When Canto first opened in Ancoats, I had a sense of excitement.
I spent around a year and a half living and working in Portugal just a few years back. I’d had some great food while there, the first things coming to mind being freshly grilled sardines on thick bread, strong coffee and of course Pastel de Nata.
But as with so many restaurants, new ones kept coming along and I struggled to make time to try out this new opening, that is until now.
On a cold and wet Manchester evening we jumped into a taxi and headed down to Ancoats (It was far to wet to tram and walk).
I had walked passed before, but this was my first experience inside the venue. It is fairly small and cosy and we are shown to our table. We didn’t have to go far as we were sat directly next to the front door, not the best with it blowing a gale outside, getting cold draughts every time someone came or went.
The blue tiling along the back wall was stunning however and really took me back to some of the small family restaurants I used to frequent.
I start to look through the menu and it appears much more Spanish than Portuguese, it really wouldn’t be out of place at sister restaurant El Gato Nego.
I order a selection of dishes for us to share.
First up were the Jamon Croquetas. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I did learn a thing or two at a recent Croqueta making masterclass that I attended. Unfortunately I was a little let down with these. The ham flavour was lacking and they were a little over seasoned for my liking.
Next up were the Salt Cod Fritters. This was one of the dishes that did take me back to Portugal. You couldn’t walk into a supermarket in Portugal without being hit by the smell of Bacalhau (Salted Cod). I had eaten it a number of times, especially at Christmas time, when it was served up as the main dish.
The fritters were full of flavour and a real treat to eat.
I ordered the Iberico Meat selection, but instead was delivered the Iberico Ham, I kept it anyhow and enjoyed it as I always do.
I then went for a Prego – a beef steak and caramelised onion on bread. This again was a tasty dish which I thoroughly enjoyed, just a shame India couldn’t try it with her having braces.
The Canto Tortilla was a strange one – soft in the middle how we like it, but this one seemed to have some kind of stock inside which for me didn’t work and its the first time I’ve left one unfinished.
The Shellfish Rice with prawns, mussels and cod went down amazingly, with India picking up and practically licking the bowl (I can’t take her anywhere)
And to top it off the Pastel de Nata was to die for – perfectly sweet and warm with a crispy/flaky base.
We finished our drinks and I asked for the bill. I have to say that the food was hit and miss with some dishes being much better than others. It really seemed more like a Spanish Tapas Restaurant with a couple of Portuguese dishes thrown in for good measure.