20 Stories in Manchester has only been open a week and already it is dominating our Instagram news feed and favourite blogs, so we were keen to get in and try it for ourselves. It’s no secret that we love Manchester House and what Aiden Byrne did as head chef there, so we went to 20 Stories with a critical eye. Luckily, we were not disappointed.
From the outside, the venue itself – No. 1 Spinningfields – isn’t much to look at, but as soon as you exit the private lift on the 19th floor you can see what all the fuss is about. Floor to ceiling windows give a stomach-churning panoramic view of our beautiful city. We spent a good 15 minutes before heading into the restaurant looking for our favourite buildings from above, and I think I even managed to spot my village! It was a gloomy day (thanks to Storm Emma), so I would love to go back in the sunshine and see even more. The views from the toilets were equally spectacular, although it did get a little busy with selfie-takers; hopefully that will die down once the restaurant has been open a while.
We headed into the restaurant, which is a huge open-plan space split into three zones. There’s the brasserie offering a more relaxed menu and the restaurant, where Aiden Byrne’s skill really shines, then a cocktail bar down the middle of the room which was packed for the entire time we were there. An open roof terrace runs the length of the space, but even with patio heaters and blankets it was too daunting for us on this chilly weekend.
We had booked in the brasserie but there was a slight mix-up with the booking, so we were seated in the restaurant but had the choice of both menus. This was perfect, as every foodie option was open to us. After careful consideration of all choices we decided on the brasserie menu, which was perfect for lunch. I was so pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices; starters are as little as £6 and mains are from £10.
Just a quick special mention for the bread before we move on to the starters; this delicious sourdough was supplied by Pollen Bakery and it tasted – and smelt – incredible. 20 Stories makes a point of sourcing all their ingredients locally (no more than 50 miles from Manchester) to showcase the very best of the North West
I opted for white onion and parmesan soup to start, which was so full of flavour and went perfectly with the delicious bread. The baked onion and thyme filo tart with balsamic shallots was really tempting too, and did have a bit of food envy when it arrived at our table destined for someone else!
The main course was my absolute highlight. I chose cod cheek fish and chips and it was as delicious as it looks. The batter was incredibly light and the fish itself tasted amazing. The chips got top marks and even the peas on their own were full of flavour. I washed it down with a glass of English sparkling wine (fish and chips + fizz is always a winner).
I was too full for a pudding myself, but snuck a taste of the chocolate fondant with rocky road ice cream and it was divine. We then relaxed with a coffee and shortbread biscuits while taking in the views and the atmosphere.
The whole meal, including a couple of drinks each and a tip, was £38 per head, which was great value in my opinion. I cannot wait to return and see how the restaurant evolves once the initial hype dies down, but I’ve got a feeling it will continue to be as popular for many years to come.