Erst: Seasonal Small Plates & Other Delicacies

This is an ode to Erst, a restaurant whose food made me giddy. I don’t tend to write individual restaurant reviews, and in truth, I had planned to create a listicle of the best restaurants in Manchester. Instead, I was blown away by Erst, so here we are.

Erst is a small, popular restaurant in Ancoats. On Google, it simply states that it serves seasonal small plates and natural wine. And yes, it does, but that doesn’t do it justice. In reality, that’s just a taste of its understated approach.

We booked a table (last minute, I’ll admit) and were some of the last to enter the restaurant on an average Thursday night. Despite arriving in the dark, past 9pm, the place was full. Glasses tinkled, guests chatted warmly, and the staff were casual, in that way that’s both friendly and professional, that makes you feel at ease and cared for.

When ordering, we asked for recommendations, and then went against them. (It makes me wonder what we missed out on). Instead, we kept things linked to the sea: oysters (not for me), scallops, and plaice. We couldn’t resist the walnut flat bread, nor the mozzarella. And I’m so glad we didn’t resist.

Each dish brings it’s own unique flavour, and together, they sing a symphony. The acid of the scallops, fresh and bright; the richness of the walnuts, flaked with sage and sea salt; the creaminess of the mozzarella, with added zing of olive oil; the heat of the plaice, so perfectly balanced. I honestly laughed at how good it was.

To finish, we stuck our spoons into a rich chocolate tart, and argued over the icy, acidic lemon granita. Don’t skip the granita.

My meal at Erst could only be rivalled by the meals I’ve had at Coal Office in London and Nolla in Helsinki. And those featured such good food that I also laughed, and often reminisce about now.

Thank you to the team for the incredible dining experience. It was the highlight of my break in Manchester!


Leave a Comment