6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Cheshire Life today CLICK HERE

El Gato Negro set to join some old favourites on the Manchester Spanish food scene

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:34 20 April 2016

Morcillo scotch eggs at El Gato Negro

Morcillo scotch eggs at El Gato Negro

Archant

Janet Reeder gives the lowdown on the Spanish restaurant boom

Simon Shaw at El Gato NegroSimon Shaw at El Gato Negro

The summer may have gone but that doesn’t mean we have to lose the holiday vibe, at least where Spanish cuisine is concerned. It may not have escaped your notice but the culinary delights of Iberia have made their way over to the UK and the past few years have seen new highs for the quality and authenticity of Spanish food. El Bulli may now be no more but Aiden Ferra’s influence and the ‘nueva cocina’ movement has created a seismic shift in the industry with Spanish restaurants regularly making the top of the foodie charts.

Of course, all of this has rubbed off and now our county is reaping the benefits with older Spanish tapas bars now being joined by later exponents of the Iberian kitchen.

Newest of these on the block is the soon to open El Gato Negro with former Harvey Nichols head chef Simon Shaw at the helm.

While working in London, Simon visited the Basque country and Catalonia and immediately fell in love with the diversity and excitement of modern Spanish cuisine.

Jane Dowler and Family at EvunaJane Dowler and Family at Evuna

Determined to bring this then under-appreciated cuisine to a wider audience, in 2005, Simon returned north to open El Gato Negro in Ripponden, West Yorkshire. His restaurant’s reputation grew by the year, picking up awards and accolades galore: winning best local Spanish restaurant in the country on Gordon Ramsay’s F Word, feted by the critics, ranked the number one tapas bar in the country by The Times; and finally awarded the prestigious Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand in both 2014 and 2015.

But Simon is now preparing to open in King Street, Manchester, in late autumn. He says he fell in love with Spanish cuisine when he was working at Harvey Nichols in London.

‘We used to do these things called A Taste of..and we did A Taste of Spain and that hooked me in. What I like about Spanish food is it’s innovative and they really take great care with their ingredients. And one of the cities at the forefront of this was Barcelona - what you had there was the mix of the very contemporary with other influences.

‘I remember working with a lady at Harvey Nichols. I was invited to her house for Sunday lunch and I was mesmerized by it. You never knew what was coming next and it kept on coming. And I still get the same excitement from it as I did 15 years ago.’

Prawns at EvunaPrawns at Evuna

Simon will head the team at the restaurant which is backed by Mills Hills group. He is busy devising dishes that will work for the new venture, some of which were a fixture at the former Ripponden restuarant.

He explains: ‘Morcilla are scotch eggs with a small quail’s egg surrounded by black pudding. I tell people they are very fiddly to make and they say “we don’t care. just make sure they don’t come off the menu”.

‘Another staple is a lentil dish and chargrilled baby chicken, with paprika and a garlic and romanescu sauce.’

There will however, be many fresh additions, thanks to the new equipment that will be installed in the state-of-the-art kitchen.

‘Quite a bit of the menu will be based around cooking with charcoal as we have a Josper grill. We will also be using a robata grill which is a Japanese technique. If you visit Barcelona there’s a restaurant called Dos Pallilos where the old chef at El Bulli who has a Japanese wife has fused Spanish style and Japanese style and it’s fantastic.’

A Spanish kitchen is, he believes, perfectly suited to the Manchester way of life for many reasons.

‘It’s one of those cuisines that is accessible to everyone, whether you want to have two or three dishes and a glass of wine or come down for a couple of hours,’ he says.

One of the oldest independent Spanish restaurants in Manchester is Evuna with branches on Deansgate and in the Northern Quarter. Jane Dowler’s original concept was selling boutique wines with tapas.

‘The focus was on a mixture of retail and restaurant, which happens quite a lot in Europe,’ says Jane, who runs the restaurant with her mother Frances and husband Bosun Ajilowura.

‘The idea was that people would pop in, have a little something to eat and choose some wine to have at home. But in 2003 we ended up becoming a full blown restaurant. As soon as we opened we knew we needed more table space.’

With a chef on board, the kitchen was able to create authentic dishes to match the authentic wines bought from independent producers, which is Evuna’s USP.

Related articles

More from Cheshire Life

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

This skilfully converted private barn is an architectural gem with uninterrupted prime views of the Cheshire countryside

Read more
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Watch legends come to life in a thrilling tale told on an epic scale - 2,000 years in the making.

Read more
Monday, May 13, 2019

Stockport is a town with bags of potential

Read more
Stockport
Friday, May 10, 2019

We caught up with the Manchester-based actress ahead of her appearance in new crime drama 15 Days, which airs this month on Channel 5

Read more
Friday, May 10, 2019

Want a taste of authentic Indian street food? Take a trip to Bombay to Mumbai in Bramhall

Read more
Asian Food Bramhall
Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Chester-based BBC presenter knows the hard yards on wet Cheshire streets will help prepare her for an extreme triathlon in Norway

Read more
Thursday, May 9, 2019

To celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished cottages, Middletons Hotel is offering the chance for up to five guests to come and experience for themselves the newly finished rooms.

Read more
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

It might start with a steep climb, but this stunning Macclesfield Forest ramble rewards you with a gentle descent and a good pint.

Read more
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Although it's still a taboo subject, women of all ages suffer from incontinence as a result of a weak pelvic floor. Estrada Clinic offers a state of the art treatment which helps to strengthen them, with results noticed after the second session

Read more
Monday, May 6, 2019

At the heart of Chase and Wonder is a love story born in Great Budworth.

Read more
Sunday, May 5, 2019

Win dinner bed & Breakfast including a delicious afternoon tea for two.

Offer is for Sunday to Thursday

Read more
Friday, May 3, 2019

To celebrate the launch of their new Beach Suites, Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate in Cornwall are offering one lucky reader and a friend the chance to win a luxury two-night stay overlooking the sea

Read more
Friday, May 3, 2019

The family ticket admits two adults and two children to one day of the 2019 event.

Read more
Friday, May 3, 2019

DogFest is back with Super Vet Noel Fitzpatrick for another fun filled weekend at Tatton Park!

Read more
Dogs

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


Local Business Directory

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Cheshire