Date Night at Manchester’s Most Romantic Restaurants
It’s date night, and the onus is on you to choose the perfect restaurant in Manchester. Romantic, secluded and seductive? The pressure is on, but fear not - whether it’s a first date or a special occasion, we’ve found five restaurants guaranteed to impress.
Hawksmoor opened in early 2015, but the steakhouse has style and character that suggests it’s been there for years. The interior is a chorus of black leather, deep mahogany and royal green – a sumptuous combo that encourages couples to settle in for the night and order another bottle of wine. The menu, like the décor, is classic and refined. The Porterhouse Steak (£9 per 100g) is generous, and perfect for sharing, and dripping Fries (£4) are a must-have accompaniment. If you’re not keen on steak, don’t be put off. Mains such as whole Royal Bream (£18) or hake with romesco (£14) are equally as good. A well curated bar will make any of the classics, but the menu also offers innovative cocktails. Try the Small Batch espresso martini (£9.25), made using the artisan Brighton-based coffee roasters.
The service, too, is on point. Staff flit in and out of the table masterfully - appearing when you need them, and disappearing when you don’t.
Matt and Phreds
Candlelit? Check. Cosy table for two? Check. Seductive jazz? Check. It’s a classic combination, but an inexplicable rarity. Cue Matt and Phreds - established jazz bar, nestled in the Northern Quarter. Unlike the rest of the top five list, the focus here isn’t on the food: it’s on the atmosphere. But if music be the food of love, then play on. Matt and Phreds offers a basic menu - a selection of rustic pizzas and tapas style sharing plates. Order the Charlie Parker Pizza (£8.80), olives (£4.50) and chorizo in red wine (£4.50) and you’re onto a winner. You won’t find any desserts here, but it’s a great excuse to finish on a classic cocktail. The selection is refreshingly straightforward. Try the classic Manhattan, made with Woodford Reserve (£7.95). Tables can be booked in advance at no extra cost, but the events may be ticketed. With live music nearly every night of the week, you’ll have no trouble finding something to set the mood.
Set in the iconic Midland Hotel, the cosy booths, stylish décor and relaxed atmosphere of The French by Simon Rogan makes for an opulent date night. Worthy of any special occasion, quality food is at the heart of this operation with meticulously crafted tasting menus. The French’s absent Michelin star is well documented, but the infamous missing star isn’t all bad - diners can experience Michelin standard food without the waiting lists and price tag. The tasting menus are delicately collated, and feature Rogan’s characteristic foraged, locally farmed and organic produce. Choose from either a six course tasting menu (£65), or a 10 course tasting menu (£85).
Pack your (hand) bags and take a trip to Australasia. Enter through the curious glass pyramid, down a rabbit hole into the subterranean restaurant. The décor here is like the dress code of a flash nightclub: there’s a strict ‘no colours’ policy. White, accented by more white, bare brick and a splash of cream. The menu is Modern Australian and designed for sharing, with a collection of small plates including crisp soft shell crab with ginger and lemongrass tea (£11.50) seared teriyaki beef with sweet soy (£13.50), as well as a selection of nigiri and california rolls. The desserts here are legendary. Leave room for a mango soufflé with coconut ice-cream and a mango soup (£7.50).
63 Degrees is a small, family run restaurant, bringing a little taste of Paris to the Northern Quarter. This is proper, grown-up dining - with tablecloths (remember them?) - but without the stuffiness of a restaurant that takes itself too seriously. Perched in one of the trendiest districts of Manchester, the food staunchly opposes the hipster fad-fest that surrounds it. 63 Degrees offers classic French dishes, with starters such as salmon gravlax millefeuille (£11) and Foie Gras with tomato confit (£14.80). The signature main course is 63 Degrees Chicken (£16.80), so called because the chicken is cooked at that exact temperature. The chocolate fondant with strawberry parfait ice cream (£7.50) heads up the dessert menu, closely followed by the fraisier (£7.50) – a decadent French cake with strawberries and crème pâtissière. The wine list, too, is pretty serious. Any seasoned wine drinker will find plenty to enjoy, while experienced staff are on hand to recommend pairings.
If you can, go on a Tuesday evening for their special 5 course tasting menu, fantastically priced at just £25.
By Lucy Lovell, Manchester Wire.
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Ruth has been writing about Manchester's cultural scene for the last 10 years, specialising in off-the-beaten track destinations and hidden gems. She's the editor of Manchester's award-winning what's on guide.