3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

El Gato Negro set to join some old favourites on the Manchester Spanish food scene

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:34 20 April 2016

Morcillo scotch eggs at El Gato Negro

Morcillo scotch eggs at El Gato Negro


Janet Reeder gives the lowdown on the Spanish restaurant boom

Simon Shaw at El Gato NegroSimon Shaw at El Gato Negro

The summer may have gone but that doesn’t mean we have to lose the holiday vibe, at least where Spanish cuisine is concerned. It may not have escaped your notice but the culinary delights of Iberia have made their way over to the UK and the past few years have seen new highs for the quality and authenticity of Spanish food. El Bulli may now be no more but Aiden Ferra’s influence and the ‘nueva cocina’ movement has created a seismic shift in the industry with Spanish restaurants regularly making the top of the foodie charts.

Of course, all of this has rubbed off and now our county is reaping the benefits with older Spanish tapas bars now being joined by later exponents of the Iberian kitchen.

Newest of these on the block is the soon to open El Gato Negro with former Harvey Nichols head chef Simon Shaw at the helm.

While working in London, Simon visited the Basque country and Catalonia and immediately fell in love with the diversity and excitement of modern Spanish cuisine.

Jane Dowler and Family at EvunaJane Dowler and Family at Evuna

Determined to bring this then under-appreciated cuisine to a wider audience, in 2005, Simon returned north to open El Gato Negro in Ripponden, West Yorkshire. His restaurant’s reputation grew by the year, picking up awards and accolades galore: winning best local Spanish restaurant in the country on Gordon Ramsay’s F Word, feted by the critics, ranked the number one tapas bar in the country by The Times; and finally awarded the prestigious Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand in both 2014 and 2015.

But Simon is now preparing to open in King Street, Manchester, in late autumn. He says he fell in love with Spanish cuisine when he was working at Harvey Nichols in London.

‘We used to do these things called A Taste of..and we did A Taste of Spain and that hooked me in. What I like about Spanish food is it’s innovative and they really take great care with their ingredients. And one of the cities at the forefront of this was Barcelona - what you had there was the mix of the very contemporary with other influences.

‘I remember working with a lady at Harvey Nichols. I was invited to her house for Sunday lunch and I was mesmerized by it. You never knew what was coming next and it kept on coming. And I still get the same excitement from it as I did 15 years ago.’

Prawns at EvunaPrawns at Evuna

Simon will head the team at the restaurant which is backed by Mills Hills group. He is busy devising dishes that will work for the new venture, some of which were a fixture at the former Ripponden restuarant.

He explains: ‘Morcilla are scotch eggs with a small quail’s egg surrounded by black pudding. I tell people they are very fiddly to make and they say “we don’t care. just make sure they don’t come off the menu”.

‘Another staple is a lentil dish and chargrilled baby chicken, with paprika and a garlic and romanescu sauce.’

There will however, be many fresh additions, thanks to the new equipment that will be installed in the state-of-the-art kitchen.

‘Quite a bit of the menu will be based around cooking with charcoal as we have a Josper grill. We will also be using a robata grill which is a Japanese technique. If you visit Barcelona there’s a restaurant called Dos Pallilos where the old chef at El Bulli who has a Japanese wife has fused Spanish style and Japanese style and it’s fantastic.’

A Spanish kitchen is, he believes, perfectly suited to the Manchester way of life for many reasons.

‘It’s one of those cuisines that is accessible to everyone, whether you want to have two or three dishes and a glass of wine or come down for a couple of hours,’ he says.

One of the oldest independent Spanish restaurants in Manchester is Evuna with branches on Deansgate and in the Northern Quarter. Jane Dowler’s original concept was selling boutique wines with tapas.

‘The focus was on a mixture of retail and restaurant, which happens quite a lot in Europe,’ says Jane, who runs the restaurant with her mother Frances and husband Bosun Ajilowura.

‘The idea was that people would pop in, have a little something to eat and choose some wine to have at home. But in 2003 we ended up becoming a full blown restaurant. As soon as we opened we knew we needed more table space.’

With a chef on board, the kitchen was able to create authentic dishes to match the authentic wines bought from independent producers, which is Evuna’s USP.

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Lancashire Life

Yesterday, 12:20

There is plenty to do in Lancashire; here is our guide to Halloween in Lancashire to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

Read more
Autumn Halloween
Yesterday, 00:00

A 12-year-old from St Helens has gone the extra mile to say thank you to hospital staff for saving his baby brother’s life.

Read more
Yesterday, 00:00

Set in the spectacular scenery overlooking England’s longest lake, the Lake District’s first luxury resort is offering you the chance to enjoy the perfect getaway.

Read more
Tue, 00:00

A look inside the October 2018 issue of Lancashire Life

Read more

Meet some of the devilishly successful people who make this glorious Ribble Valley town tick.

Read more

How a derelict farm near Hawkshead was tranformed into a holistic retreat.

Read more
Mon, 00:00

Former Westlife star Brian McFadden is loving his new life in the Lancashire countryside, writes Paul Mackenzie.

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

War stories from the Kay-Shuttleworth family history have gone on show at their ancestral home, Gawthorpe Hall

Read more

What does it take to grow the ingredients needed to meet the demands of a Michelin starred restaurant?

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

The site was designated Lancashire’s first ever ‘Local Nature Reserve’ in 1968 and is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Host of celebrities from the showbusiness world attended the event

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Poet Yrsa Daley-Ward was born in Chorley to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father. She was brought up by devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents and worked as a fashion model before moving into poetry. Her latest book, The Terrible, is a memoir about girlhood, femininity, family secrets, addiction, sexuality and mental health. She now lives in New York.

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A striking sculpture attracts John Lenehan to this circular walk through some oustanding scenery.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

This varied selection of walks are all within ten miles of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Read more
Arnside Silverdale

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search