During December I also got the chance to visit Manchester, mainly to visit the Christmas Markets that they host every year. The markets are packed full of great stalls, food and of course, mulled wine and hot chocolate. But whenever we are in Manchester we always steer towards El Gato Negro Tapas and we just had to visit. El Gato Negro is an award-winning tapas restaurant based in a converted three storey town house in the heart of Manchester.
The atmosphere at El Gato is warm, welcoming and rustic. When you first arrive, you are welcomed by some lovely staff , who will show you to either the bar, or your table, if it is ready. I would highly recommend booking as I have never seen this place quiet! First I have to start off with their bar menu, as they have some of the best gins and cocktails I have seen. They have a great variety of different gins, and they are served with the best tonics and garnishes, as you can see in the pictures below.
Not going to lie, I don’t even know where to start when it comes to the food. I have been a couple of times now, so have managed to try quiet a few of their dishes and I can honestly say I haven’t come across one I don’t love. As it’s tapas I recommend picking 2/3 dishes each and all digging in, then you get to try a bit of everything.
Firstly, I will start with the two things we ask for, before we have even all sat down, and that is their Padrón peppers with Halen Môn sea salt and the Catalan bread with olive oil, garlic and fresh tomato. If there is more than 4 of you, I would get 2 of each of these, so you can all have a slice of the Catalan bread. As when it comes you will regret having to half a slice, as it is just too good to share. These are two great dishes to nibble on whilst you all deciding on what to order.
When we visit we usually pick a few meat dishes, 1/2 fish and a couple of vegetable dishes. So starting off with the meats, here are a few I would recommend you try. Their pig cheeks with parsley root purée, chestnuts and sprouts, is a great winter dish, succulent and melts in the mouth, a great one for when its cold and raining outside (the usual weather for Manchester). A personal favourite of mine is the Jamón Ibérico croquetas which are super cheesy and we all know I love cheese. As well as their Meatballs in tomato fritarda sauce and Mini Catalan chorizo with Aspall cider, perfect dishes for any meat-eaters.
On our recent trip in December they also had a new meat dish of char-grilled lamb skewers with spiced chickpea purée and harissa, which we had to try. And guess what, we were not disappointed. The lamb skewers were tender and packed full of flavour.
For fish dishes they have some great options, including the Hake Bilbaína: pan-fried hake with a tomato, sherry and garlic sauce. Which honestly, is the best fish dish ever! We had it on our first visit, and I would go back just for that. Also I love their char-grilled octopus with capers, shallots and aioli and salt cod croquetas, piquillo pepper purée and aioli, all great dishes for all of you to dive into.
Finally my two favourite vegetable dishes that we always get, are the char-grilled heritage carrots served with aubergine purée, miso and walnut pesto and manchego, they are easily the best carrots I have ever had, haha! And of course, as we are at a Spanish tapas restaurant a bowl of their tasty Patatas bravas with spiced tomato fritarda sauce and aioli.
They have so many dishes to choose from I could have been here all day, but I thought I would share with you my favourites and the ones I think are the best for you and your friends/family to share when you visit!
The only semi-bad thing I would say is that on our visit in December they had taken the braised Ox cheek with mash and gravy off their menu, which was easily the best dish I had ever tasted! I would rush back if they were to add this back on! But nevertheless, it is still a great place to go.
Oh and I can’t forget about dessert! On my last visit I went for their Mango, passion-fruit & mandarin cheesecake, which was a lovely end to the meal, however I was so full I had to get my dad to finish it. And then on my first visit I got the Raspberry Macaroon, which was actually on the specials and was as good as it looks in the picture above!
If you have never been, I would 100% book to go sometime this year! You will not be disappointed. You might even bump into Judge Rinder on your visit, as I know he loves it too!
Hope you enjoyed another review and let me know your opinions of El Gato Negro Tapas in Manchester, in the comments below!