• Awards – Moor Hall is the tops, Levy Market misses out

Awards – Moor Hall is the tops, Levy Market misses out

14 June 2019 by Neil Sowerby

THE very different Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards and BBC Food and Farming Awards share one thing in common – huge culinary cachet is attached.

So when a North West restaurant, open barely two years (albeit rapidly garnering two Michelin stars) is named best restaurant in the UK the world sits up and books. Chef/patron Mark Birchall reported receiving 1,000 enquiries for reservations within 24 hours of his restaurant at Aughton near Ormskirk topping the NRA top 100.

So no chance of a return visit any time soon for Taste of Manchester – among the first media to review it back in June 2017, awarding an ecstatic five stars

Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant Magazine, confirmed what we realised immediately:  “Mark is an incredibly talented chef who has a clear ambition to not just create one of the best restaurants in the UK but in the world. Moor Hall is an almost immaculate experience. Mark’s food is clever and inventive but also delicious, the service is exceptional and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. It’s an outstanding restaurant that deserves its title as the best in the UK.”

There was a noticeable increase in restaurants in the National Restaurant Awards Top 100 based in the North West and Yorkshire, with 46 based outside London. Mark’s previous base, L’Enclume in Cartmel, slipped to sixth. Full Top 100 List here. 

Manchester itself barely figured in the list with Adam Reid at The French and Where The Light Gets In notable omissions. A big boost, though, for Ancoats newcomer Mana, another ToM five star fave and places at No.73. Its chef/patron Simon Martin, formerly of Noma in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for Chef to Watch. From the awards ceremony at London’s Hurlingham Club he posted on Instagram his delight for Moor Hall: ”I'm absolutely ecstatic about a London based awards organisation crowning a northern restaurant as No.1 And so well deserved.”


This week we have also been celebrating a North West success in the prestigious BBC Food and Farming Awards 2019. There had to be one in the Best Shop or Market category. All three shortlist nominees came from up here. In the end at an awards ceremony in Bristol Liverpool’s arts and health initiative Squash edged out Levenshulme Market (serving up some paella above) and Bolton community green grocer A Small Good Thing.

The mission statement of the Awards, linked to Radio Four’s long running The Food Programme, is “to honour those who have done most to promote the cause of good food”.

Levy Market operates every weekend from March to December, on the car parks behind Levenshulme train station.  A special pop-up lunchtime food market also runs every Tuesday during term-time at The University of Manchester.

A Small Good Thing started out as a ‘labour of love’ pop-up shop at summer fairs at Markland Hill and Devonshire Road, Bolton before working out of Bunbury’s craft beer bar on Chorley Old Road on Saturday mornings. Care for the environment is at the forefront of Lisa Forrest and Emily Cooke’s project and they are now running it as a plastic-free shop.

Leeds brewers Northern Monk, https://northernmonk.com who run a taproom in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, were shortlisted in the Best Drinks Producer category, which was won by Ross On Wye Cider.