Seafood need not be smothered in espuma, deep fried or even particularly expensive. Yet The Oystercatcher, a new restaurant from wood-fired grill guru, Recep Canliisik (The Lead Station) and former Hispi chef, Duncan Ranyard, seems to be the only restaurant in Manchester to have got the memo. The Chorlton bistro has been open just over two months serving whole sea bream, with a rich, smoky flavour fresh off the grill, wild tiger prawns on crisp, buttered toast, moules frites, handmade crab ravioli with a light tomato sauce – and the best romesco sauce and salt and pepper squid rings, perhaps ever. Tenderstem broccoli with the aforementioned sauce and a patchwork of heritage tomatoes are all you need on the side, while desserts such as affogato (with nutty espresso and hazelnut liquor) or crème brulee are as rich and generous as you’d make at home (if you could cook this well, of course). Fans of the unit’s former occupant, Gray’s Larder, will notice few changes. Leather style booths, little tables and low-slung lights still line the tiny room, as candles flicker and conversation flutters. The outside heaters are surprisingly effective which is an important detail when tables are as hard to bag as a blue marlin. With Manchester’s other seafood restaurants either closed or in dire straits, Chorlton’s Oystercatcher makes a case for doing something something simple and well – and long may it reign.

Open now, The Oystercatcher, 123 Manchester Road, Chorlton, M21 9PG. Tel: 0161 286 1961.

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Tue 21 Aug
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Thu 23 Aug 2018