Michael O’Hare’s new restaurant has just opened at the top of the Urbis building. The tasting menu costs £75 and diners can expect radical re-workings of sushi and Japanese dishes over 16 (plus) courses; char-grilled, sticky octopus, for example, prawn-cracker-style ‘rabbit ears’ poking out of edible soil and a fake ‘plum stone’ made from a hand painted chocolate shell and bitter-sweet cream. The interior is darkly architectural. But with no menu on the table, the presentation (on 3D sculptural objects and rabbit-embossed spatulas) feels different from anything else in Manchester. There’s no denying head chef Luke Cockerill’s cooking is inventive, either. But he’s not doing it for sake of it. Dishes often cluster around one ingredient. A trio of duck, for example, takes in a rich and fatty duck broth, a pink liver lollipop with pistachio and soy (maybe) and a sushi-style bite of duck breast on the side. Another course is a Japanese oyster served with a tomato reduction. Savoury pastries include ‘pain au unagi’ (pictured – a kind of fish and eel mousse croissant) and a bacon ‘bao’ bap. Dessert, meanwhile, pairs a glass of hair-raisingly plumy sake with bitter jam, char-grilled Bakewell sponge and the aforementioned ‘plum stone’. This is Michelin-grade envelope pushing with great attention to detail. Other parallels with Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind the Curtain restaurant in Leeds include strangely-coloured toilet roll and a punishing sound track that delves deep into hip hop’s glory days. The wine list (Pinot Gris, Grunet Veltliner) is packed with varietals that work with everything on the menu. In fact, the only sticking point is the pace; courses come so thick and fast, that there’s barely time to work out what we’re eating before the next round arrives. Look out Manchester. Once the kinks are ironed out, we might just have a star on our hands.

Now open: The Rabbit in the Moon, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, City Centre, Manchester M4 3BG. Tel: 0161 804 8560 Open: 6pm–11pm, www.therabbitinthemoon.com

Fri 6 Jan
Joshua Gordon
Published on:
Tue 10 Jan 2017