The Northern Quarter Restaurant, Manchester

The Northern Quarter is one of those places you might accidentally walk past or stumble upon, but when you do the latter, it becomes an instant favourite

Review by Tom Chapman | 04 Dec 2015

Tucked away on High Street, across from the iconic Smithfield Fish Market, TNQ’s racing-green facade reveals a small, double-height restaurant, with black and white photography and a neat open kitchen. Where the majority of Northern Quarter eateries lure you in with flashy neon and the newest variation on pulled pork, TNQ relies solely on its fresh produce and classic cuisine. At the heart lies a small team and intimate atmosphere, and by the end you're left well-fed, watered and waiting to rave to the next person who hasn’t yet discovered this little green gem.

Chef Anthony Fielden’s menu has everything from venison carpaccio to roast monkfish, meaning everyone from the hungriest meat eater to the vegetarian is catered for. His mantra of “decent, honest cooking with little faff” echoes throughout a menu of seasonal ingredients that changes frequently. Truffled cauliflower cheese alongside creamed cabbage and bacon are perfect winter warmers, but it is the chocolate and honeycomb cheesecake that keeps fans coming back for more.

We attend on one of TNQ’s iconic gourmet nights, and in fitting with the wintery turn of weather, the menu is all things game. A starter of scotch quail’s egg and chicken liver parfait is arranged on a bed of crunchy veg and truffle mayo – as we are imaginatively told, “think of it as a bird’s nest.” Hunting season is well and truly on as we chomp our way through six courses.

The highlight (apart from varying wines that accompanied each course) was the roast saddle of rabbit for main and braised rabbit tortellini. Two of the party daren’t devour Peter Rabbit, but thankfully this leaves more for the rest of us. A mixed crowd of regulars, new faces and foodies ensure full capacity as the team quickly buzz around the hardwood floors, not once looking fazed or trying to rush. Staff even find time to stop for a natter. Sadly, this was the last gourmet night of the year, but TNQ will be celebrating all things Scottish in the New Year.

It’s on Happy Monday and Thirsty Thursday though, that TNQ really shines. For £29.50 you get three courses from a set menu and all-you-can-drink house red or white. This isn’t any old bargain plonk that other places would stick on a set menu, and these aren’t measly set menu portions. It’s easy to while away the evening and lose track of time, knowing full well that no matter how long you chatter, the staff will look after you.

Despite the mountain of restaurants in Manchester, there are relatively few that feel like a special occasion. It’s plain to see why TNQ is frequently nominated for the Michelin guide; proudly displaying the 'Keep It Simple, Stupid' rule. Ditch the brioche burger buns and sweet potato fries and go get yourself some proper fare. There is something quintessentially British about this little place and we tip our bowler hats to it.

If you liked The Northern Quarter, try:

Spire, Liverpool
Bakerie, Manchester
Rosylee Tea Rooms, Manchester

The Northern Quarter Restaurant, 108 High Street, Manchester, M4 1HQ