Dining out in Manchester

The recent wave of urban regeneration in Manchester has led to an influx of new residents to the city centre. This has, in turn, revitalized the city’s dining, shopping and entertainment landscape. There have never been more dining choices in Manchester than there are today. The following touches only the tip of the iceberg of this great wealth of dining options and for good reason. Half the fun is discovering those excellent places to dine on your own.

If the occasion calls for a romantic dinner with that special someone, two of the most romantic restaurants in town are Rafa’s and Paolo’s. Rafa’s is renowned as a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant. Its specialties are meat and seafood as well as lamb, crab, prawn and fillet steak. There are also some excellent salads for non-tapas lovers. The Spanish broth is excellent while paella and lobster are outstanding as a main course. There is a house Catalan Chardonnay as well as Staropramen and Cruz Campo draught beers. Rafa’s is open from lunch time to midnight from Monday to Saturday and from lunch time to 11 p.m. on Sundays.

Meanwhile, Paolo’s on John Dalton Street is famous for its Sardinian cuisine and wonderfully friendly staff. Appetizers include tiger prawns that are prepared with whisky, white wine, garlic and lemon while the highly recommended main course is fillet steak with red wine, brandy, peppercorns and cream. Their selection of fine Italian wines is excellent. The place is open from lunch time to 2:30 pm and from 5:30pm to 11 pm from Monday to Friday, from lunch time to midnight on Saturdays and from 5 p.m. to 10:30 pm on Sundays.

For people who enjoy dining with a view, the Arts Bar & Grill on the third level of the Jarvis Piccadilly Hotel is highly recommended. Many tables offer a spectacular view of the Northern Quarter. Designed in the style of an eighties bar and grill, Arts is a favourite dining place of upscale local businessmen, especially in the early evenings when many of them congregate with Kir Royal in hand. The menu features fusion choices like chunky fish soup, bullet chilli and saffron mayonnaise while pasta dishes are the main course of choice. Arts Bar & Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday to Friday, lunch time to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and lunch time to 10:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Manchester’s local Chinatown is a very popular venue for dining in the city. The most famous restaurant is located in the very heart of Chinatown, Yang Sing on George Street, which is reputed to have the tastiest Cantonese food in the entire United Kingdom. Yang Sing draws a diverse clientele, ranging from local and international business types to romantic couples and whole families. The mirrors which adorn the walls add to the bright and airy atmosphere of the place. The most popular choices on the menu are the seafood and vegetarian cuisine as well as the unique gourmet takeaway service, which is available at noon and in the early evening on weekdays. There are also many children’s options available. Yang Sing is open from lunch time to 3 a.m. from Monday to Saturday and lunch time to midnight on Sundays.

For a taste of the gallic, the place to visit is Café Rouge on Deansgate, a particular favourite of Saturday shoppers. Their living room area will remind many of the “Friends” TV setting, with two large velvet sofas where visitors can hang out for hours while sipping coffee or hot chocolate. The menu features brasserie-style meals such as cassoulet au poulet. Café Rouge is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Monday to Sunday.

For the younger set, the Christie Bistro is a charming place located across the quadrangle from the University of Manchester’s main administration block. It is small and intimate but the food is first class and comparable to the best restaurants anywhere in Manchester. Plus, the prices are relatively inexpensive since they cater mostly for students. A two-course meal will cost around £11 while a three-course meal can cost only £14, including the likes of venison pâté for starters and pan-fried trout steak in a creamy leek sauce with new potatoes and salad as the main course. The Christie Bistro is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.

For a gourmet meal at a relatively low cost, Didsbury Brasserie on Wilmslow Road is worth considering. The word most often used to described this open-air café bar is ‘cosy’. There are actually two sections: the front for coffee and daytime snacks, and the back for elegant night-time dining. The two and three-course dinners and lunches offer excellent value-for-money, which explains Didsbury Brasserie’s popularity among students, shoppers and business people of all ages. Choices include a soup of the day and the likes of chicken kiev with butter bean mash and summer berry brulee. There are inexpensive wines and bottled beers available as well as a host of fruits and herbal teas and coffee. Didsbury Brasserie is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

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