Our newest writer Amanda has ventured into Manchester’s Northern Quarter to sample the wares of Wilderness

I’ve never bought into the whole idea that the Northern Quarter is our own little bit of NYC and have generally concluded this Bohemian area of Manchester is not really for the likes of me with its graffitied walls, broken pavements, strewn bins and general scruffy urban neighbourhood vibe.  But every time I go, I always come away telling myself that I need to remember before I go next time that I always have a great time and thoroughly enjoy the whole experience: today was no exception.

Wilderness NQ has been open for just over two weeks and the concept has been inspired by a love of food, drink, travel and people.  You can smell the newness of the wood as you walk through the door and it certainly looks very “NQ-esque” but their fancy sounding menu, vegan options, good wine list, including orange wines, and trendy cocktail menu, accompanied by beautiful photos to bring alive the creations, such as Nebula, Immersion and Conflict, would not be out of place in a fine dining restaurant on the other side of town. 

Don’t be put off that the food sounds very rich as the plate sizes are perfect for lunch, brunch and dinner. At first sight, the limited menu is a little confusing as it is not split into the traditional starter and mains but our very helpful waitress explained 2 or 3 plates per person would be enough for a hearty lunch and she was spot on.  

Sitting at the long curved wooden bench looking out the big windows at the world going by, I found myself relaxing and chilling out to the music in no time at all.  I had no idea who was singing or playing but it just didn’t matter. There were plenty of padded seated options too and all were welcome for coffee, a drink or food so there is no need to worry if you are just wanting to pop in.  The straw light fittings, vinyl records in a metal cage, inviting bar with both cocktail and beer taps, wooden floors with black & white tiles and the ubiquitous coffee grinder ensemble all added to the relaxed vibe.  

Mr. Carnivore and I decided to share all our dishes so I didn’t get the chance to sample the vegan menu. unfortunately.  The dishes came out as and when they were ready and we started with BBQ Lamb Skewers, Miso Glaze & Lamb Fat Yeast Flakes that were just stunning. 

They take 2 days to make and the lamb just fell apart at first bite. Our next dish was Pressed Potato, Smoked Egg, Brown Crab & Dill Pollen which was surprisingly crispy and you could really taste the fishiness of the brown crab.  This was quickly followed by The Grilled Malt Barley Sourdough & Sweet Onion Butter (deliciously crusty with powerful whipped butter), the Short Rib (melt in the mouth) and Roast Monkfish with Brown Shrimp. The brown shrimp were very well hidden in the rich Burnt Lettuce sauce so look carefully as they are worth the search.

All the food was warm, not hot, but was delicious and very well-seasoned with good strong flavours – definitely a triumph as the restaurant was stylish with proper grown up foodie dishes.  There are only a few desserts but we will have to try them next time, and there will be a next time. Put simply, this restaurant is a real foodie diamond hidden away in The Northern Quarter.

Overall, taking into account the food, service and ambiance, Wilderness NQ scores 8/10 and if there had been more people to help with the ambiance, it would have scored a 9/10 so go on, give it a go. 

As a couple of asides, having a disabled parent and family friend, I am always on the lookout for new places I can take them.  Wilderness NQ’s disabled toilet facility is downstairs which will be fine for some but their stair lift is being fitted in the near future which will be a great addition.  Wilderness NQ is also dog friendly which will lend itself very well to the dog-loving/dog-carrying nation we are.



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