Habas Bar & Restaurant, 43A Brown St, Manchester, M2 2JJ – Visit Now
Habas Bar & Restaurant popped up in the summer to huge fanfare, offering an array of Middle Eastern dishes, in a restaurant decked out with all kinds of objet d’art. Happily, they’ve lived up to expectations – reports have been across-the-board positive, particularly from vegetarian diners. Today, we’re here for the Sunday lunch menu, which as the menu states, is “all about kicking back, relaxing and enjoying yourselves after your week”.
It’s a simple menu, two courses for £20, three for £25, three choices of starter and two mains. We go for the famed filo cigars to begin with, piping hot crispy tubes, golden brown and packed with feta cheese, sunblush tomato and wilted spinach. They’re arguably the signature Habas dish, and if you haven’t tried one yet, head along pronto.
The prawn and crab fritters are pleasing enough, four breadcrumbed spheres, resting in a swirl of coriander and lime yoghurt, but these are merely the support act, it’s the Sunday roast we’re here for.
My guest goes for the vegan option, roasted cauliflower. It’s a heart cauliflower, roasted in harissa, with a bundle of orange and sumac honey glazed carrots on the side, plus some roasted squash, roast potatoes coated in black garlic and mint, and sautéed kale. In other words, there’s a lot going on. And thankfully, it all works. It’s a hearty, healthy dish, popping with all kinds of sweet and earthy flavours and a fine vegan option.
There isn’t a vegetarian option which feels like a missed opportunity – it feels like head chef Simon Shaw could have whipped up something just as inventive for veggie diners. Although it’s worth mentioning these are still early days for this already-impressive restaurant.
The shoulder of lamb is pretty much everything you could ever want in a meal on a Sunday afternoon, hangover or not. The lamb is cut into perfect thick slices, dark and crispy on the outside, nicely pink in the middle, bursting with a whole cupboard’s worth of spices. There are some nice chunks of cauliflower cheese, and those self-same glazed carrots and roast potatoes. The potatoes are perfect, with a crispy flavourful coating and soft and fluffy inside.
It’s enough to fill your belly and deliver that all-important lazy Sunday feeling, without leaving you worn out and ready for bed. We didn’t get to try the desserts but for a mere fiver more, they sound well worth it, taking in orange and cardamom rice pudding, pistachio and almond pavlova and a double chocolate brownie with ice cream.
Habas is slowly becoming one of the city centre’s must-visit restaurants thanks to a menu full of inspired ideas and respectful adaptations of Middle Eastern classics. The two Sunday roasts are the perfect example of this – teaming an age-old British tradition with the exciting and complex flavours of the Levant, making something unique and endlessly fascinating.