Michelin star restaurants Manchester: the complex history between the food guide and the northern city

So, why are there so few Michelin star restaurants in Manchester?

Updated on 25 January 2021 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Michelin star restaurants Manchester: the complex history between the food guide and the northern city

Whether you’re a restaurant lover or simply a casual diner, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the Michelin guide. This annual food bible doles out awards to what they consider to be the UK’s finest restaurants, and has international outposts around the globe too. However, despite Manchester’s ever-expanding food scene, the guide has historically overlooked the city. So, what is the deal with Michelin and Manchester?

The Michelin guide was created by French tyre company Michelin, and continues to be published by them to this day. The first edition of the guide was published in 1900, but then it was simply a publication to encourage more people to drive which featured useful information for motorists, such as maps and listings for nearby hotels. Later on, restaurant reviews were added and the first edition of the Michelin guide as we know it was published in 1926, which saw the initial introduction of the star system (at this time, just one star could be awarded).

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Eventually, the guide introduced the two- and three-star ratings that we know today, and went on to become extraordinarily popular. Now, ‘Michelin’ is a byword for must-visit restaurants up and down the country, so it’s no surprise that the people of Manchester want their restaurants to be recognised by the famed guide.

According to the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2020, the UK boasts 187 Michelin-starred restaurants. However, readers may be shocked to learn that just one of those restaurants can be found in Manchester, despite it being one of the largest cities in the country. The sole Manchester restaurant baring a star is fine-dining establishment Mana, which achieved the historic feat just one year after opening.

When Mana received the accolade in October of 2019, it became the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Manchester since 1977.

Michelin star restaurants Manchester

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Simon Martin (@simonmartinmana)

Mana, Ancoats

What: Mana is a fine-dining restaurant headed up by chef Simon Martin (pictured above), formerly of two Michelin-starred Noma in Copenhagen. The restaurant’s sole offering is its 12-17 course tasting menu, which is a hyper-seasonal affair that evolves depending on which produce is available at the time. On our visit, we were thoroughly impressed by the likes of Devon smoked eel marinated in blueberry vinegar, and crisp fried reindeer moss topped with cep powder and thyme salt. One look at the prices will tell you that dining at Mana is definitely in special occasion territory; however, the lunch menu is priced at a slightly less daunting £65, offering an easier way in.
Where:
42 Blossom Street, M4 6BF
How much:
Tasting menu, £140pp

The history of Michelin stars on Manchester’s restaurant scene

Mana may be the only restaurant in Manchester to currently boast a Michelin star, but it isn’t the first restaurant in the city to ever receive the accolade. In 1974, Adam Reid at The French became the first (and only) Manchester city centre restaurant to be awarded a star, which it retained until 1977.

In 1998, Greater Manchester restaurant Juniper, based in Altrincham, was awarded one Michelin star, which it kept for 11 years until the departure of chef Paul Kitching. Manchester has never been home to a two- or three-star Michelin restaurant, but these are harder to come by – there are currently just seven three-Michelin starred restaurants in the whole of the UK.

The dining room at Michelin House in Chelsea, London

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does it mean to be in the Michelin guide?

Michelin stars are a rating system used by the Michelin guide to determine the quality of a restaurant. According to the guide’s current specifications, one Michelin star signifies “a very good restaurant”, two represents “excellent cooking that is worth a detour” and three stars means “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”.

Can you be awarded four Michelin stars?

There is often confusion surrounding just how many Michelin stars it is possible for a restaurant to receive. However, the highest accolade that Michelin currently awards is three stars.

Do you apply for a Michelin star?

No, there is no way for a restaurant to guarantee that it will be awarded a Michelin star. Michelin’s team of inspectors are entirely anonymous and pay for their meal in full, without the chef or waiting staff knowing that they are dining at the restaurant.

Can you lose a Michelin star?

Receiving a Michelin star is often the highlight of a chef’s career, but the guide also has the power to take them away. Throughout the years, several restaurants have lost stars following the departure of chefs or a change in standards.

Whether they have recognition from Michelin or not, there’s no denying that Manchester’s restaurant scene is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe us? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in Manchester.