, like, a month – and it might be fun to try – but honestly, who has the time/metabolism/disposable income for that? Instead, I wait for trusted word-of-mouth to rise above the low hum of PR buzz permanently hovering over the city like a cloud of white truffle veloute. Usually, those places your friends tell you are good are the only ones that turn out to be worth bothering with. And if they aren’t, you need better friends.
New does not equal noteworthy. I know the whole shebang isn’t finished and new places always seem weird, but even factoring in that new car smell weirdness I have yet to find a restaurant in the revamped Corn Exchange with much individual character. A trip to Banyan was dispiritingly Wetherspoons-like, Vietnamese chain Pho seems bland as broth and even the eagerly-anticipated Wahaca left a bad taste in our mouths with what appears to be some overzealous soliciting of TripAdvisor reviews (though, it must be said, their burrito left a good taste in our mouths.) High hopes then for the expanded Salvi’s, whose John Dalton Street cucina is probably the place I recommend more than any other. I should really be getting a tidy commission at this point.
So what’s new and noteworthy? For my money, it’s Rudy’s Pizza in Ancoats, my favourite place to eat right now – and everyone else’s too, judging by how early they sell out; Bakchich, whose casual Lebanese is bringing a welcome bit of flavour to the University’s reasonably-priced meal options; Asha’s on Peter Street, whose fusiony updates of Indian dishes (pictured) should give the Mughli gang a run for their money; and, next door, vast Bohemian bierkeller Albert’s Schloss, where a burly flammkutchen goes perfectly with the crisp Pilsner Urquell shipped in weekly. “Tank beer,” it turns out, is a good thing.