A new two floor (Three including private dining) bar and restaurant has opened in a site on Thomas Street, which was previously home to a vegan cafe named Folk and Soul, which was previously Odd Bar.
Wilderness Bar and Kitchen has been opened by a team also responsible for Wilderness Record store in Withington, but don’t be fooled by this fact alone. The team behind the venture have loads of restaurant and hospitality experience between them, including Lyndon Higginson (Liars Club, Cain and Grain, Crazy Pedro’s, Bunny Jacksons etc) along with his Junkyard Golf & Bunny Jacksons co-directors Bart Murphy and Mat Lake, along with Dan Morris (Ex Cottonopolis and Trof Group).
With a mixed bag of late night drinking, pizza, 10p chicken wings and crazy golf concepts behind them, I was intrigued to find out how this new venture would fit in. With a kitchen team headed up by James Lord (Ex Manchester House) I was expecting something exciting.
The interior is very laid back and welcoming and we were shown to our table which was a long bench style table that was shared between upto 10 guests.
The whole atmosphere was chilled, more like a NQ trendy bar more than a restaurant.
The menu is modern European and seasonality takes centre stage, featuring a limited number of small and larger plates designed to share and so we ordered a few between us.
First served was the Grilled Malt Barley Sourdough with Sweet Onion Butter. The bread was melt in the mouth when I smothered it with the gorgeous tasting butter – you kind of forgot it was butter and lathered it on like a pate, enjoying every mouthful.
The Pressed Potato, Smoked Egg, Brown Crab and Dill Pollen was an interesting dish, visually reminding me of some kind of packaged cake from the 80’s. The flavour of the crab really came through though and I enjoyed the crunch of the crisp potato outer, although India with her braces found them a little hard to tackle.
Soft options were aplenty though, with this including the BBQ Lamb Skewers with Miso Glaze and Lamb Yeast Flakes. The meat really did just flake and melt in the mouth with lamb goodness, full of flavour and for me yet another superb dish.
The Short Rib, Bone Marrow and IPA Onions were equally as melt in the mouth, bursting with meaty, sticky goodness, with a great presentation to match.
Last up I was eager to try the Pine Smoked Aged Duck with Lavender Honey – this one was out of this world – only one problem. It was one of the large plates and the most expensive costing £19, however as it was served last, I had nothing to eat it with, so in hindsight I should have maybe saved some bread or ordered up the interesting sounding ‘Fermented Potatoes’ as a side dish.
Overall I found the food very good and very reasonably priced, options however were limited and with a couple of you eating you may find yourself repeating the same dishes on a return visit, rather than being able to try something new. I would also have liked to have been advised to order a side with the lamb, as an entire plate of just lamb, as gorgeous as I found it, really needed something else with it.
I am interested to see how the menu may change over time.
Wilderness Bar and Kitchen can be found at 30-32 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1ER – view their menu and book tables via their website here