Tattu, Gartside Street, 3 Hardman Square, Manchester, M3 3EB – Visit Now
Just like the changing of the seasons, a new menu at Tattu – one of our favourite Spinningfields’ restaurants – is guaranteed to offer exciting new experiences, and this summer menu is no different. The list on offer has expanded, a few extra dishes here, a few tweaks to improve existing dishes there. Expectations are high – judging from previous visits they’ve never hit a duff note.
This is food that only looks forward and all the better for it
The first dish is as good as it gets. A koi fish mini bao with a soft spongy bun containing a chunky piece of tempura-fried cod, sweet potato and a small blob of edamame mash. It’s a sublime mouthful – to get high street for a moment, it’s a Fillet O Fish elevated to godlike status.
Sticking with seafood, the black cod parcels aren’t like anything else on the menu. A mini slab of cod, wrapped in spinach, combined with candied orange and orange ponzu sauce. They disappear with a single gulp, the sweetness of the orange working wonders with the fish and green leaf parcel. It’s a fairly small portion, so we’d suggest pairing it with the coconut chicken salad, a veritable mountain of mint, coriander and shallots, bursting with bright fresh flavours.
Rather than a series of small plates, we take the more standard starter-to-main route through the menu, and our first course of real substance is the chicken curry clay pot. Added to the dish by popular demand, this is Tattu’s take on the traditional massaman curry, but of course, it’s so much more than that. It has the required creaminess, studded with thick hunks of tender chicken meat, but with a glut of soft baby onions, coconut and, most curiously of all, a wasabi pea puree. This latter element raised a few eyebrows – how could that piercing wasabi heat team up with a creamy curry? Happily, it doesn’t overpower at all, merely provides subtle background noise, letting you know you’re at one of Manchester’s most forward-thinking restaurants, rather than a backstreet curryhouse. It’s fantastic, naturally.
Then probably the best dish on the new menu, and in contention for one of Tattu’s finest dishes ever, the crispy baby chicken. Two thick chicken legs, arranged vertically, resting on each, with a thin crispy later and the most intoxicating sauce you’ll find in the North: a Szechuan plum sauce that’s both fiery and sweet and slowly drips down over the legs. You’ll also find hints of five spice, plus a thick juicy baby pak choi underpinning the whole dish. It’s a tour de force of Chinese cuisine, and while it’s probably far from authentic, only the most miserly traditionalist would care to mention it. It’s a stand-out dish on a stand-out menu.
Desserts are never Tattu’s most memorable section and you’d be forgiven for skipping them and ordering another main, but the coconut and mango smoothie bowl is a nice way to end the meal. It’s a complex deconstructed plate, a circle of crunchy granola containing tiny chunks of pineapple and mango, a lychee impaled by a piece of sugar glass and a little pot of custard to pour over it all. It’s a good dessert, if a little over the top, but you’d probably not be rushing back to try it again.
The cheesecake is a little better and light enough to act as a suitable full stop to the rich, heavy flavours of the main courses, though if we’re being picky, it’s a little lacking in inspiration. It’s a white chocolate and citrus cheesecake, holding a halved strawberry and some neon blobs of lime sauce, with a nice blob of ice cream on the side. If you want something sweet and clean to end the meal, this is the obvious choice.
Tattu is one of the city’s best restaurants for a reason. The chefs are constantly pushing the envelope, the staff are polite and friendly – not to mention incredibly knowledgable about the dishes – and the whole experience is something incredibly special. You won’t hear any well-worn cliches about authenticity and history (although there’s plenty of that if you scratch the surface), this is food that only looks forward and all the better for it.