Tast Cuina Catalana, Manchester

Tast Cuina Catalana, 20-22 King Street Manchester, M2 6AG. www.tastcatala.com

Tast Cuina Catalana roughly translates as “Taste from the Catalan Kitchen” and that is exactly what you get when you dine at Tast in Manchester. But, I must admit, when I first heard another Spanish restaurant was coming to King Street I was surprised. The street is already home to the well-established and highly successful Spanish eatery, El Gato Negro. Is there room for another, just a stone’s throw away?

The answer is simply, YES.

Mainly because they don’t serve tapas as we know it. They only serve dishes specific to Catalonia and the menu offers ‘tastets’ – small portions and nibbles to savour and to share. It’s much more creative and cheffy and has a real fine-dining edge, especially in the upstairs dining room where their full Folre menu is served.

But fear not, if you don’t want the white tablecloth experience (but I urge you to try it!) then downstairs they serve a smaller, more casual version of the menu, Pinya. Complimented perfectly by the large, wooden sharing tables, and a bright, hip yet elegant decor.

Tast’s menu is by Executive Chef Paco Pérez who has two Michelin 2* restaurants. His level of cooking shines through with dishes like their Duckin’ Donuts; perfectly crafted miniature doughnut-shaped morsels made of a white chocolate and raspberry coated shell, filled with a silky smooth duck liver cream!

Sophie’s Scran was invited to taste the menu at Tast with some other Manchester-based food and drink writers. Here’s what we tried, what I thought and my top recommendations for your next visit. I hope you find it useful!

The Wines

Now I must say, this place is worth a visit for the wines alone. I tried a white and red, both were organic which only enhanced how clean and exquisite they tasted. I drank half a bottle of each and felt ready to take on the world the next day – organic, sulphate-free wines are the future!

Must-try red: Mas Petit, 2014. Pares Balta. Penedes. Garnatxa Cabernet.

Must-try white: Blanc de Pacs, 2017. Pares Balta. Penedes. Parellada Xarel.lo Macabeu.

The Food

We started with the ‘Duckin’ Donuts’ and I must say, the combination of duck liver, white chocolate, raspberry and a salty seasoning was very unique indeed. For me, the white chocolate overpowered the rich duck, but I’m glad I tried these fun little bites. They certainly split the crowd!

Next up was the sandwich de formatge trufat – a beautifully elegant cheese and truffle confit ‘sandwich’ that just melted in your mouth. These for me were little bites of heaven; so fresh and delicate this was the best truffle dish I’ve ever tasted. Highly recommended!

Would it be a Spanish tasting menu without croquetas? I think not. So from the ‘fried bites’ section of the menu, we tried the red pepper croquette and the roasted chicken croquette. These were good, but they didn’t blow me away. There is a ham version too which I’ll certainly be trying on my next visit.

After a short break, next up was an unusual seafood dish of eel, silky smooth potato and red chilli peppers. This dish is absolutely divine, so soft and tasty it’s an absolute must-try for fish and seafood lovers!

Another wonderful seafood dish we tried was the king crab. As it arrives at the table, you’ll see there is no king crab in sight. But trust, me, dig deep into the chilled tomato and basil foamy exterior and you’ll be rewarded with fresh chunks of king crab that tastes exceptional! A very artistic and unusual dish indeed and highly recommended.

And for the veggies? There are some absolute gems on this menu too! Following the red pepper croquettes, I’d recommend the green asparagus, bauma cheese, cherry tomatoes and rocket as a lush side-dish.

An amazing culinary experience, this place is unique, delicious, special and casual all at the same time.

But the spinach, pine nuts and raisins is an absolute must-try. It’s so earthy and simple in its taste but I adored this dish even if a few others at the table didn’t seem to agree!

And as the main event – for veggies and meat-eaters alike you absolutely have to try Tast’s stunning ‘Els Nostres Arros’ – rice oven-baked in a tin tray topped with micro veggies; cauliflowers, broccoli and the most divine herb mayo.

I have never been a huge fan of the Spanish rice dish paella – but this way of cooking rice is new to me and it’s exactly what I will be returning for. Just look at it!

The Desserts

Yes, we had room for pudding. And the toffee and mango pinya (pineapple with toffee, mango and sage) did not disappoint. I’d recommend this as the perfect way to end an absolute culinary adventure! And a little friend told me the chocolate churros are exceptional, too!

Overall, I think Tast is an amazing culinary experience. It’s unique, delicious, special and casual all at the same time. The staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and the wine is some of the best I have ever tasted. They also have a private dining room.

Tast Cuina Catalana, 20-22 King Street Manchester, M2 6AG. www.tastcatala.com

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