New Portuguese restaurant, Canto, opened in Ancoats in September 2018. It’s the baby of restaurateur Simon Shaw (El Gato Negro) and head chef Carlos Gomes (formerly El Gato and Barrafina). King Street’s El Gato has a reputation for being a special occasion night out, but Canto feels more like the kind of place you might pop into a couple of nights a week. There’s not a mind boggling amount of choice – just 10 tapas or so – and a similar number of wines. Do a few things and do them well seems to be the vibe. Everything is designed to share; the excellent front of house team reckon on about three dishes per person, but I think you could probably get away with five between two. We start with a kind of prawn crispy pancake (£3.50) and tender octopus tentacles, wrapped around pickled baby onions (£10) served with a couple of roast potatoes. Highlights include sweet beetroot hunks topped with a snow of sheeps milk cheese and sticky braised pig cheeks with Jerusalem artichoke puree (£10.50). Veggie options such as polenta with spinach, poached egg, and Sao Jorge cheese (£5.50) and a softly grilled aubergine with cottage cheese and crispy chards of seaweed don’t drop the ball. We round things off with slow-cooked, pork belly in authentic ‘Bairrada’-style pepper gravy. Desserts such as almond tart (£6) and pastéis de nata (custard tart – £2.50) conclude an elegant spread – and the wine list deserves a special mention. From a small selection, many of which are available by the glass, I love the white Dao (Quinta Dos roques, Colheita, £7.40 / £42) and succulent red, Na Te Rales (£33). This typical wine from the Alentejo region is described by its makers as ‘simple and involving’; I might rephrase that as ‘simply involving’ – much like Canto itself.
Canto, Fairbairn Unit A, Fairbairn Building, Henry Street, Manchester, M4 5DH. Tel: 0161 870 5904, www.cantorestaurant.com
Published on: Thu 24 Jan 2019