The Beeswing joined Kampus’s fine selection of independent traders in summer 2022, building a reputation as one of Manchester’s friendliest wine bars. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Baratxuri chef, Joe Botham, the food side has been ramped up, offering tapas dishes to accompany its vast selection of vino.
The venue has a charming Mediterranean feel, all high ceilings, intimate seating and slightly rustic furnishings. Expect an atmosphere to match, full of cheerful staff and groups of friends and date-night couples getting slowly, happily sozzled.
Don’t expect a huge menu – The Beeswing leads on wine, and the food is designed to complement the drinks, not the other way around. As such, you can go for plates of cheese or charcuterie, plus bread and olives, or dive straight into the tapas.
These small plates are where things get interesting. First up, a traditional Spanish tortilla, made with soft fried potatoes, buttery onion and eggs, served cold with a welcome blob of house aioli. It’s delightfully described on the menu as ‘soft and oozy’ and it’s a fine opening act.
Next, roasted cod loin in a vermouth sauce. This is something special. The beautifully cooked fish flakes easily into thick smooth slivers, with a simple but eye-opening creamy sauce that includes samphire and gives off hints of fennel and garlic.
But the Iberico collar is the standout dish, not only here but probably in the city as a whole. A thick slice of pork is slow-cooked for hours in a red wine pork stock, before being seared, swirled with pomegranate molasses, and placed on a bed of crushed garlic chickpeas. It’s a glorious mixture of textures – that first crisp-then-soft bite of pork is unforgettable – with a balance of flavours that goes from piercing and potent to gentle and soothing in a flash.
Nearly as good (and only half the price, at £6.50) is the chickpea and wilted spinach dish, topped with a fried egg. Sounds simple, but it’s a combination that sends taste receptors flying, bolstered by the use of toasted cumin seeds and ultra-crunchy breadcrumbs. Again, it’s all about the textures but the way the sweet, earthy cumin combines with runny egg yolk is marvellous. You’ll come back for this one, and not just once.
That’s not to say our final savoury dish, the pork meatballs, is a let-down. It’s a grand small plate, made with superb quality meat, accompanied by a rich, powerful tomato sauce. Best of all, the meatballs are made with chorizo and little chunks of Spanish black pudding, elevating it above the typical albondigas.
Finally, dessert, and it’s a dish called requeson: three hand-rolled cheesecake balls, made with whey cheese (hence the title) and chocolate biscuit, rolled in chocolate dust, drizzled with a fruit coulis and served with a little jug of cream.
When it comes to ideas and execution, The Beeswing’s menu is up there with the best. Think 10 Tib Lane, The Jane Eyre and Evelyn’s. It’s an impressive achievement for a venue only a few days into its first real food menu.