Restaurant review - Tast Cuina Catalana, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 October 2018
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is among the owners of Tast, a new restaurant helping King Street’s ambitions to join the gastronomic Premier League.
Manchester’s King Street has past form as a place where football and food meet for a kickabout.
San Carlo in King Street West has long been a room where you might see a footie megastar tackling a meatball. Up at the top of King Street former Manchester United stalwart Rio Ferdinand opened Rosso, a restaurant similarly Italian in style and glitzy of clientele.
Somewhere in between the two we now have another footie-food venture in Tast. The name over the door is that of Michelin-starred Catalan chef Paco Pérez, but the more familiar name is among the owners: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
As you’d expect from a man whose fashion motif is a grey jumper, Tast has a subtle style and a heartening shortage of glitz. Anyone intrigued by the idea of an artful 21st century take on Catalan cuisine should step on up.
Tast has two distinct spaces. Downstairs, it’s communal bench tables and some outdoor seating to take advantage of Manchester’s Barcelona-like climate...
Upstairs is more formal: dusky blue (not City sky blue) decor, white tablecloths on separate tables and a view across King Street to the fabulous black and white Boodles building.
If you’re confused by the concept of small plates, tapas and cichetti then you get a new quandary here in the shape of ‘tastets’. These comprise anything from a red pepper croquette at £1.70 to tempura lobster at £18. We opened with Catalan bread (£4.90). Fried bites came next, including an Iberian ham croquette (£1.90) and the more substantial bomba de la Barceloneta - a deliciously musty soft mushroom and potato croquette with mushroom mayo. Aubergine - a dull veg in anyone’s books - came zapped into life, fried in sticks and garnished with anchovy mayo and molasses (£6.50). Chicken wings (£7.20) were richly breadcrumbed and served with a foamy, chickenny dip. My dining companion’s asparagus (£7) came with cherry tomatoes and what looked like a cheesy sauce, but he’d wolfed it down and pronounced it non-specifically fantastic before I could get a fork near to it or a proper description from him.
That aubergine came in its own bespoke serving dish - a half-aubergine. Likewise, an ornate marine sculpture held an octopus dish (£13) which was star of the show: chunks of tentacle with dabs of peppery romesco sauce, all surrounding buttery mashed potatoes. Another star of the main menu - though it looks, on paper, more like dessert - was a confection of seared melon with an almond ice cream, melon jelly and melon granita.
On to puds, we tried a superlative crema catalana (£5.50) and a Catalan-style cheesecake - more cake-like in consistency than our usual idea of cheesecake - which I ordered purely because the cheese in question was stilton, and I was intrigued to find out if Paco Pérez’s kitchen really could turn such a bolshie cheese as stilton into an enticing dessert. Of course, they did, supremely well.
Tast Cuina Catalana, 20-22 King Street, Manchester, M2 6AG. 0161 806 0547 tastcatala.com