Higher Ground was established at the start of 2020 by hospitality professionals Joseph Otway, Richard Cossins and Daniel Craig Martin. Their initial residency ran for just four weeks before being curtailed by the first lockdown, but in early 2023, the trio relaunched their pop-up restaurant concept as a permanent venue in Manchester city centre.
The laid-back British bistro and bar, from the team behind Ancoats’ critically acclaimed wine bar and bottle shop, Flawd, seats 50, with a dedicated walk-in wine room and a long strip of burnt orange leather counter seats offering a view of the open kitchen and charcoal oven as well as allowing interaction with the chefs. Pale wooden tables and dark leather seats give the rest of the dining room a neat, stripped back feel, with splashes of colour adding warmth.
Summery small plates on our visit included plump, juicy coal-roasted scallops served in the shell with nasturtium and green tomato relish, crisp pea fritters with buttery Quicke’s Cheddar, and vibrant green English asparagus spears with burnt garlic mayonnaise and soft-boiled egg. A tangle of crunchy kohlrabi salad was enlivened with a punchy Garstang blue cheese dressing, while silky hand-rolled pasta was dressed with tender braised lamb shoulder in an inviting pool of rich, meaty juices.
A larger dish of perfectly pink, tender slices of hogget was served with braised green lentils and peppery watercress, while a side of Marfona mashed potato was obscenely rich and addictive with copious amounts of melted charcoal butter; it’s easy to see why this dish is already becoming something of a cult classic among Manchester’s foodies. Desserts included a sensational seasonal strawberry, custard and spelt tart. The wine list, meanwhile, shines a spotlight on small-scale, low intervention winemakers from around Europe.
With its confident, creative and expertly crafted menu and friendly, relaxed and knowledgeable service, Higher Ground has hit the ground running.