Restau­rant re­views

Venues in Mac­cles­field and Manch­ester

Cheshire Life - - Inside - RE­VIEW BY Louise Allen-tay­lor

Manch­ester’s King Street has past form as a place where foot­ball and food meet for a kick­about.

San Carlo in King Street West has long been a room where you might see a footie me­gas­tar tack­ling a meat­ball. Up at the top of King Street for­mer Manch­ester United stal­wart Rio Fer­di­nand opened Rosso, a restau­rant sim­i­larly Ital­ian in style and glitzy of clien­tele.

Some­where in be­tween the two we now have an­other footie-food ven­ture in Tast. The name over the door is that of Miche­lin­starred Cata­lan chef Paco Pérez, but the more fa­mil­iar name is among the own­ers: Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola.

As you’d ex­pect from a man whose fash­ion mo­tif is a grey jumper, Tast has a sub­tle style and a heart­en­ing short­age of glitz. Any­one in­trigued by the idea of an art­ful 21st cen­tury take on Cata­lan cui­sine should step on up.

Tast has two dis­tinct spa­ces. Down­stairs, it’s com­mu­nal bench ta­bles and some out­door seat­ing to take ad­van­tage of Manch­ester’s Barcelona-like cli­mate...

Up­stairs is more for­mal: dusky blue (not City sky blue) decor, white table­cloths on sep­a­rate ta­bles and a view across King Street to the fab­u­lous black and white Boo­dles build­ing.

If you’re con­fused by the con­cept of small plates, tapas and ci­chetti then you get a new quandary here in the shape of ‘tastets’. These com­prise any­thing from a red pep­per cro­quette at £1.70 to tem­pura lob­ster at £18. We opened with Cata­lan bread (£4.90). Fried bites came next, in­clud­ing an Iberian ham cro­quette (£1.90) and the more sub­stan­tial bomba de la Barceloneta - a de­li­ciously musty soft mush­room and potato cro­quette with mush­room mayo. Aubergine - a dull veg in any­one’s books - came zapped into life, fried in sticks and gar­nished with an­chovy mayo and mo­lasses (£6.50). Chicken wings (£7.20) were richly bread­crumbed and served with a foamy, chickenny dip. My din­ing com­pan­ion’s asparagus (£7) came with cherry toma­toes and what looked like a cheesy sauce, but he’d wolfed it down and pro­nounced it non-specif­i­cally fan­tas­tic be­fore I could get a fork near to it or a proper de­scrip­tion from him.

That aubergine came in its own be­spoke serv­ing dish - a half-aubergine. Like­wise, an or­nate ma­rine sculp­ture held an oc­to­pus dish (£13) which was star of the show: chunks of ten­ta­cle with dabs of pep­pery romesco sauce, all sur­round­ing but­tery mashed pota­toes. An­other star of the main menu - though it looks, on pa­per, more like dessert - was a con­fec­tion of seared melon with an al­mond ice cream, melon jelly and melon granita.

On to puds, we tried a su­perla­tive crema cata­lana (£5.50) and a Cata­lan-style cheese­cake - more cake-like in con­sis­tency than our usual idea of cheese­cake - which I or­dered purely be­cause the cheese in ques­tion was stil­ton, and I was in­trigued to find out if Paco Pérez’s kitchen re­ally could turn such a bol­shie cheese as stil­ton into an en­tic­ing dessert. Of course, they did, supremely well. Tast Cuina Cata­lana, 20-22 King Street, Manch­ester, M2 6AG. 0161 806 0547 tast­catala.com

“Any­one in­trigued by what an art­ful 21st cen­tury take on Cata­lan cui­sine is like should step on up”

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