The Black Cat Is The Top Dog
El Gato Negro – aka The Black Cat – an Edgar Allan Poe tale and a charming tapas restaurant on Manchester’s upmarket King Street. Tapas, at least in England, I find is generally predictable and served inauthentically; happily, El Gato Negro provided a welcome contrast with plates intriguingly designed and prepared in quick succession.
The oddly endearing Guinilla Peppers tasted curiously of Pickled Onion Monster Munch, which was no bad thing. Its cousin Mr Padron – unheard of three years ago, now everywhere – was fresh, flavourful and rightly, generously seasoned. I suggest the 2017 Award For Most Awesome Sounding Dish is given to ‘Gin Cured Salmon w/ Truffle Honey on Toast’. Although expensive, this little bundle of joy was well-balanced, somehow harmonious and certainly unique. The ‘Bikini’ was disappointingly not a swimsuit model but a rather pedestrian, small, ham and cheese toasty. The Chargrilled Sweet Potato provided a depth of flavour it had no right to have, with an ingeniously composed mango and chilli dressing.
The surprise star of the show was an ostentatiously elongated carrot. El Gato Negro’s equally elongated description of: ‘Chargrilled heritage carrots, aubergine purée, miso, walnut pesto and Manchego’, was an umami-filled revelation. I had something of a carrot based spiritual awakening (opened root chakra?) at Dinner By Heston, and El Gato Negro’s offering was a delicious close second to their two Michelin starred operation.
The savoury shenanigans were far from outdone by the beautifully presented sharing dessert. This ensemble of Spanish and European fancies was technically well crafted, and equally lovely on the palate. The perfect Barbie-pink macaroon was fought over and the ice-cream was as good as you’ll find anywhere.
El Gato Negro service was organised, expressive but not overbearing, and genuinely friendly by irksomely handsome, tattooed Spaniards. My only minor gripe from the well-oiled kitchen was most of the pescetarian dishes arriving at the end, rather than interspersed through the procession.
These culinary dopamine hits came at a cost; but, El Gato Negro Tapas’ urban cool environment and numerous memorable flavours made it certainly worth it.
El Gato Negro Tapas Review Summary
Atmosphere 8/10 Cost 6/10 Quality 10/10 Service 10/10