You know it and we know it that Manchester is a powerhouse when it comes to both industry and its food and drink. And now one of the country’s popular restaurant guides couldn’t agree more. Harden’s announced this year’s top 100 list in the UK and the release of its 2023 guide today, with Manchester absolutely smashing it as two of the city’s restaurants represented the region and were named some of the best places to dine in the country.
The North West came in second as one of the best performing regions outside of London with an impressive 38 ‘Top Scoring’ restaurants, nine of which have made it into Harden’s Top 100 list. Of cities outside London, only Edinburgh (49) had more listings than Manchester (47) establishing the city as one of the most vibrant restaurant scenes in the country.
Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire was crowned the UK’s best restaurant in the new Harden’s Top 100 list, however Manchester was awarded a place in the list’s coveted Top 10 with Adam Reid at The French claiming seventh place. Having been at number 40 last year, the Midland Hotel’s famous restaurant shot into the top end of the table for “Adam Reid’s tasting menu food that fully delivers on the hit to the tastebuds”.
Diners commented: “It’s not all serious plates, with some playful dishes offering something a little different and intriguing”. Though not as commented-on as Mana nowadays – diners still hailed it as “the best culinary experience in Manchester”.
Mana in Sawmill Court continues to be heralded as “undeniably one of the UK’s top tables” for Simon Martin’s “fabulous airy space within the foodie hotspot that is Ancoats”. The flavours at Mana were described as “knock-out” and “every dish is evocative of place and origin, with evident care and attention to detail.”
However, the popular restaurant appears to have fallen from its previous Top 10 spot down to number 73 due to price increases. Harden’s guide notes that: “With stardom has come higher prices, and doubts are creeping in about the ultimate level of value it delivers. One in six [of polled diners] now consider it notably overpriced. The remainder agreeing that ‘it’s not cheap, but you pay for what you get'”.
An additional seven restaurants from the North West region made it into Harden’s Top 100 list including: Simon Rogan’s world famous L’Enclume (8) and Aulis at L’Enclume (45) in Cartmel; The Forest Side (27) in Grasmere; Moor Hall (77) in Aughton; The Old Stamp House (79) in Ambleside; The Art School in Liverpool (33) and Fraiche in Oxton (100).
The 32nd edition of the Harden’s guide, published this week, is a UK restaurant guide sold in bookshops based on feedback from normal diners rather than a group of professional inspectors. A total of 30,000 reports are submitted from a survey of 3,000 diners. Restaurants at all price levels are listed: from street food vendors to the country’s most ambitious dining rooms, with 2,800 restaurants listed in total including the likes of The Alan, Canto, Musu, Rudy’s, Sugo, Wood Restaurant, 20 Stories and even the highly-anticipated new opening for 2023, Sexy Fish.
Peter Harden, co-founder of Harden’s, commented: “The North West is home to some of the country’s most renowned restaurants and consistently performs well in the Harden’s Top 100 due to the high quality, diverse nature and depth of what’s on offer. Interestingly, it’s also an area where, like London, restaurant price increases have caused some guests to question whether they still see the same value in the overall proposition when dining out.
“What is an enjoyable experience at £100 per head can soon lose its lustre when prices as good as double. Restaurants are currently facing increasing costs from every angle so it’s no surprise these are being reflected on menus, but some of our polled results and diner comments this year show that customer expectations are struggling to keep pace and it’s easy for restaurants to begin to fall out of favour as a result.”