Looking for restaurants in Manchester? Read our review of Enxaneta, and check out more suggestions for eating in Manchester here.
Enxaneta in a nutshell
A restaurant within a restaurant, the Enxaneta dining room features two complex tasting menus of Mediterranean staples and razor-sharp, ingredient-centred dishes reinvented through the lens of the gastronomic imagination of Michelin-favourite Paco Pérez.
The creative vision of Paco (who currently holds six Michelin stars across his restaurants around the world) is executed by protégée Miquel Villacrosa, himself a student at Miramar and then master at Berlin’s Restaurant Cinco. Catalonian by birth and by inclination, Miquel’s childhood in a mountain town with a reputation for game and greenery is apparent from his joyful interpretation of the region’s terroir.
What’s the vibe?
The 16-cover space is an elegant wash of teal, the tables unfussily adorned with spotless linen and a single bee-embossed tile. The dedicated kitchen is walled with crema-catalana-hued tiles from the region’s famous ceramic towns.
What’s the food like?
Catalonian food is of a demonstrably different order than Spain’s, owing as much to Marseille and Milan as to Madrid. The two seasonal tasting menus (10 courses or 15) on offer at Enxaneta are an education in this difference.
The well-paced sequencing begins with a tea-dark mushroom consommé whose first sip is a beefy slap that melts into licorice. The middle section is perhaps the most exciting, beginning with an unctuous tartare of bluefin tuna and sea urchin before refreshing the palate with an elBulli-esque reinvention of green peas. Icily nitrogenous pea crumble tops layers of pea consommé, a warm disc of emerald jelly and the stalky aroma of pea shoot essence.
Next comes a trio of stellar dishes typical of Paco Pérez’s reputation for rich, generous saucing. The langoustine cannelloni mixes France and Italy in a thin tube that balances the sweet shellfish against a heady béchamel. The sea cucumber carbonara takes the ugliest of creatures and turns it into a movie star, cooking it as al dente pasta strands laced with thick, eggy sauce. The sole meunière is fat and firm, accompanied by mussels and a mussel cream ravioli.
Barbecued wagyu fillet is served with a light and frothy quilt of polenta as a foil for the thin, rare slices of fat-marbled beef. But it’s the wagyu tartare which steals the show with its mound of sangria-red sweet meat set off by woody micro herbs and dabs of truffled egg yolk. It’s a dish that shows you don’t need all the meat, just the right meat.
Pijama, a much-loved Catalonian flan with fruit and cream, is served as a shockingly fresh berry soup with flan ice cream: the perfect way to round off an exciting, challenging and fun menu.
And the drinks?
The two wine pairings (seven glasses for the 10 course menu and nine glasses for the 15 courses) are reliably heavy with regional and national favourites but grapes from Italy, France and the New World appear, too.
You might feel so overwhelmed by the menu that when asked if you would like bread you say no. This would be a mistake. You want this bread. You deserve this bread.
Enxaneta at Tast Cuina Catalana, 20-22 King Street, Manchester, M2 6AG
Words by Stephen Connolly
Photographs by TAST