MAY just got merrier. The first of that month marks the arrival in Manchester city centre of Kala, sixth restaurant in Gary Usher’s Elite Bistros group. Not another ‘eagerly awaited’, you say? Well, ToM has definitely been on alert not for its main menu, which echoes the offering at Hispi in Disbury and the original Sticky Walnut in Chester, but the bar snacks.
We intend to camp in the casual, 15 cover bar space and wolf the likes of pig’s head sausage rolls with spicy ketchup and pickled eggs with caraway salt (£2.50), available all day. With a glass of wine, naturally, watching the world go by.
Alternatively, bookings are now being taken for the separate 55-cover mezzanine restaurant space serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. We are told a la carte evenings are already chocker but there is availability earlier in the day. From May 1-3 guests booking will get 50 per cent off their food bill.
It’s not just the bar snacks that are a departure for Kickstarter King Gary. A charcoal grill makes its group debut, diverging from the obvious servings. So on the bar menu they’ll be chargrilling duck hearts and serving them with a salsa verde for just £5.50, while the main menu will treat you to a starter of roasted octopus with pumpkin seed puree (£14) or a main of barbecued whole monkfish tail with red cabbage, mango and macadamia (£26).
The kitchen is headed by Jack Huxley, fresh from Sticky Walnut, where he went from chef de partie to head chef in just three years. Usher is proud of his progress: “After recognising his passion and talent at Sticky, we wanted to give him the next challenge. From keeping it in the family, it means there’s a really high level of consistency across all the restaurants so we’re starting as we mean to go on here in Manchester.”
The Kala Kickstarter was the most ambitious of Gary Usher’s crowdfunding campaigns to date. Breaking not only their own, but Kickstarter’s records, the team raised £100,000 in 11 hours, making it the fastest funded restaurant project in the world.