Kala is the sixth restaurant in Gary Usher’s Elite Bistros group, which includes Chester’s famous Sticky Walnut. Like his other restaurants, Kala was crowdfunded, becoming the fastest-funded restaurant project in the world with over £100k raised in 11 hours.
Located on smart King Street, Kala is elegant but laid back with 55 covers in the mezzanine dining room and 10 at the bar. The open kitchen has a charcoal grill, a first for the group, and is headed by Jack Huxley, who has joined from Sticky Walnut where he progressed rapidly to head chef.
Dishes include a couple recognisable to diners who’ve visited the other bistros, such as a silky-smooth chicken liver pâté which comes with rhubarb and cider chutney and a thick slab of toasted milk loaf. Our seasonal Wye Valley asparagus, firm and tender, was served with chunky sauce gribiche enlivened by sharp pickles and salty capers, while creamy burrata came with sprouting broccoli, blackened spring onion dressing and salted lemon.
A main of braised beef featherblade with fat golden truffle and parmesan chips was another dish familiar across the bistros, slow-cooked and fall-apart tender and drenched in glossy rich gravy. Meaty barbecued monkfish arrived appealingly charred from the grill, served with shredded red cabbage, mango, crunchy macadamia and sweet, smoky BBQ sauce.
The bistros excel at puddings, and Kala’s banoffee choux bun with whipped cream was comforting and indulgent. Our sticky parkin was superb, served with stem ginger ice cream and sweet butterscotch sauce. The wine list includes plenty by the glass, while beers feature local brewers Blackjack, Runaway and Alphabet.
Homely yet high-end, Kala is a welcome addition to Manchester city centre.