After the success of chef Simon Shaw’s Spanish-inspired El Gato Negro on King Street, he opened branches in Liverpool and Leeds. Manchester’s standalone Portuguese, Canto, followed in 2018 – and his latest venture, Habas, has just opened on King Street.

This impressive restaurant – which seats literally hundreds, yet still manages to feel cosy – sees Shaw moving his culinary expertise from Spain to the Levant, and he’s certainly enjoying himself in the kitchen.

Sumptuous El Gato-type-takes on Middle Eastern classics abound. King-sized feta and sun blush tomato filo cigars (£8.50) rub shoulders with skewers of tenderlicious marinated lamb (£12). There are cute half jackets, scooped out and stuffed with warmly spiced mince (£8.50) while desserts include sticky date pudding (£6.50) and cheesecakes topped with pure Turkish Delight (£6.50. Be warned: this is big enough to share but too good to part with). Tuck into pillowy handmade pitas for just £1 – or the house flatbread (£3.50) cooked to order and served with a facemeltingly garlicky chimichurri-style dip.

Cocktails are tastefully sharp too. The Johnny Walker and soda based Transit to Yerevan (£9), for example, and a non-alcoholic homage to the Bellini (£4.50). For wine fans, there’s an excellent Pinot from Romania (£28) and cherry-rich Hochar Pere et Fils 2017 Lebanese red; a less premium but no less brilliant line from Bekaa Valley’s iconic Chateau Musar (£10.20 by the glass, £49 bottle).

Sure, it’s a far cry from authentic Middle Eastern restaurants like London’s Barbary and Aladdin in Withington but Shaw’s army of fans are going to love it. Plus there’s a great value lunch at £15 for 3 courses, or £17.50 with a Beirut beer.

Filo cigars at Habas
The largest filo cigars in town at Habas Manchester
Whisky cocktail at Habas Manchester
Transit to Yerevan whiskey and soda cocktail
Medjool date cake at Habas Manchester
Medjool date cake with pistachio ice cream
Homemade garlic and herb flatbread at Habas Manchester
Garlic and herb flatbread, made to order at Habas
Wed 7 Jul, Habas,
43A Brown Street, Manchester M2 2JJ
, Tel: 0161 470 9375, Varies
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Tue 6 Jul 2021