Evuna Northern Quarter, Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1LG – Visit Now
Traditional Spanish grub and damn fine drinks clean up in the Northern Quarter.
It was hot. Damn hot. Fire crews were still cleaning up from the latest Northern Quarter blaze, Manchester International Festival was in full swing, and everyone in the city had taken to the Saturday evening streets. It was a blessed relief to take a seat at Evuna’s new Northern Quarter tapas bar and subject our addled psyches to a large glass of something cool and an hour or two of life at a slower pace.
I’ve long been a fan of the original Evuna on Deansgate, a quietly successful wine shop and tapas bar that sells unusual Spanish wines, to be sampled on site or bought by the bottle and taken away. So I was delighted when I heard that they were opening a second outpost right in the heart of the Northern Quarter, at the intersection of Tib and Thomas streets, in an old bank building that’s been empty for years. The neighbourhood’s restaurant offerings badly need more variety. With a couple of rare exceptions, its all Rice & Three joints, dirty burger places and bar/club/restaurants for whom food is an afterthought. The Northern Quarter needs more restaurants like Evuna.
Forget dudefood or intensely worked fine dining, this is all about the tapas
The interior has been stripped back to brick walls and burnished wood, with wine bottles providing the only decoration. It’s an understated and very Continental place, with a few tables out front well placed to catch the raucous running floor show outside The Millstone pub. We sat at the bar. It feels more casually Spanish to sit there, and someone’s always right at hand when you want to order another plate or another glass. They also serve spirits and beer, but that wine menu is something else, with rare lines in everything from cava to sherry made all over Spain. Most of them you won’t see at the supermarket. If you’re overwhelmed by such bounty, ask the friendly staff for some ideas.
My friend loved her fresh, crisp glass of oaked White Rioja, while I made my way joyfully to the bottom of an enormous glass of mixed-to-order Sangria (what can I say? I’m a philistine). After the intensely worked seafoam and quail eggs of fine dining and dudefood’s queasy overkill, it’s wonderfully refreshing to sit down to a tapas meal, where simplicity is the order of the day. Evuna’s menu offers all the usual favourites, most keenly priced at the £4-6 mark, with a few changing specials. Patatas bravas were perfectly cooked, in a mild and benevolent tomato sauce. A fillet of sea bass was crispy on the outside and flaky inside. Garlic prawns were big and fresh and garlicky. A platter of ham, manchego and chorizo was great quality; and when you’re slicing food and putting it on a plate without doing anything to it, quality is everything. The only things I didn’t totally love were the bread, which wasn’t crusty or flavoursome enough for me, and the fried calamari, which seemed a little bland and could have used a better dipping sauce than the small squirt of mayo provided. These are small criticisms though. If you find yourself in the neighbourhood on a hot summer night, you know just where to go. But on the evidence of our visit – when the place was surprisingly hopping for a restaurant that opened a scant three days before – everyone else does too.
This is an independent review, but our writer didn’t pay for her meal. For more info on our editorial policy, read our About page.