Tattu, Gartside Street, 3 Hardman Square, Manchester, M3 3EB – Visit Now
If you like your restaurants buttoned-down and stuffy, Tattu won’t be for you. This Spinningfields restaurant is showy, bolshy, and brimming with outlandish ideas – right down to the gleaming silver fire extinguishers. And the food matches the drapes. Bright, colourful and full of inspired flourishes, there’s a good reason Tattu is a firm celebrity favourite – Justin Bieber ate here not once, but twice, during his recent UK tour.
A Chinese sweet and sour mix so good it should come with a substance abuse warning
We’re here to try out the new spring menu. First up, a basket of multi-coloured mixed dim sum. Six little bundles of steamed gummy pastry, vivid and bright, with contents ranging from pumpkin, aubergine and shiitake mushrooms. They’re comforting and moreish, largely thanks to the wonderful dipping sauces: a floral jalapeno and coriander relish, soy with Chinese black vinegar, and a luxurious XO sauce. The sweet and sour lotus crisps are a must-try. Sliced from the stem of the lotus flower, they come with a Chinese sweet and sour mix so good it should come with a substance abuse warning.
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the Wagyu beef puffs. Inflated balls of puff pastry, packed with beef from cows that spend their lives being constantly massaged. When reincarnation comes around, sign me up. The beef is soaked in veal stock and the golden pastry glazed with cumin and garlic – you’ll never look at a steak bake from Greggs in the same way again.
Of course, being Tattu, every course comes with a side dish of charm. The waiting staff here have always been among the best in the city, but our waitress Charlie outshines the best in the country. She possesses near-psychic abilities in matching food to palate, along with frighteningly in-depth knowledge about every aspect of each dish, all done with boundless pride and a wonderfully disarming nature.
All very Tattu: beautiful, delicious and laugh-out-loud unique
Despite the name, the honey roasted Chilean sea bass is actually a type of cold water cod, otherwise known by the decidedly less appetising moniker Patagonian toothfish. Still, to paraphrase Shakespeare, a fish by any other name would taste as sweet. And this is gloriously sweet. Sleek slabs of white fish that tumble apart at the gentlest touch, coated with a thick layer of honey, lightly charred at the edges. It’s a marvellous piece of fish – next time you to go your local fishmonger, be sure to ask for some Patagonian toothfish. It comes topped with a golden needle mushroom fritter, long delicate threads, suspended in a deep fried batter. It’s all very Tattu: beautiful, delicious and laugh-out-loud unique.
Another new seafood dish is the Kung Po king prawn. This is rather more traditional in looks, but makes up for it with an eye-watering spiciness. A rich dark sauce, crammed with onion, chilli, cashew nuts and garlic, covering fat plump prawns. It’s a patchwork collection of textures, blazing with umami flavours. The XO beans are recommended as a side dish, slender green beans, coated with specks of crispy pork and chilli oil.
Not just ornate, but truly decadent
For desserts, things don’t get more showstopping than the cherry blossom wood garden. Dry ice, candy floss and edible flowers combine with chocolate layers, cherry-flavoured mousse and cherry sorbet to create something not just ornate, but truly decadent. For taste, however, the yuzu parfait trumps it. Pomegranate seeds nestle next to little green concentrated blobs of yuzu, the increasingly popular Japanese citrus fruit, with wedges of deconstructed cheesecake, all coconut cream and lemongrass-infused crumbled biscuit. Both look fabulous, but the yuzu parfait tastes slightly more fabulous.
Tattu has nailed modern dining in Manchester. The food is dazzling, sometimes even weird, but always first-class. The restaurant might be Far eastern-themed but it holds its own next to the city’s more traditional high-end restaurants, such as Manchester House and The French. Just remember, next time you go – ask for Charlie.
All photographs by Lennox Paul-David