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People always ask…

“What’s your favourite restaurant?” – The question is an occupational hazard but one I don’t really mind.  Over the years there have been several that have now sadly departed.  Oliver Peyton’s wonderfully innovative Mash and Air in Manchester city centre, for a little while was the only place to be.  I loved its radically chic, minimalist décor but sadly not enough other diners shared my view, because it lasted barely two years.

The same was the case with Reform, which also burned incandescently for a little while and was the only place to see and be seen if you were a budding WAG.  Everyone from a young David and Victoria – or Posh and Becks as they were then known – gravitated to the place but again the fickle vicissitudes of fashion determined that, it too had soon had its day.

Not many establishments get to stand the test of time but one that certainly has – and has also spawned a whole clutch of siblings – is the acclaimed Northcote Manor.  Nigel Haworth started there about the same time as I created Hi-Life and we’ve both been fortunate enough to achieve great success and not a little notoriety.

Their sister establishment such as the Three Fishes at Whalley, the Highwayman at Burrow and the Clog and Billycock at Pleasington perfectly demonstrate the current direction that dining is taking.  Less of the stiff, starchy and sometimes pompous haute cuisine that the good men from Michelin would like us to enjoy, in place of more informal, casual dining where the emphasis is placed on quality ingredients sourced locally.

A final worthy contender for my favourite North West nosh house should go to Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant in Manchester City Centre.  Sadly, still presumed by many to be nought but a department store, this stand alone eatery produces some of the best food and service in our region, with a front of house team marshalled by the incomparable Michael Currie.

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