Saturday, 11 April 2020

Kala, Manchester restaurant review

We eat food for many different reasons. Fuel. Fun. Social connection. Comfort.

Arguably though, one of the most important reasons is to line your stomach before a colossal session on the booze.

It was for this purpose we found ourselves at Gary Usher’s Kala in Manchester city centre before a trip to Cloudwater’s all you can drink beer festival, Friends & Family & Beer, which took place in the middle of February.

With a CV including the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, Usher’s cooking is big on flavour and classical technique. He's also one of the most passionate and outspoken people in the hospitality industry on social media. Kala is his most recent opening and the fastest ever funded restaurant on Kickstarter; it raised £100k in 11 hours.

An excellent value set lunch offers two courses for £20 or three courses for £23.

A whopping bowl of thick sweet onion soup had an addictive savoury note from the presence of madeira whilst a pile of fried onions brought crunch to the party. A doorstep of toasted focaccia was rich with olive oil and salt.

Uber-smooth and rich chicken liver pate was accompanied by more of that excellent focaccia and a sweet and tangy farmhouse chutney.

A hearty main will almost certainly be one of my standout dishes of the year. A long cooked, fall apart tender pork knuckle was coated in a seriously sticky and meaty sauce. Creamy risotto had a lovely texture from the use of orzo pasta, mellow salsa verde provided richness balancing cut through, and a toasted macadamia crumb offered welcome crunch.

A veggie main saw nicely caramelised roasted cauliflower pieces sat in a silky smooth butterbean puree with the fragrant hit of salted lemon, warmth of green chilli and crunch of toasted almonds and sourdough crackers. The dish was a little off balance in terms of the quantity its components with the puree rather than the cauliflower being the dominant element.

Golden wedge cut chips (£4) were proper fluffy rustlers.

Tenderstem broccoli (£4.50) was cleverly paired with sweet caramelised onions and a tangy mayo with a good hit of umami anchovy.

Desserts were both belters.

A big spiced ginger parkin was half cake, half flapjack - the moist sponge studded with the crunch and chew of oats. It was doused in a decadent salted caramel sauce and a pretty quenelle of vanilla-fragranced chantilly cream.

A silky smooth sweet honeycomb semifreddo was tempered by the bitterness of dark chocolate sauce with a beauty of a piece of honeycomb perched precariously on top.

We had a cracking lunch at Kala. This restaurant serves great food with bags of technique, their set lunch is a steal and the serving team are really friendly. Crucially, Kala did a sterling job of lining our stomachs before an epic beer session.

The Details:

Address - Kala, King Street, Manchester, M2 4LQ
Web -
Telephone - 0800 160 1811

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