Mana — Manchester, UK
Chef Simon Martin carries with him no small degree of culinary clout – formerly working under René Redzepi at the much vaunted Noma, and before that with Gordon Ramsay at his eponymous, three Michelin-starred restaurant. But just as Noma is preparing to reinvent itself, so Martin too has his eyes set on new endeavours, with the opening of his own restaurant, Mana, in Manchester’s briskly developing Ancoats neighbourhood.
An historically industrial area, its handsome redbrick buildings – many former cotton mills – and sympathetic new builds have become a persuasive draw for creative, often international, restaurateurs seeking to tap into the city’s burgeoning progressive food scene.
Cheshire-based studio James Roberts Design headed up Mana’s interiors, with a brief to create a space that explores the power of elemental forces. The result is a restaurant that borrows from places of worship, not just in design but atmosphere. The eight-metre-high ceilings are captivatingly cathedral like, while pendant lighting from Brokis creates arresting architectural lines that seem to sway in contemplation with the passing breeze.
Intentionally cocooned from the world beyond, floor-to-ceiling windows are draped in flickering white voiles. As Roberts says, ‘I want to give Mana’s guests the feeling that they are stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia.’
With just 28 covers, there’s an almost religious sense of austerity and essentialism at ground level. Obsidian tables disappear into the dark wood floors and grey walls as the Italian Porada chairs, in soft cream leather, beckon diners forth in reverent expectation of Martin’s 13-course, concept driven celebration of British cuisine.§