Libertine

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Ian Jones

Libertine, Withington Library, Withington, Manchester , M20 3BQ – Visit Now

A new restaurant from the culinary whizzes behind Cottonopolis and Edinburgh Castle, two of the city centre’s best restaurants? Sign me up. This brand new spot takes over an old bank in the heart of Withington, transforming it from an elegant but not especially fun venue, into a welcoming destination, ideal for drinking and dining late into the night.

It’s full of intriguing areas: a dimly-lit date-night room, outdoor seating and the main space with a ceiling as high as the Sistine Chapel. It’s certainly not your average identikit new restaurant so the food needs to be special to live up to this. Happily, it is.

The menu is geared toward sharing, with a small plates section and the more substantial ‘Fire’, which offers items cooked on the charcoal/wood grill, not forgetting a pizza section. The menu looks to be designed to be refreshed every few weeks, offering up specials and new seasonal items.

The coal fire flatbread is a great example of what the kitchen team are capable of. It sounds simple enough – it’s just bread – but the addition of yeast butter means a glorious umami taste runs through the entire thing, then it’s scattered with Prosociano, a dairy-free vegan take of parmesan, indistinguishable from the real thing.

Smoked Jersey royals make for a satisfying carb option, covered with rosemary salt, chives and an oil made from ancho chilis. It’s an unshowy plate, but a must-try, either as a snack in its own right or to go alongside one of the heavier plates.

Which brings us to the oak smoked pork belly, which undoubtedly belongs in the South Manchester food hall of fame. It’s all bold reds, thanks to the harissa honey smothered thickly over the plump chunks of pork belly; then for texture, crackling. It’s an inspired combination. If you eat meat, you need to eat this at least once.

However, non-meat-eaters are well served, thanks to ashed asparagus and coal fire leeks (delicious, but can some boffin please genetically modify a leek to cut in half like a normal vegetable?) but especially the roast cauliflower, from the fire section. It’s an imposing vegetable at the best of times, but perch it on top of some dark dhal makhani (with some ashes from the fire swirled in for good measure) and cucumber labneh and you’ve got arguably the most filling and aromatic dish on the menu.

Other than the exceptional food, the drinks are superb and the staff a delight to engage with. If you live in Withington you now have a destination restaurant to shout about, and if you don’t, time to hop on a tram and see what all the fuss is about.

  • Withington Library, Withington
  • Manchester
  • M20 3BQ
  • View map

Opening Hours

  • Mon: 12:00pm – 11:30pm
  • Tue: 12:00pm – 11:30pm
  • Wed: 12:00pm – 11:30pm
  • Thu: 12:00pm – 11:30pm
  • Fri: 12:00pm – 11:30pm
  • Sat: 10:00am – 11:30pm
  • Sun: Closed
  • Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit

Places to go / stay / shop / eat / drink

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Cinema Until 3 October 2022, from £9.95

Not Just Bollywood at HOME

Music Until 5 October 2022, from £5.50

Sounds of Nature at The Stoller Hall

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
Theatre Until 8 October 2022, from £10.00

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange

Women in Comedy Festival 2022
Comedy Until 10 October 2022, from £3.00

Women in Comedy Festival 2022

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale

Victoria Baths Guided Tour
Activity Until 26 October 2022, from £6

Victoria Baths Guided Tour

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

vegan super club
Activity Until 25 November 2022, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

autumn season at z-arts
Families Until 30 December 2022, FREE

Autumn season at Z-arts

skyliner
Activity Until 31 December 2022, from £9

Skyliner: Alternative Tours of Manchester