District Manchester

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Ian Jones

Sad news for the Manchester food scene recently. No, not the wife of a City footballer saying it’s “horrible” (she’s merely been going to the wrong places; the kneejerk reaction from the online outrage merchants was more embarrassing). No, we refer to the closure of District, one of the most forward-thinking places we’ve eaten in recent years.

District was no ordinary restaurant

As a final flourish, the team held a final week of dining for fans to raise a cocktail in celebration. It’s not often we cover a restaurant closing, but District was no ordinary restaurant. Small glimmer of hope: we have it on good authority that it isn’t disappearing but coming back with a stronger bar-style focus on late-night drinks, and smaller food menu.

Either way, it seems unlikely that chef-owner Ben Humphreys will move away from food, not when he’s spent the past couple of years creating some of the most memorable dishes in the North-West.

The yam ponlamai is a perfect example. Basically a fruit salad from the future, it’s a bowl of powerful flavours: ginger, peach, pear, lemongrass, and the mysteriously titled ‘shrimp floss’, which appears to be dehydrated shrimp, ground to a fine powder. It’s a fresh and unusual start to the meal that dances between sweet and savoury.

Then there’s the pigeon satay. A well-deserved staple of the District menu in recent months, it’s a wild-looking dish, full of swirling lurid colours and flavours, surrounding some delicate pieces of meat.

Another classic is the Kurobuta Berkshire pork belly. It’s a magical cut, cooked and prepared in multiple different ways, including at least two steamings. This results in incredibly soft slices of pork, topped with a fiercely hard centimetre-thick strip of crunchy crackling, all lying in a garlic-heavy sauce with some kana (cooked greens similar to kale).

The monkfish yellow curry is a newer addition, and it’ll be a shame not to try this again. Here you’re treated to a piece of puffed-up pork, monkfish, a scallop dumpling and a big pink tiger prawn, all nestling in a pool of fiery hot and creamy yellow curry. It’s a fantastic take on Thai curry.

Finally, desserts. The pavlova is a sweet-tasting combination of butterfly pea flower meringue, calamansi (a South East Asian citrus fruit) curd, passion fruit and sheep’s yoghurt. It’s instantly recognisable as a fruity pavlova but with all-new elements you’ve never tried before and probably never will again.

But the iced coconut caramel takes the prize for best sweet. It’s a soft cube of mango and coconut, blessed with a touch of turmeric, then topped with some rice praline to make the ultimate combination of texture and flavour. It’s far from the largest dish on the menu, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable.

It’ll be a long time before a restaurant as unique and exciting as District comes along again. It had the spirit of pre-housing developer Manchester in spades: futuristic and overflowing with ideas, with tongue-in-cheek execution. Whatever happens next, Ben and his team are nailed-on to do great things in the city’s food and drink world. Premiership footballers & co take note.

60 Oldham StreetManchesterM4 1LE View map
Visit Now

Venue permanently closed.

What's on near District Manchester

Until
ComedyManchester
Creatures of the Night Comedy Club

An insanely committed seven-nights-a-week, Creatures of the Night Comedy Club opens its doors (20.30-22.30 typically, though please check) for evening after evening of side-splitting comedy.

from £5.00
Until
ComedyManchester
The Comedy Vault

Every Monday night upstairs at Fierce Bar, The Comedy Vault hosts an outrageously funny open-mic night. Come and try your hand or just to watch and laugh.

free entry
ActivityManchester
Beyond the Music 2024

Hear directly from the people powering the music industry in both Manchester and the UK, as well as witnessing some of the North’s upcoming talent at Beyond the Music.

from £16.75

Where to go near District Manchester

City Centre
Restaurant
Blockbusters NQ

A quirky bar, paying homage to the unfortunately deceased Blockbusters video rental stores, with aptly named cocktails and a great atmosphere.

Image of Soup Kitchen in Manchester's Northern Quarter
Manchester
Music venue
Soup

Soup Kitchen is a superb communal cafe by day and an excellent live music venue by night. The perfect choice for lunch or a great night out.

Castle Hotel pub in Manchester
Manchester
Bar or Pub
Castle Hotel

A pub with a 200 year-long history on Oldham Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the Castle Hotel has a musical past.

Manchester
Bar or Pub
Behind Closed Doors

A hidden den of debauchery and indulgence. A fresh take on a basement cocktail bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Manchester
Bar or Pub
Gullivers

Head north on Oldham Street and you’ll come across Gullivers, a ‘no gimmicks and no pretensions’ pub and gig venue.

Manchester
Selina NQ1

Selina NQ1 is a creative and charming yet sophisticated hotel in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Beermoth shop in Manchester's Northern Quarter.
Manchester
Shop
Beermoth

Beermoth on Manchester’s Tib Street stocks specialist beers, chosen with a quietly confident knowledge.

The Corner Boy
Manchester
Bar or Pub
The Corner Boy

Back in action for spring/summer 2021, Corner Boy is a welcoming, dimly-lit bar on the edge of Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter.

Culture Guides

Teenage Dads
Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.