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Michelin Bib Gourmand

Simon Shaw opened El Gato Negro Tapas in an empty former pub in Ripponden in 2005. With a view to good luck and a nod to a favourite old shop in Madrid, he named it El Gato Negro (Spanish for the black cat). Strangely, it later transpired the pub had been called the Black Cat many years before.

El Gato Negro’s move from the Pennine village of Ripponden to Manchester has proved a great success story. Simon, whose love of Spanish food was formed during earlier visits to the Basque Country and Catalunya, whilst working for Havey Nichols in Leeds, then as Executive Head Chef at their exclusive flagship branch in Knightsbridge, London.

El Gato Negro Tapas is now set in a beautifully restored building over three floors in King Street Manchester

On the ground floor, there is a buzzing bar serving casual Spanish charcuterie and cheeses, plus some of their classic tapas. No reservations are required here.

On the first-floor restaurant, you can have the full menu and also dine at the chef's table and watch the interestingly manic theatre of the food being cooked in front of you. You need to reserve it here.

The team are turning out top-class tapas, non-stop on a very busy Saturday lunchtime, using impeccably sourced fresh produce from Spain and the UK

The second floor is home to the fashionable cocktail bar, "The Black Cat". Which has a unique retractable roof for those glorious Manchester summer months!

Having eaten in Ripponden previously, we wanted to try the new incarnation in Manchester.

Here is a selection of the food we have eaten over two visits

Pa amb tomàquet (Catalan Bread with olive oil, garlic and fresh tomato)

Selection of Spanish meats (salchichón, lomo, Fuet de Vic, chorizo magno, chorizo artisan Leon, jamón serrano), served with celeriac rémoulade

Acorn-fed jamón ibérico de bellota

Jamón Ibérico croquetas

Navarrico chickpeas with fritarda sauce and caramelised cauliflower florets

Padrón peppers with Halen Môn sea salt

Patatas bravas with spicy tomato fritarda sauce and aioli

Chargrilled heritage carrots, aubergine purée, miso and walnut pesto, Manchego

Traditional tortilla served with aioli

Ceviche of Gillardeau oysters, avocado purée, kimchi

Salt cod croquetas, piquillo pepper purée and aioli

Roast scallops with squid ink sauce, avocado purée, aioli, capers

Tiger prawns with chilli, garlic, lemon and paprika

Fillet of hake with cherry tomato, shallots and mini caper sauce

Chargrilled sardines with zhug dressing and mini capers

Chargrilled octopus with capers, shallots and aioli

Mussels in a spicy tomato sauce

Morcilla scotch eggs with mushroom duxelle, apple purée and aioli

A chargrilled whole rack of baby pork ribs glazed with Pedro Ximénez sherry

Pinchos morunos (spiced chargrilled pork skewers with mojo Verde)

Braised Ox cheek with horseradish mash, baby onions, button mushrooms and pancetta

For dessert, we tried a special which was

Turrón mousse & almond brittle with white wine & sweet basil poached pears & pear sorbet

The restaurant has blossomed in Manchester to the tune of being awarded a Michelin Bib in the first year (Michelin Red Guide 2017) which it has now retained in its second year (Michelin Red Guide 2018) and is maybe on course for the first Michelin star in Manchester since 1974!

The wines were both very good

A white Albariño de Fefinanes 2013, Rias Baixas and red Cap de Ruc Criança 2013, Montsant

The atmosphere and service were excellent.

EL GATO NEGRO TAPAS 52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY 0161 694 8585 Twitter - @ElGatoNegroFood

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The reviews here are personal recommendations of places we have actually been to.

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