TATTU co-owner Adam Jones tells me, as I bump into him on the way out, that for the first time in its two years of existence he’s completely happy with the menu. Bullshit? Well, no. He has every right to be – a road-test of the superb new spring menu shows a restaurant happy in its own skin.
It’s a line I’ve used before, apposite for a restaurant lavishly designed “to take customers on a visual journey across three separate areas, each drawing decorative influence from different styles of body art.”
That presumed pretension has always weighed against Tattu in the minds of ‘serious foodies’, whoever they may be. Another credibility stumbling block the obvious Chinese fusion nods to Hakkasan and its A-crowd siblings in a space that has a 200 capacity in the downstairs bar and a 130-cover upstairs ‘fine dining’ restaurant (though in actuality it feels more intimate).
Oh yes, and it is possible to spend a lot of money here with set menus soaring up to £82 a head even before the temptations of the wine and cocktail lists.
We were cherry-picking our way through the revised a la carte at lunchtime, happy with our accompanying bottle of Domaine Cherrier Sancerre (£36), all passionfruit and mineral concentration a perfect math for the oriental flavours dominating.
For review purposes we let Zak our server provide a selection of dishes new and old; an alternative, more affordable option would have been the new dining option just launched called Taste of Tattu. It’s an express-style menu where guests can choose one small plate, one wok dish served with steamed rice or noodles and a choice of desserts, priced £19.50 for two courses or £24.50 for three.
Fine but it would give you no idea of the range of food on offer from ace nibbles, lotus root crisps with a tiny mound of chilli salt through to some of the city’s most accomplished (and beautiful) puddings.
The chocolate fondant (£9) is totally lush in close congress with a sweet umami scoop of caramel soy ice cream, while the yuzu parfait with lemongrass, coconut and edible viola flowers taste as glorious as it looks.
In between, there is hardly a dud. Maybe the duck egg and sausage fried rice that I have never seen the point of and maybe I’d have preferred a sharper base for the Thai-style crispy monkfish main in a barely tangible tempura than the sticky chilli sauce (£20.50).
Then again the stickiness of the beef short rib (£10) was entirely the point; strewn with crispy shallots, it arrived in tandem (with a quartet of wagyu puffs, garlicky shards of beef in ethereal little pastry parcels.
Our beef trio was completed by a handsome main of soy beef with a caramel dipping froth.
There was asparagus in this dish and also separately as a grilled in sweet soy side, a contrast with XO beans dressed with chilli oil and tiny cubes of pork. Again handsome ingredients. Some seared tuna earlier on in the cavalcade was the apogee of freshness, not always the case in some of our city’s quasi-oriental aspirants.
Final medal goes to the most beautiful dim sum basket I have ever encountered – their veggie collection, utilising with rare delicacy shiitake, aubergine and pumpkin (below).
Adam and his equally tattooed brother Drew are rolling out (awful phrase but I’ve used it now) a second Tattu in Leeds this summer. On this evidence, lucky Tykes.
Tattu, 72 Gartside Street, Manchester M3 3EB. 0161 819 2060.