There’s been a late flurry of significant restaurant openings in Manchester over the last few weeks. Last month saw the launch of Exhibition where guests can choose between three excellent operators – the Catalan inspired Baratxuri, luxurious Scandi fayre from Osma and Brazilian-British fusion dishes from Sao Paulo Bistro.

Much anticipated fine dining Japanese restaurant, bar and social space MUSU has also opened in the former Randall and Aubin site on Bridge Street recently. The latest ‘big launch’ is Climat, a restaurant which now occupies the rooftop of Blackfriars House, behind Deansgate and opens officially on Monday 5th December 2022.

Pronounced ‘Cleemat’, it takes its name from a term used in Burgundy which describes the geographical characteristics of a single vineyard. However, describing itself as a ‘wine led’ restaurant doesn’t mean this venue is stuffy or intimidating. Quite the opposite. There are over 275 wines available here (chosen mainly by Jerome who, until recently, ran local boutique wine delivery service Le Social) A bottle of extremely drinkable Folie Blanche will only set you back £29 but a colleague who knows their wine reckoned the pricier premium vintages are marked at decent value.

Climat’s owner, the affable and easy-going Christopher Laidler, is also behind Covino in Chester which earned a mention in the prestigious Michelin Guide for its well-crafted small plates. Exec chef of both venues is Luke Richardson who describes the menu as ‘food you want to eat’. Well respected chef Simon Ulph (formerly of Pallé Hall) heads up the Manchester kitchen.

Vol-au-vents are to be a signature thing here – which makes sense as they match well with wine. The puff pastry case will be a menu staple with a range of updated and creative fillings. We were one of the first visitors to Climat, taking advantage of their soft launch discount (there’s limited availability for 25% off this weekend). This time the vol-au vents were wild mushroom with Berkswell, a hard British ewe’s milk cheese like Manchego, and cull yaw tartare (an older ewe with more flavour) with tandoori onions.

That was the second course following some excellent malted sourdough bread with a herby and savoury Café de Paris butter, and ‘taramasalata and crisps’ – a gorgeously smooth and creamy smoked cod’s row dip and crispy home-made golden wonders. If you’re here for drinks and they offer this as a bar snack, take it.

Zingy and fresh raw pollock ceviche with sweet and smoky BBQ carrot slices and aged soy dressing was a refreshing starter, but it was the vegetarian grilled leek, butterbean, hazelnut and herb salad that blew us away. On paper it looked, well.. ordinary, but it turned out to be a late contender for dish of the year.

The leek had been slowly charred on the Josper Grill for some time until its sweet characteristics were exposed. The outer leaves acted as a bolster for the soft centre which was topped with a creamy butter bean puree – apparently made with as much butter as it was bean. Toasted hazelnuts just enhanced the comforting autumnal vibe tenfold.

Perfectly cooked slices of venison sat on top of a mound of braised red cabbage that was a little too much and too sweet, although a delicious puree of malted celeriac helped even things out. Brill, again cooked with faultless timing, came with a slightly too salty chive butter sauce and a little too much fennel choucroute. Just discount any minor nit-picking here. It’s early days. For a kitchen trying to get going possibly only hours after the builders had left, it was pretty stunning.

Desserts were better balanced and not too sweet – which for a salted caramel custard tart, takes real skill. A perfectly wobbly panna cotta was served with lightly stewed plums and flavoured with toasted hay which I’d never have been able to identify without looking at the menu.

Service is utterly perfect with not a hint of first night nerves anywhere. We were made to feel welcome and comfortable by everyone we met. Relaxed, professional, experienced and droll, many of the front of house have previously worked at restaurants like Hawksmoor – perpetual winners of hospitality awards.

Manchester isn’t short of rooftop views these days with all the high rises popping up across town like mushrooms. Arguably, cityscapes aren’t all that and Manchester isn’t pretty from every angle, but this one’s  good. From the 8th floor at this end of Deansgate, you get a unique view of many of Manchester’s more interesting older buildings and even catch The Lowry Hotel on its good side. A giant TV screen is tucked away on one wall making it the ultimate place to watch Wimbledon and the likes next year. The rooftop is also home to Climat’s bee hives which, although currently uninhabited, will be providing the restaurant with honey once established.

Despite all the new openings and rooftop restaurants across the city, Climat is definitely not just ‘another one.’ A whole heap of talent has now landed up on the eighth floor of Blackfriars House ready to welcome you with great food, wonderful wine, and a superb view of our city. The Covino team could just have easily chosen to open their second venue in Liverpool. I’m really glad they didn’t.

Climat, Blackfriars House, Manchester, M3 2JA


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