Looking for Manchester restaurants? Read our review of modern wine bar and restaurant Erst, and check out more suggestions for eating in Manchester here.
Erst in a nutshell
Bursting confidently into Manchester’s new gastronomic heart, Erst offers bold food and thoughtful drinks in a welcoming space.
As the newest venture from the team behind the Trove bakery and café family, Erst’s head chef and co-owner Patrick Withington is an alumnus of the Trove site in Levenshulme. He also ran the popular Sirocco Tapas supper clubs before settling down in his new Ancoats digs.
What’s the vibe?
Despite its trendy location, and a menu that’s restrained to the point of looking spartan, Erst isn’t another temple to minimalism but a warm, casual place with breathing space for an open bar and a host of small tables. It jettisons the ubiquitous chrome and brick of post-industrial dining in favour of simple matte blacks and softened geometric shapes. By the light-flooded windows, couples and small groups of friends take their time over sophisticated snacks and curated booze choices.
What’s the food like at Erst?
Erst wears the label ‘Modern European’ with buckets of continental panache (the name’s font even looks a little like a €). Through a diverse parade of dishes rich with the fruity oils and soft herbs of the Med, diners can still find flashes of vinegary sharpness reminiscent of northern Europe’s fermentations and foragings.
The menu features several small plates of charcuterie and tangy pickles, but not to be missed are the puffy flatbreads that smell sweet as a crêperie. The Carlingford oysters are plump and fresh, a lemon and wild garlic hit adds a zesty edge.
It’s the slightly larger dishes where the cooking really shines, however, with winners like ricotta dumplings so light they deserve a less earthbound name. Don’t miss the vegan-friendly wedge of Hispi cabbage, though, that’s coated with a yeast sauce carrying notes of mirin and soy. It’s an exercise in tender treatment that pulls it back from the brink of charred to retain its vibrant sweetness. There’s also a buttery skate wing piled high with a mound of woody dill and sharp capers, and a dessert of rugged sponge with sweet ricotta and gooseberries.
And the drinks?
In addition to craft beers, the carefully managed and ever-changing wine list carries unfiltered and organic options from mainly European producers.
Don’t be afraid to hang around. It’s a bar as much as a restaurant, so staff are happy for early arrivals and late stayers to cluster around the bar and shoot the breeze.
Erst., 9 Murray Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 5BN
Words by Stephen Connolly