Sunday 25 August 2019

Mana, Chef Simon Martin, Manchester, Mancs and Michelin

Mana was awarded a Michelin Star in October 2019 

“Mmmm…” whilst this is undoubtedly a noise that emanated from myself at various points during my meal at Mana, it also represents that today’s post is brought to you by the letter M. 

After an injury put the kibosh on his career as a professional motocross rider, Simon switched his leathers for chef whites. He soon clocked up an impressive CV working for the likes of Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Gilpin Lodge and various stints abroad. Most notably at Noma in Denmark (and Mexico) - working initially on the BBQ section (where they and Mana do most of the cooking for the service).

Many Chefs with star studded CVs open their restaurants to huge fanfare and PR razzmatazz, but to their credit and benefit, I think it’s fair to say that Mana was a relatively slow burner. This undoubtedly gave them time to find their feet before the national critics came knocking (here). As positive reports from “trusted friends” trickled through, it became clear to an often-distrusting Manchester crowd, that this unlikely location in Ancoats was home to “the real deal”.

I promised you that this post was brought to you by the letter M - so let’s talk about Manchester for a bit. You may or may not know that, the Romans named their fort at Castlefield ‘Mamucium’ after a breast-shaped hill (the Latin prefix mamm- meaning breast), from which Manchester took its name. Therefore, Mancs are by definition, tits.  

This brings us nicely onto Michelin. 

Every year, on the day of the red guide’s publication, the local fooderati are perennially left with egg on their faces as, since 1974, the city has been snubbed (some say trolled) by Michelin, when it comes to restaurants earning the much coveted starred status.

I’ve seen posts on social media with people claiming that Mana’s chances of bucking this trend are “nailed on”. I’m not 100% convinced.

If Michelin wanted to be pernickety, they may claim things like: “the mushroom broth should be served a few degrees hotter” and that the otherwise excellent “retired dairy cow tartare would benefit from a more delicate (and therefore better balanced) potato nest”.

On the other hand, even the most ardent Manc-trolling inspector would surely have to agree that certain dishes – such as the broad beans with Banks tomato - would not be out of place on a 3 star menu. 

Mushroom broth with kelp & lavender

Pork skin with cep

Charcuterie – lamb coppa, beef bresaola, duck prosciutto and two types of pork salami

English tostada of malted flatbread with juniper cream and summer flowers

Monkfish liver pate, blackcurrant wood

Lobster, cured egg yolks & spruce

Oyster, chicken fat & peaso (miso made with peas)

Retired Dairy cow tartare, potato, oxalis

Yakitori-style eel & roasted yeast

Broad beans, Banks tomato, elderflower & Exmoor caviar – the magic ingredient here being rosehip

Charred onions, fermented barley & kelp fudge

Sourdough bread, cultured butter

Barbecued greens seasoned with a paste made from dehydrated scallops & beeswax

Hogget fed on seaweed, salad

Conference pear terrine, sheeps milk mousse, sorrel

Grilled rose ice cream & caramelised rice


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