Restaurant review - Canto, Manchester

Main menu at Canto (Picture by Joby Catto)

Main menu at Canto (Picture by Joby Catto) - Credit: Archant

Modern Portuguese flavours and fabulous wine give you every reason to visit Canto at Ancoats

Canto's hip interior

Canto's hip interior - Credit: Archant

Canto is the latest arrival at the Hoxton-esque area of Ancoats in Manchester city centre, a collaboration by head chef Carlos Gomes and Simon Shaw whose El Gato Negro has been wowing diners on King Street for the past couple of years.

It’s styled as modern Portuguese and is based in an industrial cantina-type space dominated by a bar and an open kitchen where the chefs get busy preparing the freshly cooked all-day menu.

My other half booked and was phoned three times by the restaurant to confirm we were still coming. Honestly, no-shows are a restaurant’s nightmare especially ones who cook fresh ingredients and you can’t help but feel for the anxiety it must cause.

We went along on a busy Saturday afternoon and at 1.30pm and were told we were on the ‘chef’s table’ basically at the bar in front of the kitchen. Not for us. We opted for a table for two overlooking the square fronting the Halle at St Michael’s, a creative space used by Manchester’s famed orchestra on George Leigh Street.

Pollen Bread (photograph by Joe Sheridan)

Pollen Bread (photograph by Joe Sheridan) - Credit: Archant

The menu is definitely not conventional which makes for exciting eating, plus the wine list is great. It took all our willpower not to order a second bottle of the Est Loureiro Vinho Verde 2017, £26, which was busting with fruit and zesty sparkle.

The small plates arrived sporadically after a magnificent opener of warmed bread from nearby bakery Pollen, served with light whipped rich butter, £3.50. Sooo delicious! And cured Bisaro DOP pork loin enjoyed by the other side of the table.

Salt cod, £5, was a little lost in a dish that included onion tempura and a tomato broth but the flavours were fresh. Roasted peppers, baby artichokes and runner beans, £6, was a simple and delightful dish but I was a little disappointed by the polenta, poached egg and spinach, which I would have liked to be a little more indulgent and I could hardly identify the accompanying São Jorge cheese mentioned on the menu. Punched potatoes with miso, £4.50, a take on potatoes and aioli, was delicious while the octopus lagareiro, £10, looked and tasted authentically of Portuguese shores.

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We finished with glasses of São João Brut Reserva Bairrada 2015 £5.50, which was as good as any house champagne but for half the price, and a flinty dry Quinta do Poco do Lobo sparkling red Bairrada 2016, £6.20, as well as pasteis de nata – Portuguese custard tarts, £2.50 each.

Aside from teeny niggles, dining at Canto was a relaxed and enjoyable affair and felt a little bit cool and edgy. Never seen the re-vamped Ancoats? This is the reason to do it. I’ll be back.

Fairbairn House, Henry Street, Manchester, M4 5DH.

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